It is possible to encapsulate simplicity as a key competitive advantage due to the fundamental principle of design thinking, that it is human-centered. Simplicity is one of the valuable fruit of the human-based approach in design thinking, since humans prefer simpler tasks over complex tasks. Customers desire a product that is easier to use, simpler, effective, and efficient. Employees desire a simpler way to finish a job. Even leaders desire a simpler means to manage and control their organization.

As a human-based approach to innovation, design thinking focuses on the needs of people while aiming to establish creative ideas and effective business models (Muller-Roterberg, 2020). In this case, people are increasingly demanding a product to be easier to use or even foolproof. Ashkenas (2011) wrote that simplicity is highly appealing in a world that is getting more and more complex, which he concluded with two words: Simplicity Sells.

However, simplicity as a key competitive advantage requires thorough and thoughtful consideration. Companies should be able to listen and deeply engage with the people they serve to understand their needs, and eliminate unnecessary complexities for them, not for the sake of simplicity itself. Companies should understand that design is not just a marketing tool, but a genuine source of customer and employee satisfaction, which brings more competitive advantage and, eventually, higher profits.

Relevant Factors for Adding Value to Customers

When designing a product or a service, progressive companies are now pursuing beyond the functional values that the design would offer. They also put the psychological value in the design that can affect customers’ short-term and long-term benefits, called instrumental values and terminal values (Muller-Roterberg, 2020). This can only be achieved only by extensively focusing on the users; the people.

Human factors, such as demographics, culture, and norms, must be an integral part of design thinking. Context is also an important factor that is not easy to grasp. Brown (2009) proposed a comprehensive participatory method to understand what people really need even before creating ideas of what to design. These are the factors that will always be relevant for adding value.

There are many ways to add value for the customers, but instead of focusing on the ways of adding value, companies should take a deeper look at the value as perceived by the customers; the human factors. This is why design thinking discusses less on choosing the best alternatives among several alternatives, but rather discusses more on the creation of alternatives, which would bring out creative solutions (Brown, 2009).

Personal Experience About Value Added in Technology Products or Services

As a millennial, I experienced the rapid development of technology in various aspects of my personal life. One of the best examples is telecommunication technology. We can now communicate throughout the globe using various platforms, many of which are even free. I remembered back in the days when the payphone was the only reliable tool for fast communication in my small rural hometown. Now, I am a customer of various telecommunication services that make my life easier, which is the terminal value according to Muller-Roterberg (2020). Compared to a payphone, nowadays telecommunication technology has added many functional, psychological, instrumental, and terminal values. It is not only becoming very fast and reliable, but it is also becoming an essential part of our life.


Ashkenas, R. (2011, February 16). Simplicity Sells. Forbes. Retrieved November 21, 2021, from

Brown, T. (2009, September 29). Designers — think big! [Video]. TED Talks.

Muller-Roterberg, C. (2020). Design Thinking for Dummies. Wiley.

Yen, S. (2014, August 26). How Design Thinking Drives Competitive Advantage. Forbes. Retrieved November 21, 2021, from

Read more about Operations Management

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *