Design Thinking Study: Parts Without A Whole?

In October 2015 we published our report “Parts Without a Whole? – The Current State of Design Thinking Practice in Organizations”, which inspired us to develop this website. The exploratory study looked at the many forms of design thinking adoption in organizations. You can download it below.


Abstract: What the Study Report is about

This explorative study gives a descriptive overview of what organizations do and experience when they say they practice design thinking. It looks at how the concept has been appropriated in organizations and also describes patterns of design thinking adoption. The authors use a mixed-method research design fed by two sources: questionnaire data and semi-structured personal expert interviews. The study proceeds in six parts: (1) design thinking’s entry points into organizations; (2) understandings of the descriptor; (3) its fields of application and organizational localization; (4) its perceived impact; (5) reasons for its discontinuation or failure; and (6) attempts to measure its success. In conclusion the report challenges managers to be more conscious of their current design thinking practice. The authors suggest a co-evolution of the concept’s introduction with innovation capability building and the respective changes in leadership approaches. It is argued that this might help in unfolding design thinking’s hidden potentials as well as preventing unintended side-effects such as discontented teams or the dwindling authority of managers.


design thinking, innovation, innovation management, innovation capabilities, organizational change, change management, management, adoption, diffusion, study, leadership


Download the Study

Download the Study

How to cite:

Schmiedgen, J., Rhinow, H., Köppen, E., & Meinel, C. (2015). Parts Without a Whole? – The Current State of Design Thinking Practice in Organizations (Study Report No. 97) (p. 144). Potsdam: Hasso-Plattner-Institut für Softwaresystemtechnik an der Universität Potsdam. Retrieved from

Author: | Last modified: May 24, 2018

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