Heidi Marion Weber

Changing mindsets in Design Thinking


Prof. Doutor António Cruz Rodriguez , UNIDCOM/IADE
Prof. Doutor Américo MateusDelli research / HEI-Labs


Design Thinking is a methodology to solve problems. The approach works best on ill-defined (wicked) problems and is highly human-centered. “Design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols.”(Brown, 2009, p. 4) According to the frame of implementation Design Thinking is a tool, a method, or an all-interfusing attitude for the applying organization (Schmiedgen, Rhinow, Köppen, & Meinel, 2015, p. 47).

Literature often stresses the one mindset people need to work with and in Design Thinking (Baeck & Gremett, 2012, p. 231; Liedtka, King, & Bennett, 2013, p. 203; Martin, 2009, p. 159). The goal of the thesis is to show, that the execution of the various Design Thinking tasks demands for different mindsets and thinking processes. To reach that goal, the research not only examines methods and demands of the Design Thinking phases but also investigates into the (Neuro-)Psychology of Creativity and matches the findings with the processes in Design Thinking. Subsequently the research seeks for methods to influence those mindsets for better results in Design Thinking sessions.

Keywords: Design Thinking, Mindset, Creativity, Attitude, Psychology

Project Description
The thesis works on the field of idea-finding and problem-solving processes, namely Design Thinking and seeks to optimize the creative phases therein. The thesis questions if on the basis of the definition: “A mindset is a mental attitude. It shapes your actions and our thoughts, as well as how you perceive and respond to events.” (Meier & Kropp, 2010, p. 179). different mindsets – or mental attitudes – are needed for being creative in different stages of the Design Thinking process.
In a first stage, the recent research In Design Thinking and Psychology as well as Neuropsychology of creativity is deeply investigated with the goal to identify the relevant attributes of the mindsets needed for the different stages of Design Thinking and their relationship to the traits of creative people.
To date the research identified five pairs of attributions that are vital to creative thought processes and that vary through the phases of Design Thinking:
  • Collecting Analytical
  • Observant ↔︎ Envisioning/Imagining
  • Developing ↔︎ Judgmental/Selective
  • Empathic ↔︎ Withdrawn / Introverted
  • Spontaneous ↔︎ Reflective
As research has shown that mindsets can be influenced the second part of the thesis focusses on the identification of possible methods to lead persons conducting a Design Thinking phase to the ideal mental attitude for the task at hand. This phase uses literature again but also action research in Design Thinking projects as well as quantitative and qualitative observation with participants and experts in the field. The goal is to provide a set of tools, modified tasks, introductory games, storytelling or role models to optimise the creative outcomes.
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