the truth on design thinking (die wahrheit über design-thinking)

22. März 2016

an essay, written in german for and published by designaustria; june 2015
published by designreport december 2015


to cook a meal is easy, isn’t it? you just follow the instructions of the recipe. but in the end it tastes different than in the restaurant, doesn’t it? why? because a chef is well trained with a lot of practical experience. hence the same is true for design thinking. everybody can be a design thinker, but it needs 10, 20 years of practice. however, after all this training and practise, a manager has morphed to a designer; he is never more a manager. that is not what is needed, today.

today, we need the combination of two ways of thinking: the mind-set of the designer is the perfect fit for the causal mindset of the manager. together, they will innovate and optimize their organisation, the economy, and thus the society.

the goal of this essay is freeing managers from the dictate to become design thinkers. design thinking is the mind-set of designers. the intelligent manager makes use of this mind-set not by denying oneself and ones way of thinking (causal), but by choosing the right interlocutors who are able to offer this mind-set.

executives, entrepreneurs and managers, officers and politicians should draw on design thinking by using these thinkers as discussion partners and not by trying to mimic them.

do managers really need to become design thinkers, if they want to stay successful?

no, they just need to use this way of thinking. by inviting designers to discuss the challenges a manager faces, a manager can utilise the knowledge of designers and integrate it into his organisation.

design thinking is nothing new, we use it for more than 100 years. design thinking is neither a special process nor a set of methods and the double diamond explains design just from looking backwards onto a project. during the design process (meaning, during designing), there is no clear and exact step-by-step-process observable. that explains the typical frustration of designers during product development (using product as a synonym for an object, a process or a service). long-serving designers are used to this feeling and don’t get confused by it. they know that they make progress and that they are going to deliver what is needed at the end.


design thinking is not a new school of thought. it is the mind-set of designers and can easily incorporated into an organisation by hiring designers as discussion partners.

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