The Challenges of Using Design Thinking in Industry - Experiences from Five Large Firms
Journal article, 2016
Design Thinking (DT) is advocated as a user-centred approach to innovation, based on the way designers think and work. Despite being increasingly promoted as an approach to innovation, there is still little evidence of successful impact. Rather, indications suggest that firms find implementation challenging. The purpose of this paper is to analyse challenges of using DT in light of literature on innovation barriers, in order to discuss whether there is something unique about DT as a concept that makes it particularly challenging to use. The paper is based on an interview study of five large firms that all have at least five years of experience of using DT. The analysis shows that several of the perceived challenges can be linked to known barriers to innovation. However, other challenges have not previously been described in the innovation literature, and the paper suggests that there are some unique aspects of DT that makes it particularly challenging for firms to integrate it in innovation work. These are related to its core themes: user focus, problem framing, experimentation, visualization and diversity. Additionally, the paper contributes with an empirically based categorization of challenges that managers will find useful if they want to implement design thinking in their organizations.