Design for Action

Brown, Tim
Martin, Roger, jt. author
Harvard Business School Press
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Harvard Business Review
Harvard Business Review, Vol. 93, No. 9, September 2015, pp. 56-64

Each design process is more complicated and sophisticated than the one before it. Each was enabled by learning from the preceding stage. As design has moved further from the world of products, its tools have been adapted and extended into a distinct new discipline: design thinking. But as the complexity of the design process increases, a new hurdle arises: the acceptance of what we might call "the designed artifact" - whether product, user experience, strategy, or complex system - by stakeholders. This article explains this new challenge and demonstrates how design thinking can help strategic and system innovators make the new worlds they've imagined come to pass. In fact, it could be argued that with very complex artifacts, the design of their "intervention" - their introduction and integration into the status quo - is even more critical to success than the design of the artifacts themselves. The principles of this approach are clear and consistent. Intervention is a multistep process - consisting of many small steps, not a few big ones. Design thinking began as a way to improve the process of designing tangible products. But that's not where it will end. Design thinking principles have the potential to be even more powerful when applied to managing the intangible challenges involved in getting people to engage with and adopt innovative new ideas and experiences.

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CITATION: Brown, Tim. Design for Action . : Harvard Business School Press , 2015. Harvard Business Review, Vol. 93, No. 9, September 2015, pp. 56-64 - Available at:

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