Design Thinking is dead… again

Arne van Oosterom
3 min readDec 28, 2023


In the whirlwind of change and innovation that defines our current era, a particular phrase has been echoing through the corridors of organizations and social media platforms alike: “Design Thinking is dead.” This statement, while catchy, misinterprets the true essence and enduring value of Design Thinking in our ever-evolving world.

Design Thinking is not a static process; it’s a dynamic, iterative approach to solving complex problems. It’s not merely a brainstorm session, a workshop, or a rigid procedure. It’s a language, an evolving one at that, which helps us humanize the systems designed to serve and create value for people. It’s about understanding and empathy, about walking in the shoes of those you’re designing for and with, and constantly refining solutions based on real human needs and feedback.

Overcoming the Fear of Design Thinking

Fear of Design Thinking often stems from a misunderstanding of what it is. It’s seen as a threat by those clinging to fixed knowledge and micromanagement, by those who fear losing control. But here’s the irony: control in the traditional sense is often an illusion, especially in the fluid landscape of modern challenges.

To embrace Design Thinking, we need to shift our mindset from control to facilitation, from knowing all the answers to being curious about the questions. It’s about leading by letting go, by creating an environment where ideas can flourish, and where failure is not a setback but a step forward in the learning process.

Why We Need Design Thinking Now and in the Future

The world is not getting simpler. Challenges in business, technology, and society are becoming increasingly complex. In this labyrinth of complexity, Design Thinking emerges as a compass, guiding us to solutions that are not only effective but also humane and empathetic. It’s about looking at problems from a human-centered perspective, asking the right questions, and being open to learning and adapting as we go.

In a world that’s rapidly changing, the iterative nature of Design Thinking ensures that solutions remain relevant and responsive to evolving needs. It’s this agility and responsiveness that make Design Thinking an indispensable tool for innovation, particularly in areas where traditional approaches fall short.

Here are a few key strategies to help embrace Design Thinking:

- Cultivate a Culture of Curiosity

Encourage teams to ask questions, to challenge assumptions, and to view problems through a human-centric lens.

- Embrace Experimentation

Create a safe space for experimentation where failure is seen as a learning opportunity, not a setback.

- Foster Collaborative Teams

Design Thinking thrives in collaborative environments where diverse perspectives are valued and where everyone feels empowered to contribute.

- Practice Empathy

Regularly engage with the end-users of your services or products. Understand their needs, frustrations, and aspirations.

- Adopt an Iterative Process

Remember that solutions are not set in stone. Be open to feedback and ready to iterate and refine ideas continuously.

In conclusion, Design Thinking is far from dead. It’s more relevant and vital than ever in our complex, fast-paced world. It’s a mindset, a growing toolkit, and a evolving language that helps us navigate uncertainty and create solutions that are not only innovative but also deeply human.

Let’s not be afraid of losing control. You don’t have it anyway. So, let’s embrace the creative potential that comes from letting go and engaging with the world from a place of empathy and openness.



Arne van Oosterom

Podcaster, Founder Future Skills Academy, Blue Sky Republic, Creative Leadership Coach, Founder DesignThinkers Academy and Group