Like a wildlife biologist observing a pride of lions in the grasslands of the savanna to learn about their behavior, the designers at UberEats also watch their products “in the wild.”

In an article for, (now former) UberEATS designer Paul Clayton Smith noted that the company engages in the practice to understand the different markets and how their products fit into the physical conditions of each city. “We constantly immerse ourselves in the places where our customers live, work, and eat. Sitting in our offices in San Francisco or New York, we can’t truly understand the experiences of a person on the streets of Bangkok or London.”

Each quarter, designers from the food delivery service visit one of the 200 cities in which they operate, where they accompany drivers making deliveries, spend time in the partner restaurants, and sit with families as the order food from the UberEATS app.

“Watching our products in the wild helps us better understand the needs of our customers, how well our designs address those needs, and what challenges exist in the real world that we can’t replicate in the office,” Smith notes in the ‘How We Design on the UberEATS team’ article.

This focus on empathy — better understanding the experiences of the restaurants, delivery drivers, and users of the app — is key to the company’s practice, and is a prime example of design thinking.

Design thinking is a process of problem-solving that is used to design products and services based on understanding the needs of the people that will be using the product or service. It involves a great deal of empathy and observation and requires reframing the problem or question in a human-centric way.

UberEATS is among some of the world’s best-known and most successful companies that use design thinking, including Airbnb, Apple, GE, Google, IBM, Lego, Marriott, Nike, and Samsung. These companies improve their products and services through analyzing and understanding how users interact with them.

Customer research isn’t a new concept, but quite often it’s based on opinions extrapolated from impersonal data that doesn’t reflect the true needs of users. Design thinking is different because the people making the products or services actually step into the shoes of the users, immersing themselves in the experience and “watching in the wild.”

Any organization can benefit from the use of design thinking, not just those that develop products and services, because essentially it’s a method of solving problems. Through the use of design thinking, companies can improve engagement, creativity, innovation, and productivity — in many areas.

If you are a trainer or human resources professional, adding a course on design thinking to your repertoire will allow your clients and employees to join UberEATS and other top companies in helping their organizations serve their customers better, and in turn, becoming more profitable and successful.

Get Design Thinking: An Introduction from Velsoft Training Materials today.