Design Thinking in Business

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Businesses now face problems that are unprecedented in comparison to the struggles experienced a few decades earlier. In a world that is networked and predominantly globalized, where culture is rapidly changing, and where shifts in environmental and economic capital are felt globally, market problems are increasingly being interconnected with the networks that bind people (Hill et al. 2013). Furthermore, conventional approaches for dealing with market issues are no longer reliable. Firms in the modern world cope with some revolutionary challenges: globalization, uncertainty, regulation, employing the right staff, improving the productivity of the business resources (Hill et al. 2013). Other significant challenges include staying ahead of the market, coping with the rapid changes in products and technology, and globalized competition in the market. Such challenges have changed the ways in which business must compete. These challenges have further caused an increase in the need for companies to be receptive, flexible, and capable of reacting and competing in a globalized market.

In order to solve this new kind of problems, there is need to develop a new method of thinking and approaching problems. Design thinking forms a major part of this new approach to problem-solving for it permits organizations, teams and individuals to have a human-centered viewpoint, and yet a scientific approach to solving a problem. This essay discusses the globalization of markets and competition challenge facing businesses, the traditional methods used to address this challenge, and finally, discusses the concept of design thinking and how it can be used to address this challenge.

Globalization of business

Globalization is the ability of a business to spread its sales or products to new markets throughout the world. It also refers to the unavoidable integration of markets, technologies, nation-states, capital, and technologies in a variety of ways that allow groups, corporations, and states to accomplish their operations or activities globally quickly and cost effectively. Dunning (2014) defines globalization as the process by which corporations, businesses or other organizations start to operate on a worldwide scale or grow their international influence. It is, therefore, the process that enables global exchange of resources, goods, and ideas. This statement means that the world’s economy is quickly becoming a global village that is highly interconnected, interrelated and interdependent regarding business and investments. Globalization of business over the years has been spearheaded by some factors, in particular, the advances in the information technology, telecommunication, and transportation infrastructure.

Studies have shown that many companies cite globalization as one of their main challenges. Dunning (2014) argues that for a business to penetrate the international or new markets, develop new services and products, and recognize emerging competition, the understanding of foreign culture is vital. Globalization causes numerous challenges to the business itself. For instance, firms that strive to globalize their market need to embrace diversity in their innovation, how they act or even think. The globalization of markets calls for diversification in management and brings together individuals of diverse ethnicity, age, and religious backgrounds into a cohesive and productive unit. Globalization also calls for the need to understand the various world cultures and markets through efficient gathering and dynamic analysis of those markets Dunning (2014). This means that the management needs to be more conscious of what goes in those international markets.

The massive economic growth that has been witnessed in the today's world’s economy has compounded the interdependency of businesses and enhanced the connections between marketing and production. All these transformations have resulted in the birth of global businesses. Globalization of businesses also requires the management to have a new set of skills and capabilities. Those skills include the capacity to cope with the frequent changes in the global market, developing of cost effective methods of production, ability to respond to the fast-changing market condition, and being more competitive. In order for a business to strategize globally, the management must expand their approach to accommodate multi-dimensional relationships and different cultural, social, economic and political realities.

It is imperative to note that one of the most important abilities of a business is to have a global view. Business with a global perspective has the advantage to traverse the world market and embrace the different economic opportunities all over the world. Globalization also forces businesses to adopt the ability to meet the challenges of human diversity and take advantage of it (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 2011). This method poses a challenge because business has to take a multicultural approach in their workforce and the product’s customers. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (2011) state that globalization requires managers to be sensitive to the diverse cultural values, norms, attitudes and methods of solving problems and decision-making. It further translates to the ability to communicate in different languages, familiarizing with local businesses, customs and traditions backgrounds

The globalization of the markets is important because it massively increases the international competition (Dunning 2014). Over the years, the new foreign competitors who have emphasized on globalization easily outdo companies that have competed only in the local market. Many businesses have been able to cope up with this increasing need to globalize while others have failed. Due to this reason, businesses in the modern world are challenged with the fast globalization of competition and markets. As discussed above globalization offers businesses some opportunities in the new emerging markets, but it may also bring about some complex operational risk. The challenge arises when the business does not have the right or enough infrastructure to face these risks and uncertainties. International business projects may, therefore, paralysis a company or even put it out of business.

Methods Previously Used to Solve Globalization Challenge

Consequently, the managements of the modern businesses have come up with plans to manage and overcome the challenge of the globalization of markets and amplified competition. In order to stay in business in this highly competitive global market, the managers have developed multilateral business networks and introduced new management policies (Crane and Matten 2016). Such management policies include management of quality (Total Quality Management) and re-engineering of business processes (Business Process Re-Engineering). The advancements in information technology, telecommunication, globalization of markets and creations of networks in the world economy have all greatly contributed to the competitive nature of business in the contemporary world. These changes in the nature of business competition have prompted the creation of multilateral business networks or partnership relations.

A multilateral business network is defined as a coalition formed between firms to achieve a common goal. It can also be defined as the process of creating a mutually advantageous relationship with customers and other businesses. These alliances are formed to help improve the global opportunities available to the business and improve the performances of the businesses. However, studies have indicated that more than 44% of employees believe that some of these collaborations do not support teamwork and sharing of resources and ideas (Crane and Matten 2016). On the other hand, re-engineering of business processes involves the analysis, rethinking and thorough redesign of existing business processes to achieve a global perspective and improve the new measures of performance, which include quality, speed, and costs of services. In this approach, the businesses completely re-engineer or reinvent the way they operate or offer a new product or a specific service or product in order to stay in business or compete effectively in the marketplace threatened by globalization. However, this method is very expensive, and if a business does not have the rights resources to adopt this approach, it may collapse in the process (Crane and Matten 2016).

Another method of solving the globalization challenge is by adopting the total quality management technique. This technique puts focus on the quality of products and services produced by a business. This means that quality in such a business in most concern from the management to the modest employee of the firm. This approach further emphasizes on the coordinated working of the management and staff to satisfy the clients. The benefit of this method is that it helps a business to earn the global market respect and trust from the customer. However, this approach is expensive, disrupts production, discourage creativity and is often faced with resistance from the employees.


Role of design thinking

Design thinking is defined as the methods used by management, designers, or design teams to come up with solutions to complex problems thinking (Lockwood 2010). Design thinking does not focus on the problem rather it concentrates on the solution and actions to be taken to achieve a favored future. It draws from an individual’s imagination, logic, perception and organized reasoning to create required results that benefit the customers. Design thinking is a repeatable and verified problem-solving technique that all businesses should adopt to achieve in this globalized market thinking (Lockwood 2010). Design thinking also integrates creativity and critical thinking that permits the organization of information and ideas, decision-making, improving situations, and gaining of knowledge of the global market. Primarily, design thinking permits the thinking and analyzing of a solution to address the globalization challenge. For instance, for managers to be able to formulate the above-discussed solutions, they must be able to apply design thinking those creative solutions to the globalization challenge. Design thinking helps in establishing the appropriate amount of time required to formulate a problem and measure the merits of the solution. Design thinking also helps in minimizing the level of uncertainty and the risk of a particular solution or innovation by involving the customers, employees and the management through a number of prototypes to test and improve concepts. It is, therefore, essential that design thinking should be the key concern when creating strategies for development and initiating organizational changes that help in solving challenges facing business in the modern world.


For one to establish the best solution to the globalization challenge facing businesses today, there is need to adopt the five core principles of design (Dorst 2011). These principles include understanding the audience, defining and establishing viewpoints, coming up with feasible solutions to the problem, trying out the various solutions and testing the solutions. Design thinking in this context helps in first identifying the people being affected by the globalization challenge. It further helps in identifying their values, beliefs, and needs that are affected by this challenge. This audience includes the customers, employees or even the management (Dorst 2011). It involves observing and engaging with customers to formulate the best solution that works for the interest. Furthermore, design thinking helps in formulating of multiple solutions to a problem, analyzing the problems and finally test the solutions.

In order to solve the globalization challenge, the traditional design thinking procedure should be applied. However, these methods are convergent and focus mainly on the goals; they include Total Quality Management and the Six Sigma method. The new design thinking solution to globalization will be both convergent and divergent and will mostly engage with the stakeholders (customers, employees, management). To tackle this challenge one must first analyze the audience or the shareholders and start with the things that are already done in the business, which include planning, strategy development, and budgeting. He or she should then analyze the alternatives from a broader perspective. For instance, what are the assumptions that are made about the global market? What assumptions are made about the stakeholders (customers, employees, shareholders, and management)? How will their needs be mate? These questions will help develop multifaceted inquiries that may reveal if a solution will work or not.

Decisions should then be made on with solutions are the best, and then the management should create an infrastructure that helps to implement these solutions and uphold diversity of the global team while maintaining the local deliveries. The infrastructure should be called the globalization team or department; this infrastructure should consist of both the existing business management and devoted groups such as networks created by employees and backed by the management. Business should go ahead and appoint councils to gather and respond to the different view of a particular diversity group. This process should then be followed by the creation of an organizational model that simplify the business visions and formulates plans to implement it effectively into the firm. In addition, businesses should embrace the role of research and leadership development and the learning and transfer of information to its employees. For a business to be effective in the globalized market, there is a need for coordination, transfer and the utilization of acquired knowledge in a rapid and efficient manner.

After creating an organizational model, the management should then start training their employees in good communication skills, customization, and social-cultural requirements to help them cope up with the increasing changes and uncertainties introduced by globalization. Globalization requires businesses to acquire skills to communicate with various groups of people. In order to attain this, employees are required to multilingual training and increased awareness and sensitization of the different cultures. Sensitive and clear communication with the customers helps in building trust and a strong business culture.

To complete the process one has to experiment the solutions and obtain present data on how the solution is working. Just as engineers or scientist in related fields uses prototypes, management can also use prototyping as an essential part of solving the globalization challenge. For instance, an individual can imagine what the client will experience, simulate the experience, run scenarios and do all kinds of things to ensure that the solution is concrete and can help solve the globalization challenge. Prototypes will assist the management to understand how the solution can be embedded in the business and how it will assist in resolving the globalization challenge.

Businesses that can implement the solutions discussed above will have the advantage to traverse the global market and embrace the different economic opportunities all over the world because of the above solutions provide ways of coping up with challenges associated with globalization. Those challenges include of diversity in the workforce, increased competition, uncertainties and many others.


Globalization offers numerous opportunities in the modern business world. However, greater opportunities also infer challenges that are associated with increased risk, uncertainty, and complexity of managing businesses. As detailed above, one of the most important abilities of a business is to have a global view. Business with a global perspective has the advantage to traverse the world market and embrace the different economic opportunities all over the world. Therefore, businesses should adopt design thinking and make it the key concern when creating strategies for development and initiating organizational changes that help in solving challenges facing business in the modern world.


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December 08, 2022

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