Terms related to »Design Thinking«


Ambidextrous Organization

An organization, which demonstrably balances today’s business demands (exploitation) whilst being adaptive to changes in the external environment by innovating towards new products, services, and business models, which break with old industry logic and transcend industry boundaries (exploration). [ » read more ]

BDUF (Big Design Up Front)

A term used ironically by programmers. It describes the documentation required in advance of building something when projects are run in a waterfall project management mode. [ » read more ]


The collaborative development of concepts, products and services together with customers, business partners, domain experts, and other stakeholders. [ » read more ]


A kind of teamwork in which a group of people works synchronously towards a shared goal. [ » read more ]


A kind of teamwork towards a shared goal characterized by short phases of task allocation (e.g. planning a customer interview together) and longer phases of individual work packages in sub-groups (e.g. doing the interview fieldwork). [ » read more ]


A kind of teamwork in which a group collectively agrees on work packages to be done, which each sub-group or person will then carry out on their own. [ » read more ]

Corporate Culture

The ideas and ways of working that are typical of an organization and that affect how it does business and how its employees behave (Cambridge Business English) [ » read more ]

Culture Hack

The act of finding a mistake in an organization’s operating system and ‘helping to improve it’ by going against the usual way things are done. [ » read more ]

Design Sprint

A time-constrained, multi-day or week-long process based on design thinking which aims to reduce the risk of bringing a new product, service or feature to the market. [ » read more ]

Design Thinking

Generally speaking, design thinking is a set of procedures and problem-solving behaviors of (industrial) designers and the mindset they bring along with. In today’s business context it often describes a team-based methodology to the creation of user-centric innovation concepts. [ » read more ]


Practicing empathy means listening to another person unreservedly and free of judgement with the intention of understanding their perspective from their specific point of view.  [ » read more ]

Experience Mapping

A method used to visualize and illustrate an individual’s product/service experience as a customer of an organization. [ » read more ]


“An event, typically lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.” (Oxford Dictionary) [ » read more ]


We follow a very basic formula here: creativity + implementation = innovation. In non-commercial environments, this would be an idea that creates value because it got implemented. In commercial environments, it would be the introduction of something new to the market, or if you will, an invention that is commercialized. [ » read more ]

Innovation Barrier

Innovation barriers are organization-specific obstacles that internal innovators or intrapreneurs will run into when trying to push their idea or venture to implementation or market.  [ » read more ]

Innovation Capability

The skills and knowledge required to bring innovation forward through the stages of discovery, incubation and acceleration, while managing their interfaces with the core organization with as little unproductive friction as possible. [ » read more ]

Innovation Ecosystem

This term is often used synonymously for ‘innovation system’ and can mean many different things at different levels. For more information, refer to the levels of an ‘ecosystem’. [ » read more ]

Innovation Fatigue

A phenomenon occurring with managers who have already tried different approaches or management ideas to innovation that didn’t produce the desired results. That experience makes them hesitant to try ‘new approaches’. [ » read more ]

Innovation Practice

The customary, habitual, or ‘expected’ procedure or way of doing innovation in an organization. Often driven by underlying management ideas, beliefs, or method(ologie)s. [ » read more ]

Innovation Strategy

The set of interrelated choices an organization makes on how to use innovation to win in the market. [ » read more ]

Innovation System

An innovation system, as understood at a company-level, designates the infrastructures for finding, developing, evaluating, and implementing new ideas and business models within an organization. It is the organization’s ‘operating system’ for innovation. [ » read more ]

Innovation System Design

The application of design and lean innovation thinking and proven change management approaches to the design of interventions to create a sustainable innovation system. [ » read more ]

Innovation Theater

Any episodic, PR-guided, or underfunded ‘innovation work’ which is staged to show people (investors, talent, general public) that innovation is happening, even though no tangible outcomes can be expected. [ » read more ]

Innovation Tourist

Low-performing (read: not intrinsically motivated) people from the core organization who are sent by their superiors into labs or innovation programs for several months, just ‘to get rid of them’ for a while. [ » read more ]

Innovation Vehicle

An entity or program in an organization's innovation support infrastructure — the innovation (management) system — which removes innovation barriers and helps innovation teams get certain jobs done. The jobs of the vehicles are often related to a certain phase in a product, service, or technology innovation life cycle. [ » read more ]

Innovation Zoo

A situation where resources are spread too thinly across too many ideas and there is not enough commitment to really double-down on investment in selecting the most promising options. [ » read more ]


The act of behaving like/running a business like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization. [ » read more ]


According to U.S. Patent Law an invention is “a new, useful process, machine, improvement, etc., that did not exist previously and that is recognized as the product of some unique intuition or genius, as distinguished from ordinary mechanical skill or craftsmanship.” [ » read more ]

Lean Innovation

A combination of discovery, creation, and value delivery approaches in an organization’s innovation process. The goal is to reduce ‘waste’ in the pipeline of new business exploration projects. To name but a few examples of waste in this context: untested customer/problem/value proposition or business model assumptions, insufficient validation of prototypes/experiments with customers, or, even carrying forward political and zombie projects. Usually, three main methodologies are used in lean innovation: design thinking, Lean Startup, and ‘Lean processes’.  [ » read more ]


A specific way to view, comprehend and discuss the world guided by principles and an underlying philosophy. [ » read more ]

Management Innovation

When management subscribes to a new way of thinking and (radically) alters its own decision-making, organizational structures and processes to pave the way for wider organizational change. [ » read more ]


We say: it’s a way of carrying out a particular task, which often comes as a detailed set of step-by-step instructions on what to do. The Oxford Dictionary says: it’s “a particular procedure for accomplishing or approaching something, especially a systematic or established one.” [ » read more ]

Method(ology) Misfit

The application of a methodology or method which was created for a particular context in a situation or environment to which it is poorly adapted to, or not applicable at all. [ » read more ]


A largely codified set of processes and methods with an underpinning paradigm and theory which guides action. Often used in a particular area of study or activity. [ » read more ]


The act of working (often in secret) on an innovation (side) project without telling your employer or colleagues. [ » read more ]

Participant Fatigue

When users don’t want to participate in market or design research anymore due to a repeated overstraining of their ‘services’ and time. [ » read more ]


The study of how people experience life. [ » read more ]


A customer who simultaneously ‘consumes’ and co-produces the product or service [ » read more ]


A collaborative process of creating shared awareness and understanding out of different individuals' perspectives and varied interests. Or in short, the process by which people give meaning to experience. [ » read more ]

Service Design

The application of design thinking to the improvement or creation of services. [ » read more ]


A startup is a temporary organization used to search 
for a repeatable and scalable business model. — Steve Blank [ » read more ]

Strategic Innovation

Pursuing ‘innovation as a discipline’ with a clear innovation strategy in place, and an innovation system derived from it. [ » read more ]

Synthesis (Design Thinking)

Synthesis is a mode in design thinking where a team makes sense of the data it collected during user research. The team creates "models of reality" (e.g. affinity diagrams, journey maps, personas, etc.) to gain a better understanding of the (research) problem at hand and uses them in both internal and external communication. [ » read more ]


A way of carrying out a particular task. Often comes as a detailed set of step-by-step instructions on what to do. Often used as a synonym for ‘method’. [ » read more ]


A person who prefers and practises a mechanistic application of tools (canvases!) and prescriptive processes (the ‘six stages’ of design thinking!) instead of embracing adapting systems and letting teams think for themselves. [ » read more ]