The Future of Design Thinking Amidst IDEO's Strategic Shift

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The Future of Design Thinking Amidst IDEO's Strategic Shift

The IDEO Shake-Up: A New Chapter?

The recent announcement of layoffs at IDEO has sent ripples through the design community. With a sizeable 25% reduction of their workforce, the news brings forth an inevitable question for me as a passionate advocate of Design Thinking: Are we witnessing the decline of a once-unchallenged methodology?

IDEO's Pivotal Moment

The declaration by CEO Derek Robson marked a sobering moment, as one of the most influential design firms of the past three decades grapples with a strategic overhaul. This isn't just about numbers; it's a reflection of a broader transformation within the industry.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking has stood as a beacon, a systematic approach to solving complex problems across various sectors. Its ethos lies in understanding user needs and developing innovative, user-centric solutions.

Stages of Design Thinking:


  • Understand your users' needs through observation and engagement.
  • Gather insights to share and inform the next stages of the process.


  • Analyze your observations to define the core problems you have identified.
  • Create a clear problem statement that will guide your ideation.


  • Brainstorm a range of crazy, creative ideas that address the defined problem.
  • Push beyond obvious solutions to explore innovative alternatives.


  • Transform your ideas into physical forms so you can interact with them and learn.
  • Build to think and start creating solutions that are 'good enough' to test.


  • Rigorously trial your prototypes to understand how they work and where they fail.
  • Gain feedback, refine solutions, and iteratively improve the design.

Further information:

Adapting Design Thinking

However, I believe Design Thinking is evolving rather than diminishing. The methodology is robust, but not always the singular answer. Innovation today demands a malleable toolkit, where sometimes the key lies in fostering team synergy, other times in diving deep into data or walking through a customer's journey to uncover insights.

Design Thinking should not be seen as a rigid framework but as one of many agile methodologies, akin to Scrum or Lean. It thrives within context, tailored to specific objectives and informed by rich data.

Broadening the Ideation Toolbox

In addition to Design Thinking, tools like Human-Centered Design (HCD), Service Design, Lean Startup, and dual-track agile offer varied lenses through which we can explore and solve problems. HCD, for instance, deepens the user empathy aspect, engaging users actively in the design process to craft need-based solutions. Here some highlevel description: 

Human-Centered Design (HCD):

Which is very similar to Design Thinking but sees Innovation from the Human perspective.

Some more Information here:


  • Observe and engage with people to understand their experiences and motivations.
  • Explore the emotional and physical needs of those you're designing for.


  • Generate, develop, and iterate a variety of ideas that might solve the identified needs.
  • Evaluate and refine the solutions through collaborative brainstorming.


  • Turn ideas into actionable solutions and bring them to life.
  • Develop a roadmap to implement the new solutions and track their impact.

Service Design:


  • Understand the journey of the user and the interaction with the service.
  • Identify touchpoints and pain points in the current service experience.


  • Generate ideas for improving and innovating the service experience.
  • Prioritize ideas based on impact and feasibility.


  • Create low-fidelity versions of the service to test and develop further.
  • Simulate service scenarios to evaluate ideas.


  • Develop the service solutions for rollout.
  • Plan for and execute the implementation while considering the front-stage and back-stage processes.

Dual-Track Agile:

Discovery Track:

  • Conduct research to understand customer needs and market demands.
  • Prototype potential features and solutions to validate hypotheses quickly.

Delivery Track:

  • Develop, test, and deploy validated ideas into production.
  • Continuously integrate feedback and iterate on the product.

Continuous Learning:

  • Maintain a loop of feedback between discovery and delivery.
  • Ensure that learning informs the development process in real-time.

Design Thinking: One Among Many

The principles of Design Thinking continue to hold value, yet it's not the solitary star in the innovation galaxy. As we navigate this shifting landscape, the essence of Design Thinking persists—it's the application that's diversifying.

Cx-Advisory: Your Innovation Ally

At Cx-advisory, we embrace this diverse spectrum of methodologies. We stand ready to facilitate workshops, provide strategic consulting, and help execute ideas that resonate with your unique organizational needs. Let's craft the next chapter of innovation together, using the rich tapestry of tools at our disposal to bring transformative ideas to life.

The Future of Design Thinking Amidst IDEO's Strategic Shift

CXO on Demand

An experienced CX professional with a global journey spanning digital agencies to top corporations, Michal is passionate about helping businesses create unforgettable customer experiences.