Design Thinking at Work: How Innovative Organizations Are Embracing Design

Design labs seem to be popping up everywhere – yet it has not been easy to implement. Why is it so hard for organizations to do it? 

I have interviewed design leaders in organizations around the world, including MindLab, Copenhagen; The Australian Tax Office; Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati and many others. I’ve found that design thinkers face three tensions. 

The Tension of Inclusion: how independent you are of the organization; 

The Tension of Disruption: making incremental innovations to existing services, while still pursuing new, transformational ones;
The Tension of Perspective: focusing on individual user needs while finding the right leverage points in a bigger system.

These tensions never really go away – but happily, there are some practices that mitigate them. I will tell the story of the design thinkers I’ve met and what they do to survive and thrive.


Dr. David Dunne, Director of MBA Programs, Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria

David is an award-winning educator and a passionate advocate of design thinking.

A former executive with Unilever and Young & Rubicam, he completed a Ph.D. at the Rotman School of Management, becoming a professor there in 1998. He is currently Director, MBA Programs at the University of Victoria. In 2016, he received the Gustavson Award of Excellence for Innovation. 

He has published many articles in business and design journals, and his book on design thinking in organizations will published by U of T Press in 2018. His many teaching awards include the 3M National Teaching Fellowship and U of T President’s Teaching Award. An accomplished executive educator and consultant, he has worked with clients throughout the private and public sectors.

He is Board Chair of Academics Without Borders, which supports higher education in the developing world. He travels frequently to Kathmandu, Nepal, where he volunteers with a medical school.