Design Thinking – The Next New Wave

Thinking like a designer can transform the way you conceptualize a product, service, process. Know why design thinking is the new hot topic and how you can acquire these much sought after skills

Check out my this weeks article in ‘The Tribune’.

Please do share the article amongst your family and friends.

The only way to find the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.

Arthur C. Clarke

This quote by Arthur C Clarke, one of my favorite science fiction authors is our guiding light to explore a bold new field called Design Thinking. At the risk of being repetitive, let me stress that we live in unprecedented times. Never before has our way of life being challenged as now in 2020 with covid-19 having created havoc. The world’s interconnectedness has been a boon earlier and is now resulting in our challenges being intertwined. New problems need a non linear, human centered, systematized approach to solving them.


A human centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology and the requirements of business success

Tim Brown, Chair Design and Innovation Firm, IDEO

This combination of tools and insight can be thought of as social technology (HBR, 2018). It is a multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving, which is done with the engagement of people, hence helping overcome biases and rootedness to “the way things are done.”


An area with immense possibilities, design thinking is being embraced by all those concerned with pushing the emergence of innovative solutions by putting the human being (employee, customer) at the focus. UX Designers, HR Managers, Quality Managers, Process Improvement Champions, Product Designers, Customer Engagement Leads, Freelancers, Consultants, CEO’s – they are but some of the people who are evangelizing Design Thinking. Please don’t fall for the fallacy that it is only for designers. Basically, it is used to solve all kinds of tricky business problems.

For example, a traditional organization may commission a customer survey to listen to the voice of the customer. A design thinking organization would ensure that their product designer spends a day or two at the customer site and really goes back to the drawing board to resolve both stated and latent needs. Immersion thus is key to design thinking. This raw data is then analyzed and made sense of. Thought alignment workshop may be conducted with the customer to ideate on what the final design should achieve. The thoroughness of the discovery process is extended to the idea generation and evaluation process. A common theme throughout all processes is to challenge assumptions and biases in a nonjudgmental fashion.


Unfortunately, there is no single gold standard for a design thinking certification. The moot point to understand here is that this is a practitioner’s realm, and there is no age criteria. Some of the top global and Indian courses are listed:

1. IDEO – U: Foundations in Design Thinking; Online mode of study; 2 online cohort courses of 2-3 months based on 4 hours per week; Cost – USD 1198.

2. Stanford University: Design Thinking Bootcamp: Originally in person, and now offered virtually; Interactive 3.5 days of online bootcamp followed by 3 days of post program coaching to launch design in your organization; Cost – USD 13k.

3. Cornell University: Design Thinking Certificate: Online mode of study; 6 months with 3-5 hours per week; Cost – USD 3.6k.

4. The Design Gym: One Day Bootcamp: In-person mode of study (currently no programs scheduled); 1 day bootcamp; Online studios also available for corporate change interventions; Cost: USD 595-675.

5. ISDI (Indian School of Design & Innovation): 11 month PG course in Design & Innovation: Currently online mode of study; Course curriculum in partnership with Parsons; Currently admission process ongoing; Admission via Creative Aptitude test and In-person interview; Cost: INR 10.45 lakhs.

6. IIM Kozhikode: Professional Certificate Program in Design Thinking and Innovation Management: Online mode of study, 3 hours weekly for 5 months; Course starts in May; Cost: INR 1 lakh + GST.

7. IIM Rohtak: Certificate Program in Advance Strategy Thinking & Design Thinking: 2 days campus immersion at the beginning and end of the program; 3 hours weekly for 6 months; Course starts in April; Cost: Rs. 1.55 lakhs + GST.

8. IIM Lucknow – Wiley: Executive Program in Data Driven Product Management: Online mode with 4 days of immersion; 140 hours over 6 months including 10 Masterclasses; Pre-Course Preparation Modules also provided; Course starts in November 2020; Cost: INR 1.49 lakhs + GST.

IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore and ISB also offer Management Development Programmes on Design Thinking. Many of the leading B Schools are now offering Design Thinking as a course in their curriculum.

In addition to these, there are many companies offering training courses on design thinking in India. Prominent among them are KPMG, TinkerLabs and QAI. The various e-learning companies like Udemy, Coursera, Simplilearn also have design thinking courses available for one to learn about the topic.

If you are looking to challenge yourself and explore new ways of solving a problem, then design thinking is certainly for you. Practical and engaging, these courses are sure to alter your thought process and help you change the way you see things.

The writer is HR Advisor and Career Coach ( 

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