Although the term design thinking has its roots in the artistic community, it’s a powerful tool in the business world as well. When a business professional or sales representative applies design thinking, he or she first defines the problem that requires solving. Observation skills are critical in this endeavor. That means viewing the work of employees at every stage of the process rather than just hearing about it secondhand.
The other stages of design thinking involve creating and considering multiple options, refining the directions, and selecting a final solution. Although it might seem like a simple process, it’s long and involved and it has taken the business world several years to even consider using it. Now that design thinking is growing in popularity, it has helped some of the world’s largest companies tackle their most complex problems. This has required them to identify how the problem affects users and not just themselves.
Big Business and Design Thinking
Big companies that have embraced design thinking have done it in style. IBM, for example, has created 30 on-site design studios that provide its employees with the time and space they need to come up with innovative solutions to complex problems. Each space comes complete with a white board, post-it notes, pens, scratch paper, and uninterrupted time for employees from various departments to go through the different stages of design thinking to arrive at solutions that solve a real problem in the lives of IBM’s customers.
Infosys has made a heavy investment in design thinking because its leadership feels that it offers the most effective and efficient business model to unleash creative power and potential. It has held multiple workshops to introduce its more than 170,000 employees to the concept and allow them to tap problem-solving abilities many didn’t know they possessed. In less than one year of getting on board with design thinking, Infosys has completed training with approximately 20 percent of its workforce and 500 managers.
A Different Approach to Meet the Needs of Today’s Buyer
The Internet and constant connectivity of our time has issued in a whole new era of sales. Today’s salesperson must remind themselves that the transaction is about the customer and what he or she needs, not about the salesperson closing a deal. This requires sales professionals to use greater empathy in their approach. Salespeople should aim to learn what matters most to the customer before even attempting to sell anything.
One reason that large businesses have embraced design thinking is that it helps them meet the needs of the modern customer. People today have so much information available via online research before a salesperson even enters the picture. Therefore, it’s vital for the sales professional to tap into his or her empathy skills and understand the world and values of the customer.
Without this understanding, the presentation is likely to fall flat because it feels inauthentic to the one receiving it. In this fast-paced world, taking the time to listen, offer empathy, and understand the humanness of the other party can go a long way into making a connection that lasts well beyond the initial sale.