Understanding design thinking in practice: a qualitative study of design led professionals working with large organisations


Howard, Zaana

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Design thinking is a collaborative and human centred approach to solving problems. This thesis aims to understand how design thinking is applied in practice with large organisations. Ethnographic research methods were adopted across three studies. Findings reveal design thinking in practice is an interdependent relationship between the approach, design led professional and environment in which it is conducted. Further, a design thinking maturity model is proposed, based upon two perspectives of design thinking as a way of work and a way of life. Evidence generated provides a framework for the public and design practitioners to better understand design thinking practice.

Publication year


Thesis supervisor

Gavin Melles

Publication type

Thesis (PhD)


Copyright © 2015 Zaana Howard.

Thesis note

Thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Swinburne University of Technology, 2014.