Design thinking in innovation, in practice: the case of Kaiser Permanente
Paper in proceedings, 2016
Design Thinking (DT) as an innovation approach is gathering interest in management and scholarly debates, yet its potential contribution to innovation is vague, and a holistic view on innovation in DT-related literature is lacking. This paper investigates the integration of DT in a large organization, in order to understand its potential contribution to innovation. It is based on a qualitative case study of Kaiser Permanente that is using DT since ten years. Two examples of use are presented and analyzed using the Discovery-Incubation-Acceleration framework for describing innovation competencies (O’Connor and Ayers, 2005). The paper presents three main findings: first, it shows that DT is used in all aspects innovation to various extent, contradicting the view that DT is useful mainly in the front end. Second, it shows overlap between DT and improvement science, questioning the view that incorporating design in managerial settings is difficult due to a clash between logics. Third, the paper puts focus on individuals and teams using DT, opening up for a competence perspective and a discussion of the embodied experience of design thinkers.