How the Design Thinking concept helped well-known companies?

Sense ConsultingMay 9, 2017.

Large corporations and fast-growing small companies worldwide are changing their approach and putting design in the center of attention. However, these changes aren’t linked to the aesthetics, but rather to the application of business design principles and the way employees operate. Such an approach doesn’t come by itself, but is rather an answer to the growing complexity of modern technologies and demands of modern business operations. Whether we are talking about the new product or service, traditional business tools developed for a different business and lifestyle environment are increasingly struggling to meet today’s challenges. In the meantime, successful corporations and companies started applying new practical approaches to solving complex business and lifestyle challenges.

Design Thinking – the combination of variety of tools – is today’s leading methodology utilized worldwide by large corporations, medium-sized companies and organizations. Design Thinking integrates access to operational challenges that are based on understanding consumer’s feelings and needs through collaboration with people of different business and personal profiles, with the goal of making a prototype as a final result. In the meantime, there are key differences between the design thinking process and other business solution methodologies. The design thinking approach is not structured as a linear but iterative process. Such an approach relies on process experimentation and perhaps most importantly, it allows for mistakes during the implementation. This is what makes design thinking one of the best tools for modern business operations, especially for creating innovative business culture as the foundation of each organization.

Although the implementation of the design thinking concept in Croatia is at its very beginning, we notice its everyday application in all core business levels of some of the most successful large corporations, middle-sized companies, and more so within the public administration organizations. Here are some examples of how the design thinking method helped many well-known companies.


With the implementation of the design thinking concept, IKEA has just started to produce furniture in a way that every user can easily transport and assemble. For customers, this resulted in a well-designed product at the best possible price. This way, IKEA saves money for them and their customers on transporting furniture that is practically packaged and ready to be shipped.


Just a few years ago, PepsiCo has lost the battle with the market, and today it marks a rapid growth after the company’s leadership embraced design thinking and focused on meeting user experience in every product. For example, they began to produce smaller and differently packaged snacks tailoring them to the needs of women.


Upon creating a smarter electric toothbrush, Braun has focused on the two key needs identified by their users, which added more value to the product. They have created a toothbrush that can be simply charged on a computer, and if needed, the user could easily order replacement brushes in just a few clicks.


Olay’s cosmetics line has had an issue with oversaturated products. Consumers thought it was too difficult to find the best ultimate product for themselves. Through the design thinking based workshop, P&G employees have created a website (Olay for you) where customers had an available personalized narrator answering a series of questions about his or her skin. By analyzing responses, the customer receives a variety of product suggestions suited to their needs, as well as receive ski care tips.


Design thinking is not only used for creation of innovative products and services but also to strengthen the innovation culture within the company. Colgate-Palmolive’s employees are an example who share wooden necklace with each other. The necklace is received by a person who has made a significant contribution to a project, and afterwards they are responsible to pass it on to the next person. In this simple and symbolic way, Colgate-Palmolive strengthens its own recognition economy for employees. This idea has come about through design thinking.

Author: Vedran Antoljak, Managing Partner, Sense Consulting