Rotman Management

Design Thinking: Mastering the Tensions

INNOVATION AND DESIGN have been part of my life for decades. As a former innovation manager in the packaged goods industry, I worked closely with creative people to design products, packaging, communications and services; and as a professor at the Rotman School of Management under then-Dean Roger Martin, I was exposed to design thinking as a way of approaching the world and coming up with creative solutions. I immediately saw great possibilities for this approach in management education and in business.

Over the years, I would see many organizations embrace design thinking. While some succeeded, many floundered. Before long, some designers started accusing business leaders of turning design thinking into a management fad — and I began to wonder whether, for all its appeal, it had been oversold. Perhaps, in spite of the best efforts of its

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