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  • Writer's pictureLing Cai

Shaping Innovation: Is Design Thinking Dead?

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

Recently there has been much discussion around the nature of design thinking. A thinking that is the formal cognitive and strategic methodology accepted by designers of a given period for creative problem solving.

Design Thinking emerged after the Industrial Revolution.[1] It has become a controversial notion in the field of innovation since the late 1950s. The approach has been widely adopted by professional designers, architects, artists, and craftspeople, and in recent years the term has been used more generally in other fields. Some of the world's leading brands, such as Apple, Google and IBM, have rapidly adopted this method, and it is also being taught at leading universities around the world, including Stanford University’s, Harvard and MIT. Today, Tim Brown, CEO of the global design company IDEO, even states that Design Thinking is now too important to be left to designers alone.[2]

However, in 2011, the designer and thinker Bruce Nussbaum declared that the approach was dead.[3] So, is design thinking is ‘dead’? Or, on the other hand, is it still alive and kicking but in need of a makeover (re-design)? Those questions show the importance of investigating how design thinking changed historically, and the contemporary arguments for taking the approach forward.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, please do not hesitate to contact me.


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Indicative Reference:

[1] Tim Brown, Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation (New York: HarperBusiness, 2009), pp.11-170. [2] Ibid, p.13.

[3] Bruce Nussbaum, Design Thinking Is A Failed Experiment. So What’s Next? (FastCompany, 2011), [accessed 19/03/ 2020]

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