Design Thinking and Innovation for Competitive Advantage

May 27, 2016 | Posted by admin in Faculty Talk   No Comments »

The consumer today has his pick of products and services. To survive competition, a company must come up with business solutions which can be converted into customer value and market opportunity. This, the company can achieve, by imbibing design thinking into its business model.

“The qualities of a design thinker include the ability to think independently, possessing clarity of expression as well as confidence in own ideas,” notes Dr. Uday Salunkhe, Group Director, Prin. L.N. Welingkar Institute of Management Research and Development (WeSchool). WeSchool’s PGDM course in Business Design teaches students how to leverage design thinking to improve an organisation’s effectiveness. By equipping them with entrepreneurial leadership abilities and an innovative mindset, the course provides a transformational cross-disciplinary learning which nurtures Welingkarites into competent future managers.

By allowing adaption to changes, not only does design thinking serve as an important survival skill, it also lets businesses thrive. In his book, Design of Business, Roger Martin shows how successful companies adopt the methodology of designers to solve problems and run efficient businesses. A company following a creative or design-led approach continually gauges and addresses changes in trends, technology, customer needs etc. by creating creative and unique solutions. Such a company favours exploration and originality in order to gain a sustainable competitive advantage in the marketplace. It focuses on the big picture and not just on immediate solutions.  It creates an organizational culture of thinking differently yet maintains good risk assessment abilities. It harnesses leadership skills and an encouraging environment to foster innovation.

Innovation need not mean just inventing. A company can also innovate by implementing new ideas, improving on existing processes or creating dynamic offerings, etc. LEGO is a good example of a company that embraced design thinking beyond its products. LEGO developed a design process model known as Design for Business (D4B) which linked innovation with its business plan. D4B shifted LEGO’s strategy for innovation from being product-focused to being company-focused.

WeSchool is a strong supporter of design thinking. The approach concurs with the top B-School’s constant effort to guide its students to break out of the conventional framework and encourage them to come up with pragmatic innovations to meet socio-economic needs. Dr. Salunkhe states, “At WeSchool, we constantly strive to create and nurture managers who are thought leaders through inventive and innovative education. This is absolutely necessary since the world has become highly competitive and innovation is the order of the day. To enable this, WeSchool has set up an ecology that is set to encourage people to put design thinking into action.”


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