University of Oulu

Opportunities and challenges when implementing design thinking principles in non-design-driven organizations

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Author: Martimo, Elina1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Management and International Business, Management
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
Pages: 86
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : E. Martimo, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-06-22
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, Pia
Reviewer: Myllykoski, Jenni
Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, Pia


Design thinking is a concept used in organizations to enhance creativity and innovation, often to gain competitive advantage. Design thinking can be considered both as a mindset of how to think about problems and as a problem-solving process. The process is often described as nonlinear and iterative system of exploring and finding problems or opportunities that inspire for finding solutions, creating, developing and testing ideas and carrying the project outcomes to the market. It is focused on the user experience, analyzing and interpreting the cues for the creation for future solutions and growth. Challenges often occur when beginning to implement design thinking principles to non-design-driven organizations that are accustomed to efficiency-based methodologies. Design sprint is an application of design thinking and fast development systems that aims to compress the main points of the ideologies to generate tested business solutions during a one-week project.

A design sprint was conducted at the case company that has no prior design thinking experience to develop new service packages for their new business unit. During the week-long project new solutions were ideated, sketched, prototyped and tested with customers. As a result, it was determined which services should be launched first, which ones at some point later and which should be discarded for good because of the lack of customer interest. The sprint week, discussions and interviews were used to gather data for this research.

This Master’s thesis aims to gain knowledge through a case project and ethnographic action research on the practicalities of design thinking concepts using the example of sprints: what kind of opportunities they bring and what should be considered especially when applying them in an organization that has little prior experience in design thinking. The role of the facilitator and their potential contribution to the desired results of sprints are examined. Furthermore, the organizational culture and established systems are considered in terms of how they too affect the potential design sprint results.

The objectives and expectations of a project should be considered prior to determine whether a sprint is the most appropriate method to use, or if there is a more suitable way of approaching the problem in hand. When conducting a project like a design sprint implementing design thinking principles, it should be considered whether it would be beneficial to prepare the team for the exploratory and creative activity by teaching some design thinking principles and/or arranging activities that foster creativity. Organizational culture and established structures influence the team the outcomes of the sprint and set the scene for the whole project. Facilitator’s role is fundamental especially in organizations not familiar with design thinking concepts.

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Copyright information: © Elina Martimo, 2020. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.