Business Issue  

Design Thinking for Management, Leadership, Technopreneurship

Co-authored by Professor KC Chan, Professor Richardus Eko Indrajit, Professor Christopher Goh


Design Thinking (DT) is a stakeholder relationship customer-centric strategy to be driven by the right process – “process-driven”, implemented by the right people – “people-driven”, and equip them with the right tools – “technology driven” to enable the ability to execute, discipline in executing, and speed of execution leading to supreme execution capability.


Design thinking should permeate the whole organization just like “Total Quality Management” philosophy. Everyone needs to contribute and play a role in the integration process of the business value chain - to stay relevant and remain competitive. Management is to design optimization of systems to be managed by the right people who knows the process and utilize the right tools to get things done the right way to achieve zero defects for quality design of products and zero complaints for quality design of services/solutions, i.e. the winning order factors of value innovation, i.e. paradox of create value and reduce cost.


Leadership is a change management process of a leader. If only a few people are excellent in DT and the rest depends on them the company cannot grow fast enough because they cannot cope up with the work load as the company expand from domestic to regional to international to global business. Thus, the rationale is there are different levels of DT expertise. Some qualify for light-weight design initiatives, some for medium-weight design projects, and some for heavy-weight design programs which are the most demanding and of the highest sophistication level – the vital few who generate the highest sales revenue with lucrative profitability from global business by taking advantage of the globalization effect.


Technopreneur is a person. Technopreneurship is a process for nurturing and flourishing a pipeline of budding technopreneurs in a performing organization. Technopreneurship or the spirit of a technopreneur provides the constant source of energy, enthusiasm, and Olympic drive with the passion to succeed. This is the X-factor that makes an organization build to lasts. A technopreneur will perish one day, i.e. leadership brand because loyal customers only want to do business with this leader. But, technopreneurship is built to persist because it is the high performance culture of an organization, i.e. the way we behave. Brand leadership and its equity will grow, glow and globe with time.


Whole Brain or Wholistic Thinking comprises of holistic thinking for clarity in planning through integration of ideas, processes, technologies, and risk responses; systems thinking for effective execution through converting strategies into portfolio of prioritized programs and projects for successful implementation and control; critical thinking for effective decisionmaking through innovation of ideas, processes, product/marketing mix and prioritization of project challenges; lateral thinking which is the foundation for holistic, systems and critical thinking for effective empathy analysis to achieve continuously improvements focusing on the prime objective of exceeding stakeholder expectations. DT process is incorporated into systems thinking excelling on customer experiences to attain customer satisfaction and retention by utilizing the 8As - awareness, alignment, action, adoption, assurance, adaptation, advantage, and anticipation. Stakeholder relationship management is vital to succeed.


Design thinking for management-leadershiptechnopreneurship takes a wholesome yet pragmatic and simple approach to provide the appropriate tools (ten of them) and processes (eight of them) to be applied by anyone who wish to gain knowledge and good practice on the essence of DT in Industrial Revolution 4.0 impacted by the 13 forces of globalization operating in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment. The future competence is our ability to integrate, implement, innovate, and improve continuously for stakeholder relationship/ experience management focusing on creating value to match or exceed their expectations, in particular the key account customers. Design thinking for superior performance is no longer an exception but a norm for sustainable competitive advantage. Innovation is only as good as its execution. Therefore, the former concept of design thinking is passé. Modern DT strategy to compete in Industry 4.0 must leverage on Wholistic Thinking to achieve accelerated action learning to be faster, better and smarter than the competition is revealed in page 46.