Design thinking for innovation

wazoku Blog

Design thinking has become a popular topic for discussion; with industry leaders like IBM and GE embracing and embedding design thinking in their organisations, other organisations are inevitably taking note.

Why do it?

Design thinking is first and foremost people-centred, deriving products and services to meet a genuine need. This is why the term human-centric design has become so prominent. Successful design thinking relies on several components starting with a deep understanding of people and moving through a structured approach, culminating in the delivery of solutions. Within this general framework, there are many different ways to approach design thinking.

                Thomas Edison was practising the basic principles of design thinking in the late 19th century  when he realised that his light bulb would not be valuable unless people had ready access to electricity. He therefore set  about to build an entire ecosystem to support and provide this access,  including  electrical distribution, switches, meters and a new craft of lighting design.1


If you don’t understand where you are starting from and your true end goal, then all of your subsequent work is based on incorrect assumptions. Organisations can flourish through building a comprehensive innovation process, one with its foundations firmly grounded in design thinking.

As we have with all other aspects of the innovation process, we encourage you to embrace the spirit and message of design thinking – the resolution of real problems for real people – but adopt your own language to communicate and embed it across your organisation.

Who’s doing it?

Avis Budget Group (Avis), one of the leading global car rental businesses, was faced with an industry in transition, from startups exploiting the new sharking economy to technological advances in autonomous and electric vehicles. Avis is repositioning itself as a ‘mobility services provider,’ increasing their focus on the customer whilst maximising their potential as a global fleet management company As Avis has made innovation a priority, they have taken important steps to embed a true culture of innovation, from the adoption of Wazoku’s idea management platform, their first global collaboration tool, to the appointment of a Chief Innovation Officer tasked with driving innovation across the organisation. Avis is spreading the message that innovation is not an elite function but rather for everyone, everywhere.

How to do it:

Design thinking can be distilled into three core components:


Gather unknown problems, wants and needs to know more about the world and people your organisation interacts with. The key is to uncover new ways to create opportunities, shape markets, change the game and lead, not follow.


Build the expertise and capability to be able to increase your focus on internal and external strategic communities to build powerful connections that drive the co-creation of new business models, solutions and experiences.


Establish the expertise, skills and capabilities needed to be able to increase your focus on agility and the ability to execute better and faster. It is vital to be able to change direction in the face of uncertain, complex and changing markets.

Interested in reading more detailed steps for implementation?
Read our Design Thinking Report for EveryDay innovation today.

1 Thomas Edison: Inventor or Innovator?, Intel Free Press, 21 March 2013
2 Eyes Wide Shut – Leading for innovation in post-recession Britain, M. Kingdon & D. Allen, ?WHAT IF! Holdings Limited, 2014