3 examples of design thinking in action

In our last blog post, we explored the fundamentals of design thinking. Now, to bring it to life, we’re looking at 3 examples of design thinking in action.

1. P&G

One of the most notable examples of design thinking comes from FMCG giant, Procter & Gamble, who harnessed design thinking to inform product development for Oil of Olay.

After observing consumers in store, P&G realised that by targeting women over fifty, the skincare industry had overlooked a key segment: younger women in their thirties and forties. P&G then tested prototypes, pricing models and store displays with these consumers, ultimately leading to the launch of a new product range designed to meet consumer needs. Find out more about this case study by watching this useful video from Harvard Business Review.

2. IBM

Another example of design thinking in a large corporate comes from IBM. The software giant is hoping to infuse its corporate culture with the very best of design thinking. IBM has drawn from IDEO’s famous methodology to develop its own manifesto and guidelines for design thinking. At its heart is The Loop, a continuous process made up of three key stages: Observe (focusing on the user by observing them in the real world), Reflect (sharing knowledge and coming together as a team) and Make (transforming ideas to reality).

According to Wired, over 10, 000 employees have been trained in these principles to date. As a result, as many as 100 products been developed with the help of design thinking.

3. Sanitation in Cambodia and Vietnam

Design thinking isn’t just confined to big business. My favourite example is a case study of social innovation in Asia, where design thinking has shaped the provision of sanitation facilities in Cambodia and Vietnam. In this brilliant TEDxChange talk Jeff Chapin describes how he and his team were able to develop latrines and handwashing systems that truly met villagers’ needs – all through the power of design thinking.

By observing villagers in context, the team unearthed important cultural insights, which influenced the decision to create sanitation systems which could be upgraded over time: the same approach taken by villagers to improving their own homes.

Jeff and his team also tested prototypes with villagers, first in traditional focus groups but then by asking villagers to live with the prototypes in their homes over a period of weeks. Not only did this allow the team to identify how to optimise the sanitation systems but it helped them to identify use cases: they soon found that what mattered most to villagers was being able to wash their hands in the kitchen to prevent illness through contaminated food.

This blog post is part of series designed to equip insight professionals with the tools, frameworks and terminology to make their mark on the innovation process. Want to know more? Download our whitepaper on the subject here.