Design Thinking in Large Companies and Design Consulting Firms in Japan

Document Type : Original Article


Associate Professor, Faculty of Design, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.


This paper focuses on large companies in Japan and derives insights into how large Japanese enterprises have adopted Design Thinking (DT). By comparing patterns for large companies that has adopted it by themselves and with support from design consulting firms, the author reveals each relevant feature and develops approaches to adopt DT into company operations. Towards these research questions, the author conducts a literature review on definitions of DT, tools, methods and frameworks related to DT, as a basis for deriving interview questions for design thinkers in large companies and design consulting firms. The author conducted semi-constructed interviews with interviewees from large operating companies as well as design consulting firms. Having analyzed interview data using M-GTA as a textual analysis method, the author discovered five key concepts: 1. Adoption of user observation and user study, 2. Development and usage of original tools and methods, 3. Emphasis on the sharing of feelings about participation, 4. Non-Affinity with existing development processes, and 5. Necessity of a mindset and organizational structure. The contributes of this paper reveals individual and common characteristic of large operating companies and design consulting firms.


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