Design Thinking Adoption Challenges

Design Thinking is a powerful tool to innovate your strategy, organization or next disruptive product or service. But getting your organization to adopt Design Thinking can be a challenge. Here are some of the challenges that I have seen and ways to mitigate them:

Executive Buy-In

If your executive team doesn’t see the value in Design Thinking then it is doomed to fail before you even get started. To remedy this, get your ducks in a row and share the ROI of Design Thinking with your leadership. Pay extra close attention to what is most important to your organization’s objectives and frame your point around this.


If you do not have a champion for your Design Thinking project then things can turn south fast. Work with your leadership team to find a champion that believes in your missions and can smooth out things any detractors. A good champion doesn’t have to understand the details of how Design Thinking works but you should provide them with the bullet points of how it is going to bring value to your organization’s business objectives that they can easy communicate to others who may challenge it.


Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It sounds simple to do but it is not. You need empathy to answer the questions “What matters to my customers?” and  “What do they need?” You need empathy to really listen to your customers, subject matter experts and colleague’s ideas. You need empathy to “walk in the shoes” of your customer when developing prototypes and evaluating them. There are techniques you can learn and teach this.

Access to Customers

If you don’t have access to your customers then don’t even bother with Design Thinking. You need observe and interview your customers to understand who they are, what they want, how they feel… You need access to your customers to get feedback on your ideas, concepts and prototype to continuously course correct as you develop your innovation.

So be sure that you have plenty of access to your customers. Your executives need to know this is a criteria for success and your champion needs to make this happen for you.

These are challenges for getting a Design Thinking project off the ground that are top of my mind. I would love to hear about your challenges and solutions.