Design Thinking: An Innovative Concept for Developing User-Centered Software

  • Anja Wölbling
  • Kira Krämer
  • Clemens N. Buss
  • Katrin Dribbisch
  • Peter LoBue
  • Abraham Taherivand
Part of the Management for Professionals book series (MANAGPROF)


In times of economic crisis and rapid technological change, innovation is necessary for competitive advantage and successful business. Design processes and tools are one way to create innovative solutions. This article describes the emergence of design thinking in business and focuses on the four key elements of design thinking in detail: the iterative process, multidisciplinary teams, creative space and designer’s mindset. The limitations and potentials of design thinking are also discussed. While design thinking enables creativity, enhances personal development, and prescribes deep immersion into the topic along with empathetic user research, it does not include a business model or blueprint for the implementation. Still, design thinking is a large step toward identifying user-centered solutions. The software industry can benefit from the powerful approach in order to create innovative software products.


Team Member Business Model Innovative Idea Wicked Problem Research Phase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Adams, R. S., Daly, S. R., Mann, L. M., & Dall’Alba, G. (2011). Being a professional: Three lenses into design thinking, acting, and being. Design Studies, 32(6), 588–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ambrose, G., & Harris, P. (2010). Design Thinking, Fragestellung, Recherche, Ideenfindung, Prototyping, Auswahl, Ausführung, Feedback. München: Stiebner.Google Scholar
  3. Beckman, S. L., & Barry, M. (2007). Innovation as a learning process: Embedding design thinking. California Management Review, 50(1), 25–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bell, S. J. (2008). Design thinking. American Libraries, 39(1/2), 44–49.Google Scholar
  5. Boland, R. J., Jr., & Collopy, F. (2004). Design matters for management. In R. J. Boland Jr. & F. Collopy (Eds.), Managing as designing (pp. 3–18). Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, T., & Wyatt, J. (2010). Design thinking for social innovation. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 8(1), 30–35.Google Scholar
  8. Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), 5–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Churchman, C. W. (1967). Wicked problems. Management Science, 4(14), 141–142.Google Scholar
  10. Cooper, A. (1999). The inmates are running the asylum: Why high-tech products drive us crazy and how to restore the sanity. Indianapolis: Sams.Google Scholar
  11. Doorley, S., Witthoft, S., & Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University. (2012). Make space: How to set the stage for creative collaboration. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  12. Dow, S. P., Heddleston, K., & Klemmer, S. R. (2009). The efficacy of prototyping under time constraints. Proceeding of the 7th ACM conference on creativity and cognition (pp. 165–174). Berkeley: ACM.Google Scholar
  13. Dow, S. P., Glassco, A., Kass, J., Schwarz, M., Schwartz, D. L., & Klemmer, S. R. (2010). Parallel prototyping leads to better design results, more divergence, and increased self-efficacy. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 17(4), 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dunne, R., & Martin, R. (2006). Design thinking and how it will change management education: An interview and discussion. The Academy of Management Learning and Education, 5(4), 512–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Garcia, R. (2008). Understanding the creative process: A systematic approach to effective project management (2nd ed.). Madison: Ennovation Press.Google Scholar
  16. Hestad, M. (2009). Changing assumption for the design process: New roles of the active end user. FORMakademisk, 2(2), 16–25.Google Scholar
  17. Holloway, M. (2009). How tangible is your strategy? How design thinking can turn you strategy into reality. Journal of Business Strategy, 30(2/3), 50–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Houde, S., & Hill, C. (1997). What do prototypes prototype? In M. Helander, T. E. Landauer, & P. Prabhu (Eds.), Handbook of human-computer interaction (2nd ed., pp. 367–381). Amsterdam: Elsevier Science B. V.Google Scholar
  19. Kelley, T., & Littman, J. (2001). The art of innovation: Lessons in creativity from IDEO, America’s leading design firm. London: Crown Business.Google Scholar
  20. Kimbell, L. (2009). Beyond design thinking: Design-as-practice and designs-in-practice. CRESC conference (pp. 1–15), Manchester, September.Google Scholar
  21. Kotler, P., & Rath, A. (1984). Design: A powerful but neglected strategic tool. Journal of Business Strategy, 5(2), 16–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lindberg, T., Meinel, C., & Wagner, R. (2011). Design thinking: A fruitful concept for IT development? In H. Plattner, C. Meinel, & L. Leifer (Eds.), Design thinking – understand – improve – apply (pp. 3–18). Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Martin, R. L. (2004). The design of business. Rotman Management, Winter, 7–17Google Scholar
  24. Martin, R. L. (2009). The design of business. Why design thinking is the next competitive advantage. Boston: Harvard Business Press.Google Scholar
  25. Owen, C. L. (2006). Design thinking: Driving innovation. The Business Process Management Institute, September, 1–5.Google Scholar
  26. Owen, C. L. (2007). Design thinking: Notes on its nature and use. Design Research Quarterly, 2(1), 16–27.Google Scholar
  27. Rowe, P. (1987). Design thinking. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  28. Sanders, E. B.-N. (2006). Design research in 2006. Design Research Quarterly, 1(1), 1–8.Google Scholar
  29. Sanders, E. B.-N. (2008). On modeling: An evolving map of design practice and design research. Interactions – Designing games: Why and How, 15(6), 13–17.Google Scholar
  30. Simon, H. A. (1969). The sciences of the artificial. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  31. Vahs, D., & Burmester, R. (2005). Innovationsmanagement. Von der Produktidee zur erfolgreichen Vermarktung. Stuttgart: Schäffer & Poeschel.Google Scholar
  32. Verganti, R. (2009). Design-driven innovation: Changing the rules of competition by radically innovating what things mean. Boston: Harvard Business Press.Google Scholar
  33. Von Stamm, B. (2003). Managing innovation, design and creativity. London: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anja Wölbling
    • 1
  • Kira Krämer
    • 1
  • Clemens N. Buss
    • 1
  • Katrin Dribbisch
    • 1
  • Peter LoBue
    • 2
  • Abraham Taherivand
    • 1
  1. 1.EntrepreneurBerlinGermany
  2. 2.NTT DATA AmericasPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations