Design-driven thinking has changed the way companies develop their products and reach their customers. Can it help them take on society’s biggest challenges?
MISTER FIX-IT “Design thinking” is a tool with the power and flexibility to tackle enormously complex social systems, writes Tim Brown: “Redesign democracy? No problem!”

Founded in 1991, the global design firm IDEO has created radical and useful products ranging from Apple’s computer mouse to insulin-delivery systems for Eli Lilly. The firm has also become perhaps the best-known practitioner of “design thinking,” a collaborative approach to solving business problems that delves into the interactions of worker and technology, customer and product, in innovative and creative-block-busting ways.

In his 2009 bestseller, Change by Design, IDEO president and CEO Tim Brown, with IDEO fellow Barry Katz, evangelized design thinking to the business world. In an updated edition, to be published in March, they make the case that the practice can scale up to tackle even society’s most intractable “wicked problems.”

WHEN WE PUBLISHED Change by Design a decade ago, we set out to make two points. First, design thinking expands the canvas for design to address the challenges facing business and society; it shows how a human-centered, creative problem-solving approach offers the promise of new, more effective solutions. Second, design thinking reaches beyond the hard-won skills of the professional trained designer and should be available to anyone who wishes to master its mindsets.

Since then, the cluster of approaches we call design thinking has

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