top of page

Why Design Thinking Might be Failing at your Company

Design Thinking has been creating hype over the past few years but the implementation of this approach can be full of challenges. Practically speaking many trigger factors can become the reason for the failure of design thinking practice at a certain company. A typical design thinking process involves immersion, ethnography, synthesis, conceptualization, evaluation, and prototyping. This vast majority of space for design thinking to grow is the reason that there is a risk of multiple challenges when implementing this approach wrong. Following is a list of reasons/factors which can cause Design Thinking to fail at your company while not implemented correctly.


Design thinking is often misinterpreted as a fancy tool that is used to improve the design and analytical aspects of a project. Most people don’t understand the full potential of design thinking because of its wrong interpretation. To implement it successfully, you first need to understand its process and go through the necessary steps that might be needed to ensure a smooth transition from traditional thinking to design thinking.

Lack of Creative Elements

Creative elements are often fuzzy, confusing, incomplete, and unclear in the beginning. To not accept the creative elements just because they don’t make sense at the start is not a good approach. A big struggle could be to define tasks when the roles are not clear and thus can create frustration in the team. A company must build acceptance in the team for fuzzy logic, crazy ideas and coach employees to work with ambiguity while implementing design thinking. Thus avoiding the lack of creative elements by increasing the acceptance of different ideas.

Lack of Business Elements

Innovation is the backbone of Design Thinking. Innovation, however, requires business modeling and thus a lack of business elements or relevant expertise can also cause design thinking to fail.

Lack of Future Insight

Design thinking identifies the opportunities in the present and utilizes them. These opportunities decide the directions for a company’s future. A company being able to act on present opportunities but lacking a future insight of what these opportunities might lead to will most probably fail at design thinking. To be successful, you must recognize the opportunities in present and anticipate the future.

Lack of Co-Creation

The co-creation approach must not only be implemented at the end but from the beginning of a project. Considering how design thinking is a human-centered approach, a company must promote co-creation among different sectors such as with clients, consultants, and project managers.

Wishful Thinking

Design thinking is not a magical approach that is supposed to provide you one solution to all the problems. It is a complicated, organized process of triggering innovation. It requires an ecosystem of ideation, customization, modular innovation, and creativity to thrive in the company. To implement design thinking, one must not lead with the approach of wishful thinking while practicing this innovation technique without providing the necessary factors to trigger the innovation.

Not Measuring Success

Companies usually get so caught up with ongoing changes that measuring success gets neglected. Thus they keep working without any confirmation of success as the outcome. To measure the ROI, companies should measure the number of employees training, the number of projects being successfully finished, and the percentage of customer satisfaction.

Only End to End Implementation

Design Thinking is a non-linear process but several companies use it as an end-to-end process starting at empathy and ending at test. They try to make this end-to-end process a solution for every problem which is problematic. You should understand the design thinking process first and keep your mind open to the idea of readjusting your hypothesis while also continually developing the existing product.

Biased Work Culture

In several companies employees with long term work record set some unspoken rules which might become a hurdle for design thinking implementation. Setting aside biases and traditional thinking can be hard but essential to ensure the successful implementation of design thinking.

“One Solution” Approach

Design thinking is not a solution for those projects which have already completed the initial stages. Some companies might think that bringing in design thinking at later stages of a potentially failed project will save it but that is not the case. Design thinking needs to start from the empathizing stage where you first understand your customers by taking a human-centered approach and then design a product according to the needs and expectations of your customers.

Fear of Out of the box Ideas

Shutting down creative or out-of-the-box ideas is one of the biggest struggles a company has while implementing design thinking. It is not easy to build acceptance in the company overnight and thus requires a tremendous amount of training and coaching for employees so that they don’t fear to speak up as well as don’t diminish those speaking up.

No Regards for Customers

Design thinking is a customer-centered approach where you must understand the customer and then design or develop a product for them. Companies where customers are not considered important in the process of certain product development, might not be successful. To ensure your company’s success as well as design thinking’s successful implementation in your company, you must keep customers in high regard and make it part of your company's policy analysis.

Would you like to know how to conduct a brainstorming session? If yes then visit our other blog:



bottom of page