Design Thinking and Messy Practices

  • Steven Ney
  • Christoph Meinel
Part of the Understanding Innovation book series (UNDINNO)


This chapter explores the implementation of Design Thinking practices in large organisations. Establishing exploration spaces as well as hunting and gathering for insights set up the process of innovation. Yet, innovation also needs an effective set of practices for leveraging diversity of design teams to transform insights into innovation. Specifically, the chapter looks at the extent to which the implementation of Design Thinking has created spaces in large organisations that are or approximate ‘messy institutions’ (Ney and Verweij Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 33(6), 1679–1696, 2015). These are organisational spaces that put problem-solving methods from different and often contending organisational cultures at the disposal of design teams. The chapter shows how output-oriented practices move the process of innovation by encouraging pragmatism and experimentation. Inclusion-oriented processes ensure that all voices and approaches—even the outliers and extreme users—get a fair hearing in the innovation process. Process-oriented practices, in turn, provide the rules that enable the process to stay on track and produce high outputs based on the best available knowledge. Last chance-oriented practices introduce an element of serendipity designed to accustom Design Thinking teams to failure. Using case studies of large organisations that have introduced Design Thinking, the chapter critically scrutinises the extent to which plurality of practices has supported and promoted the creative reframing of wicked problems. Just like the previous two chapters, we outline the critical lessons learned from implementing the pluralist practices in large organisations.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Ney
    • 1
  • Christoph Meinel
    • 2
  1. 1.T-Systems InternationalBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Hasso Plattner InstituteUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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