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Design Thinking at Work

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Design Thinking at Work

How Innovative Organizations are Embracing Design

University of Toronto Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Design thinking expert David Dunne offers guidance for infusing creativity into your firm.

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  • Overview


More than ever, executives seek creativity and innovation from their teams. Their greatest hope that their teams will discover a disruptive breakthrough that can dominate their industries. Their greatest fear is to find themselves on the wrong end of disruption. David Dunne, a foremost expert in the field, explains the advantages of design thinking: advance warning of future disruption, a stream of incremental improvements to existing products and even game-changing innovation. But, he warns, design thinking works only if you understand it well and apply it with patience. Unlike many authors who extol the wonders of design and creativity, Dunne doesn’t cheerlead. He offers a sober assessment, including the common mistakes leaders make and the ongoing difficulty of making true design thinking succeed and endure in organizations. Leaders should embrace this slim volume, including the high-level steps they must take to overcome the common pitfalls that undermine design thinking initiatives. 


Difficult Magic

Design thinking focuses on users finding solutions that meet their needs while driving business value. Successful design thinking demands creativity and systems thinking. Design thinking helps you identify business problems and generate creative solutions through iterative development that involves feedback, experimentation and reflection. Outcomes often produce novel, creative and practical solutions – sometimes even industry-changing breakthroughs – but still must survive organizational processes. Design thinking requires patience and long-term commitment from designers, the organization and its leaders. 

The Design Process

When innovator Gerwin Hoogendoorn reinvented the umbrella, he didn’t conduct market research or study umbrella history. He took umbrellas apart and experimented by reconstructing them in different ways. He drew pictures, pieced together prototypes, tested those prototypes in harsh weather and talked with people who tested them for him. He considered his results before starting the process...

About the Author

David Dunne worked with Roger Martin and other thought leaders at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto and teaches design thinking at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

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    J. M. 7 months ago
    Very good
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    L. S. 1 year ago
    Examples are nice reminder to rethink design principles at lab.
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    R. T. 3 years ago
    Excellent summary - it makes some key considerations in getting this to work in an organizational setting to achieve a meaningful business impact. And the alternative doesn't bear thinking about. It's so important to avoid the kind of "innovation theatre" that design thinking can give rise to in the place of meaningful and sustained innovation.