How to Drive Innovation with Design Thinking


More than ever, consumers have access to global marketplaces and ever higher expectations of service. With customer expectations evolving fast, companies need to continually reinvent their offer.

To remain competitive, companies must have a deep understanding of their customers’ emotional needs, motivations and context. Here’s where design thinking comes in.


The definition of Design Thinking has evolved a lot since the creation of the concept. Generally, it is a method centered on consumer desires that uses iteration to find new ways of addressing those needs. By using a design approach for creative problem solving, companies can drive product innovation.



Design Thinking has gained considerable attention and has become a buzzword in recent years but it’s an approach that has actually been evolving over several decades. In the 1950s, designers Charles and Ray Eames were already practicing what they called “learning by doing”.

Often credited with inventing the term “Design Thinking”, IDEO company has been applying it to solving problems since 1978. Tech leaders like Apple, Google, Samsung rapidly adopted the design thinking approach and have used it to develop a culture of innovation for years.


Design Thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success. Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO.


According to Tim Brown, one of the foundations of Design Thinking is the search for a harmonious balance between three criteria:

  • Desirability: what corresponds to the expectations of consumers?
  • Feasibility: what is functional and achievable in the predictable future?
  • Viability: what is part of a sustainable economic model?


Companies from Pfizer to Airbnb have used Design Thinking to uncover and meet user needs through five simple steps, which can take place sequentially or run in parallel.


  • Empathize. Learn about the audience for whom you are designing

Humans should be at the heart of the process. When was the last time you spoke at some length with a client about their experience with your company? This can be very simple to set up. Nielsen Norman Group, a leader in the user experience field, has published research that shows that speaking with groups of five customers in the same segment can provide nearly 80% of the feedback themes for a product, service, or experience that you would normally get from a much larger sample size.

  • Define. State the problem and interpret the results

Construct a point of view based on user needs and insights. The “define stage” will help the designers in your team gather great ideas to establish features, functions and any other elements that will allow them to solve the problems or, at the very least, allow users to resolve issues themselves with the minimum of difficulty.

  • Ideate. Conduct an expansive brainstorm to come up with creative solutions

The main aim of the ideation stage is to use creativity and innovation in order to develop solutions. Ideation will help you to ask the right questions and bring together perspectives and strengths of team members.

  • Prototype. Build representations of idea(s) to show to users

Prototyping allows you to get ideas into physical form to gain feedback from the people they are intended to serve. The goal is to start with a low fidelity version of the intended solution and improve it based on feedback.

  • Test. Return to original user to test for feedback and iteration

This is the most crucial step in the process. It is in a way the moment of truth. It’s where you find out if you’ve correctly identified your user’s problems, if your prototype is close to the solution they want, if you need to make changes to your design.


The concept of Design Thinking can be applied to a variety of disciplines. From education, law and medicine to business or human resource management, the principles of Design Thinking enable and empower a professional to approach problems in new ways.

According to our in-house designer, Julie Damiral Pacaud, “At Nexway we use design thinking philosophies to guide our team collaborations and take a test-and-learn approach to developing our offer. By creating several iterations of a design solution, we are able to compare results and drill down to what customers like best.

To learn more about how Nexway can take your customer experience to the next level, contact our Team today.