10 design thinking myths debunked

10 design thinking myths debunked

Don't choose the design thinking approach for the wrong reasons, or begin with unrealistic expectations

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6. Myth: Design thinking produces faster results

“This myth emanates from the appearance of quick results through the prototyping and idea generation cycle,” says Michael Cantor, CIO of Park Place Technologies. However, any end product can take at least the same amount of time to develop as it would otherwise. “The reality is that design thinking produces a more accurate product the first time, which can result in a faster time to market if rework cycles are not necessary to gain market adoption,” Cantor says. “The downside to this myth is that leaders may expect a lower cost estimate or a shorter time to develop solely through the use of the methodology.”

7. Myth: Design thinking is easy

"Some cultures are so stifling that even water-cooler conversations are not safe places to brainstorm, especially with empathy."

In fact, adopting design thinking within a traditional IT organization or culture can be a very difficult change to make. “Shifting a rigid corporate culture really isn’t easy. People start to get very uncomfortable when they become notably visible while taking risks,” says Dean Pipes, CIO at TetraVX. "Some cultures are so stifling that even water-cooler conversations are not safe places to brainstorm, especially with empathy. Nobody wants to be punished for being rogue, especially as performance evaluations are nearing." Thus, the acceptance and integration of design thinking can take time. “Look how long it took for most major organizations to adopt agile development methodologies,” Pipes notes.

8. Myth: Design thinking suits all of your projects

This hammer will not be right for every nail. “When teams mandate the use of it for every project, other critical factors to success may be missed,” says Cantor. Design thinking might not work for a project with a hard and fast deadline, or for one with specific technology constraints.

9. Myth: Design thinking is a step-by-step process.

“The fact is that design thinking is about as far from linear as it could be, but people often mistake the framework linearity for process linearity,” says Fields. "Each step in the process can, in fact, inform earlier or later steps in the process. In fact, that’s what gives design thinking its power – and can give IT professionals fits.”

“The IT practitioner loves a design pattern that spells out the exact path to achieve success,” says Cantor. “The truth is, design thinking is more of a culture and mindset methodology than it is a set of steps to be followed. The mindset can be approached in multiple ways that need to be tuned to the particular problem at hand, and it may even be applied in multiple ways to approach problems.”

10. Myth: Design thinking is a cure-all

Design thinking is not a panacea. Nor is it a replacement for other approaches like agile, lean, or DevOps, but rather a complement to them. “Like any other framework or tool, it has a place in the process of solving a problem,” Fields says. “Design thinking helps you focus on developing a product or service that is built in cooperation with the ultimate consumer of that product or service.”

[ Is your team committed to change - or just faking it? Read also: Digital transformation: Are your people just paying lip service? ]


One comment

Hi Stephanie,

Hi Stephanie,

Such an informative article you have shared, keep up the good work.

Moving further, some designer also have the myth that using app prototyping tools will be too expensive but in reality it is not. App prototyping tools like Savahapp actually help in building the prototypes with ease in budget.

Hope this myth will also be a good addition to your article.

All the best!


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