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Design+ is a two-year research project that brings together Aalto Design Factory, Aalto University School of Business and Stanford University. It focuses on design thinking in leadership, change management, and strategy work. Funded by the Finnish Work Environment Fundand company partners, Design+ looks for new ways of operating to match the needs of current fast changing operating environments and future of work. The project focuses on how design thinking and design methods can be used to produce concrete solutions for complex and abstract challenges in organizations, such as strategy work or cultural change. While we have a solid understanding of what design thinking is, research on its adoption is still scarce, particularly on the strategic level. To bridge this gap Design+ has interviewed over a hundred designers, design managers and design business leaders to date, and continues to track a number of design initiatives as the unfold in companies.

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is an exploratory process, which allows unexpected discoveries along the way. It is iterative and non-linear by nature and differs significantly from the planning-centric, milestone-based processes that define traditional business practices. However, it is not disorganized or undisciplined. Instead, it aims to create results through inspiration, ideation, and implementation based on empathy, reframing, prototyping and co-creation in diverse groups.

Design thinking allows leaders and organizations to:

  • Combine creative and analytical thinking
  • Find customer/organization needs and dreams
  • Re-define problems
  • Create range of possible solutions
  • Get beyond obvious ideas
  • Prototype
  • Continuously iterate

While measuring the impact of design is tricky, investment in design pays off: research has linked better design is linked to improvement in organizations’ business performance (in terms of, for example, time-to-market, adoption rate, share of wallet, market share, revenue growth, profitability, and brand value). The Design Management Institute’s 2015 Design Value Index, based on a portfolio of publicly traded stocks from companies considered to be design-driven, has shown repeatedly returns exceeding 200% over the S&P 500.

RECENT BLOG POSTS

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    Changing an organization without a mandate

    The process of a professional group gaining a mandate and adopting their practice to an organization includes a variety of complementary actions. Introducing and adopting a practice simultaneously on multiple levels of an organization enhances the fit of the practice and provides opportunities to gain a mandate. Thus, the role of a change agent take shape in multiple ways in such contexts.

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    Erika PerttunenChanging an organization without a mandate
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    Managing for knowledge creation in exploratory projects

    I recently defended my PhD thesis looking into how practitoners with little or no experience on creative problem-solving practices approach ambigious problems and, on the other hand, how this type of work should be supported. My research got started at the Design Factory and the data was gathered from Design Factory-based industry project courses and from companies involved in research projects based at DF. Below is the transcript of the introductory lecture I gave at my defence. 

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    Satu RekonenManaging for knowledge creation in exploratory projects
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    3 pathways to implementing design thinking in a large company

    Disruptive innovations are challenging traditional industries and established players to seek new ways to enhance their internal innovation capabilities. Implementing design thinking into organizational practices can help bring users and their real needs to the center of the company, but remember to take into account varying perceptions across the organization, implement incrementally and secure mandate from management.

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    DF Researcher3 pathways to implementing design thinking in a large company

DESIGN PLUS CONTACTS

Tua BjörklundDesign Plus