How creative thinking can transform your business | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

How creative thinking can transform your business

Posted 9.13.2016

Succeeding in business can be an art form. It requires creative planning, relationship-building and the ability to inspire. Business leaders are valued for this type of creative thinking and working because creativity has the power to effect real change through new ideas.

Why does designing work with business?

Thinking and managing like a designer has emerged as one of the most effective means of applying creativity to businesses, communities and products. It provides a structure and purpose for drawing out the creativity of those around you. Here are a few interpretations of applying design to business – from people touched by Weatherhead School of Management’s Department of Design & Innovation:

“[It’s] really about collaborating, listening to others – in a group.” - Jaclyn Agui, Design Thinking in Management, MBA student

“…Integrate multiple perspectives on the design of a potential business solution.” - John Blair, Chief Operating Officer, Event 38 Unmanned Systems

“Drill down into the practical delivery of the most feasible, profitable, and impactful solutions available.”- “Design Thinking for Business at Weatherhead School of Management”

Using the principles of design in business is a method of problem solving that considers all options, starting big and working toward practicality, to find and create the best possible solution for all stakeholders. And as Fred Collopy, PhD, vice dean and professor of design & innovation said at our Department of Design & Innovation launch, “Absolutely everything about a business or other organization is designed. And it is not [a] replacement of…analytic skills, but it’s [an] addition to those. It’s another dimension, another piece of bringing the whole person to their task, to their work, every day.”

What is the power of design?

By using the principles of design, businesses have the power to build solutions to problems others have become complacent toward. Problems in organizations can be complex, rooted in several sources. Approaching the problem creatively, with a technique like design, often reveals solutions previously unfathomable.

“[You can] shape solutions that you would never think about otherwise,” says Weatherhead MBA student Jean Garnier. Creativity brings hope and a strategy for new, efficient, effective solutions.


How is it applied?

With varying creativity approaches and techniques, it’s often up to the group or leader to determine which process to follow. However, the following process outlines a few foundational practices of design:

  1. Start with a group of people. Creativity flourishes when diverse perspectives, opinions, and ideas are shared. Value your network and teammates; together, you can access solutions that would otherwise remain undiscovered.
  2. Experience to understand the problem. As much as possible, before and as you work on the project, it’s essential to immerse yourself in the problem through conversations, real-life experiences, and research. Feeling the effects of a problem is often a strong motivator for finding the best solution.
  3. Big ideas are essential to creativity. As Design Thinking in Management Weatherhead MBA student Mike Hussey explains, “You start with a very high-level idea, [and] you generate a bunch of ideas around that.” Start with big ideas to help the group consider and dream about the most idealistic solutions. Reserve fear and judgment to encourage healthy dialogue and uncover previously undiscussed possibilities.
  4. Then drill down to feasibility, practicality, profitability, and impact. After discussing big ideas without judgment, you can begin to analyze and problem-solve. Again, this process takes a group of people with diverse passions and skillsets to reach the best solution for all parties impacted.

Are you interested in learning more about the impact of creativity and design on business? Explore the PhD in Design and Innovation or the full-time MBA program, or contact our faculty.

Interested in learning more about Weatherhead programs? Request more information or apply now, or register for one of over 70 open enrollment courses through Executive Education.

Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University cultivates creativity, innovation, and purpose-driven leadership to design a better world.