The National Restaurant Association loves Design Thinking
September 10, 2019 | Innovation
by ExperiencePoint

The National Restaurant Association loves Design Thinking

The world of HR has caught the design-thinking fever—our last post detailed some of the benefits of applying human-centered approaches to employee engagement. It’s safe to say that the restaurant industry has caught the bug, too. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) recently published an article in Restaurant Business, titled Take a Deep Dive into Design Thinking, which examines the potential for human-centered creativity to help restaurants thrive.

The articles highlight a common pain point for restaurants today: third-party delivery. Companies like UberEats and DoorDash have exploded in recent years – the trend of ordering-in has had a massive impact on the industry. One key problem: restaurants need to clear counter space to make room for tablets that interface with multiple delivery services, then integrate that information with the restaurant’s legacy Point of Sale system. It can make for a coordination-nightmare.

The challenge has led tech companies to develop new systems that work seamlessly with existing technology. Design thinking has been at the heart of many of these evolutions.

In fact, the article claims that design thinking invites “crazy creative thinking from cross-functional teams, and encourages risk-taking by removing the fear of failed attempts.” Right on, National Restaurant Association! We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

On our blog, we’ve covered design thinking as a way to help restaurants create original products that will delight customers worldwide. (Check out our post on KFC and innovation). Here are some other key benefits of using design thinking in the restaurant industry (according to the NRA):

Silos are smashed. Since design thinking solicits input from many departments, people who once worked in a vacuum are now collaborating with people beyond their teams. This collaboration creates a broader understanding throughout the company, and gives customers a better sense of what the company is all about.

Design thinking goes beyond focus groups. Focus groups are still beneficial, but design thinking lets companies take a closer look at the way customers interact with their products. Human-centered approaches are a more powerful method for developing client-empathy than relying on a small group of isolated consumers.

Prototype early and often. The rapid pace of design thinking demands that the trial-and-error phase of prototyping happen quickly. This speed and responsiveness has become de rigueur in the restaurant industry.

The kicker? The article helps publicize the Restaurant Innovation Summit: Ideas into Action, on Nov. 5-6 in Cleveland. The event, which brings together industry experts in menu development, HR, finance, marketing and more, features a four-hour design thinking workshop, conducted by ExperienceInnovation in collaboration with IDEO.

We couldn’t be more excited to see fresh innovation in the restaurant industry by virtue of design thinking. We can’t wait to play a role in this dynamic transformation.


Learn how to enable innovation skill-building at scale here or download our free ebook Kickstart Innovation: A Guide for Organizations.