The Dilemmas of Design Thinking in Innovation Projects

Organizations have discovered Design Thinking as a promising framework or language for innovation-focused project teamwork. The goal is to develop new products and services by being customer-centric and working iteratively and in an interdisciplinary way, using specific working principles and methods to create a common language among all stakeholders. The empirical results in this article show that Design Thinking teamwork is different from other forms of teamwork. The difference in Design Thinking team-based project work is that the teams go through a specific learning process that poses individual challenges but also provides the individual with experience-based learning. We show that teams going through this learning process repeatedly find themselves in seemingly insolvable conflicts—so called structural dilemmas—within the framework of project deadlines and under the influence of strategic guidelines of the organization. We explore these structural dilemmas and develop ways to overcome them.
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