Home » How the lives of Citizens in South Africa Improved Using Design Thinking?

How the lives of Citizens in South Africa Improved Using Design Thinking?

Design Thinking—a recent buzz phrase thrown a lot these days—is a human-centred problem-solving approach that saves lives, cuts costs, and boosts social welfare. It is not a new concept, and nowadays, not only private companies but also national governments are embracing this modern-day ideology. South Africa is the new country that is following the footsteps of Singapore and the USA to adopt Design Thinking in improving the lives of its citizens. Scroll down and find out how the government of South Africa applied the Design Thinking approach.


The Adcorp Group, one of the leading workforce management companies in South Africa, used the human-centred design thinking approach to match employers with the applicant and deploy innovative solutions in record time for market success and scalability. To initiate the Design Thinking approach, Adcorp first created a cross-functional team and asked them to explore the nature of complex client/customer challenges that required attention. Based on the initial stages of the research, a 4-day exercise took place that included immersion in venture capital and startup community methodologies, mock-up development, live customer testing, and innovation roadmap planning.

After the team immersed themselves in the personae and user-journeys of clients and candidates, they found that the two problems requiring the utmost attention were: 

  • Letting candidates manage their work profiles and career options
  • Helping clients better understand their demand; keeping the customer at the centre of the design process

The solution involved recommending relevant companies to candidates for jobs as well as suggesting training programs to boost their employment prospects. An automated process also helped the clients cut down the search time. 


The Craft and Design Institute has time and again worked in close collaboration with the City of Cape Town and Western Cape Government to implement the design thinking approach. 

When it comes to the implementation of Design Thinking in the healthcare sector of South Africa, the first example that comes to mind is a healthcare project, funded by the Dutch Government whereby a team was working with three clinics over 18 months. The primary purpose of this project was to improve the experience of patients in urban healthcare facilities. For this, the clinical staff were taken through the Design Thinking process to identify and co-create numerous solutions to the complex problems that were faced by them and by the patients as well. 

Policy Making 

Better Living Challenges, yet another unique project undertaken by the CDI, is one of the best examples of Design Thinking implementation in the Policy sector. With this, they improved the comfort and quality of living for more than 850,000 people. The project has been using the Design Thinking approach to develop a deeper understanding of what the users want, co-creating solutions, and bringing together people from diverse disciplines to find new ways of improving internal structures for smoother functioning.

For this project, a Needs Analysis research methodology was implemented, focusing on mapping the entire value chain in the informal housing sector. This includes building waste eco-system and developing toolkits to help small-scale builders create better structures. The project involved a lot of people from the construction and development sectors. 

In the present digital transformation scenario where the competition is neck-to-neck and companies are constantly offering something new, an innovative approach like Design Thinking is here to stay as it helps to deliver greater value to customers, build brands and solve problems. 

Design Thinking is swirling with flatulent claims today. And to know more about it, it will be ideal to enrol for the Design Thinking Program.

Like South Africa, if you know about some other countries/organisations that improved the lives of its citizens using the Design Thinking approach, then do share it with us by commenting below. Do not shy away from clicking on the clap button to show some appreciation. 

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