When design thinking exploded onto the business landscape in the early 2000s, it felt revolutionary: a way to let innovation practices influence the C-suite and management chain, rather than waiting on outside “creatives” to deliver the answer. And while design thinking’s merits have been debated nearly that entire time, it’s clearly converged business and design capabilities. Many high-profile MBAs now include design training, and creative agencies offer business design as a service.
Yet the results of design-led business practice are far from reliable. Ask any director in an agency how long it takes to bring a new concept to market, and the answer is often measured in years. Human-centered design principles urged us to lead with desirability, but often left feasibility and profitability scrambling to catch up. This seemed like an acceptable cost of innovation. But with business and creative worlds converging, is it still?