Supply Chain and the Design Thinking Process

Supply Chain and the Design Thinking ProcessSupply chain is all about solving complex problems and supply chain professionals find ways to optimize, to create efficiencies and to change and build processes.

An effective supply chain captures value

There are many tools and methodologies deployed to realize this value. Some of the most popular concepts in the efficiency movement are:

  • Six Sigma
  • Total Quality Management (TQM)
  • Lean Manufacturing
  • Outsourcing
  • Digitization

When focused on capturing value and driving efficiency, it is easy to lose sight of creating the value itself. It is critical, that before the resources are allocated and teams are formed, time is spent finding and defining the real problem then identifying the target audience and understanding how they are affected by this problem before jumping into solving it.

Time to embrace the Design Thinking Process

“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.” – Tim Brown, President and CEO of IDEO.

A core characteristic of the Design Thinking Process is keeping the user at the center (user-centric). In fact, innovative solutions are formed at the overlap of three elements: Business, Technology and Human Values. It may sound simple, but it’s surprising how many new solutions, dashboards, reports and/or services are implemented without clarity on who will utilize them and how. We should take the time to actually understand how users are going to interact with these, if their needs will be satisfied, and what value will it add to the business. This approach is a common practice in design and tech agencies today and can be exceptionally valuable to our organizations.

Design Thinking Process applies to Supply Chains from
The Design Thinking Process from

Creating Value (Design Thinking) + Capturing Value (Efficiency Methodologies) = Competitive Advantage

The Design Thinking Process is iterative, and it repeats until a proper solution is established. It is well noted by Michael Graber, Managing Partner at Southern Growth Studio that “Design Thinking is a method for business growth, but the benefits go as deep for your company as they do for customers.”

Supply Chain professionals are encouraged to embrace the Design Thinking Process to not only develop new innovative solutions but to get their companies (or their procurement organizations) to the next step of greater success and growth.


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