Top-of-the-League Examples of Design Thinking

Feb 16, 2023Martín Etchegoyen

In this article, we will discuss some work that shows impressive examples of design thinking brought to reality. Stay tuned if you think you could inspire by some of these magnificent designs.

Design thinking is a critical aspect of any solid design, but it is too key for team-building and leadership. Leaders and entrepreneurs of today, who believe in carving their way instead of following an already paved path, rely on design thinking to re-imagine the future.  Most businesses self-report that they are engaged in design thinking. This article lists top design thinking examples to illustrate the success of design thinking in such organizations that have aligned their problem-solving approach to the design thinking process to come up with creative solutions for their business problems.

Creative ideas

Through design thinking, professionals and creative leaders in any vertical can stretch their minds, think out of the box, gather inspiration, and create clever solutions. That is why design thinking is imperative for companies to unleash their team’s full potential. It is an undeniably powerful tool for companies, but what does it look like in practice? How have organizations applied it and how does it work? Is this process training something your company requires? Here you will find out about all of that through the following examples.

7 Top-of-the-League Examples of Design Thinking

design thinking

In this section, we will present what design thinking is directed to and how some people and their companies took design thinking to another level, leaving them only with the chance of 100% guaranteed success.

1. Burberry

Without a doubt, one of the best design thinking examples is the case of Burberry. Burberry’s business model was disrupted by the advent of the digital era. It was already being written off as the fashion brand of a bygone era. But, instead of being intimidated and unaccepting of the change, its leadership decided to appeal to the Gen X users’ sentiments and behavior. Therefore, the company invested laboriously in its social media strategy. It invited users to collaborate on its design processes. By doing this, it increased its appeal and connection with the audience. The brand was able to leverage digital to post record revenue growths.  

2. Uber

Uber is another famous design thinking example. With the help of design thinking and a user-focused approach, it eradicated simple problems that had been plaguing buyers in the past. It introduced features such as cashless payments, another great design thinking process model, to make transactions straightforward and reduce the chances of fraudulent movements. By providing the power to give ratings for both drivers and users, it increased the incentive for good behavior. Simple design tweaks, aided by a substantial user understanding, helped Uber pivot itself to the big guy that it has become today.

3. AT Kingwood Trust UK

Some of the most outstanding design thinking examples can be found at AT Kingwood Trust UK. Here, a design team member got in touch with a non-verbal, autistic patient. She observed that he had destructive tendencies, such as picking on pricey sofas and rubbing indents into the wall. The designer started to document Pete’s behavior. She observed that such action typically came with a rise in the overall psychological health of the subject. The ruined sofa and walls were perceived as interesting and fun.

By documenting the details, that research led to a better design of the care facility that would enhance the subject’s pleasure. Such a design thinking process example proves how understanding your customer, or subject, in this case, can completely change the perception towards a problem.

4. PillPack

This case study mentions how PillPack started as a startup-in-residence at IDEO Cambridge. Working with designers and using a human-centered approach, PillPack refined its brand vision, strategy, and identity across channels. The company was called one of the best inventions of 2014 by Time Magazine and Amazon bought PillPack for $1 Billion in 2018. I think it is safe to say that their design thinking approach was successful.

5. Clean Team

There are many eminent examples of how design thinking has been applied to the social sector. This case study explains Clean Team, which applied the process to provide in-home toilets for Ghana’s urban poor. Here is the success of the campaign: “For the millions of Ghanaians without in-home toilets, there are few good options when it comes to our bodies most basic functions. Working with Unilever and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), and IDEO.org developed Clean Team, a comprehensive sanitation system that delivers and maintains toilets in the homes of subscribers. Clean Team now serves 5,000 people in Kumasi, Ghana, making lives cleaner, healthier, and more dignified.” There is not much to say, is it?

6. Stanford Hospital

Design thinking has even found its way into the world of medicine and is seen by many as fundamental to the future of health. This case study explains how design thinking was used in a two-day course by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford to explore ways to enhance the patient experience in the emergency room. Besides, Stanford administrators have been using design thinking to envision other new experiences for the hospital: “SHC staff used design thinking to complete a plan to redesign two nursing units in the current hospital to serve only patients with cancer.”

7. IBM

When people think of IBM, the first thing that comes into their mind is technology, business, and computers. As their former CEO Thomas Watson Jr. declared, “Good design is good business”, IBM has invested a lot in design thinking. They started holding empathy map sessions and kept users in mind while designing processes and products. Hence, they have witnessed significant ROIs with this change in approach. They have also made it available.


These case studies are the greatest examples of unremarkable design thinking of the last few years. Your work as a designer can upgrade if you learn something from these people.

Martín Etchegoyen

Martín Etchegoyen

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