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  • Daniel Ling

Design Thinking: The Ultimate Competitive Advantage for Companies, Society, and Individuals

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

1. Companies Need Design Thinking to Innovate

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

- Steve Jobs, Apple CEO

Companies need to innovate or die. Today’s consumers are very aware, are spoiled for choice, and can be very fickle. 3M and Apple were companies on the brink of failure- but they proceed to adopt an innovative culture through design thinking to achieve amazing records of success. Today, 3M generated nearly $30 billion revenue selling over 55,000 innovative products, while Apple captivated the consumer electronics market with stylish products like the iPhone, Macbook and iPad.

In a competitive market, companies, big or small, need to innovate to create an advantage over their competitors. Design thinking will allow companies and startups to innovate and explore opportunities, based on unmet consumer needs and understanding of the situation.

IBM, for example, started a hiring process to hire 1,100 designers across the company by end of 2015. The goal is to have their methods infuse every aspect of how IBM does business. The aged computing giant has discovered “design thinking" that puts customers first on the way to creating goods and services. In fact, they have figured that this is way to go in their future plans.

2. Society Need Design Thinking to Solve Human Problems

“Design is directed toward human beings. To design is to solve human

problems by identifying them and executing the best solution.”

- Ivan Chermayeff, Designer & Artist

People need design thinking to solve human problems (difficulties we encounter in daily life). For example, we face issues like overcrowding at train stations, bad online banking experiences and traffic jams, which can lead to frustration and social problems. By applying design thinking principles, we identify the best possible options to streamline and make these experiences go better, faster and smoother.

Government agencies in Singapore have taken the step to apply design thinking to improve customer experience. LTA (Land Transport Authority of Singapore), for example, apply design thinking principles to improve train cabin experience. Khoo Teck Puat Hospital has a design and research team that actively understands patients' needs and creates improvements to service design, processes and infrastructure.

3. Individuals Need Design Thinking to Compete and Excel

“Design thinking is 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 for business success.”

- Tim Brown, President & CEO of IDEO

Design thinking has already been seen as a competitive advantage for individuals who want to excel in their career or business. Many schools, such as the Rotman School of Design and Stanford University’s, have offered exclusive courses on Design Thinking to executives and professionals. They aim to give students with design backgrounds a stronger business advantage, while offering business-minded people a more creative edge.

According to the Wall Street Journal, prospects are willing to pay up to $40,000 per year for a Design Thinking MBA, while a Stanford’s three-day Design Thinking bootcamp costs $9,500! There are many individuals willing to fork out huge money to gain valuable design thinking tools and knowledge - all in order to compete, and be more effective.

I have been getting many emails from all over the globe from Russia to Malaysia, from India to Singapore with a singular mind to learn and discover what design thinking is about and what it can do to help them solve problems or lead a problem-solving team. The trend will continue to rise indeed.

Last Words

I will be adding more articles on Design Thinking throughout the year. Articles of Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test will be added periodically to give my readers a broader insights to Design Thinking.

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About the Author

Daniel Ling has more than 10 years of Design Thinking experience and has moulded himself to be a “designer in a business suit”- strong in the Design Thinking process and yet relevant to the financial and business industry- across OCBC, DBS, NTUC Income and Lazada. He trained close to 500 professionals in the area of Design Thinking, Innovation and Strategy. He authored the Complete Design Thinking Guide for Successful Professionals and the book is sold worldwide via Amazon, iTunes, Ingram, Lulu and Kinokuniya.

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