Design Thinking + Open Innovation

(Joint Project with Stanford Center for Design Research)

The concepts of Open Innovation and design thinking have been highly popularized both in academia and industry for the last decades. Yet, there has been great confusion over these two concepts when practitioners apply it in the field.  Thus, it is important to understand how these two concepts are complementary in (1) practicing innovation and (2) managing innovation.

Our hypothesis from various observations in industry is that Open Innovation is the basis for Design Thinking whereas Design Thinking is a form of Open Innovation. Design Thinking relies on crossing organizational boundaries to understand problems and develop solutions; this strong involvement of users makes Design Thinking a form of Open Innovation. Design thinking and Open Innovation are aimed at radical/leap-frog innovation, which requires the crossing of boundaries. By contrast, internal development and optimization are aimed at incremental improvement.