Design is popping up in more unexpected industries, and in my view that is a great thing. Fidelity Bank has carved out space for a Vice President of Design Thinking; Independence Blue Cross health insurer employs design thinking methods in its innovation center; Future London Academy devotes an entire week-long customized class to it; and at one time Seoul, South Korea appointed a Deputy Mayor of Design- because they understood that urban challenges are design challenges.

Here are the 4 reasons I highlight to explain why design matters and should become a key component of your business model.

1. Get a Point of View! Design requires us to articulate a distinctive perspective on why we do what we do, and how we choose to do it. Integral to design and design thinking is a problem framing process that requires you to identify authentic and well-researched ways about what makes your offering unique. Vanilla, middle-of-the-road value propositions just will not fly in today's saturated markets.

2. Ask "What If...?" The terrific strategy consultancy ?What If! claimed that name for good reason! By employing aspects of the design thinking methodology, they inherited the gift of all designers: designers get to ask "what if...?" This is super-powerful stuff, because it calls upon us to dream big, look beyond current constraints, identify new opportunities, and then converge and get tactical, paying attention to budgets, policy regulations, and available talent. Every amazing innovation starts with an audacious idea, prompted by the question "What if?". For example, thank goodness someone once asked, "What if we could refuel our cars by plugging them into an electric socket?" Hmmm...

3. Pose a Different Question. Design thinking is a method of inquiry. Its democratic process thrives where multidisciplinary approaches reign. A few months ago, Bruce Mau of Massive Change and Freeman asserted that "today's wicked problems require wicked teams". Design thinking helps us to employ human-centered, qualitative research methods executed by people with diverse skills (anthropologists, artists, research scientists, psychologists) that can be coupled with quantitative research. If you begin to view design as a method of inquiry, you can more easily incorporate it into your toolkit.

4. Shape The World. Designers get to shape the ways we navigate through this world- from the signage on the street and the clothes we wear to protect us from the elements and signify status; to the products that make daily living simple and the buildings in which we work and live integrated into our environment. Ultimately, isn't the real purpose of your business about shaping the world in which we live?

Published on: Jan 20, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.