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Design Thinking Lies at the Corner of Risk Management and Innovation

By John A. Wheeler | June 21, 2016 | 4 Comments

Technology and Emerging TrendsTech and Service ProvidersRisk ManagementInnovationDigital risk

Right now, businesses of all shapes and sizes are struggling to find the next disruptive, digital idea that will lead to exponential growth and hefty profits. We all know how companies such as Uber, Airbnb and LinkedIn have used digital platforms to re-create the entire customer experience. However, what many people do not realize is that a whole new way of thinking helped drive these new innovations in digital business.

What is this new way of thinking? It’s called “design thinking” and is widely used across a number of the largest companies in the world, including consumer products giant, Proctor & Gamble, as well as the colossus healthcare group, Kaiser Permanente. Design thinking was made famous by David Kelley, founder of the design firm IDEO and Stanford University’s According to IDEO’s current CEO Tim Brown, “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

At its core, the essence of design thinking is very simple. It relies on empathy and understanding of a customer’s needs coupled with an iterative, prototyping approach that attempts to meet the customer’s need through digital means. Of course, at the same time, it also is focused on maximizing the opportunities for predictable business success.

With this view of design thinking, it becomes easy to see the underpinnings of innovation as well as risk management – two concepts that are not usually coupled together (see figure below).  On the innovation side, design thinking targets the desire for a valid outcome that truly meets a customer’s needs in the best way possible. On the risk management side, it seeks to create a reliable solution to a customer’s needs through iterative prototyping that limits the risk of a massive failure or unpredictable outcome.


This year, our risk management research agenda at Gartner is squarely focused on helping businesses utilize concepts like design thinking to propel their digital business initiatives. We shared this research last week to over 4,300 security and risk management professionals at our U.S. Security & Risk Management Summit in Washington, DC. I will be speaking about this topic and many more at our upcoming Security & Risk Management Summit events in Sao Paulo, Brazil and London, United Kingdom. Hope to see you there!


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    good designing thinking ideas

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