Those who work in highly creative roles are already aware of the impact a unique and innovative design can have on a business' bottom line. However, a solid design can be applied to more than just a product or service.

Proactive managers from every industry imaginable have found great success in designing their own leadership methods, customer service protocol and internal controls.

By applying this strategy to all areas of your business through a process known as design thinking, you'll suddenly find yourself focusing on long-term solutions rather than implementing quick and temporary fixes to your company's problems. Moreover, it's a human-centric approach that ensures the ability to add real customer value to the products and services you provide.

Cultivating a Design Mindset

Originally introduced in 1969 by Herbert A. Simon, the framework of design thinking has been refined, redesigned and re-imagined over the years. While it remains true to its original foundation of highly creative thinking, educated decision-making and human comfort, the concept now relies heavily on problem-solving, communications and customer interaction. In short, it's a method for manifesting your most abstract and rudimentary thoughts into reasonable and actionable ideas.

As such, many of the benefits of design thinking remain the same. Greater connectedness between peers and improved visibility within the internal decision-making processes mark some of the more obvious advantages, while others tend to pertain to one industry or another.

Evelyn Huang, director of design thinking and strategy with Capital One Labs, recently utilized design thinking to improve the way their customers access and manage their money. In a project that would ultimately affect tens of millions of users, it's process that wasn't taken lightly.

Why Should You Implement Design Thinking?

Design thinking is much more than a recent trend. It's a practice that has been used successfully in nearly every industry for more than 40 years, so it's certainly here to stay.

There are numerous reasons to implement this concept into the creative decision-making process of your company. Apart from the benefits mentioned above, design thinking almost always promotes the flow of ideas and the exchange of information. Because of its systematic approach to problem-solving and solutions development, design thinking also facilitates professional flexibility and the ability to compromise.

Japanese-based manufacturer Shimano, for example, bolstered their design thinking process by researching the fact that approximately 90 percent of U.S. adults do not ride bicycles on a regular basis. This prompted Shimano, which specializes in bicycle hardware, to develop, manufacture and release a brand new line of coasting bikes. Apart from featuring a unique aesthetic design, the company also applied the concept of design thinking to marketing, retail merchandising and public relations.

It's also important to accept and learn from your company's failures. Another critical component of the entire process, the best and most successful companies are able to quickly identify failing products, learn from their past mistakes and move on with the future of their business. This alone could be enough to give you the edge over your competition and solidify your reputation as an industry leader.

How to Make Design Thinking Work for You and Your Team

Design thinking, at its most fundamental core, espouses the ideas of deep thought, analytical problem-solving and human interaction.

While it's possible to run a successful enterprise without utilizing this practice on your own behalf, those who are willing and able to embrace the concept will typically see greater and quicker results. Furthermore, your acumen as an innovative and creative business leader is sure to serve as a benchmark for your industry peers to strive toward.

Published on: Nov 23, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.