Design Thinking Blog

Design Thinking Blog

listening in on the conversation

design thinking: blending the best from business

Overview of Article: This is a recap of a conversation about what ‘Design Thinking” is supposed to do for a business and where it came from.

Thoughts on this Article: I like the thought process that is represented here.  It reflects a positive view of changing the way things are done and a collaborative approach to solving business challenges.  I agree that it makes sense to pick the best from various fields and integrate those things.  That is how we have some of the best things we have (including dogs).

Original Post HERE at

This is an attempt at articulating the implications of using design thinking as an approach to innovation. It emerged from a conversation this afternoon at the Aalto Design Factory with Mikko Koskinen and Lotta Hassi.

If, indeed we are to take the concept of design thinking as a potential toolkit for innovation, let us step back from it and consider its roots. It emerges from the fields of business and design, broadly speaking, and attempts to blend the best aspects from both of dealing with unknowns (which innovation certainly is, in a way). We won’t look at the weaknesses of each, but instead at the strengths – these allow a complementary set of methods or tools which counterbalance the weak spots of each individual approach.

That is, where business tends to forecast future performance based on past metrics and needs excruciatingly detailed plans before implementation, design permits tolerance of ambiquity, thus uncertainty, and tends to prototype and test before implementing. Design also brings the human aspect into consideration but lacks credible metrics of evaluating the returns on an investment. Here, Mikko points out that while business tends to base forecasts on existing or static environmental conditions, the user centered design process requires one to go out there and find weak signals or emerging trends through exploratory and user research.

However, when these elements are blended together and called “design thinking”, they do provide a reasonable approach to dealing with the unknown. And we take the “unknown” in this context as “opportunities for innovation yet to be identified” – these unknowns could be new platforms; emerging consumer segments such as the BoP; distribution networks or supply chains etc. In other words, as Lotta has noted in green, these unknowns encompass the broad areas where companies can innovate – product and/or services, business models, new markets, management and organization, supply chains and more.

That is, by approaching the whole process of change using a combination of methods and tools from both the business world, with its processes, systems and vast organizational structures; and the design world, accustomed to dealing with unknown outcomes and identifying unmet needs in a human centered way, we could in fact address the challenges of an uncertain, emerging future.

Random Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>