A path to a greener future: sustainability through design thinking

May 09, 2024
Written by Jhani Coetzee

Jhani is a Computer Scientist by trade, but a UI/UX enthusiast at heart. She is the Technical Lead for the SAP AppHaus initiative at EPI-USE Labs where she pursues her passion for great client experience and finding simple solutions to complex problems.

With the climate crisis and environmental concerns at the forefront of society, sustainable practices in business have never been more important. EPI-USE Labs is an enthusiastic advocate for the potential of design thinking to drive sustainable business processes. Design thinking is a human-centred approach to innovation that places empathy, creativity, and experimentation at its core. It encourages us to think holistically, considering the entire lifecycle of products and services, from sourcing to disposal.

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With the climate crisis and environmental concerns at the forefront of society, sustainable practices in business have never been more important. EPI-USE Labs is an enthusiastic advocate for the potential of design thinking to drive sustainable business processes.

 

Design thinking is a human-centred approach to innovation that places empathy, creativity, and experimentation at its core. It encourages multi-disciplinary collaboration, iterative problem-solving, and a deep understanding of user needs. When applied to sustainability challenges, this methodology, also called life-centred design, becomes a powerful tool for re-imagining systems, products and processes in ways that minimise environmental impact while maximising social and economic value.

 

Design thinking encourages us to think holistically, considering the entire lifecycle of products and services, from sourcing to disposal. It fosters empathy, collaboration, and experimentation, enabling businesses to generate innovative solutions that address complex sustainability challenges.

 

One of the most significant aspects of design thinking in the context of sustainability is its emphasis on empathy. By understanding the needs and experiences of all stakeholders, including future generations and marginalised communities disproportionately affected by environmental degradation, businesses can develop solutions that are not only ecologically sound, but also socially just and equitable.

 

When we look at organisations like our non-profit Elephants, Rhinos & People (ERP), we see the tangible impact of sustainable practices in action. ERP's commitment to wildlife preservation through community engagement and strategic partnerships highlights the power of both long-term planning and holistic development. By addressing poverty in rural communities and implementing sustainable income alternatives, ERP demonstrates how sustainability can be integrated into aspects of business operations.

 

Similarly, the EPI-USE AppHaus Pretoria acts as a catalyst at the intersection of innovation and sustainability. The space embodies the principles of human-centred design and collaboration, creating an environment where ideas flourish, and creativity is at the core of problem solving. By leveraging SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) and custom development, we empower organisations to innovate responsibly, and drive sustainable change.

 

An example of innovation and sustainability is EPI-USE Labs' TuskTrack application (now called Sign4it), the winning entry of SAP’s annual Hack2Build competition. By using key design thinking principles, such as user-centric design, EPI-USE Labs and G3G developed a delivery management application designed as a seamless proof-of-delivery submission and recipient engagement that streamlines operations and eliminates paper-based transactions.

 

As part of the SAP AppHaus ecosystem, EPI-USE Labs continues to focus on sustainability-driven innovation, using empathy, collaboration, experimentation, and holistic thinking to unlock greener practices. We’re excited about the impact of design thinking and how it can be used to create more sustainable business processes.

 

Are you interested in adopting a more environmentally-friendly approach to your business’s day-to-day activities, but not sure where to start? Workshop it with design thinking!

 

Explore how design thinking can help you create a greener future.

 

EPI-USE AppHaus Pretoria: Find out more about sustainable design

 

 

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