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The Influence of Design Thinking in Business: Some Preliminary Observations

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Jean Liedka, Professor, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia; Sean Carr, Lecturer, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia; Director of Corporate Innovation Programs, Batten Institute; Amy Halliday, Managing Editor, Batten Institute, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia; Andrew C. King, Research Assistant, Batten Institute, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia


Design thinking-it's certainly the phrase du jour in the business press, but is it really being used in the corporate world? To what extent has design been embraced by corporations beyond the traditional functions? Is it used to solve larger business problems, to formulate corporate strategy? Design Management Institute president Tom Lockwood, with Jeanne Liedtka and three of her colleagues from the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, set out to assess the prevalence of design thinking in business. They began with a loose hypothesis-that design thinking was in fact growing more influential, and that its growth would follow that of other business approaches (TQM, for example). What they found was different. In fact, as they interviewed design executives and business managers, they discovered they were talking about other, deeper issues: Who owns design? How much design thinking should managers be encouraged to do? How do you sell design to business executives? Indeed, the very definition of design thinking emerged as a contentious issue.




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Design Thinking, Design Value, Design Process, Design Valuation

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