Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploring Operational Practices and Archetypes of Design Thinking
by Finn Connell, Shannon Erin, Ph.D., Benedictine University, 2013, 178; 3569135
Abstract (Summary)

This study empirically explores operational practices and archetypes of design thinking in various organizational constructs. The emphasis is on examining the common operational practices applied in design thinking initiatives, to determine whether there are variations in the patterns of applications of these operational practices across different design thinking initiatives, and to identify what may explain such variations if they indeed do exist. The extant literature on design thinking distributed across many disciplines was assessed to determine the common operational practices underlying design thinking initiatives. These practices were then tested in the real-work context of 41 design thinking initiatives.

Two hypotheses were central to this study. First, the many operational practices of design thinking can be reduced to certain core elements or factors that are consistent across various contexts of design thinking initiatives. This hypothesis is tested through factor analysis of 32 operational practices of design thinking across 41 design thinking initiatives. Second, there will be specific archetypes or clusters of design thinking across various contexts where emphasis on core operational practices will vary depending on the context of the design thinking initiative. This hypothesis is tested through cluster analysis of the results of the factor analysis of the 32 operational practices of design thinking derived from the data cross the 41 design thinking initiatives. The cluster analysis assesses whether there are, indeed, archetypal differences in terms of these core operational practices. Then, using qualitative data derived from interviews of 10 design thinking initiatives, case exemplars highlight each of the four archetypes of design thinking initiatives and further speculate on the assumptive domain or the guiding principles that undergird these different archetypes of design thinking operational practices.

This study shows seven factors of operational practices of design thinking emerging from the data, identifying empirical categories that are present across various contexts of design thinking initiatives. These empirical categories highlight the consistency and importance of concepts in design thinking, including cooperative understanding; aspirational visioning; truth seeking; comprehensive solutioning; optimistic collaborating; analytical prototyping; and personal reflecting. Further analysis of the data revealed four archetypes of design thinking initiatives that differed by operational practices of design thinking as well as other key organizational characteristics. A metaphorical construct was applied to the archetypes to symbolize the similarities of the design thinking initiatives to four sports races: training, emphasizing learning by doing and more novice design thinking initiatives; marathons, capturing personal reflection in long timeframe change initiatives; relays, highlighting team collaboration and codesign in complex initiatives; and sprints, emphasizing fast-paced product innovation initiatives. Case studies of the four archetypes were used to provide context to the archetypes. Speculation on the underlying assumptive domains of the archetypes is captured in a model differentiating designer-led versus team-driven design thinking initiatives and low versus high sense of urgency.

Ideally, the results of this study may provide diagnostic insight into the patterns of design thinking initiatives, thus helping managers recognize aspects of design thinking that may already be present in their organization. The archetypes may also be used predictively, aiding organizations pursuing design thinking by utilizing the model as a way of identifying characteristics similar to their own design thinking considerations and goals.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Tenkasi, Ramkrishnan V.
Commitee: Buchanan, Richard, Shani, A. B. Rami
School: Benedictine University
Department: Organization Development
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 74/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management, Organization Theory, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Design thinking initiatives, Problem solving
Publication Number: 3569135
ISBN: 978-1-303-03962-1
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