Strategic Management

5 Design Thinking Takeaways For Textiles and Apparel B2B Enterprises

It's about time that B2B professionals take a page out of the consumer marketing playbook by serving their customers with personalised and targeted services.

Published on
11 Jan 2022
Join Newsletter
By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

As COVID-19 continues to accelerate the process of digital transformation across most industries, organisations continue to struggle to embrace agility in their offerings. In this article we highlight five considerations from IBM's Enterprise Design Thinking to address uncertainty while optimising your organisation's operations and sales.

The term 'Design Thinking' may seem familiar and even universal at this point, but it remains a struggle for many businesses to understand how Design Thinking can be applied to their organisation while working within constraints or when faced with uncertainties.

The Design Management Institute reported that design-conscious companies like Apple, Coca Cola, and Walt Disney outperformed the S&P Index by 219% over 10 years, implying that these companies have an unfair advantage over other publicly listed companies due to their ability to leverage design thinking. What’s surprising here is the direct impact that design consciousness has on year-over-year profits. It makes us wonder: What is it about design thinking that allows these companies to stand out from the crowd, and how can it be applied to businesses in the B2B market?

Design Thinking In A Nutshell

A simple Google search will tell you what Design Thinking is but to give you a heads up: there is no official definition of Design Thinking, however, of all the definitions, we found that the way IBM defines it is most relevant to businesses looking to understand where their organisation stands in adopting a Human-Centered Mindset to meet their stakeholder's needs.

Adopting a Design Thinking mindset means learning from past customer experiences and enabling you to create better solutions for your customer's needs.

Keep in mind the word "design" in design thinking does not refer to the act of styling or the aesthetic look of an outcome rather it describes the process of systematically plan something with a purpose in mind.

In addition to being a mindset, Design Thinking is also a proven methodology. The process of practicing Design Thinking starts with understanding the 5-Stage Process created by The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. We are not going to breakdown the process in this article, instead, focus on the 5 Design Thinking pathways to adopt before beginning the process. This framework will equip you with new perspectives when your oganisation faces a new and unfamiliar problem.

1. Ambiguity is Friend, Not a Foe

Have you ever been in a situation when you were faced with a challenge without a clear idea of how you got there, and what the solution might be? In Design Thinking, we call this a "Wicked Problem". When faced with such a problem, we urge you embrace the ambiguity because it signifies that there is a gap, and even an opportunity to bridge the "what is" to the "what could be".

2. The User Is At The Heart Of Everything

One of the key features of Design Thinking is its emphasis on the user. The user refers to the person directly interacting with your product or services. When you work to figure out the users' current experience and their needs, it is easier for you to identify areas to focus on. Thus, making your product or services extra relevant to them. Be mindful after identifying the problem. Most of us will instinctively jump to figure out what to do.

Three Prompts to Understand Your User Better

  1. Who are our users?
  2. What is their current experience?
  3. How could it be improved?

Fun Fact: 50% of design-led companies report more loyal customers as a benefit to having advanced design practices (Adobe)

3. Everything Is a Prototype

In Design Thinking, the step after ideation is prototyping, where you would continuously test and learn by developing a MVP or a Minimum Viable Product. Though it has product in the name, The MVP is not a product, it's a process. A great way to visualise this is an excerpt from IBM Enterprise Design Thinking Practitioner course.

Yesterday’s horse-drawn carriage was a prototype for today’s automobile. Today’s automobile is just another prototype for tomorrow’s transportation breakthrough.

When you build a product, you make many assumptions. You assume you know what users are looking for, how the design should work, what marketing strategy to use, and which laws and regulations you have to comply with. No matter how good you are, some of your assumptions will be wrong. The problem is, you won't know until you test your product or service in the market. The only way to deliver consistent value to users is to test your assuptions by placing a product in front of real users, and when you do, you'll find your self going back to the drawing board over and over again, improving with every iteration.

4. Diverse Team, Diverse Ideas

Everyone has different perspectives, and in design thinking the more diverse the team is, the more diverse the ideas are.  Different factors relating to gender, professional experience, educational backgrounds, cultural upbringing, can invite different perspectives and unique solutions to solving your and your customers' needs.

Harnessing and aligning different perspectives is not an easy task and will require some effort and understanding from everyone in the team, however, the benefits will always outweigh the discomfort. With a diverse team, people will be able to challenge each other's assumptions, gain insight's to each other's knowledge, and generate more (unique) ideas.

5. Adopt the Beginner's Mind

Remember when you were a child? Most children share something in common that they ask so many questions, Particularly 'Why.' — this is how they figure out how the world works around them, which is also known as the 'Beginner's Mind.' Such a mindset plays an important role in Design Thinking as it allows everyone to view the problem with a fresh pair of eyes. It is about being curious and most importantly—ask a lot of why.

“If your mindset is is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are a few.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

Are you struggling with a Wicked Problem, and can't seem to wrap your head around  Design Thinking? Email us at to learn more about how you can optimise your operations and marketing services.