Design Thinking has become one of the most visible and promising innovation movements in recent history, yet all design thinking is not the same, especially in practice.
The current proliferation of a one-size-fits-all approach is not only ineffective, it could ultimately doom its future.
We see this all the time: workshops filled with post-it notes and led by a “design” person who takes the audience through abstract activities that have little to do with the actual challenges facing the participants or their organization. While getting people outside of their comfort zone can create an environment that fosters creativity, design thinking must respond to the political, financial and cultural realities of the organizations it engages. Otherwise, it can become empty busywork that frustrates more than it empowers.
This lack of rigor around design thinking has led many organizations to 1) bring in design consultants on the back end of projects after problems and even solutions have been defined; and 2) seek short-term deliverables in the form of a “quick” technical fix that rarely drives the systemic transformation that makes design thinking so valuable.
Five Common Design-Thinking Mistakes
From our experience embedding design thinking within large organizations, we have repeatedly observed shortcomings in the practice of design thinking and have outlined five ways in which organizations err when engaging design thinkers or developing their own capacity for design thinking. We hope that this list not only helps organizations avoid these costly and time-consuming mistakes, but also preserves the long-term viability of design thinking practice.