New Study on Design Thinking Adoption in Organizations

October 21, 2015

Everyone interested in design thinking and its implementation in organizations can download the new research report by the Team. The study is called “Parts Without a Whole? – The Current State of Design Thinking in Organizations.” It is one of the first large-sample studies to examine design thinking adoption in organizations on a broad scale.


This explorative study gives a descriptive overview of what organizations do and experience when they say they practice design thinking. It looks at how the concept has been appropriated in organizations and also describes patterns of design thinking adoption. The authors use a mixed-method research design fed by two sources: questionnaire data and semi-structured personal expert interviews.

The study proceeds in six parts:

(1) design thinking’s entry points into organizations;

(2) understandings of the descriptor;

(3) its fields of application and organizational localization;

(4) its perceived impact;

(5) reasons for its discontinuation or failure; and

(6) attempts to measure its success.

In conclusion the report challenges managers to be more conscious of their current design thinking practice. The authors suggest a co-evolution of the concept’s introduction with innovation capability building and the respective changes in leadership approaches. It is argued that this might help in unfolding design thinking’s hidden potentials as well as preventing unintended side-effects such as discontented teams or the dwindling authority of managers.

Find out more about the research team and download as a PDF