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AgVoice | Thinking like a designer

Four years back when we started WOW Design, some friends frowned at me saying, “You are a marketing chap, what will you design? Fabrics? Posters? And you don’t even have a degree in design. How will you contribute to design?” One of my uncle’s friends came up to ask if we design wedding cards as well. We can’t blame them really as in India we are still grappling with a myopic outlook towards design, limiting it to graphic design.

I tell them how according to Steve Jobs, whom I refer to as Design guru, Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. We at WOW Design also strongly believe in delivering Design solutions that not only look good, but work good in the market. Design is much more than pretty pictures. Design can change businesses.

It’s interesting to note how the role of design has changed over the years. Since ages, colloquial usage referred to design that is more graphic. With the advent of the industrial era, product design came into being. Then came the age of Experience Design and a step forward would be using design for entire businesses and organisations. So it’s the arena of Brands and businesses that need design that we cater to. In India I believe we have just graduated to the experience design order and we have miles to go yet.

Now to answer their question of how does a marketer start designing, I bring to their notice, how there has been a shift towards innovative and creative thinking in organisations, where product innovation is not limited to the R&D division. Innovation is everybody’s responsibility. And that can be best achieved by just thinking like a designer – Design Thinking. This is not about having or not having ‘design’ in your title. This is about a mindset that can produce better results in any given arena. A design mindset!

So what is Design Thinking? Wikipedia defines Design Thinking as the methods and processes to investigate ill-defined problems, acquiring information, analyzing knowledge and posting solutions. By just thinking like a designer, a businessperson can innovate. Design Thinking is applicable to startups, ongoing business and even or especially so to help the going-down-to-the-slump business.

The obvious question hovering in your mind now is, so what does it take to think like a designer. All you have to do is let your imagination go wild with ideas and not restrict it with what you have learnt so far in life.

Firstly, most often than not, whenever a task comes up we start planning for it, as has been rightly taught in our management classes. But even prior to that a little bit of thinking would not hurt. Thinking to do things in a way, never done before. A little bit of observational research followed by brainstorming can really help us here.

Secondly, whenever there is a problem at hand, our usual tendency is to rush to solve it. Most often our problem statements are ill framed and hence the solutions may not be long term. A little pondering over framing the problem well will ensure that the objective of each exercise is understood and efforts taken are focused in the right direction.

Last but not the least, we sometime get too tied up in processes. A little bit of play is also good. The Indian concept of ‘jugaad’ is inline with the idea of play and hence we find people coming up with weird but fascinating innovative solutions for their day-to-day problems, even in the most interiors of the country.

Using Design Thinking, each one of us can be creative in our own way and contribute to innovations – a dire necessity in today’s complex ecosystems. As Saul Kaplan rightly said, “Innovation isn’t about coming up with the next Big Idea. It’s about combining existing ideas and parts in a new way”.

Design minded people are really good at observation, framing problems, working with imperfect data, prototyping solutions, caring about the details, envisioning unseen opportunities and casting visions of the future.

So Design is not just a field of study, it’s an attitude! At WOW Design, we strive each day to use this very Design attitude as a strategic resource to help build businesses and brands.

I sincerely believe that if managers adopted a Design Attitude, the world of business would be different and better. So what are you waiting for? Start thinking like a Designer, right now! | By Saswata Das, Co-owner and Managing Director - WOW Design

Anout the author:

Engineer turned marketer turned entrepreneur, Saswata Das is an effective strategic marketer and communications specialist with an uncanny ability to drive and develop business.

He is highly creative and thrives on developing ideas that cut through the clutter.

As the co-owner and Managing Director of WOW Design, Saswata demonstrated the ability to grow and develop a successful brand design consultancy from ground zero.

Saswata’s focus is always to deliver results for growing businesses. He develops brand & marketing strategies that are linked with effective tactical plans that integrate within the business, are simple, understandable and hence, fully implemented. Saswata developed the brand strategy for major clients including ITC, Kellogg’s, CavinKare and Emami. He has been associated with some of the critical Brand Revamps in the country like that of Bingo, Ghari Detergent and Garden Namkeens. Over the years he has built a very close relationship with his clients, who trust him for the sheer Brand guidance that he delivers.

Saswata has worked with clients across many industries, as his core capability is to develop a commercially viable marketing strategy that delivers results.

In past projects he has worked across areas such as brand creation and development, organizational transformation through Brand Design, business strategy and planning, and the development of integrated marketing strategies.

His experience in entrepreneurship and Marketing Communications in the Corporate sector has helped him to acquire skills that are essential for the success of any business – meticulous planning, setting up of a strong evaluation process and execution skills to ensure timely achievement of goals.

Music is Saswata’s life-blood. He is a trained Tabla player and a Sangeet Visharad in Hindustani Classical Music. He also takes interest in Fine Arts and photography. He loves to travel and doesn’t mind going on impromptu trips.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect in any way of Adgully.

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