Business Thinking Vs Design Thinking

Design thinking is often misunderstood as business thinking and people do not know the difference between the two. Here is how Design thinking is different from Business Thinking.

  1. Problem Solving approach: Business Thinking is definitive. Things that we generally know about our problems and their solutions. It relies on an equation of proof. It uses defined rules to solve the problems, while on the other hand Design Thinking is an iterative process. It relies on a trial and error and repeated efforts to achieve desired results or close to desired results. This is the reason design thinking is an innovative process while business thinking is not innovative.
  2. Validation of actions: In Business Thinking validation of the actions taken is through what customers say. It often combines qualitative and quantitative research. While in Design Thinking validation is through what customers do. It encourages direct observation. Also it considers usability testing of the prototype.
  3. Problem identification: In Business Thinking problems are identified from market analysis and aggregate consumer behaviour. It collects data on these aspects. But in Design Thinking problems are identified from direct consumer observation and abductive reasoning. It considers the “What might be” approach.
  4. Completion of process: In the Business Thinking process when the strategy phase is completed then only it starts the product development phase. While in Design Thinking the process never ends. In fact it continuously evolves with the customers. It makes sure your product never lags behind the trends.
  5. Focus: In Business Thinking focus is on understanding the results of customer activities. While on the other hand Design Thinking is focused on an understanding of customer activities instead of the results of them.
  6. Tools used: In Business thinking tools used to present the vision on the table are spreadsheets and powerpoint decks. Business Thinking approach is described through words. They are often open to interpretation. While Design Thinking on the other hand uses prototypes, films and scenarios to communicate strategic vision. Design Thinking approach is described through pictorial representations and direct experiences with prototypes.

Thus there is a vast variety of differences in both the approaches. But I would like to highlight the most important quality of design thinking process. Many times we pre determine the problems in business thinking, whereas in Design thinking the approach is to squeeze out all the possible problems first so that at the end we do not regret onlooking other areas as well. So a design thinker becomes a “Problem Finder”.