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Hat tip to Steve Woodruff for pointing us to a New York Times article that argues for the incorporation of design thinking in the business planning process. Check it out here.

Summed up in two paragraphs, here is what the article (and the argument for a broader adoption of design thinking) boils down to:

1. Design Thinking’s value to your business.

“Design thinking is inherently about creating new choices, about divergence. Most business processes are about making choices from a set of existing alternatives. Clearly, if all your competition is doing the same, then differentiation is tough. In order to innovate, we have to have new alternatives and new solutions to problems, and that is what design can do.”

– Tim Brown, chief executive and president of the design consulting firm IDEO, based in Palo Alto, Calif.

2. Design Thinking’s place in your business.

“It would be overreaching to say that design thinking solves everything. That’s putting it too high on a pedestal. Business thinking plus design thinking end up being far more powerful.”

– George Kembel, co-founder and executive director of the d.school at Stanford

In other words, don’t hand over your entire business strategy to your designers (even Apple doesn’t do it), but DO work towards incorporating proactive design thinking into every facet of your business, from product design to retail spaces, point-of-purchase displays, packaging, advertising, web interfaces, your lobby experience, the way your employees answer the phone, and even how you bill your customers.

You have two choices when it comes to winning the differentiation game: Being the cheapest, or being the best. More often than not, Design Thinking (or a complete lack thereof) is the key differentiator between companies going down one path or the other.

Companies that have incorporated Design Thinking in their business model: Apple, Target, Volkswagen, GE, Specialized, Oakley, Bloom Supermarkets, Nike, W hotels, Procter & Gamble, and Nokia, for starters.

Food for thought.

Have a great Thursday, everyone! 😉

image by Chris Wray-McCann