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What is Design Thinking? CEOs and Innovation

Posted on: 22 jul 2012

CEOs are closer to designers than they think. In addition to design professionals, scientists, artists, architects, engineers ... Who are Design Thinkers in the 21st century? CEOs and senior managers, because Design Thinking is a bridge between vision and reality.

What does a CEO do? A good CEO dreams and imagines new business models and products. Search for the market instead of in the market. Recognizing emerging patterns that any competitor hasn't yet identify as strategic. Connecting people, ideas and projects ... designing new ways of doing things, creating necessary structures with a team of senior managers-Design Thinkers  that would turn vision into reality by properly defining and conceptualizing problems and challenges through a systematic approach that includes new ways to read the qualitative data, gathering consumers' insights and effective communication of the vision obtained. Co-creation with customers is essential. A CEO needs Design Thinkers to build the bridge between vision and reality.

That is: a good CEO has to have the ability to gather, with the help of his team, all possible elements and insights to weave relevant strategic frameworks. And experience is necessary. 
The current world context:
  • We live in an evolving learning society, full of opportunities for anyone who is able to see them. A world where we have to know how to handle the changes and complexities and we must learn to integrate them in ourselves and in the institutions. A manager has to "read" and "discover" the market every day, adjusting their plans according to the opportunities and reinventing new ways of designing businesses and products.
  • Triumph of humanism versus the arrogance of the market. The triumph of the consumer is a fact: Companies or institutions that won't empathize or understand this fact, are out. Warning to the market:  consumers also demand honesty and values ​​and are able to detect  excessive greed.
  • The ecosystem of a company: employees are no longer subjects of anyone. Professionals are well prepared, have their own opinions and are aware of the power of the group. A business plan will not succeed unless co-created in company. Focus on customers, not on hierarchical relationships. 
  • Design Thinking is an intellectual process. It requires a complex understanding of the world so a higher intellectual level is needed in Management Committees. Paraphrasing the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955): Spain needs a change of acttitude in all sectors of our society: "change of vital attitudes, including respect for the exemplary, and above all, respect for science and intellectual disciplines ".

CEOs have to "deal" with two antagonistic players: MARKET and PEOPLE. External and internal audiences and a need to connect and communicate with both of them.

What makes a good CEO? Design Thinking


VIDEO ATTACHED: Managing as Designing, project by Weatherhead School of Management. ( watch 7 videos at

Fred Collopy, Richard Boland, GK VanPatter in 2005 conversation. You can download the conversation for free from the NextD Archive.

How the art of DESIGN can inform the practice of MANAGEMENT!.
Managing is Designing, just as it is analyzing, intelligence gathering and Deciding.
The design disciplines can teach managers About solving complex, unstructured problems. In Addition to managers and Social Scientists, the group included architects, a choreographer, a musicologist, product and software designers, musicians, and painters.

This video explore five Ideas that transfer from the world of designers to That of managers:
• The Importance of Maintaining multiple models of a design object
• The designer's 'thrownness' into a maelstrom of issues, constraints, and Desires
• The Role of Collaboration in design projects
• The need to be Comfortable with Both liquid and crystal states
• The design legacies of that great managers create.

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