Person using different coloured markers on butchers paper as part of a design thinking workshop

In an earlier article we looked at which universities had the strongest influence on the conversation around design thinking.

We also looked at all the news stories from the past two years to understand which institutions are at the forefront of the public discussion around design thinking.

We found that the narrative around design thinking breaks down into two broad themes: education stories that discuss applications of design thinking in teaching and learning (33% of the conversation), and industry stories that talk about how design thinking is being used in a variety of companies and industries (67% of the conversation).

We now examine the narrative around design thinking more closely.

A closer look at the conversation reveals 14 topics:

News articles on design thinking featuring themes.

Stanford is not only the most prominent voice among academic institutions when it comes to design thinking but also the most central topic of conversation and the one that links and bridges ideas around design thinking, whether in industry or education.

The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (commonly known as the is known for being the place that has popularised design thinking not only to students but also to executives, scientists and professionals (WSJ, paywall).

Whilst the educational conversation speaks to incorporating design thinking into the classroom, and into programs on innovation and entrepreneurship, the industry stories show how design thinking has been used to enhance customer experiences, to rethink marketing and branding, healthcare, software and technology solutions, and to use design in the public sector.

The design thinking approach has even migrated into the arts and religion as a creative ways to shake up the practices. The San Francisco Opera, dating back to the 1850s was redesigned and in 2016. Alongside its traditional program, the redesigned program included new events such as an a cappella opera, a one-man show, a film concert, and a program of music featuring the opera’s promising young performers.

Another team, of clergy, lay leaders and creatives redesigned ‘doing Jewish’. The Kitchen, a non-denominational ‘startup synagogue’—social hub centred on food—aims to drive Jewish religious engagement among under-40s.

The industry conversation also prominently features two companies that have embraced design thinking at scale and have made it central to their culture and practices: IBM and Infosys. IDEO, Apple and Accenture also have a large presence in the conversation.

Infographic of news articles by company mentioning design and design thinking.

The wide ranging conversation around design thinking embraces processes and mindsets and it has grown steadily in recent years to permeate almost every facet of business, products and services across industry and society.

Read the first part of this article.

Dr Sandra Peter is the Director of Sydney Executive Plus at the University of Sydney Business School. Her research and practice focuses on engaging with the future in productive ways, and the impact of emerging technologies on business and society.

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