Framing Design Thinking: The Concept in Idea and Enactment
Journal article, 2016
The concept of design thinking (DT) has emerged in management debates as promising innovation inspired by the way designers work. Despite the growing interest in DT, it is a difficult concept to study due to the lack of coherence between what DT ‘is’ in academic and practical terms. While there are numerous normative and often process-focused depictions of
DT, they seem limited in their ability to account for what occurs in practice. Given the discussion of DT as a concept, and emerging discussion of its enactment, a framing is needed that acknowledges both aspects. This paper proposes a framing of DT that makes it researchable in both theory and practice, and discusses commonalities and discrepancies in how the concept is usually portrayed in the literature. The paper builds on an empirical interview study in six large organizations, which led to the development of a framework structure and the identification of five themes characterizing DT: User focus, Problem framing, Visualization, Experimentation and Diversity. Each theme is associated with specific principles/mindsets, practices and techniques. The main contribution of this paper is to propose a framework that includesDT both as an idea and as the enactment of the idea, inspired by the works of Latour.
multiple case study