5 Design Thinking Myths in Business

5 Design Thinking Myths in BusinessMyth #1: Every creative person is a design thinker.

So you’re creative but doesn’t mean you are equipped to be with design methodologies and trained to be a design thinker, and even so you may not be able to apply them effectively in business decision making. Design Thinkers can imagine the world from multiple perspectives (a creative person see themselves as the center of the universe)—those of clients, end users, and customers. By taking a humanistic first approach, Design Thinkers can imagine solutions that are inherently desirable and meet explicit or latent needs. I don’t know how to a label who is a “design thinker”. I guess I know one when I see one.

Myth #2: Design Thinking can replace strategic planning and designers can be good manager.

You’ve drinking too much Design Thinking Kool-Aid while Design Thinking can help companies to be more innovative and more customer-centric, it does not equate strategic planning. The idea is to use Design Thinking to power up your strategic planning. And no, designers generally don’t make good managers, just the opposite.

Myth #3: There is value in learning best practices in Design Thinking.

For many consultants, it is such as easy sell for best practices in Design Thinking, “look what’s Apple is doing and you can do that too?” I don’t know if Apple knows what’s Design Thinking is although they practice it well. For decades, the hope and goal of managers has been that by studying and adopting the practices of organizations reported to be the best or “benchmark” in a given area (i.e. Design Thinking and Innovation) they will realize commensurate success. In truth, this activity has historically yielded very little of value. In the world of Design Thinking and Innovation, there is little value in best practices – only next practices. While out for firms that have written books about it and sell you yesterday’s theories.

Myth #4: Your market research companies can provide insights to support Design Thinking.

That’s not usually the case, and in fact almost never the case. Most of these firms came up with fancy name about their research methodologies and in fact it is the same old same old. Most hardly understand what Design Thinking is but happy to send a few 20 year olds out with a Canon camera and gives you ethnography, it is photography they’re giving you – not ethnography. You notice the two words are spelled differently.

Myth #5: Design Thinking is for senior managers only since they have a bigger responsibility for making important decisions.

The more senior you become, things become less black and white. You need to deal with many managerial dilemmas. Senior managers often have far less freedom to act alone and they have to deal with a more complicated political environment plus lot more paper pushing, and less freedom. Design Thinking can be helpful for organization as a way to develop visualization of new possibilities, prototyping, and refining and facilitate collective decision making which is often painful. It is can be a good painkiller and not only for senior managers and decision makers.

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Idris MooteeIdris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.

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Idris Mootee




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  1. Adam Kumpf on March 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    At Teague, we’ve been experimenting with some alternatives to the brainstorming process typically used for innovation. We’ve created so many walls full of sticky notes; our problem is not a shortage of interesting ideas, but has become one of time and focus.

    Creationstorming is about making concrete decisions. Ideas are critically debated in the moment, balancing feasibility and impact with respect to the project’s timeframe and goals.

    It’s still evolving and we’d love to hear your feedback. More info about Creationstorming can be found here:

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