How businesses can solve problems and secure a competitive advantage


Design Thinking workshops are growing in popularity across industries due to their effectiveness in business innovation and problem-solving. The term “design thinking” itself has tripled in popularity in the past five years, according to Google Trend. Despite the name, Design Thinking workshops are not just for those in design. Any business can benefit from a design thinking workshop, from marketing to product and sales. Does your company have a problem, want to understand its target audience better, expand, or get a leg up on its competition? A Design Thinking workshop can help you grow.

Design Thinking origins

While the methods and processes of innovation have been the focus of scientists, engineers, creative individuals, and analysts for decades, the modern idea of design as a way of thinking or science was first coined by cognitive scientist and Nobel Prize laureate Herbert A. Simon in his book The Sciences of the Artificial in 1969. Many of Simon’s ideas are regarded as the founding principles of which Design Thinking workshops were created, including swift testing and prototyping through observation: “To understand them, the systems had to be constructed, and their behaviour observed,” Simon said in his book.

Group discussion over post it notes
How can design thinking benefit business? A Design Thinking workshop is structured to do just that.

A few years later, Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering Robert H. McKim spoke to how visual thinking impacted our ability to understand and solve problems in his book Experiences in Visual Thinking, namely how combining left and right brain thinking creates a more holistic form of problem-solving. The Design Thinking methodology as we know it and apply it to problem-solving today stemmed from a hybrid of their ideologies and continues to evolve in innovation settings.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a philosophy based on a designer’s approach to design or solve challenges. Rather than a one-shoe-fits-all mindset, it encourages a holistic view where uncertainty and ambiguity are welcomed and embraced as to consider all sides of a problem. A single-minded approach, on the other hand, can isolate a problem, neglect the people affected by it, and limit the resolutions needed to move forward successfully. (This lack of awareness can tremendously cost businesses.)

Large board of post it notes
Signs of a design thinking workshop in progress.

Once a problem is defined and understood from all angles, it is then convergently conceptualized and actualized through testing. A design mindset can be applied to any life situation, and it aides in considering the bigger picture and informatively acting accordingly. So how can design thinking benefit business? A Design Thinking workshop is structured to do just that.

Design Thinking Workshops

Simply put, a Design Thinking workshop is an engaging, interactive, hands-on approach to problem-solving. The workshops offer training on a design thinking process, which prioritizes creative collaboration to find solutions in action. This is a non-linear approach that considers all sides of a problem. It seeks to understand the audience/consumer/client better and rethink and redefine assumptions and issues to constructively identify innovative solutions. Those solutions are then tested, and reworked if needed, to reach an optimal outcome. The use of this model leads to the creation of a business’s innovation process.

Post it notes from Design Sprints

The phases of a Design Thinking Workshop focus on:

  1. Empathy: Understand the perspective of the target audience/customer/consumer to clearly identify and address the problem at hand; clearly understand and work with team members to strengthen team dynamics and overall performance to meet a common goal.
  2. Innovation: Clear and concise direction for ideation and problem-solving, the production of as many possible ideas and solutions to the problem as possible.
  3. Testing: Whether through prototypes or real testing, applying the generated ideas in a real-world setting to assess their effectiveness.

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like,” Steve Jobs said to The New York Times Magazine about the role of design in Apple’s success. “People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Group discussion in Design Sprint
In the middle of a design thinking workshop.

Design Sprint

The 5-Day Design Sprint is our bread and butter at Voltage Control. At its core, it is a Design Thinking workshop that efficiently explores and solves problems within a specific amount of time. We help you get clear about your goals, long-term vision, knowing your target audience, and carefully evaluate the value and usability of your project/product. The accelerated product strategy accomplishes a month’s worth of work in less than one week, sparks creative momentum for new projects and transformation, significantly improves team dynamics and functionality, and helps to create a long-standing company culture of innovation. We use the Design Sprint method first created at Google Ventures and continue to add our flare to create the most optimal experience.

Weekly schedule for Design Sprint
The Design Sprint process

Surpass the Competition

Applying design thinking principles to strategy and innovation dramatically improves the success rate of transformation. According to the Design Management Institute and Motiv Strategies’ 2015 Design Value Index, companies that are now led by design such as Apple, Nike, Pepsi, Proctor & Gamble, and IBM have exceeded the performance of the S&P 500 by over 200%. This is evidence that design is not only crucial to creating successful products and services, but it can transform the way companies create value when applied to systems, procedures, and customer experience.

Design thinking allows the exploration of what is possible using imagination, logic, comprehensive reasoning, and instinct to create an outcome that best serves the customer; therefore, the business.

“Design-thinking firms stand apart in their willingness to engage in the task of continuously redesigning their business… to create advances in both innovation and efficiency — the combination that produces the most powerful competitive edge,” Roger Martin, author of The Design of Business, said.


Looking for a Design Thinking Workshop Facilitator or Design Thinking Training? Get in touch.

Voltage Control facilitates design thinking workshops, innovation sessions, and Design Sprints. Please reach out at info@voltagecontrol.co for a consultation.