What value do we place on design thinking and, in your opinion, does a designer “get a seat at the table” of your business?

In our experience design thinking specifically in corporate South Africa only gets freedom to move with “buy-in” at an executive level. Without the approval of executives within a business, very little can be done to first teach the mindset and encourage further execution.

Let’s take a step back and quickly look at what we mean when we say, “design thinking”. We are referring to the process of understanding your “pain points”, challenging those assumptions and finally, defining a better solution. The aim is to ultimately streamline performance and allow the business to scale in the future.


The first step to involving design in your business is to challenge your co-workers to be observant and encourage their creativity. The idea is to create an environment that is conducive to new ideas with the aim of weeding out existing “pain-points” or problem areas. First-hand experience will always be the most effective springboard.

The introduction of any new process or skill requires early adopters. Identifying and leveraging the people who are naturally excelling with the new mindset becomes crucial to building a network of supporters to champion the concept throughout your business.

Design Thinking

A common mistake with design thinking is to assume that “the design team” exclusively has the tools to execute the concept. It’s important to build a combined initiative that stretches across all departments and is not limited to an elite few. Look at every possible approach and every new way of doing things.

Getting the opinion of the financial director may be just what was needed to define a clear value proposition. Propelling a simple idea to the next big innovation.


This is probably the biggest creativity killer in most businesses. If it doesn’t impact the bottom-line positively then we don’t have time for it. While we can sympathize with executives that need to keep the machine running, we also cannot deny that the quality of the machine and its efficiency is the difference between surviving vs. thriving.

If employees are motivated and reverse engineer “pain-points” in a business to save time and money, this surely closes the circle for executives to “buy-in” and has tangible R.O.I.