Design Thinking is a creative, logical tool facilitating innovation and transformation, says Dr Sanjay Dhande
Updated on Dec 21, 2016 - 6:59 p.m. IST by Apratim Chatterjee
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Steve Jobs said, “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Design Thinking is quite a prevalent concept utilised by corporate organisations to solve complex problems and explore their effective solutions. While the concept is prevailing in business strategies, aspirants are looking forward to pursue a specialised programme in Design Thinking. Dr Sanjay Dhande, Chief Mentor, Avantika University in an interview with Careers360 shares his views on Design Thinking.


In this interview, he talks about the evolution of ‘Design Thinking’ concept, while he indicates the involvement of design thinking in day-to-day life.


Read this interview to know what he says on Design Thinking as a programme, its key element and the possible opportunities in this field.


Careers360: What is ‘design thinking’? Please share the scope of ‘design thinking’.
Dr Sanjay Dhande: Design thinking as a concept is prevalent across the world today for its effective problem-solving techniques using design principles. Design- thought and action are both keys to most of the breakthrough contributions that human beings have witnessed as a civilization. It is backed by a set of smarter tools and methodologies to help unlock greater potential.  It anticipates the problems of future and helps them address today and helps to bring right balance between analytical and intuitive thinking. The newer and wider applications of design thinking are visible across technology, healthcare, and education verticals, with smarter products and services that offer productivity gains by improving the overall processes for customers.

Design Thinking based pedagogy helps students to develop insights from multiple perspectives and give them flair to solve real-world problems based on critical thinking and analytical skills. It is now time to take design to mainstream education to help future professionals solve problems successfully by applying innovative ways. A repositioning for ‘design thinking’ as a discipline is required as advisors, mentors and coaches.


Careers360: How ‘design thinking’ reflects in day-to-day life of a common man?
Dr Sanjay Dhande: An effective solution for the modern times ‘Design Thinking’ helps to address a variety of factors, including greater complexity, diversity and a sense of uncertainty in the world. It develops the sense to deal with issues and harbour intellectual and practical dexterity, including creative, analytical and problem-solving skills.

Design Thinking provides holistic view for designing advanced systems and processes and nurtures competence across all walks of lives by creating robust and future-proof business strategies, and even map the ever-changing customer needs well before time.

Further, it develops a design oriented attitude that helps individuals break restrictive mind-set and harvest more mature organisations of the future, with the best of  strategies, processes, systems, policies, products and services. It is a powerful tool for student empowerment that will potentially inspire intrinsic motivation, entrepreneurial mind-set and commitment towards creating a positive difference in the world and building a better country.


Careers360: How has ‘design thinking’ as an academic programme has evolved in last decade?
Dr Sanjay Dhande: Today, in an era of easy information access, the digital processes have brought new possibilities for the design arena that requires an ethical and feeling attitude along with sharp intellect. The other step forward is created using professional design education that is sensitized to feel, think, and act for a rapidly changing social world.

We increasingly need skills as the ability to think creatively and critically, take initiative and work collaboratively are common goals. There is a need to apply Design Thinking to our educational methodologies for the new age students to understand the basics of human needs and human problems while delivering the real-time value. Design Thinking enables intuition into the strategy process and has enormous potential to improve the current educational system.


Careers360: What kind of programmes are offered for ‘design thinking’ in India?
Dr Sanjay Dhande: Design Thinking is an essential component of a variety of programs that focus on innovation with an essential component of design. Ranging from one year to four years, they equip students to become successful innovators, entrepreneurs and designers who are capable of making ground-breaking, sustainable impact in the world.


Careers360: What are the key elements of the programmes related to ‘design thinking’?
Dr Sanjay Dhande: Though innovating by design is not a new concept for India. As part of our legacy, we have been applying similar traditional methodologies guided by human-centric principles. Learning by Doing should be the new Teaching fundamental. A pedagogical shift in education model should help learners with how to learn and not what to learn. It must encompass project based initiatives and workshops. The value driven framework should apply design thinking principles on how it can change the mode of learning.

Some of the design thinking principles that can be used to offer a unique learning environment for students–

  • Learning by Exploration: Observation and understanding of the surrounding and identifying the problem areas thus achieving a greater understanding of its core cause.

  • Empathy: By employing active listening, drawing and observation develop a deeper sense of understanding people’s behaviour, expectation, decision-making process, and their personal, cultural values. It adds value to better collaboration for the learning environment.

  • Creative Thinking: Making notes of all possible things for divergent thinking without judging on the nature of the solution. The idea is to promote effective collaboration

  • Reflection: Narrowing down the ideas on the scale of functionality

  • Creation/Prototyping: Rapid prototyping and brainstorming, embracing failure as a prerequisite for success.

  • Implementation: Putting the production to practice and checking its effectiveness.

The active prototyping in education will help institutions adapt faster to the fast changing needs of students. A human-centric approach will help transform and innovate effectively. It will empower learners to become creative thinkers who can create meaningful solutions with a problem-solving attitude. Disruptive approach beyond traditional lectures by applying Design Thinking principles will inspire and guide the students to build a better future for everyone.


Careers360: How are industries utilising ‘design thinking’ concept?
Dr Sanjay Dhande: Design thinking approach has been in existence for a few decades now and has immense power to lay a better foundation across industry verticals. Ever since 1950’s, a pervasive presence of design for the mass launch and wider adoption of cars, consumer electronics across the world.

Post-1960’s, the design element was aligned to the core product functionality rather than the selling point. A new era in the design vertical was witnessed during 1980’s with the launch of Apple Macintosh computers, to iPod devices of modern times. This can be attributed to the early application of design thinking to develop actual business solutions. The focus here was about maximising consumer satisfaction – by understanding their practical needs. It was a revolutionary development which was beyond technology and aesthetics towards creating products with strong emotional appeal.


Careers360: Design thinking is being increasingly utilised in business strategies of start-ups. What is the reason behind this?
Dr Sanjay Dhande: Design Thinking is a creative, logical tool that can facilitate innovation and transformation. Applying it to business problems empowers organisations and individuals to understand their competitive and operational environment better. The current strategies and approaches are designed in a conventional manner whereas their focus should be on value creation. New skills are needs in the working life and therefore also education needs to change.


Careers360: What kind of opportunities are there for those who wish to pursue design thinking?
Dr Sanjay Dhande: The world has progressed and now we need people who think creatively, innovatively, critically, independently, with the ability to connect. Work as strategist, experience designers, technologist, and creative director. The academic structure is intended to not just support professional growth but will also develop the students to become innovators and entrepreneurs.


Stay tuned to for more interview and updates on Design Thinking

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