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Last year I participated in a quantitative research study by Dr Jan Schwarz into the role of the customer in the use of Design Thinking and how it is used to manage knowledge and uncertainty as a process.

This is useful for other practitioners in the field to understand how it is continuing to evolve as an approach to problem solving and innovation outcomes.


“While design thinking appears to have been widely adopted in practice, academia seems to be lagging behind. In this research we investigate two aspects of the practice of design thinkers: How do design thinkers assess the ‘world of the customer’? How do they deal with the uncertainty associated with the future? Based on a survey of 302 design thinkers, our study reveals that design thinkers can be found in both small and large organizations. In our sample, 50% of design thinkers have more than five years of experience, and roughly one-third have a management background. Although ethnographic research can be time-consuming, this remains the preferred methodology to understand the world of the customer. Further, while a literature review provides little evidence of the usage of foresight tools in design thinking, it appears that design thinking projects do rely on tools from corporate foresight, such as scenario planning, to assess the future.”

Published in AMD Academy Fashion and Design

Download the report here

Mike Pinder

About Mike Pinder

Mike Pinder is a Senior Innovation Consultant at Board of Innovation, helping global Fortune 500 to innovate like startups from innovation strategy to design thinking, lean startup and business model innovation to create intrapreneurial troublemakers. With 10+ years’ experience guiding executives and project teams, cross-industry in B2B/B2C for clients like GE, ABinBev, ZF, Logitech, ING, Bpost. His research interests center around external hacker innovation communities and their role on design trajectories within large corporates.