In 2012, former PepsiCo CEO Indira Nooyi hired a Chief Design Officer for the first time. His role wasnt just to make the product look good. It was to see how customers used and interacted with the product after buying it. Design Thinking now informs nearly everything the company does, Nooyi had famously said in an interview with the Harvard Business Review.Shes not alone. Increasingly, some of the worlds leading brands and corporates like Airbnb, Google and Uber Eats are using Design Thinking. These companies have increased their revenues by one-third and returns by 56 per cent, according to data from McKinsey. Not just that, theyve used the concept to try and ensure a more equitable boardroom for both men and women. In fact, 71 per cent of companies using Design Thinking have said that it improves their work culture.Understanding Design Thinking As A ConceptWhat exactly is Design Thinking? It is solving problems creatively. Says Reshma Budhia, Design Thinker and Co-Founder of toss the coin, Design Thinking is about bringing creative mindsets to a problem-solving framework, and then blending them to give every individual the right tools and techniques to solve problems. This could be a business challenge, or could even be something as simple as what should I wear to work today?Design Thinking was first discovered in a rudimentary way in the 1960s, where attempts were made to blend science and design in engineering. It was then that the term wicked problems were coined, to describe complex issues. Over the next couple of decades, the concept evolved but it wasnt until the 1990s that companies like IDEO finally made it mainstream.Budhia says that creativity has been one of the most misunderstood subjects, usually associated with skills like drawing, dancing, singing - mainly the visual or performance arts. But if you can solve a problem, youre creative. I often say that the Indian phenomena of jugaad thats what creativity is all about. Its as simple as using white chalk on your canvas shoes when you forget to polish them for school.Budhia says that the left hemisphere of the brain helps us take decisions rationally, logically and in a data-oriented manner. The right hemisphere is intuitive and imaginative and emotion-driven. Creativity finds a way for the left and right side of the brain to collaborate and find a way to deal with problems.Using Design Thinking In WorkplacesDesign Thinking in the workplace involves five phases Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. When you empathize, you set aside your own assumptions and gain insights into your client or co-workers needs. You then use these insights to define the problems that need solving. After this, you look for alternative ways to solve the problem, then experiment with a low-cost, easy, effective prototype and finally try out your solutions.The corporate world is all about solving problems, and the only way to do it is to know that youve been equipped with the right mindset, tools and techniques. Design thinking as a framework and creativity as a mindset are soon becoming sought-after skills in our professional lives. She adds, In fact, the World Economic Forum continues to list creativity and problem solving as critical skills.Women are a lot more intuitive and open to experimenting with new ideas, so this combination comes easily and naturally to them. They have the ability to become champs at the workplace, by applying these concepts.Sneha Prasad, Marketing Retail Partner at Aspire Systems says, Design thinking is very widely spoken about in the IT industry. Having been a part of it for 8 years now, I have attended webinars on the subject and seen other practitioners use this process. When there was a chance to attend a design thinking workshop specifically for marketers, I was curious. Ive now learnt how to re-look at something that weve been doing day in and day out, and see how we can do it better - in a way that adds more value to the client.Prasad is delighted by the fact that the process is simple enough for anyone who knows their clients and empathises with them to implement these principles with ease. Design thinking as a process is built on the principle of having empathy for the person youre serving be it a client, a family member or friend. Specifically for women, it helps when that empathy is also directed inward in trying to go about the day with whatever life throws at you. Creating an empathy map for yourself helps you understand and get in touch with your own emotions, allowing you to make kinder choices for yourself!Why Design Thinking Is For WomenWhats important about Design Thinking is that you adapt and create customised solutions rather than cookie-cutter ones. Whether it is obstacles around gender bias at your workplace or a client who has very specific needs, there is space for iterations, trial and error. The process is also non-linear and doesnt follow a conventional approach with men dominating and calling the shots. Women can walk into the boardroom equipped with tools and techniques, and break the glass ceiling.That isnt to say that Design Thinking doesnt come with its own set of problems. Says Buddhia, Techniques need to be used consistently not just once and then put aside! Also, during our workshops, there are sometimes mental blocks. Firstly, we use a lot of elements like chart papers, post-its, Lego bricks and so on, to help them visualise and get imaginative. A lot of attendees find it childish and dont take it seriously. We need to find the child in you - that is where creativity is hiding. Some people also begin to question the simplicity. As professionals, we judge the basic intuitive nature of creative thinking and begin to wonder if it will really work. Then there is fear of being judged, and this especially with women.To break down the process of Design Thinking, Buddhia has written and published a book titled I Am. The text and illustrations are simple, and for everyone from children to senior citizens. However, it is a great textbook for professionals, especially women, who will discover a layer of information with every additional reading, that they have missed previously.In a nutshell, Design Thinking is applicable no matter what your industry or your role. All you need to do is equip yourself with the techniques to combine desirability, feasibility and viability when solving problems. As Steve Jobs so famously said, Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works!