'Design Thinking' is a proven approach to success, used by organisations like Apple, IBM, Starbucks, Ford and Nike.  Here's why it's at the heart of the PropertyLab process.

This week, I’m very proud to say that we launched PropertyLab: an innovation programme that tackles some of the biggest issues landlords face in keeping their properties safe.

The first programme in the series focuses on simplifying the key aspects of the regulatory compliance process in the residential sector, specifically on fire and gas safety. Backed by key partners AO Proptech, The Disruptive Innovators Network (DIN) and a cohort featuring some of the most innovative and progressive landlords in the UK - with a combined portfolio of almost 400,000 properties - we’re working with experts who understand how important it is to get right.

Reverse-engineering the complexity.

To get it right, we need to reverse engineer the problem. Break it down into each element that constitutes fire and gas safety in housing. Then reassemble them - from the ground up - to unlock creative, long-term solutions. 

To unlock solutions that 1) deliver on the needs of people and 2) what businesses need to succeed.

At Plentific, we use agile and design thinking to help us get to the root of user problems, and solve them better than ever before. These principles extend onto every aspect of PropertyLab.

A human-centred approach to innovation.

One of the methods of thinking you'll experience first hand through PropertyLab is Design Thinking. Formally developed by Stanford Professor Rolf Faste, it was adapted for business purposes by David M. Kelley, who founded design consultancy, IDEO, in the 1990s.

Design Thinking helps you better understand the “Why” when approaching any of our sprints - and any solutions we’ll be building together as part of the programme. It gives us a formalised approach to the methods designers have always (and often unconsciously) used, applied to complex business problems in a repeatable way. 

This means, with a little effort, anyone can think (and get results) like a design company.

A framework for repeatable success.

Friedrich Nietzsche once said “He who has a why to live can bear any how”. 

Simon Sinek famously built this into his “Start with Why” approach - showcasing that when we define why work, it determines how well we work.

Even Elon Musk keeps coming back to this (albeit with own take) - 

“I think people’s thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experiences. It’s rare that people try to think of something on a first principles basis.”

What he means by ‘first principles’ is the building blocks of knowledge. Concepts that encourage the “Why”. All design thinking frameworks are similarly steeped in ‘first principles’. 

Here’s one we’ll be using a lot as part of PropertyLab. It’s the Double Diamond framework - tried, tested, proven over 15 years of successes. 


The basic premise is four stages: discover, define, develop, deliver. In each stage, participants are encouraged to think divergently - creating as many possibilities as possible, then convergently, grouping and prioritising to find a way forward.  

It’s not just for designers. You’ll be pleased to know that some of the world’s most successful businesses bake this framework into their strategy for success -  Apple, Coca Cola, IBM, Starbucks, Ford and Nike included.

Why this is so important to us at Plentific. 

At Plentific, we use design thinking methods to understand our customers better, and find ways to service their needs better than ever before. We use Agile religiously too, to rapidly design build and iterate product features. It's a way of life for us, and naturally features in the way we run the PropertyLab programme. You'll see inspiration in our workshops, and the results of it in the reports we produce.

If you found these insights useful and want to learn more about the exciting innovation coming out of PropertyLab, join our mailing list below.