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An Investigation into Design Thinking Behaviours

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An Investigation into Design Thinking Behaviours in Early Stage Radical Innovation



Martin P. RYAN and Frank DEVITT


The early stage of radical innovation is characterised by uncertainty, data
overload and often high rates of change. Schumpeter’s ‘creative destruction’
view of innovation is now exacerbated by ‘hypercompetition’ (D'Aveni, 1999),
a theory that describers the increasing rate and intensity of change in modern
markets. In the design and strategy literature, design thinking is often
positioned as an appropriate mediator of radical innovation in these
circumstances, by facilitating interpretation of market uncertainties and
moderating organisational behaviours. At its inception radical innovation is
determined largely by the cognitive behaviour of the actors involved, often
semi-consciously. In this study we set out to distinguish design thinking from
analytical thinking and investigate the suitability of both for the effective
early stage formation of radical innovation concepts. Additionally, whereas
design thinking literature mostly investigates and reports on the benefits of
its application, we seek to understand where design thinking’s limitations lie
and where it may be better replaced by other forms of cognition. This paper
reports at an interim stage of a continuing study. It provides a comprehensive
review of relevant literature and a qualitative exploration of two successful
innovating SME firms. A framework is given for a novel experimental protocol
that will be used in the next stage of the larger study.


PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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