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Design Thinking for Inclusive Community Design: (How) Does it Work?

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The paper discusses design thinking as a conceptual framework and methodological approach for fostering discussion and facilitating ideas that promote diversity and inclusion. We provide a theoretical overview of design thinking and related approaches to then discuss our case study, a workshop on inclusive community development that brought together researchers from different disciplines, city planners, architects and students. We analyze and reflect upon the conceptual development, facilitation and evaluation of the workshop. We give a detailed overview of workshop concept, workshop results and workshop evaluation data. Practitioners will find this article a valuable source for design thinking creative commons material. Researchers can use the analysis as a starting point for further investigating the effectiveness of design thinking.
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Design Thinking for Inclusive Community Design: (How) Does it Work?
Stefanie Panke
School of Government
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
United States
panke@sog.unc.edu
Thilo Harth
Fachhochschule Münster
Germany
harth@fh-muenster.de
Abstract: The paper discusses design thinking as a conceptual framework and methodological
approach for fostering discussion and facilitating ideas that promote diversity and inclusion. We
provide a theoretical overview of design thinking and related approaches to then discuss our case
study, a workshop on inclusive community development that brought together researchers from
different disciplines, city planners, architects and students. We analyze and reflect upon the
conceptual development, facilitation and evaluation of the workshop. We give a detailed overview
of workshop concept, workshop results and workshop evaluation data. Practitioners will find this
article a valuable source for design thinking creative commons material. Researchers can use the
analysis as a starting point for further investigating the effectiveness of design thinking.
Introduction
Design thinking is a problem solving method geared to overcome wicked problems, that have no right or
wrong solution and resist traditional scientific and engineering approaches, as the information needed to
understand the problem depends upon one's idea for solving it(Rittel & Webber, 1973, 161). Design thinking aims
at transcending the immediate boundaries of the problem to ensure that the right questions are being addressed. The
process foresees steps that allow participants to analyze, synthesize, diverge and generate insights from different
domains through drawing, prototyping and storytelling (Brown, 2009). During the design thinking process, the
facilitator encourages learners to see constraints as inspiration (Brown & Wyatt, 2010). The results are typically not
directed toward a technological "quick fix” but toward new integrations of signs, things, actions, and environments
(Buchanan, 1992).
The essence of design thinking is to put learners into contexts that make them think and work like an expert
designer, and thereby foster civic literacy, empathy, cultural awareness and risk taking (Sharples et al., 2016). As
awareness of the designed experience increases, so does the desire to apply the process of design thinking to a wider
range of scenarios to analyze and resolve any business or productivity challenge in a new, insightful, invigorating
manner (Hodgkinson, 2013). Achieving greater inclusion in community planning and development is one such
challenge.
Facets of Design Thinking
While the concept of concept of design thinking within the academic dialogue of design has been under
discussion for more than 30 years, its recent adoption as an innovation method has lead to its popularity in various
disciplines (Wigley and Straker, 2017). As Goldschmidt (2017) stated, the term design thinking means different
things to different communities. The author distinguishes two facets: (1) Descriptive models of the design process,
based on observational research of real-life or laboratory design activities by individuals or teams; (2) a method to
be practiced in industries that strive to introduce innovative products or services. Interest in how designers work and
think progressively moved from the purview of designers and architects to the field of management and business
administration (Elsbach & Stigliani, 2018). Both communities emphasize iterative processes, collaboration, speed of
concept modeling and testing through prototyping, and interaction with users. However, as Goldschmidt (2017)
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emphasized, the difference between cognitive models and facilitation methods should not be overlooked. Similarly,
Wigley and Straker (2017) note a shift from discussing and studying design thinking as cognitive processes
designers use, to a specific way that non-designers evaluate and use design methods a shift from design as a
science to design as a mindset” (Wigley and Straker, 2017, p.2).
Elsbach and Stigliani (2018) describe design thinking as an approach to problem solving that uses tools traditionally
utilized by designers of commercial products, processes, and environments. According to Cochrane & Munn (2016)
the three main elements of design thinking are observational research, visual sense making, and rapid prototyping.
The authors describe a typical design thinking process as a cycle of (1) empathizing and observing, (2) defining the
problem, (3) creating ideas, (4) prototyping and (5) testing (Cochrane & Munn, 2016).
In the context of this article, we follow a similar view of design thinking as a process and mindset. Furthermore, we
relate design thinking to participatory design, bricolage and serious play:
Participatory Design is an approach that involves the users of a product early on in the development process.
Related to the theoretical framework of activity theory, participatory design techniques expose the intricate mix of
activities users engage in, reflecting the complexity, flexibility, and social character of each activity (Kaptelinin &
Nardi, 2012). Lamb und Kling (2003) criticized the notion of individuals as “users” and propose the richer
perspective of social agents - “the socially thin user construct limits our understanding of information selection,
manipulation, communication, and exchange within complex social contexts” (Lamb & Kling, 2003). Instead of
being a research subject, people are given influence and room for informing, ideating, and conceptualizing activities
in the early design phases (Sanders & Stappers, 2008).
Bricolage means to engage in a dialogue with a heterogeneous collection of materials and tools, in which items are
repurposed and rearranged to solve a problem (Sharples et al., 2014). Bricolage comprises tools and artifacts that
were accumulated over time. This may include material that was collected without any specific purpose, and picked
up simply because it might be useful someday; as well as outcomes, products or ‘leftovers’ from other projects. The
typical bricolage setting is one of constant remix: Its tools and artifacts are not limited to only use nor does one need
specialized expertise to adapt and use them. Bricolage means to engage in a dialogue with a heterogeneous
collection of materials and tools, in which items are repurposed and rearranged to solve a problem (Sharples et al.,
2014). Bricolage does not necessitate having a clear end in sight. On the contrary, it requires the stakeholders to be
open and start with a vaguely defined idea.
LEGO Serious Play is a collaborative, creative method that uses Lego blocks and figures to develop scenarios for
organizational development, conflict resolution or web design (Cantoni et al., 2009). The method aims at improving
group problem solving, shared learning, listening and collaborating by making and creating. Building solutions and
prototypes using LEGO bricks is thought to create flow experiences for participants. There are many connection
between serious play and design thinking, and oftentimes design thinking processes involve the use of LEGO bricks.
Inclusion, Diversity and Design Thinking
Inclusive design takes place most productively among people with an array of social and cultural
backgrounds, economic circumstances, personal characteristics, philosophical perspectives, and life experiences.
Yet, oftentimes, design and development teams are, at least on the surface, fairly heterogeneous. Though achieving
greater diversity in their workforce has become an important goal for more and more organizations (Hunt, Prince,
Dixon-Fyle & Yee, 2018), this process tends to happen slowly, and cannot be seen as an immediate fix for achieving
design solutions that better address inclusiveness.
Given the current organizational structure of the workforce in higher education and government, it is most likely that
a think tank, task force or committee will not include a full representation of the group or groups whose design
challenges are supposed to be addressed. This can lead to problems when decisions are filtered through or based
upon stereotypical views of the user group. Implicit narratives in design can perpetuate injustice instead of fostering
equity (Bradshaw. 2018). As Oygür (2018) points out: ‘the user is not a given; instead, the user is a constructed
phenomenon in design’ (p.24).
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In-group vs. out-group categorizations happen automatically and involuntarily. The Implicit Association Test (IAT)1
invites test takers to group words or pictures depending on racial, religious, ethnic, and many other categories.
People tend to have implicit bias against people who belong to another group and feel less empathy towards them
(Jolls & Sunstein, 2006). Looking at empathy from an analytical perspective, we can develop effective strategies
that allow us to better understand and feel with others, and overcome prejudices and stereotypes.
Ferguson et al. (2017) distinguish three facets of empathy:
Emphatic resonance, an instinctive emotional reflection of other people’s feelings
Emphatic reasoning, an intentional undertaking to imagine yourself in another person’s shoes
Emphatic response, the motivation and willingness to appropriately address another person’s needs.
The central idea of design thinking lies in user-centered product development. By guiding stakeholders through a
predefined sequence of exercises the facilitator attempts to foster both empathy and creativity. Design thinking
confronts stakeholders with their preconceived notions of organizational issues or initiatives, and fosters the shared
understanding of problem scope as well as crucial components that are difficult to conceptualize. Design thinking
can address diversity and inclusion in three crucial, different ways:
1. By recruiting diverse teams for the design thinking process.
2. By fostering empathy through targeted, structured activities.
3. By surfacing and addressing the diversity within a particular group.
Design thinking allows developers to embrace ‘the blurred space of social ambiguity’ with the purpose of making
outcomes more innovative (Lindberg, Meinel & Wagner, 2011). Bross, Acar, Schilf & Meinel (2009) describe
design thinking as “a human-centered systems thinking approach that creates experiences for stakeholders by
matching human factors with technological feasibility and business viability” (p. 904). The approach seeks to bring
together different areas of expertise and leverage concepts and tools sets from from each domain to analyze,
synthesize, and generate insights and new ideas (Melles, Howard & Thompson-Whiteside, 2012).
Liedtka (2015) discussed design thinking as a method to reduce cognitive bias. According to her analysis, design-
thinking practices carry the potential for improving innovation outcomes by mitigating an established set of
cognitive flaws: people often project their own world view onto others, limit the options considered, and ignore
disconfirming data. While the author analyzed 9 different types of cognitive bias in detail, she also offered three
distinct general categories of cognitive bias. In the context of inclusiveness, Liedtka’s first category of biases that
relate to decision-makers’ proclivity to become trapped in their own world view is specifically meaningful. It
comprises the following tendencies:
Projection bias: People have a tendency to project their past experiences and thus over-estimate the extent
to which the future will resemble the present.
Hot/cold gap: People’s emotional state, whether emotion-laden (hot) or not (cold), unduly influences their
assessment of the potential value of an idea.
Egocentric empathy gap: People consistently overestimate the similarity between what they value and what
others value.
Focusing illusion: People tend to over-estimate the effect of one factor at the expense of others,
overreacting to specific stimuli, and ignoring others.
According to Liedtka (2015), a remedy for category 1 biases is to improve decision-makers’ ability to imagine the
experience of those other than themselves, even in the absence of first-hand data gathering.
Case Study
In February 2018 the authors of this article were involved in a design thinking workshop at Muenster
University of Applied Sciences (Germany) in the roles of facilitator and participant. Our case study analysis reflects
both perspectives, and uses evaluation results to further illuminate how the workshop structure fostered creativity
and empathy, and what limitations the participants perceived.
A central aspect of the research cluster 'participation and well-being' at the Münster University of Applied Sciences
1 Implicit Association Test (IAT) https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
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is to seek ideas of how to develop the living quarters and neighborhoods in Germany cities. Despite the
predominantly excellent digital infrastructure, the excellent health care and manifold assisted living offers in
Germany, the potential of inclusion, equal co-existence and social coherence are not sufficiently supported. There is
a lack of urban planning networking, the active and productive interaction of different population groups (young and
old, single and family members, working and retired, majority society and migrants, etc.). The consequences are
both individual and social problems such as loneliness and high material and social costs for individual health care.
The design thinking workshop was an opportunity for researchers and practitioners from different disciplines
(medical technicians, architects, nursing and health experts, educators) to jointly develop a neighborhood and think
'out of the box'.
The workshop on inclusive community development brought together researchers from different disciplines, city
planners, architects and students, most of whom did not have any prior experience with design thinking. The
participants’ goals fell into three groups: (1) introduction to design thinking (2) basic / introductory level exchange
on community development (3) specific ideas / specific problems in community engagement and development, such
as ‘dementia, public health (movement, fitness), activating volunteers, offering public participation.
Since the area of inclusion and bias reduction through design thinking is relatively unexplored, a case study provides
advantages for refining concepts and initiating theorizing. Robert Yin notes that a case study is “an empirical
enquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon in depth and within its real-life context, especially when the
boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident” (Yin, 2009, p. 14).
Workshop Design
The workshop engaged participants with participatory development techniques and design thinking tools for
orchestrating conflicting ideas, identifying singular needs and common goals, making productive use of diverse
backgrounds and developing a shared vision.
Ice Breaker: Tell Me About Your Neighborhood – Who / What Is Not On the Map?
Since design thinking is a visual and haptic approach, we started the workshop with an exercise that tapped into the
visualization and spatial thinking skills of the participants by asking them to draw a map of their quarter.
Specifically, the task was to map out barriers to inclusion and participation.
Draw a map of your own neighborhood.
What are some barriers to inclusiveness and social activities that you experience?
Who do you never meet in your neighborhood? Why do you think that is?
This was an interesting way to get to know one another, and create a sharing, collegial atmosphere. It also produced
a list of barriers and enablers to active community life, as well as typical quarters that exemplify the demographics
of many German neighborhoods.
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Figure 1: 'Sketch your Neighborhood' - icebreaker activity
These are a few selected results of the exercise:
Aging Neighborhood: ‘With my little daughter, I live in a town house. There are very few young people
and almost no families in our area. Instead, we have an assisted care facility and senior residence and
housing geared at retirees. I did not feel like I would fit in at first, but there are many activities for kids at
the senior center offers many activities for children, and we like out ‘gray quarter’.
Downtown Traffic Junction: ‘Though I live very central, and feel like I am close to everything, I don’t do
anything in my immediate neighborhood. There is just too much traffic, and noise, and it does not feel safe
to walk or bike’.
Affluent Suburbia: ‘I do not interact with the people in my neighborhood, we all live in our own little
boxes. Everyone has a house with garden, every yard is fenced in. And everyone gets home from work to do
their own thing. Behind the fence. I am not sure if I would even want to change that or how’.
Creating Personas
The use of personas – fictional persons – to represent an abstract consumer originally derived from the field of
marketing and, since the late 1990s – inspired by a publication by Cooper (1999) has also been applied within the
framework of software engineering to expand other usability methods (Pruitt & Grudin, 2003). We used the
personas approach as a narrative tool to give workshop participants an authentic glimpse into the everyday life of
people living in a prototypical neighborhood. Personas are an immersive way for bringing abstract target group
information to life through the presence of a specific, fictional personality (Junior & Filgueiras, 2005). Acting as a
“projection screen”, personas aid in identifying needs and possible behavioral patterns (Panke, Gaiser & Werner,
2007).
After a brief overview of statistical data on typical demographics in a German neighborhood, participants worked in
teams of 3, and designed 1-2 portraits that outlined characteristics of each persona.
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Figure 2: Personas posters
The material set for the personas exercise comprised posters and a variety of headshots to choose from to construct
the fictional biography outlines. Participants created a total of 11 personas. Interestingly, even though the photo pool
offered pictures of a diverse population, the resulting personas were somewhat more heterogeneous than the
facilitator expected. While, for example, participants selected images that were in their original context depicting a
black lesbian couple with their toddler, a blind physician, and a transgender woman, the fictional characters had
none of these traits.
Here is a selection of two of the most commonly referenced personas that participants kept using during their design
thinking process:
Mehmet, 56, married, owns his own kiosk stand. He sells snacks, lottery tickets, newspapers, magazines
and offers package drop-off. His objectives are financial security in old age, and he dreams of buying a
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house for retirement in Turkey. What prevents him from being active in the neighborhood are his very long
work days. While he seems to know almost everyone who lives in the quarter, he mostly has superficial
chats with customers at the kiosk. He should exercise more for his health, and is upset that his son looks
down on his work in the kiosk stand.
Claudia, 32, works late shifts at an Amazon packaging center. She lives alone with her two cats, but
recently met someone, whom she is dating. She wants to use her leisure time in more meaningful ways,
have outlets to be creative and connect with nature. The hectic pace of her life and the lack of rhythm due
to evening and night shifts keep her from being active. She feels invisible in the neighborhood and has
limited financial resources.
Design Thinking Process
The personas and their legends delivered the necessary context for design decisions and priorities in the next step of
the creative process, the design thinking cycle. During the design thinking process participants cycle rapidly through
a series of tasks that prompt them to observe, brainstorm, synthesize, prototype and discuss. Each participant worked
in a dyadic team that went through four design sheets with structured prompts:
(1) DEFINE & FOCUS: Pick one of the personas and specify which social inclusion problem you want to
solve for this person. Remember that how you describe the problem affects the solution, so pay attention to
precise, concise and action-oriented language. Present to your partner.
(2) GENERATE & DEBATE Generate 3-5 ideas to address the problem with novel solutions or disruptive
technologies. Aim for a large effect, broad reach and replicable results. Present to your partner.
(3) SELECT & SKETCH Choose one of your ideas and sketch it out in more detail (literally). Select the best-
received, the most interesting to you, the most likely to be implemented, the most unusual or the solution
with the most options for collaborating with others. Present to your partner.
(4) BUILD & PRESENT: Design a prototype or three-dimensional representation of your solution with the
materials in the room (card board, paper, tape, clay). Let your partner / the gropup react to the prototype.
Both express and receive positive and negative feedback, ideas for improvement or extension, and open
questions.
We went through two cycles of the design thinking process so that each participant developed, discussed, sketched,
and built out two ideas. After the first round, we re-formed the teams, so that everyone worked with two different
people, ideally each from a different context. While the conceptual idea stages where developed in a dyadic setting,
each participant presented their prototypes to the whole group and got feedback from the plenum.
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Figure 3: Design thinking prototyping results
Community Engagement can happen in different spaces and places, through events or programs, facilitated by
technology and public infrastructure, comprising public, commercial and private spheres. The workshop participants
developed 28 different design ideas.
The following selected concepts exemplify the breadth and depth of contributions:
Intergenerational Car-Sharing: Fewer and fewer young people in Germany purchase their own car.
However, for old people, mobility and independence are very much tied to an automobile. An
intergenerational car sharing service would allow beginning drivers to use senior residents’ cars in return
for assisting with transportation.
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Open Fences: People open up their front yards and create community spaces, for example a bench, that
invites neighbors to stop and talk.
DIY workshops taught by senior citizens: Many seniors citizens are retired craftsmen whose expertise,
workshop spaces and tools remain an unused resource. In the wake of the ‘Do-It-Yourself’ movement,
retirees can make use of valuable skills and equipment by offering classes in the neighborhood, opening up
their garages for repair clubs, or supervising volunteers who conduct minor repairs or construction work in
public spaces in need for repair (i.e., schools).
School bus for Seniors: Instead of offering food delivery services (Germany has ‘meals on wheels’
subscription services for senior citizens), the ‘school bus’ picks up senior residents at their home and drives
them to a shared lunch location to create community and combat isolation.
To facilitate the final discussion, each participant used a traffic light system for a personal summary of the event,
using a green, yellow and red card to sort out ideas to pursue, ideas to learn more about or evaluate further, and ideas
to discard. One shared research question emerged in the final discussion that underlies all the ideas developed in the
workshop: Why do some community-based initiatives work while others are not accepted and supported by the
residents? What is the formula for success to activate a neighborhood? The initiative chose this question to zoom in
as this particular research focus.
Lessons Learned
Design thinking is a playful approach that should by no means be misunderstood as 'anything goes'. Rather,
a design thinking process requires careful facilitation with clear rules, especially with regard to time management.
Equally important is a thorough follow-up that summarizes and expands upon the results.
The interwoven activities of personas design and design thinking cycle worked particularly well to increase the
development of user centered approaches. Since every idea had to be grounded in a storyline that put one of the
personas in the center, innovations had to address concrete, individual problems and had to be credible attempts at
improving an, albeit fictional, person’s life.
In retrospect, the personas method could have been used more effectively by giving more specific prompts to target
diversity, e.g.:
Create a persona that significantly differs from your own background.
What feels difficult about telling this person’s story?
What assumptions are you making?
How can you learn more?
Building out three-dimensional representations of the idea is an important part of the design thinking process. As the
blogger Jackie Gerstein puts it ‘the human need to create is innate’ so when people are given the opportunity,
materials, and methods, they typically fully embrace making and creating (User Generated Education, March
2018)2. This observation resonates with our experiences: The making activity was the most engaging and active part
of the workshop.
Though it takes more time to do this and may seem redundant, we recommend going through two rounds of the
design thinking cycle. This allows participants to work with more than one partner and gain familiarity with the
process. Whereas in round one, participants struggled with the time limits, in round two they were often finished
ahead of time. It also allows participants to develop and apply individual preferences. In round two, one participant
chose to forego the sketching step in the second round, because she felt that she was making more process in
refining her thoughts about her idea while building, then while sketching.
Evaluation Results
2 https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2018/03/04/the-magic-of-making-the-human-need-to-create/
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Seven weeks after the workshop, the participants received a result summary of the personas and the design
ideas, together with a short online survey that comprised one binary, three Likert, and four open ended questions.
The survey was distributed by email with a personalized invitation link. With two reminders, 11 out of 15
participants answered the questionnaire. As an incentive, we raffled off a recent design thinking book title among
respondents.
We asked participants to rate the efficiency of design thinking to present and share ideas. Generating ideas and
concepts, increasing empathy and working collaboratively are seen as strength of the approach.
Figure 4: Please rate the effectiveness of design thinking based on your workshop experience. (n=11).
Are the haptic aspects of the design thinking method (i.e. three-dimensional prototyping) particularly helpful for
developing or presenting ideas? While the prototyping was overwhelmingly perceived as helpful to firther develop
one’s idea, the perception of the effectiveness as a presentation and interaction foil for others was mixed among the
respondents.
Figure 5: As how helpful did you perceive the prototyping? Please rate the effectiveness. (n=11)
Overall, the participants viewed the workshop experience favorably, as the following comments illustrate:
Expectations were fully met and it was a lot of fun to get creative in this group.
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Competent workshop design and moderation
The entry "to think in one’s own neighborhood" was great.
The design thinking steps were very good.
Overall, I liked the event very much.
The workshop gave a good insight into the method.
There were some ideas for improvement, specifically, not everyone enjoyed the two cycles of design thinking:
In the second round I did not have enough ideas myself, so I was very insecure and found it strange to
present my idea as it was. There should have been a recovery of ideas from the first round or the option to
work on someone else’s idea.
Maybe next time only one round.
I think that the subject of movement should have been more in focus since the title was the "Moving
Quarter".
Only one of the participants reported to have worked in more detail on the ideas that were generated in the
workshop. The workshop results will be presented and discussed at a project event, and participants will meet for a
follow-up workshop. Several participants plan to organize design thinking activities, particularly with students.
Regarding design thinking as a method, participants reported both positive outcomes and negative aspects.
Positive outcomes:
To receive impulses to think in other directions.
interdisciplinary approach
The development of personas and the subsequent prototyping
The open approach and the integration of different perspectives.
Creativity, possibility to think through unconventional ideas.
Negative aspects:
It could become too abstract and thus too far removed from the subject.
It is unclear how to move from first ideas to further development of innovative, marketable products /
services.
Unclear what is already on the market. That would need to be researched in a timely manner so that ideas
do not fizzle out.
It lacks the opportunity to research whether the imagined solution already exists, and whether it makes any
sense.
Realistic assessments of models and ideas: all comments and ideas were treated equal (both strength and
weakness), missing data (ideas arise from a ‘gut feeling’)
Outlook
This article provides practical examples that practitioners can re-use, repurpose and adapt.
In our experience, design thinking can specifically enhance emphatic reasoning and emphatic response, in particular
by tying the personas biographies to the design thinking challenge activity. The facilitator’s role was to translate the
domain of community development concepts into concrete and tangible artifacts that workshop members were able
to grasp, interact with and comment upon. The workshop created a space and time to allow for mutual learning
processes.
Generalizable, definite conclusions cannot be based on a single case study. Instead, the purpose of our case study
and the applicability of our findings can be characterized as exploratory and intrinsic following the typology
described by Baxter and Jack (2008).
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Liedtka (2015) cautioned to consider the possible negative effects design-thinking approaches may produce, for
example group think. The workshop participants particularly wanted a better, more structured follow-up, and saw it
as a weakness that ideas cannot be critically evaluated in more depth. It seems that design thinking activities could
profit from blended concepts, that combine findings with a shared workspace, such as padlet.com, so that
participants can more easily follow up on ideas.
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... Arguably, with diversity of perspectives and priorities, disagreements are likely to arise [41]. However, design thinking encourages this confrontation of preconceived ideas and supports organizations to facilitate a comparatively open-minded approach to explore underlying pain points that may not be commonly realized or addressed [38]. Importantly, design thinking aids decision makers to not only reduce cognitive bias, but via the combination of empathy for the feelings and experiences of others with creativity and rationality, specific problem contexts may be analyzed, and appropriate solutions generated [33]. ...
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“Design thinking” has generated significant attention in the business press and has been heralded as a novel problem-solving methodology well suited to the often-cited challenges business organizations face in encouraging innovation and growth. Yet the specific mechanisms through which the use of design, approached as a thought process, might improve innovation outcomes have not received significant attention from business scholars. In particular, its utility has only rarely been linked to the academic literature on individual cognition and decision-making. This perspective piece advocates addressing this omission by examining “design thinking” as a practice potentially valuable for improving innovation outcomes by helping decision-makers reduce their individual level cognitive biases. In this essay, I first review the assumptions, principles, and key process tools associated with design thinking. I then establish its foundation in the decision-making literature, drawing on an extensive body of research on cognitive biases and their impact. The essay concludes by advancing a set of propositions and research implications, aiming to demonstrate one particular path that future research might take in assessing the utility of design thinking as a method for improving organizational outcomes related to innovation. In doing so, it seeks to address the challenge of conducting academic research on a practice that is obviously popular in management circles but appears resistant to rigorous empirical inquiry because of the multifaceted nature of its “basket” of tools and processes and the complexity of measuring the outcomes it produces.
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The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
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In our research project Collaborative Creativity of Development Processes in the IT Industry, we pursue the question how design thinking can help to enhance the innovativeness in IT development and which individual and organizational factors facilitate or encourage this. In this chapter, we outline what the contribution of design thinking to engineering thinking can be, how it is related to akin IT development approaches (e.g. agile development), and what our initial insights on the didactic and organizational implications are.