On the Value of Design Thinking for Innovation in Complex Contexts: A Case from Healthcare

Anna Thies

pp. 159-171, download



This paper discusses the use of different approaches to design in complex contexts, exemplified through a case from healthcare. Specifically, the value of Design Thinking (DT) for understanding of a problem at hand is discussed. The paper argues that a design approach based on a holistic understanding of problems constitutes a prerequisite for innovations in complex contexts where problems are open, complex, dynamic, networked and have a wicked character. The argument is made for the importance of differentiating design approaches with respect to their ability to support broader and more open explorations of the underlying problems, especially those in complex contexts. A case from healthcare illustrates the value of DT and is used to discuss the importance of avoiding what I refer to as deceptive problems. The potential of DT to increase the relevance of innovations through a better understanding of underlying problems is discussed.

keywords:  Design thinking, Deceptive problems, Complex contexts, HCI, Innovation, Healthcare


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