Design Thinking for Innovation

Innovation is about seeing the world not as it is, but as it could be. So, the ability to innovate rests upon the exploration of complex problems whose solutions cannot be found in past experience and proven by data. With origins in product and architectural design (e.g., the design of buildings, furniture, clothes, etc.), the use of designerly tools and methods to solve a wide variety of problems has progressively evolved into a new discipline called “Design Thinking,” which is a structured and systematic human-centred process aimed at solving these complex and ambiguous problems (the so-called “wicked problems”), and identifying opportunities for innovation.

Design Thinking can be used both for developing new business ideas and for unlocking hidden value in existing products, services and technologies, and it can offer benefits like significant economic value creation for stakeholders, meaningful differentiation of products and services, and improved customer experience. As such, Design Thinking not only represents a powerful way to unleash the creative potential of managers and leaders in organisations, but it is also rapidly becoming a new management paradigm for value creation.

There is increasing awareness in the business world that Design Thinking plays a pivotal role in successfully bringing ideas to market. Companies around the world in industries ranging from home appliances to transportation, from food and beverage to consumer electronics, are realising that good design can lead to good business, and are introducing Design Thinking practices into their organisations in an attempt to make design a source of competitive advantage.

Our projects focus, therefore, on understanding the process of Design Thinking, and how people collaborate and interact in teams when they develop new products and services. We investigate these topics in the context of creative organisations (e.g. design-consulting firms), which are increasingly important in modern economies, but currently understudied, and we still know little about how they function and work, the business models they rest upon, and the organisational practices that distinguish successful from less successful ones.