Design Thinking – An Essential Skill for Future Leaders

Are you creative? Do you hold the skillset to think of an innovative solution? Embark on a path to learn about design-thinking – the soft skill to analyse, observe and understand people’s needs and design solutions that are desirable, viable and feasible. With dynamic consumption habits, behavioural changes and digital transformations, consumer needs keep changing. The application of design thinking extends to the world of leadership, especially in solving complex challenges. It also fosters other essential qualities that are important for future leaders like: 

Being open-minded and curious 

A leader should always welcome new ideas and look at matters from different perspectives, and the design thinking approach helps inculcate this quality. It creates a curious environment for exchanging diverse concepts and solutions to explore and integrate the best ones. Openness makes people respect the leader and thus, make them keen to discuss their challenges and opportunities. 

Adaptable and agile 

Today’s world is more dynamic than ever, with new challenges coming up every day. Thus, leaders must be ready to shift and experiment as things evolve or ideas fall apart. Design-thinking approach is all about experimenting and thinking of innovative solutions, which teaches the leader to adapt to a new thought process based on the understanding. 

Being empathetic 

A leader’s journey isn’t limited to finding a creative solution. Before a leader thinks of an innovative idea, they need to really understand people’s problems and how it’s causing them pain. Empathy is an important characteristic, and design-thinking teaches one to observe, communicate and analyse complex issues in an empathetic manner. 

Conflict resolution skills

Leaders should always be able to face chaos or conflicts constructively. Design-thinking leaders do not panic or put pressure on themselves. They learn to tackle disputes creatively and think of good ways to put matters to rest. 

But how do you acquire these attributes? Here are 5 steps that you can go through to become a design thinker: 

1. Empathise 

Uncover issues people often face but never realise or make a big deal out of it. Without holding any judgement, show compassion and try to comprehend the challenges. 


Once you’ve observed the challenge, your second step is to describe it and jot it down. This step helps in defining the problem with complete clarity. 

3. Ideate

This step is where you put in all your creative energy and brainstorm ideas by yourself or with a team. After gathering a bunch of concepts, pick the ones you can experiment with and analyse. 

4. Prototype

Put together a concrete version of the idea you think will fit best. This prototype doesn’t need to be perfect or a final product; it should just be good enough to be accepted and understood by people. 

5. Trial

Just like an app-developer rolls out their new application for testing, similarly, you need to do that for your prototype. Observe how people are responding to it and gather feedback from them. 

Sometimes you may have to go back a few steps to think of changes or new solutions. The process may seem like hard work, but the design-thinking approach is a good learning tool for future leaders, and it’s being taught in many universities today. It fosters collaboration, helps build effective teams and helps create better solutions that benefit everyone. 

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