Design thinking isn’t new. But many companies still aren’t sure how it can improve their business.

This month’s Spotlight should be of help, since it illustrates some of the ways design thinking is starting to power corporate strategy.

The emphasis on design clearly is moving to the C-suite, and more and more organizations are creating a chief design officer role. A notable example is PepsiCo, which poached Mauro Porcini from 3M to inject design thinking into nearly every aspect of the business. To see how that’s going, check out our interview with CEO Indra Nooyi and accompanying insights from Porcini in this issue.

How should companies think about design centricity? For Jon Kolko, vice president of design at Blackboard, design thinking can define the way an organization functions at the most basic levels—how it relates to users, how it prototypes products, how it assesses risk. In "Design Thinking Comes of Age," Kolko says that companies today must contend with unprecedented technological and business complexity and that design can help simplify and humanize complex systems.

That said, design-led strategy isn’t easy, as Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, and Roger Martin, former dean of the Rotman School of Management, point out in "Design for Action." They describe how complex innovations often encounter stiff resistance from intended beneficiaries and those delivering the new product or service, because they jarringly disrupt existing behaviors and business models. The solution, the authors propose, is to treat the launch of a disrupter as a design challenge in itself—a process they call intervention design. What’s the ultimate place for design in an organization? Nooyi sums it up like this: "Design leads to innovation and innovation demands design."

A version of this article appeared in the September 2015 issue (p.12) of Harvard Business Review.