Capturing the Value of Design Thinking in Different Innovation Practices
Maaike Kleinsmann, Rianne Valkenburg, Janneke Sluijs


Design thinking has become a popular notion in the field of innovation. What is design thinking really and—even more important—what could be its value in applying it in innovation practices? This paper presents four studies that together capture the value of design thinking in different early-stage innovation practices. Study 1 comprised a literature review on design thinking to form the basis of an agreed domain of discourse for design thinking in innovation. In Study 2, this shared domain of discourse was validated. This shared domain of discourse provided the input for Study 3, which investigated how innovators apply design thinking in early-stage innovation practices. It shows that the application of design thinking is dependent on the innovator’s aim for the project, his or her vision on innovation, and the main challenge s/he is facing. This combination of characteristics is termed an image of design thinking. The images frame the application design activities in the context of the specific innovation project. Study 4 successfully validated the four images and shows that the combination of the images and the agreed domain of discourse can serve as a common language and a tool that allow capturing the value of design thinking in early-stage innovation.

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