Implementing design thinking – an exploratory study of large companies using design thinking in innovation efforts
Conference contribution, 2011
Despite the recent hype, the concept of design thinking still lacks a shared definition and practitioners are struggling to understand how it can be applied in their operations. Design thinking is often described as a method to create new value and innovation. So far, this argument mainly builds on a number of early success cases put forward by practitioners and design consultancies such as IDEO, but from an academic perspective there is still little empirical evidence that design thinking actually leads to innovation. This exploratory paper aims at empirically investigating current practices of implementing and using design thinking in innovation efforts in large companies. More specifically, it addresses how large companies that explicitly have tried to implement it perceive design thinking, the value it creates, and challenges linked to implementation. The paper builds on an interview study conducted in Germany and the US, with large firms that have chosen to apply design thinking in their innovation efforts. Preliminary findings from the study indicate that companies perceive design thinking in a variety of ways. Some benefits were identified such as a change in mindset, improved collaboration, a strong relation to users and iterative prototyping. A number of challenges were also put forward, mainly linked to the integration with existing processes, but also connected to the difficulties connected to the confusion around the concept itself.