Design thinking in India - Blog by Vani Kola

As a concept, design thinking was coined as early as the 60s, but it took off in the 90s with David M. Kelley, founder of the design consultancy IDEO playing a key role in spreading awareness about it. Now an oft-repeated word, there has been great advocacy for incorporating design thinking principles in tech products.

Although, based on some of my observations, I’ve found that user interfaces are not often designed to be intuitive or consumer-friendly, and are hard to perceive unless the user has an engineering mindset. Good design reduces friction and pits analytical insight against creative thinking. It introduces visualisation and empathy enabling superior products to be built which inspires great loyalty from customers.

Design Thinking in India

As we grow the Indian startup ecosystem with aspirations to build innovative products many critical elements beyond the capital need to come together. One such fundamental element is to develop and administer design thinking at scale. To solve problems creatively, human-centred design is essential. If India has to continue to leapfrog existing solutions, we need to innovate and own design principles in everything we build.

Business leaders and entrepreneurs would do well if they commit to reskilling, embracing and nourishing such a culture in their organizations. As a country, we produce about 1.5M engineers a year but a paltry 36,000 designers (Source: CII) with a majority of them in architectural design, which speaks volumes about the dearth of design institutions. Solving design as a building block in our education system is seldom discussed, and this needs to change rapidly.

We must develop a large talent pool of design thinkers, and ensure that our technological & management institutions incorporate these concepts into their curriculums.

Such transformations take years to bear fruit, but I’m hopeful that if we as an ecosystem, welcome and emphasize the importance of design, we can create the right outcomes. Change begins at home, we must develop lateral thinking in children, and Design thinking in India, and not stifle intuitive creative capabilities on the altar of academic grades.

To learn more about design thinking, I recommend this Ted talk by Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO.