The Power of Design Thinking
The Power of Design Thinking

Design Thinking began in the 1970s as a way for designers to think through the processes needed to invent ground-breaking products. Half a century on, it becomes a popular problem-solving methodology adopted in the world of business to inject innovation into products, services and work processes from users’ perspectives. CLP is one of the few companies in Hong Kong to upskill the entire workforce with Design Thinking.


The colourful post-it notes on the walls of the training workshops reflect the illuminating spirit of Design Thinking: They succinctly capture the pain points of users, and set the scene for participants to brainstorm ideas and find innovative solutions to everyday problems.


CLP has provided Design Thinking training sessions to nearly 4,000 Hong Kong employees over the past two years. The company has also designed a badging system for employees to work their way up a graded pathway from ‘apprentice’ to ‘practitioner’ to ‘assistant coach’ to ‘coach’ to ‘fellow’.


Claire He is one of 11 coaches who now helps promote the adoption of Design Thinking across the company. “It is a valuable experience to hold workshops and pass on our knowledge to colleagues, while at the same time learning from each other to enhance our work and business performance,” she says.


Management present trophies to coaches
CLP Power Managing Director T K Chiang (centre) and Senior Director - Customer & Business Development Lena Low (third from left) present trophies to Claire He (third from right) and other coaches.

As the saying goes, “Knowledge is a treasure but practice is the key to it.” That practical approach to the interpretation of Design Thinking has yielded a succession of impressive outcomes since its 2019 launch.


Sixty Design Thinking projects have been implemented at CLP to date, ranging from digitalisation and customer experience enhancements to safety and productivity improvements. Some are producing substantial results such as increased revenue, cost savings, lowered risk, improved brand image, and greater customer and employee satisfaction.


Watch the video and see some of the Design Thinking projects in action at CLP.

Weathering storms

Design Thinking practitioner Benson Yu and his colleagues in the Power Systems Business Group applied Design Thinking to create a novel solution that improves internal communications and customer service in typhoon seasons. 


“Adverse weather conditions such as typhoons can cause power supply issues, and when hundreds of calls come in, it puts great pressure on different departments,” Yu says.

The Outage Operations Portal
The Outage Operations Portal includes a near real-time interactive map showing the available information on affected areas and the locations of emergency and repair teams.

After studying Design Thinking, they were inspired to identify employee pain points when reacting to system emergencies.


They came up with the Outage Operations Portal, integrating a number of systems to create a near real-time visualisation of all distribution system-related information. It allows the team to instantly identify the affected outage areas, road blockage and engaged manpower locations. 


“The solution has significantly improved cross-departmental communications. Most importantly, we are able to deliver our customer-first service pledge as we have enhanced our efficiency in helping affected customers,” Yu explains.

Making elderly care smarter

Design Thinking assistant coach Victor Auyang and practitioner Angie Szeto set out on a mission to transform traditional elderly homes into smart elderly homes.


“After conducting around 30 interviews with private elderly home operators and employees, we began to understand the pain points they were facing in their operations, such as unstable power supply, manpower issues, and problems with meal preparation,” Auyang says.


“We decided to look into how we could help transform their operations so they could enjoy a smarter environment.”


Guided by Design Thinking, the team came up with a series of solutions covering cooking, energy management, entertainment, security, health and environment. 


For example, custom-made smart congee cookers were developed which save on cooking time and fuel costs, improve safety, and reduce energy use by 10% to 15% compared with traditional cookers.


Describing the challenges her team encountered, Szeto says it was not easy in some cases to change long-standing ways of operating and persuade the elderly homes to accept innovative solutions.


“With time, patience, and education, we successfully gained their buy-in to develop these solutions,” she says. “We have been able to create a safer and better living environment for elderly residents and reduce the workload of employees, while at the same time embracing business digitalisation.”

Use of robots in elderly homes
Smart solutions including the use of robots help elderly residents stay digitally connected with their families.

In face of increasing business challenges, Design Thinking as a strategy helps a company and its employees embrace a human-centred mindset to address pain points and improve work processes. 


Following the encouraging response from employees and successful cases of Design Thinking in action, CLP is committed to continue to deploy it to uplift its service innovation and operational excellence, and create customer-centric solutions that make life smarter, safer, and more convenient.