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Can Design Thinking be applied across professions?

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

To understand if design thinking can be applied across various professions, let’s look at what it is first. Design Thinking is often characterized as a process, a toolbox or as a mindset. All three are true of design thinking.


Just like an infinity loop, the growth mindset underpins the 4D Design Thinking Framework process and the tools used. The 4D Design Thinking Framework process is fed by the mindset of the leader/team at the beginning of the loop. Through the 4D process, the team select the appropriate and relevant design thinking tools to address their opportunity or problem. Using the process strengthens the growth mindset of the leader /team. When used consistently and with regularity, like an infinity loop, growth continues, both for the people and the business.

Leaders using design thinking understand it is their mindset that underpins the confidence with which they undertake the 4D Design Thinking process and select from the various tools in the toolbox. The more the process is used, the more confident the leader becomes in the framework and its results.


The 4D Design Thinking Framework process assists leaders and their teams in creatively seeking opportunities, solving complicated problems, navigating uncertainty with apparent ease, as well as designing simple solutions, or undertaking complex decision-making.


Design thinking is best applied in situations where the problem or opportunity is complex, unclear, confusing, or not well defined. Design thinking is also useful when the business is looking for ways to fast-track innovation, improve the innovation culture within the business or to make a growth leap.


Any industry where the market is constantly changing, or an industry that is new and emerging, or a market where the users, buyers and payers are still unclear are suited to users of design thinking. Design thinking helps leaders capture markets, inspire, and motivate their teams, hear, learn from stakeholder humans, design new systems and processes and innovate for human betterment.


Mature markets suit design thinking also, because it is often in mature markets that enterprises seek something to set them apart, a way to invigorate growth and jumpstart the competition. Sometimes it’s about shaving costs and streamlining processes. Design thinking assists leaders with developing growth solutions.


Many investors and CFOs are keen on design thinking in mitigating the risk of designing a singular solution. With Design Thinking the risk and investment of resources is spread across smaller opportunities that are tested and validated first.


Design Thinking is applied across a range of professions. Discovery industries like oil, gas, mining, and agriculture suit design thinking processes because of the high levels of volatility and uncertainty in these markets.


Service experience markets like health, wellness, entertainment, tourism, IT, and education suit design thinking. In service industries, health and wellness professionals, event managers, customer experience managers, user experience designers, learning designers, chefs, restaurateurs, and tourist operators will often seek to reduce blockages and customer waiting issues. Other ways design thinking helps experience markets is with increasing customer engagement, enhancing the customer experience and looking for opportunities to delight the customer.


In the finance, transport, entrepreneurial and manufacturing industries much of the 4D Design Thinking Framework process focuses on new product development.


Design thinking suits a spectrum of industries and markets and the 4D Design Thinking Framework can benefit leaders in these markets.


Leadingrowth offers a range of specialised and universal design thinking courses and workshops designed to upskill or enhance leaders and their teams to deliver on their human-centered outcomes.

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