Examining how Principles of Design Thinking might be Applied to Domains Outside of Product Development Practices

Anders Bang-Larsen & Christian Jin Frederiksen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Design has demonstrated to be a driver of growth and revenue where Design Thinking has received appraisal in organizational studies and management disciplines. Here, Design Think-ing is seen as a concept in which people without a design background can apply a designer’s mindset and tools to drive innovation and development of e.g. products. This appraisal is deemed to have followed the commercialization of Design Thinking by Design agencies that advocate for the value of Design Thinking for organizations throughout industries and busi-ness domains.
This thesis seeks to dive into the understanding of Design Thinking, its foundation, and the emergence of the concept as well as to grasp how Design Thinking can add value to organiza-tions throughout different business domains. By posing the research question “How might principles of Design Thinking be applied to domains outside of innovation practices”, this the-sis provides further insights into the field of Design Thinking regarding the generalizability of Design Thinking into other domains than the traditional innovation practices in which Design Thinking especially has found popularity. To do so, this thesis investigates discrepancies be-tween the theoretical understanding of Design Thinking and the practical utilization of Design Thinking.
To provide an intelligible tentative answer to the research question, the research is conducted with a pragmatic research design, in which qualitative research methodology is applied. Fol-lowing a conceptual framework derived from reviewing relevant literature, a tentative best-guess to the research question is evaluated through interviews with leading practitioners of Design Thinking to nuance the conceptual understanding which then provides new manage-rial implications as well as implications for future research.
The findings of this research suggest that the value of Design Thinking is found in the inherent mindset that can be traced back to Designers, and not in the specific methods and tools from which Design Thinking has been popularized. It is found that the underlying principles of De-sign Thinking, combined with the right situational circumstances of leadership buy-in and open problem statements, set the application of Design Thinking up for success, which is be-cause Design Thinking is to be seen as a problem-solving approach rather than a set of meth-ods and tools. This is exemplified through the domain of sales practices that Design Thinking can provide value if the situation can benefit from having a designer’s mindset.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages93
SupervisorsDaniel Hjorth