Will design thinking deliver benefits to infrastructure owners?
It seems that everyone is talking about design thinking. But is it relevant to infrastructure owners, investors and developers?
Newspapers, business and industry magazines are publishing ever more articles on design thinking or human-centred design. They include examples like Samsung’s mobile phones and televisions, PepsiCo’s products and customer experiences, or innovative customer-centred services in the finance sector.
Applications are also emerging in the public sector. Design thinking is helping improve services delivered by the likes of the taxation, welfare and education departments and even hospitals.
A healthy sceptic will ask “Is this just a fad or something genuinely useful? Are we talking about going back to a blank sheet and starting again, or something different?”
Direct experience suggests there is real value to be gained. The first benefit comes from a more insightful and useful approach to customers. The second comes with a shift in mindset. People stop repeating conventional development practices, shifting to more deliberately creating assets that are genuinely useful and valuable.
Recent studies have also shown that design-driven companies have developed and maintained a significant performance edge. In the USA, companies embracing design thinking have gained a clear stock-market advantage, out-performing the S&P500 by an extraordinary 219 percent over the past 10 years.
Can these benefits be transferred to the big dollar, big impact world of public and private infrastructure? Yes. This fertile ground, as-yet largely untouched by design thinking, is all about to change.
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