How can Design Thinking benefit entrepreneurs?

Deepa Kamath

April, 25 2019, 1:50 PM

Charles Burnett, an educator who pioneered Design Thinking, defines it as ‘A process of creative and critical thinking that allows information and ideas to be organised, decisions  to be made, situations  to be improved and knowledge to be gained.’

Entrepreneurship is a rocky road

Some of the problems faced by entrepreneurs are unique to their situations with no obvious solutions.  There is no need to despair. There are many methods that alleviate the ‘growing pains’ of entrepreneurship, with Design Thinking being one of the more effective ones. At whichever stage an entrepreneur happens to be on her journey, Design Thinking methods can help. First by creating problem awareness and then setting the stage for innovative solutions to emerge.

Design thinking at work. Case study one.  

The challenge: The core committee members of Hong Kong Momtrepreneurs (HKM),  a recently founded non-profit organization had to arrive at a consensus on ways to achieve their organizational aims. The committee had met formally a few times, and were fundamentally in agreement, but there was no clarity on which items to prioritize and how to actually set things in motion.

HKM Workshop details: This 2-hour workshop for HKM’s 9-member core committee began with a creativity matrix to spark off ideas. The matrix was specially designed to stimulate ideas that aligned with their organizational aims and targeted their main stakeholders.  Collaboratively, a whole lot of ideas were generated, then ranked, first for effectiveness and then for ease of implementation. 

HKM’s takeaways: The workshop ended with a clear visual roadmap of which of the ideas could be executed immediately and which had value but needed time and organizational resources to succeed. HKM’s diverse 9-member core group, which had met formally just a few times earlier, achieved consensus, amicably, over wine and cheese, without a single argument. The advantages of working together and drawing on everyone’s strengths came to the fore.

Participants’ comments: ‘A way of thinking and collecting ideas without arguments.’

‘Clear the objectives and actions for the social enterprise.’

‘How to put ideas into action.’

Design thinking methods are not hazy. Using them entrepreneurs accurately pinpoint and then grapple with the issues before them. They also reorganize, pivot and/or arrive at ways to resolve these issues. With some of these methods at their disposal, when the next business challenge emerges, entrepreneurs are able to face them with confidence.