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    Getting the right design or getting the design right; An observation of 18 projects progressing through a structured design thinking process

    Vaugh, Trevor and Ryan, Martin (2015) Getting the right design or getting the design right; An observation of 18 projects progressing through a structured design thinking process. ITERATIONS Design Research and Practice Review, 1 (1). pp. 14-21. ISSN 2009-8243

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    Design thinking is firmly established as a key driver of tomorrow's innovations (Martin 2009). Poised as a cure for delinquent services and estranged technologies, design thinking promises to reintegrate the user and embellish commercial offerings in positive experience. More often, this means ‘design as add-on’, a refinement step situated at the ‘back end’ of innovation processes and employed only after strategic decisions have been made. This practice is enforced by empirical research dominated by new product development theories for effective project management. In this paper we re-address this imbalance by investigating its potential at the conception of new innovation directions, as a strategic front-end driver. Importantly, there are advocates of design thinking who promote its ability to find ‘the right design’ over its ability to ‘get the design right’ (Buxton, 2010). Expert design thinking is charged at the cold face of many innovation initiatives recognised for its ability to uncover new relevant opportunities but limited to anecdotal evidence, or one off celebrated examples. Design thinking literature contributes rich understanding of process sequencing (Lindberg et al., 2010) but makes limited contribution to phase implementation. It is mostly left open to interpretation and subjective preferences by its proponents. While this flexibility may be a virtue in expert hands, in the wrong hands it is at best a missed opportunity and worst an expensive fiasco. We have conducted a 12 week field trial of design thinking with 18 participants in 18 organisations. We surveyed all participants and coded the resulting data. We found 2 stand-out patterns that have implications for effective design thinking integration in organisations; 1) position of the designer relative to the organisations and 2), emphasis of design thinking tools if earlier or later in the process. Drawing on our extensive experience in teaching and practice we offer new insights to support design thinking purposed towards the front end of innovation and finding the ‘right design’. In this paper we integrate wider literature from insight (Klein & Jarosz, 2011) and cognition theories with design thinking theory and build a theoretical model to support this application.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Design thinking; Management; Design education; Assumption testing; Insight;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Design Innovation
    Item ID: 6701
    Depositing User: Trevor Vaugh
    Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2016 15:56
    Journal or Publication Title: ITERATIONS Design Research and Practice Review
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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