Design thinking as an effective toolkit for innovation

The research in this paper is based on a theoretical and practical approach to the concept of Design Thinking, its background, characteristics, process models and toolkit. Alongside the literature review, a qualitative analysis of five well-known models of the Design Thinking process and of ten of the most applied DT tools is made. The paper provides a critical approach to Design Thinking to help the innovation management community to understand better the potential the concept has for implementing and developing creative thinking in business, and in society in general. By describing in a synthetic way the evolution and key elements of the DT concept and its toolkit, the study contributes to the current literature in innovation management, and also provides practical advice.

Design  was  always a  catalyst  for innovation  processes  in product  and  service development.  But over  the  last 7  years,  with numerous  publications  about Design Thinking (Brown, 2009; Martin, 2009; Lockwood, 2010; Cross, 2011;Liedtka & Ogilvie, 2011)  and  the creation  of  special interest  groups  in social  networks  (for example  the Design  Thinking Group  in  LinkedIn since  2007),  the term  has  gained popularity  in business  media and  become  a label  for  the awareness  that  any kind  of  business and organisation  can  benefit from  the  designers’ way  of  thinking and  working  (see for example in Today, Design Thinking is understood as a way of thinking which leads to transformation, evolution and innovation, to new forms of living and  to  new ways  of  managing business. This  is one  of  the reasons  that  design schools,  such as  the  Design Department  of  Stanford University  ( or the HPI School of Design Thinking of the University in Potsdam ( graduate degrees in Design Thinking. There is no doubt that Design Thinking has much to offer innovation management,  but what is  still  unclear to  many  managers is the  added  value of  Design Thinking for innovation in practice, and how to evaluate and choose the most effective DT model for their individual innovation practices.

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Jeremy Myerson



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