Leveraging design thinking tools in organizations: Case study with the city of Helsinki department of culture and leisure kaupunkilaisprofiilit design thinking tool

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
International Design Business Management
87 + 4
This thesis examines how design thinking tools contribute to building more design-oriented organizational cultures. As organizations increasingly start using design thinking tools to improve their problem-solving capabilities, understanding the challenges and risks associated with this approach is crucial. Design thinking refers to the integration of designers’ approaches to problem solving within academic research and management practice. This study aims to increase understanding of how organizations can embed design in organizational culture with design thinking tools. A qualitative single case study was conducted with the City of Helsinki’s Department of Culture and Leisure to examine those issues, focusing on their design thinking tool Kaupunkilaisprofiilit (free translation by the author: Citizen Profiles). Interviews were conducted with 14 employees from the case organization and two employees from the external partner who helped with creating the tool. The method used for this study was systematic combining, which is an abductive approach using multiple sources of information and constantly going back and forth between exploring current literature, collecting data, and analyzing data. The findings reveal that the use of design thinking tools poses a wide range of challenges related to management, culture, and organizations. Key factors preventing successful implementation were lack of management support and leadership mandate. Besides, other key factors were unfamiliarity with the approach and design language. Tackling these challenges by having design advocates spread design knowledge, considering different levels of familiarity in the development and communication of the tool, and engaging people in hands-on work were found to help capture the positive outcomes, such as breaking down silos and increasing customer understanding.
Thesis advisor
Eloranta, Ville
design thinking, design thinking tools, organizational culture, design management
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