Can design thinking be understood in a Bergsonian way?

Rethinking Management

Master's Thesis 2017 89 Pages

Business economics - Marketing, Corporate Communication, CRM, Market Research, Social Media


Table of Contents

1. Introduction
1.1. Relevance of research
1.2. Structure

2. Theoretical foundations
2.1. Design thinking
2.1.1. Notion of design thinking From design to design thinking Process View Fields of application
2.1.2. Thinking processes
2.1.3. Empathy and intuition in design thinking Empathy Creativity Intuition Designing with time
2.2. Bergson’s philosophy
2.2.1. From instinct and intelligence to intuition
2.2.2. Forms of knowledge
2.2.3. Duration

3. Methodology
3.1 Research design
3.2 Data collection
3.2.1 Problem-centric interview
3.2.2 Selection of interview partners
3.3. Data formatting

4. Results

5. Theory building
5.1. Notion of design thinking
5.1.1. Objectives of design thinking
5.1.2. Fields of applications
5.1.3. Design thinking - what is it? Design thinking process Design thinking mind set
5.2. Intuition
5.2.1. Ungraspable intuition
5.2.2. Intuition in design thinking Intuition in the process Intuition in the method
5.2.3. Analysis vs. intuition
5.2.4. Experience and intuition
5.3. Problem understanding
5.3.1. Empathy and observation to view the problem from the inside
5.3.2. Problem definition
5.3.3. False problems
5.3.4. Complexity in problems
5.4. Creativity
5.4.1. Creativity in the design thinking process
5.4.2. Memory and creativity
5.5. Notion of time
5.5.1. Iterations in design thinking
5.5.2. No finality
5.5.3. Multiplicity and process ciew

6. Conclusion and implications
6.1. Summary of findings
6.2. Limitations
6.3. Implications for practitioners
6.4. Implications for researchers




L'approche du procédé du design thinking doit mener à une compréhension profonde de problèmes complexes et à des solutions créatives. Le philosophe Henry Bergson envisage la vie comme une évolution créative et définit la conscience immédiate comme une durée, possible grâce à sa méthode d'intuition. Ce mémoire cherche à penser le design thinking dans une perspective bergsonienne. À ce jour, la recherche a seulement développé le lien entre la gestion et l'innovation avec la philosophie de Bergson, mais le lien avec l’approche nouvelle du design thinking n'a jamais été abordé. Par conséquent, l'auteur a réalisé une étude empirique avec des professionnels du design thinking et a systématiquement mis en parallèle ces résultats à la philosophie de Bergson. La rencontre des deux perspectives permet une compréhension alternative de l'intuition, de la compréhension des problèmes, de la créativité et de la notion de temps.


The processual approach of design thinking is supposed to lead to a profound understanding of complex problems as well as to creative solutions. The philosopher Henri Bergson understands life as a creative evolution and defines process and change as the foundations of reality. The goal of this thesis is to find out if design thinking can be understood from a Bergsonian perspective. To date, research has merely elaborated on the link of management and innovation with Bergson’s philosophy, however, the link to the quite new approach of design thinking has never been addressed. Therefore, the author conducted an empirical study with design thinking practitioners and systematically related its findings to Bergson’s philosophy. The consolidation of both perspectives allows for an alternative understanding of intuition, of the comprehension of problems, of creativity and of the notion of time.


Der prozessuale Ansatz von Design Thinking soll zu einem tiefgründigen Verständnis komplexer Probleme sowie zu kreativen Lösungen führen. Der Philosoph Henri Bergson versteht das Leben als kreative Evolution und definiert Prozess und Wandel als Fundament der Realität. Das Ziel dieser Masterarbeit ist es herauszufinden, ob Design Thinking mithilfe der Philosophie Bergsons verstanden werden kann. Bislang hat die Forschung lediglich Management bzw. Innovationen mit Bergsons Philosophie verknüpft, die Verknüpfung mit Design Thinking wurde jedoch noch nie adressiert. Deshalb hat die Autorin eine empirische Studie mit erfahrenen Design Thinkern durchgeführt und die daraus resultierenden Ergebnisse systematisch an Bergsons Philosophie gekoppelt. Die Konsolidierung beider Perspektiven ermöglicht ein alternatives Verstehen der Intuition, des Problemverständnisses, der Kreativität und des Begriffs der Zeit.

Schlüsselwörter: Design ThinkingO BergsonO IntuitionO KreativitätO Zeit


Se supone que el enfoque procesual de design thinking conduce a una comprensión profunda de problemas complejos, así como a soluciones creativas. El filósofo Henri Bergson entiende la vida como una evolución creativa y define proceso y cambio como los fundamentos de la realidad. El objetivo de esta tesis es averiguar si el design thinking puede entenderse desde una perspectiva bergsoniana. Hasta ahora, la investigación científica se ha limitado a estudiar el vínculo de gestión e innovación con la filosofía de Bergson, sin embargo, nunca se ha abordado el enlace con el nuevo enfoque de design thinking. Por lo tanto, el autor realizó un estudio empírico con experimentados design thinkers y sistemáticamente relacionó sus resultados con la filosofía de Bergson. La consolidación de ambas perspectivas permite una comprensión alternativa de la intuición, del problema, de la creatividad y de la noción de tiempo.

1. Introduction

1.1. Relevance of research

“Design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols.” (Brown, 2009, p. 4)

Especially in the last decade, design thinking has developed as a problem-solving tool for companies which aim to solve complex issues in a creative way (Connell & Tenkasi, 2015). Design thinking is gaining more and more popularity in management practices (Connell & Tenkasi, 2015). Tim Brown, the CEO of the design firm IDEO and a leading advocate of design thinking, states that the reason for this lies in the user-centric approach of design thinking which allows for innovative solving of problems (Brown, 2009). Because of its human focus, empathy and intuition play a large role in the approach. Furthermore, design thinking has a processual character, and is often marked by iteration.

So why should this thesis relate the practical approach of design thinking when applied in management to Bergson’s philosophy? The answer is that the author feels that in particular intuition and time are neglected dimensions in the literature of design thinking to which Bergson’s thought can attribute knowledge and explanation.

“In the humanity of which we are a part, intuition is, in fact, almost completely sacrificed to intellect. It seems that to conquer matter, and to reconquer its own self, consciousness has had to exhaust the best part of its power.” (Bergson, 1907, p. 267)

The French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941), one of the most renowned philosophers at his time, is a proponent of process philosophy proposing an alternative to traditional finalism and mechanism (Linstead, 2003). His process philosophy views change as the foundation of reality by taking psychological time, duration, into account. This especially influences Bergson’s notion of time, which he perceives as flux or flow of time instead of moments of time (Bergson, 1907). As the quote above shows, he furthermore attaches importance to intuition, in particular in

his book The Creative Mind (Bergson, 1938). Except for Deleuze and Jankélévitch, his philosophy has been often neglected by philosophers after the second World War (Linstead, 2002), which the title of this thesis similarly implies. However, Bergson’s thought nowadays is gaining importance especially in management science. According to Deslandes (2010), his philosophical concepts seem to offer unlimited fields of application when it comes to organizations.

To date, research has merely elaborated on the relation of management and Bergson’s philosophy, for example with Linstead (2002), O’Shea (2002), Wood (2002). Since reality is not composed of isolatable entities, it needs to be regarded in view of its process of change - also when it comes to organizational structuring of novelty (Chia and King, 1998). In regards to phenomenal complexity theory, Bergson’s duration, élan vital and intuition helps to include the experiencing subject in its epistemology (Letiche, 2000). Also, research has been conducted on the link between innovation and Bergson, in which especially the process view is addressed: following Bergson’s argument management needs to account more strongly for the process of innovation instead of focussing solely on the outcome (O’Shea, 2002). However, the link to the quite new approach of design thinking has never been related to Bergson’s thought, although his central notion of intuition suggests a similar perspective. Besides, Bergson’s problematization seems to relate to the focus of problem understanding in design thinking. Finally, Bergson’s notion of time especially in terms of process view invites to be consolidated with the notion of time of design thinking.

Therefore, this thesis asks whether the concept of design thinking can be understood philosophically - in a Bergsonian way. This question is posed in relation to five areas: in regards to the design thinking notion itself, in terms of intuition, when it comes to problem understanding, regarding creativity and finally in regards to the notion of time.

1.2. Structure

Chapter 2 outlines theoretical foundations underlying this thesis. The first part (2.1.) focusses on the term design thinking, reviewing its definition and the underlying thought processes. Then, Bergson’s philosophy (2.2.) is contemplated, by looking at his notion of intuition, forms of knowledge and duration.

Chapter 3 provides the research method, which includes the chosen research design (3.1) and data collection (3.2.). The latter comprises an explanation of the problemn centric interview format as well as the selection of interview partners. Chapter 3 ends with an illustration of the data formatting process (3.3.).

Chapter 4 illustrates the research results. They are then used for theory building in Chapter 5 which consolidates Bergson’s philosophy with design thinking. This comprises the notion of design thinking (5.1.), intuition (5.2.), problem understanding (5.3.), creativity (5.4.) and finally the underlying notion of time (5.5.).

The last chapter draws a conclusion and illustrates the thesis’ contribution to research. This comprises a summary of the findings (6.1) and their limitations (6.2) as well as implications for practitioners (6.3) and for researchers (6.4).

2. Theoretical foundations

Chapter 2.1 reviews literature on design thinking, also defining the term, and elaborates on empathy and intuition in design thinking. Chapter 2.2. explains the philosophy of Bergson and especially points to his concepts of intuition and duration. Both parts are necessary to understand the later findings and links of design thinking and philosophy of this thesis.

2.1. Design thinking

In this part of the researcher thesis, the author will elaborate the notion of design thinking (chapter 2.1.1.), then develop the underlying thinking processes (chapter 2.1.2. ) and finally explain empathy and intuition in the process of design thinking in chapter 2.1.3.

2.1.1. Notion of design thinking

In this chapter 2.1.1., the author illustrates the notion of design thinking. Therefore, this part elaborates the evolvement from design to design thinking (chapter, then chapter illustrates design thinking’s process view and finally chapter 2.1.1.З. shows its fields of application. From design to design thinking

Design thinking begins with skills designers have learned over many decades in their quest to match human needs with available technical resources within the practical constraints of business.” (Brown, 2009, p. 4)

The beginning of the concept of design thinking is often associated with the movement of design methods in the 1960s, which was arguing for rational or scientific methods to designing (Rith & Dubberly, 2006). Thereby, problems were decomposed into their subcomponents. Herbert Simon (1969) in his book The Sciences of the Artificial built the grounds for such a science of design, which he regarded as intellectually complex, analytic, and teachable design process. However, in the 1970s design moved away from this scientific approach and advocated the acknowledging of satisfactory solutions (Cross, 2007). In this sense, design thinking evolved to a “participatory process in which designers are partners with the problem owners” (Cross, 2007, p. 2). Such doubts of this generation moved towards a period of consolidation of design research in the 1980s (Jacques and Powell, 1981). In this time, first academic journals of design research emerged and Rowe in his book Design Thinking (Rowe, 1987) advocated the introduction of design as a discipline of study, which it in fact still became in that decade. Cross states, however, that then “design research came of age in the 1980s, since when we have seen a period of expansion through the 1990s right up to today” (Cross, 2007, p. 4). Nowadays, design thinking is not only applied in design and architecture any more, but also in education, business and society (Glen, R., Suciu, C., & Baughn, C., 2014). Why the fields of applications of design thinking vary that much, can be explained by its problemnsolving approach. Thereby underlying problems are often complex and depict soncalled wicked problems (Dunne & Martin, 2006). The term “wicked problem” was especially shaped by Buchanan (1992) who suggests in his article “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking” to use design to solve extraordinarily persistent and difficult challenges. Mostly, these problems are related to a social system within the fields of application. They involve “misconception, confusing information, stakeholders with conflicting values” (Churchman, 1967). Schön even calls these wicked problems messy, indeterminate situations (Schön, 1983).

At present, design thinking is mostly viewed as a methodology or process, which the author develops in chapter However, design thinking can be not only regarded as a method, but also as a state of mind often relating to its innovative character (Venkatesh, 2012). Some design thinkers say that design is a profound philosophy. For example, to Bucci it depicts an alternative management philosophy (Bucci, 1998) and Sutton and Hargadon suggest that design thinking is a specific consciousness to be applied by the overall organization (Sutton & Hardagon, 1996). Also, they highlight intuition in the design thinking process.

According to Brown, design thinking is that “empathic, intuitive, patternnrecognizing, parallelnprocessing, and neuraknetworking Internet that each of us carries between our ears” (Brown, 2009, p. 84). Such a kind of Internet, he believes, allows for integrative thinking, which means balancing user’s, technology’s and business’ perspectives: This balance is about integrating anthropogenic desirability with technological feasibility and economical viability (Brown, 2009) as the following illustration shows.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1: Three constraints of design thinking Source: Brown, 2009

In this regard, desirability makes sure that the products or services that are developed are humanely wanted. Feasibility stands for the functionally possible within the foreseeable future. Finally, viability means beneficial in terms of business model. In this regard, one can distinguish between design thinkers and designers:
designers are usually focussing separately on one or more of the constraints, while design thinkers are navigating between and among them in creative ways, because “they have shifted their thinking from problem to project” (Brown, 2009, p. 21). Process View

There are various processes established when it comes to design thinking. Nevertheless, the majority of them is influenced by Herbert Simon’s book The Sciences of the Artificial (Simon, 1969). Simon claimed that “everyone designs”, since in his view design is a natural human process happening when existing conditions are changed into preferred ones (Connell & Tenkasi, 2015). He regarded a designer as anyone “whose task is to solve problems, to choose, to synthesize, to decide” (Simon, 1969, p. 136). Brown (2009), for example, states that there are overlapping spaces of inspiration, ideation, and implementation. Inspiration is about finding the problem or opportunity that is relevant, while ideation is the process of developing and evaluating ideas. Finally, implementation is bringing the project to the market. One very common process is proposed by the Stanford d.school, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, which brings students from different backgrounds together to develop human-centered solutions. Its design thinking process is composed of understanding, observing, defining a point of view, ideating, prototyping and testing, as the following graph shows:

Understanding the user or the problem can be referred to the first process part of design thinking. Therefore, design thinkers need to know the topic that they are attempting to work on. In the process of problem understanding, the key is empathy, which is the ambition to see the world through other’s eyes. Then, environment and user need to be profoundly observed. Brown (2009, p. 237) argues that “good design thinkers observe, great design thinkers observe the ordinary.” For him, the period of observation, in which design thinkers watch what people do or not do and listen to what they say or do not say, needs to be intense. Empathy and also intuition helps to translate observations in the design thinking process into insights. These two first steps actually should open up the view of the design thinker. Then a point of view, from which the solution should emanate from, is to be defined. Rather than opening up the view, the point of view is focussing so a convergent thinking needs to be applied. Generally, in the process of the problem definition, which make up the first three steps in design thinking, the key is to understand the underlying complexity. Then, design thinking requires ideation in order to brainstorm. In the step of ideation judgement needs to be deferred, wild ideas are welcomed and people are to build on the ideas of others. Thereby, a diverging thinking is applied, which again opens up the views of design thinkers. Then, prototyping is used to understand the functioning of the newly developed concept, for which reason solutions are made visual or tangible. Brown states that prototyping is the “willingness to go ahead and try something by building it” (Brown, 2009, p. 88). Simulations such as rolenplays are a form of prototyping often used in design thinking. Furthermore, such prototyping can stimulate communication with other stakeholders involved. Finally, the prototype is tested, so feedback is gathered. In both last steps prototyping and testing, again a converging and focused thinking is necessary. In the three stages of idea development - which are ideating, prototyping and testing - there is a huge amount of uncertainty, that is to be overcome with the help of design thinking.

Although these processes suggest a very linear approach, iteration is a key concept in design thinking in order to refine the team’s ideas and to explore new directions (Brown & Martin, 2015; Connell & Tenkasi, 2015; Schmiedgen, 2015). For example, if the prototyping doesn’t lead to a feasible solution for the identified problem, one could go back to defining another point of view or to ideating. Such jumping back and forth enables design thinkers to quickly come up with something, show it to users, acknowledge their feedback and repeat. According to Brown (2009, p. 16), “there is no one best way to move through the process”. Brown believes that because the nature of design thinking is experimental, its key success factor is that it is flexible and nonnlinear. Because of this flexibility, often unexpected and surprising discoveries are made in the process. Such insights can then function as inspiration to rethink hypotheses. Brown admits that iteration at first seems to pose the risk of an extensive usage of time, however, “this is often a short-sighted perception. To the contrary, a team that understands what is happening will not feel bound to take the next logical step along an ultimately unproductive path” (Brown, 2009, p. 17)

2.1.1.З. Fields ofapplication

As stated in chapter, design thinking is applied in education, business and society. Regarding business - which is this thesis’s focus - design thinking has been associated especially with strategy (Brown, 2009; Liedtka, 2014; Mintzberg, 1990); innovation (Brown, 2009; Liedtka, 2014; Verganti, 2009); and management or organizational design (Boland & Collopy, 2004; Brown, 2009; Dunne & Martin, 2006). The common attitude in management practice is - contrary to the design attitude of creating - the decision attitude, especially when problems are to be solved. A lot of tools have been developed in the last decades to facilitate such decision-making, e.g. cost-benefit analysis or decision trees. Nevertheless, according to Boland (2004) a decision attitude is only suitable for stable situations, in which alternatives are clear. But when the environment is changing, an active attitude is needed: the design attitude. It views each project as an opportunity for innovation transforming the respective situation to the better. The design attitude supposes that creating alternatives is challenging, so when an adequate solution is designed, decision­making becomes trivial (Boland and Collopy, 2004). A decision attitude poses a problem but also often a default representation of it, while a design attitude starts with questioning the representation of the problem. Management studies and design thinking are actually not so far apart from each other: Brown (2009, p. 160) states that “business thinking is integral to design thinking”. This is especially true when it comes to the economic viability that is part of the three constraints of design thinking outlined in chapter Besides, using design thinking in businesses can increase innovation efforts, especially when it becomes “a systematically applied management approach” (Brown, 2009, p. 176). In fact, design thinking is increasingly used in the last years in management practice, especially because of the rising complexity of the competitive environment and the need for rapid and constant innovation (Connell & Tenkasi, 2015). Besides, companies want to focus more on their user and need to bring intuition into their largely rational decision-making processes.

In the design thinking literature, the opposite of design thinking has been mostly defined as traditional business practices, that are linear and milestonenbased. For example, Schmiedgen (2015) argues that working modes in organizations are still very linear, while design thinking is iterative. Brown (2009, p. 20) states that traditional organisations usually start with the “constraint of what will fit within the framework of the existing business model”. Also, he mentions that “engineeringn driven companies looking for a technological breakthrough” are the opposite of design thinking, since they neglect to find out if the technological innovation is actually wanted by the users. This again refers to the three constraints desirability, feasibility and viability.

2.1.2. Thinking processes

Dunne and Martin (2006) argue that design thinking includes inductive, deductive abductive logic, while traditional firms only use inductive and deductive reasoning. Thereby, inductive reasoning means generalization from specific instances, while deductive reasoning involves inference from logical premises. Charles Pierce describes abductive logic as “the process of forming an explanatory hypothesis. It is the only logical operation which introduces any new idea” (Pierce, 1905, p. 427). It is the logic of what might be. Therefore, abductive reasoning is different from the reasoning usually used by most managers and scientists (Garcia, 2012). The designers who can solve the most wicked problems do it through collaborative integrative thinking, using abductive logic (Dunne & Martin, 2006). In his book The Sciences of the Artificial also Simon highlights the role of abductive thinking, in which he states that:

“Engineering, medicine, business, architecture, and painting are concerned not with the necessary but with the contingent—not how things are but how they might be—in short, with design.” (Simon, 1969, p. xii)

Simon thereby shows that everyone’s task, including the manager’s, is to act responsibly to - just like the engineer or architect - shape and transform their respective situation with a focus on what might be.

In design thinking, the abductive logic is especially used to ideate and to find solutions to illndefined problems (Cross, 2006). It is assumed that a problem can

never be fully understood. There is no guarantee that all crucial information exists and that the right solution is found (Cross, 2006; Garcia, 2012). Problems are rather viewed as problems of a system with opportunities for systemic solutions that involve techniques and processes to create a holistic, sufficiently satisfying solution (Razzouk & Shute, 2012).

According to Dunne and Martin (2006), the logic of induction, abduction and deduction explains how the design thinking process works. First, a problem is being encountered and generalized in the process of induction. Then, the designer uses abduction to generate ideas. Third, the ideas are deducted according to their logical consequences. Thereby, outcomes are predicted. Finally, the ideas are tested in practice (Dunne & Martin, 2006). This process is illustrated in the following figure:

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Figure 3: The Cycle of design thinking Source: Dunne & Martin, 2006

Dunne and Martin even say that managers today don’t need to understand designers better, but “they need to become designers” (Dunne & Martin, 2006, p. 513). According to Brown, design thinking tools should be given to people “who may have never thought of themselves as designers and apply them to a vastly greater range of problems” (Brown, 2009, p. 3). Thereby, interdisciplinary and diverse teams play a major role (Connell & Tenkasi, 2015). Design thinkers, for example, can be psychologists, engineers, writers, etc. Brown claims that especially people who develop new products and services, in separate departments, e.g. engineers and designers, are in design thinking brought “together within the same team, in the same space, and using the same processes” (Brown, 2009, p. 26). However, the team members are not supposed to defend their own technical knowledge, but should assign every member of the team an equal role and the possibility to make a tangible contribution to the outcome. Thus, in an “interdisciplinary team there is collective ownership of ideas” (Brown, p. 27). Design thinking benefits from a multidisciplinary team (Seidel and Fixson, 2013). Diversity in a team is according to Leonard and Straus (1997) supporting creative abrasion. Thereby, creative abrasion means the management of a diverse team, i.e. a team with different cognitive thinking (Leonard and Straus, 1997). Such diverging thinking styles can for example be distinguished between leftnbrained and rightn brained. The left side of the brain uses an analytical and sequential thinking approach, while the right side of the brain applies an intuitive and nonlinear one. So design thinking aims at consolidating the diverging thinking styles by bringing together people with different perspectives. In this regard, Boland and Collopy state that design is ideal to establish a dialogue among diverse professionals because of the design language (Boland and Collopy, 2004).

The collaboration of interdisciplinary team members as well as the understanding of problems are merely possible if design thinkers are able to empathize with each other and with other stakeholders, for example the user. Therefore, the next chapter 2.1.3. outlines empathy and intuition in design thinking.

2.1.3. Empathy and intuition in design thinking

In this chapter 2.1.3., the author outlines empathy, then elaborates on creativity and intuition and finally analyses designing with time in design thinking.

2.1.З.1. Empathy

As already mentioned in chapter empathy is key in the design thinking approach, especially when it comes to understanding the user. Empathetic design as the core of design thinking focuses on observation and not on inquiry. According to Brown (2009), this distinguishes academic thinking from design thinking. To understand a problem, Leonard and Rayport (1997) argue that there are questions posed, but design thinkers mostly gather data from visual, auditory or sensual cues. They claim that the key to empathetic design is to understand nonverbal stimuli, e.g. shown via body language. Also Brown states that “being visual allows us to look at a problem differently than if we rely only on words or numbers” (Brown, 2009, p. 238). Therefore, the design thinking process is to be enriched with the help of intuition and emotion. Empathetic design aims at getting a deep understanding of the customer or user in order to “design experiences that create opportunities for active engagement and participation” (Brown, 2009, p. 115). This user-centric design comprises utility as well as emotional pleasure. Hence, the goal of design thinking is to create a satisfying experience for the user.

However, empathy in design thinking does not only refer to understanding the user, but also to working together in a team. Regarding the team, it is crucial to not judge others or discredit their ideas but to encourage other team members in order to achieve a mutual understanding (Kelley, 2013). Brown thereby mentions that it is crucial to “build on the ideas of others” (Brown, 2009, p. 25). Schmiedgen (2015) finds that design thinking fosters a better collaboration in teams across disciplines and organizational levels. This assumes common facts and mental models among the people involved exist (Dunne & Martin, 2006). Thus, individual’s projections of their own rationing onto others is to be avoided. In this regard, Brown suggests that a competent designer is capable of improving products, but an interdisciplinary team of skilled design thinkers can “tackle more complex problems” (Brown, 2009, p. 7). Finally, by integrating empathy with the user and empathy with the team it is possible to invent a “new and radical form of collaboration that blurs the boundaries between creators and consumers” (Brown, 2009, p. 57).

2.1.З.2. Creativity

Brown describes design thinking as “fast-paced, unruly, and disruptive” (Brown, 2009, p. 234). It inspires to search for creative solutions and, at the same time, it develops as well as tests ideas (Schmiedgen, 2015). For establishing innovative solutions design thinking requires creativity, for which reason design thinkers use a lot of “imagination, insight, and inspiration” (Brown, 2009, p. 169). Thereby competing constraints are accepted as barriers, to which cutting-edge solutions have to be found. Tom and David Kelley point to the importance of creative confidence in design thinking, so through the pre-defined process everyone could lose the fear of being uncreative. Thus, with design thinking everyone gained confidence to be creative, to produce more ideas and in the end to come up with better decisions (Kelley & Kelley, 2013). In practice, design thinking encourages communication of thoughts in a visual or physical way, e.g. by putting Post-its or sticking Polaroid photos on the wall or by quick prototyping. David Kelley calls prototyping! thinking with your hands and he contrasts it with specification-led, planning-driven abstract thinking (Kelley, 2013). Design thinkers believe that prototyping is more effective at creating new ideas and driving them forward, because it gives form to an idea and enables learning from it. It is thus part of the creative process. Early prototypes usually are very quick and rough. Then, next generations of more detailed prototypes are created, etc. Finally, another factor that fosters creativity is the acceptance of failure. Failure needs to be embraced to overcome the fear of failure in order to learn (Kelley & Kelley, 2013). In this regard, Brown for example recommends “fail early to succeed sooner” (Brown, 2009, p. 17).

2.I.3.3. Intuition

To Saariluoma, intuitions are crucial in order to understand design thinking. According to him, intuition plays a role in both - in scientific as well as in design thinking. While science examines how things are, design focusses on how things should be. Generally, intuition refers to the subconscious foundations of thought (Saariluoma, 2011). While in scientific thinking intuition helps science advance, in design thinking intuition specifically refers to future states of affairs. In design, there are not always good arguments for intuition, so it is debatable if the intuition is true or not. That’s why sometimes designers just have to trust their intuitions. To overcome this problem, it is helpful to scrutinize the underlying assumptions thought (Saariluoma, 2011). According to Brown, design thinking is built on intuition: recognizing patterns, developing ideas or communicating with other means than words or symbols (Brown, 2009). He also refers to latent needs which people are not able to articulate. According to Brown, design means being intuitive, e.g. to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols. He states that the “best guide in launching a new design project, is sometimes just to choose the right partner, clear the dance floor, and trust our intuition.” (Brown, 2009, p. 66)

According to Martin, design thinking actually relies on both analytical and intuitive thinking (Martin, 2010) In this regard, analysis especially is reliable, while intuition guarantees validity. Intuition’s classifications vary a lot and range from a magical sixth sense to an innate personality trait to an accumulation of experience (Burke & Miller, 1999). By clarifying what intuition is and what role it plays, practitioners can be supported in making effective decisions (Burke and Miller, 1999). Duggan defines “strategic intuition” as the combination of apparently unrelated ideas. Thereby he refers to the associations made, especially when it comes to creating innovations (Lieberman and Valencius, 2016). Often, managers seem to be reluctant to the importance of intuition in innovation and in decisionmaking. This is usually due to the lack of knowledge of how to introduce intuition without giving up rationality (Calabretta, 2016). Nevertheless, intuition does not always have positive effects. Brown also mentions that the intuition of the group needs to be extracted, and this is “where a generous supply of Postnit notes cannot be beat.” (Brown, 2009, p. 83)

2.1.З.4. Designing with time

Brown states that when it comes to designing services, an experience is successful when it feels personalized and customized to the target group. Oftentimes, this depends on the designer’s ability “to add something special or appropriate at just the right moment” (Brown, 2009, p. 121). This sense of timing, which can result from improvisation or spontaneity is also dependent on the designer’s intuition for the right moment to act. Furthermore, Brown refers to a new dimension that is given “to the designer’s tool kit: [...] designing with time” (Brown, 2009, p. 132). In this regard, storytelling is often used in design thinking to promote the element of time. Thereby, effective storytelling relies on two critical moments: the beginning and the end. In addition, it means thinking of people as “living, growing, thinking organisms who can help write their own stories” (Brown, 2009, p. 145). In the end, designing with time is different from designing in space, since the design thinker needs to include both space and time simultaneously (Brown, 2009).

2.2. Bergson’s Philosophy

“We call intuition here the sympathy by which one is transported into the interior of an object in order to coincide with what there is unique and consequently inexpressible in it.” (Bergson, 1938, p. 189)

This chapter is about the philosophy of Henri Bergson (1859-1941), a French philosopher who offers a process philosophy that underlines evolution instead of motionless representations of reality. In this chapter, first Bergson’s view from instinct and intelligence to intuition is analysed. Then, the author provides an overview of Bergson’s forms of knowledge and finally outlines Bergson’s concept of duration.

2.2.1. From instinct and intelligence to intuition

Bergson states that “the whole evolution of the animal kingdom, apart from retrogressions towards vegetative life, has taken place on two divergent paths, one of which led to instinct and the other to intelligence” (Bergson, 1907, p. 134). Both tendencies, however, are always found together, they accompany each other because in Bergson’s view they are complementary. Thereby, Bergson writes that “instinct perfected is a faculty of using and even of constructing organized instruments; intelligence perfected is the faculty of making and using unorganized instruments” (Bergson, 1907, p. 140). Instinct and intelligence both relate to knowledge in Bergson’s method, with the knowledge “rather acted and unconscious in the case of instinct, thought and conscious in the case of intelligence” (Bergson, 1907, p. 145). Both tendencies are turned towards opposite directions: In his view, instinct focuses mostly on things (innate knowledge) being turned towards life. When it comes to intelligence, Bergson especially pronounces that it makes use of relations of things and thereby adopts a pragmatic orientation that is turned “towards inert matter” (Bergson, 1907, p. 176). Bergson states that “there are things that intelligence alone is able to seek, but which, by itself, it will never find. These things instinct alone could find; but it will never seek them” (Bergson, 1907, p. 151).

This sounds as if the concepts of intelligence and instinct and their seeking present an unsolvable dilemma, however, Bergson proposes a solution, which brings both together and hence forms intuition: “Intelligence [...] goes all round life, taking from outside the greatest possible number of views of it, drawing it into itself instead of entering into it. But it is to the very inwardness of life that intuition leads us - by intuition I mean instinct that has become disinterested, self-conscious, capable of reflecting upon its object and of enlarging it indefinitely” (Bergson, 1907, p. 176). Thus, to attain absolute knowledge intelligence needs to be merged with instinct in order to proceed to intuition, “which is probably like what we call divining sympathy” (Bergson, 1907, p. 175). So in this sense, intuition is able to give access to a dimension of reality that is not accessible solely by intelligence. Thereby, Bergsonian intuition is always total and undivided (Jankélévitch, 1989). In his book Creative

Evolution, Bergson compares the process of intuition with an artist who places himself within the object by breaking down the space between him and his model. Also, he notes that intuition and intellect, which portrays the capacity of thinking, are directed towards different directions of consciousness, with intuition going towards life and with intellect inversely going along the movement of matter. Bergson states that in our society intellect is actually eroding intuition as “it seems that to conquer matter, and to reconquer its own self, consciousness has had to exhaust the best part of its power” (Bergson, 1907, p. 267). Generally, the Bergsonian intuition is present in a vague way glimmering above the nonncontinuous only in a few moments. These few moments appear when there is a vital interest at risk. In Bergson’s thought this is when “on our personality, on our liberty, on the place we occupy in the whole of nature, on our origin and perhaps also on our destiny, it throws a light feeble and vacillating, but which none the less pierces the darkness of the night in which the intellect leaves us” (Bergson 1907, p. 282). The more these rare intuitions are captured, expanded and united, the stronger will be the perception that intuition is the same as mind and - in a particular way - also the same as life. As a result, “the unity of the spiritual life” (Bergson, 1907, p. 268) is revealed. Hence, we know the essence of life when intelligence meets instinct - meaning that intuition is created.

Deleuze assumes Bergson’s view on intuition, emphasizing that intuition distinguishes between true and false of the problems faced (Deleuze, 1991). He describes Bergson’s methodology as three distinct acts, namely problematization, difference and temporalization. Problematization results in the contemplation of real problems, ignoring the irrelevant ones. Formulating the problem is crucial: If n for example n the problem is posed in a wrong way, the solution is irrelevant. Thereby the intuitive understanding of the relevant issues is again only possible through duration. The second act is the discovery of true difference in kind, through the act of division (Nayak, 2008). Thereby, difference in kind can be understood as difference of an object from itself. Lastly, temporalization in regards to problems is about emphasizing time instead of merely regarding space. Thus, the third act is to be understood as capturing of duration which will be elaborated in chapter 2.2.3.

According to Linstead and Mullarkey metaphysics becomes experience in Bergson’s philosophy. Bergson indeed points out in his Introduction to Metaphysics that metaphysics is different from the generalization of facts and means integral experience (Bergson, 1938). The singularity of experience can not be imagined, but needs to be sensed. However, a real consciousness is to be explored by sensing a plurality of singularities: multiplicity. Hence, intuition enables the experience of a heightened reality (Linstead and Mullarkey, 2003). Thereby, as illustrated before intuition is in a way at the furthest from instinct, since instinct has the function of stopping the duration in order to master, manipulate, etc., with a view to action. However, instinct shares with intuition a character of immediacy, it is rooted in the living and from this point of view it is like the foundation of intuition in the living.

2.2.2. Forms of Knowledge

According to Bergson, there are two methods for the knowledge of an object:

(1) Relative analysis

Such a relative analysis means dividing the object according to a specific point of view and translating these fragments into spatial and immobile symbols.

(2) Absolute knowledge through intuition

Intuition is about entering into the object, rather than going around it from the outside. In this sense it is a kind of sympathy or experience that becomes concerned with utility and leads to absolute knowledge.

An extensive relative analysis enables a ^composition of a thing by consolidating different symbols. However, such a consolidation merely means the juxtaposition of the symbols, which enables a general concept but does not give the thing itself, which a Bergsonian intuition is capable of. He asserts that intuition is the inversion of the habitual and purely analytical modes of thought: It is only possible to move from intuition to analysis, but not from analysis to intuition (Bergson, 1938). Intuition in this sense is sympathy or empathy, which is putting oneself in the place of the object, in its inner being. The aim of this sympathy is to understand the object’s uniqueness from within. So we must first immerse ourselves into the object before a relative analysis, a division of things corresponding to a specific point of view, can be conducted.

“Though all the photographs of a city taken from all possible points of view indefinitely complete one another, they will never equal in value that dimensional object, the city along whose streets one walks.” (Bergson, 1938, p. 188)

The uniqueness of the town, that Bergson mentions in the statement above, can thus only be grasped through the immersion into it - through intuition.

According to Bergson there has to be an original common impulse that explains the creation of lifeO which he calls élan vital. According to him only such an impulse could take change in life into account, opposed to traditional finalism and mechanism[1], which both make creation impossible, as they assume that the whole is given. Bergson writes in Creative Evolution, “vital is in the direction of the voluntary. We may say then that this first kind of order is that of the vital or of the willed, in opposition to the second, which is that of the inert and the automatic.” (Bergson, 1907, p. 224). Because the élan vital is the common impulse, Bergson assumes a principle of divergence and differentiation that takes into account the diversity through evolution. So a complexification of life takes place from élan vital into different species, individuals, and organs. Bergson suggests that an effort of intuition allows us to place ourselves back within élan vital, in order to gain true knowledge. This absolute knowledge, which is radical and authentic, follows the organization of qualitative multiplicity and coincides with absolute becoming. Such an absolute knowledge cannot be recognized by intelligence, as this is based on needs and interests. So intuition is needed to unify mental life. Thus, Bergson concludes, “philosophy introduces us into spiritual life. And at the same time, it shows us the relation of the life of spirit to the life of the body” (Bergson, p. 268). Hence, life in its creativity unifies the simplicity of spirit with the diversity of matter. Life thereby means the same as creation, as the title of Bergson’s book Creative Evolution already suggests. In his view, creativity alone can account for the continuity of life and the discontinuity of the products of evolution.

2.2.3. Duration

Intuition thereby is rooted in, and inseparable from, the duration that informs all life, all change, and all becoming. Bergson appeals for seeking the most intimate points within our lives and states that “it is into pure duration that we then plunge back, a duration in which the past, always moving on, is swelling unceasingly with a present that is absolutely new” (Bergson, 1907, p. 199 f.). In his Introduction to Metaphysics, he refers to duration as exclusion of “all idea of juxtaposition, reciprocal externality, and extension” (Bergson, 1938, p. 192). So duration can be understood as temporal and immediate consciousness. In Creative Evolution, Bergson suggests that “consciousness is synonymous with invention and with freedom, [...] invention is never anything but a variation on the theme of routine” (Bergson, 1907, p. 264). To return to the differentiation of relative analysis and absolute knowledge through intuition, Bergson claims that analysis is conducted on the stationary, while intuition “places itself in mobility, or, what comes to the same thing, in duration” (Bergson, 1913, p. 41). Duration can be thereby be understood as the “continuous life of a memory [...] showing by its continual change of quality the heavier and still heavier load we drag behind us as we grow older” (Bergson, 1913, p. 45). Thus, memory passes something from the past to the present, which according to Bergson forms the basis of a “conscious existence” (Bergson, 1907, p. 17) or even creates a new form of consciousness.

“All action aims at getting something that we feel the want of, or at creating something that does not yet exist. In this very special sense, it fills a void, and goes from the empty to the full, from an absence to a presence, from the unreal to the real.” (Bergson, 1907, p. 273)

This quote shows that duration is aiming at action and can be referred to as experienced by people, a “stream against which we cannot go” (Bergson, 1907, p. 39). Bergson even calls duration the “turn of experience” (Bergson, 1912, p. 184), since duration is different from the mechanistic time of science. In Time and Free Will Bergson (1913) portrays this difference as an illusion: the imposing of spatial concepts onto time becomes a distortion of the real. Time is experienced through a series of separate spatial forms. People think that they are seeing a continuous flow of movement, but in reality what they are seeing is a succession of fixed frames or stills. This movement means that the mind has to “reverse the direction of the operation by which it ordinarily thinks [...], in so doing it will arrive at fluid concepts, capable of following reality in all its windings and of adopting the very movement of the inner life of things” (Bergson, 1938, p. 223). Thereby time can be understood as reality of its own, if concrete time is considered instead of the abstract or more artificial time that can be measured. Consequently, life processes and endures time (Bergson, 1907). Moreover, Bergson states that “duration means invention, the creation of forms” (Bergson, 1907, p. 11). While mechanisms according to him only regard similarities or repetitions, duration produces something unforeseeable, which is creation.

3. Methodology

This third chapter presents the work’s underlying research methodology. First, the selected research design is addressed. Afterwards, the data collection of this empirical study is explained with a focus on the chosen problem-centric interview as well as the selection of interview partners. Finally, data formatting is illustrated, and the underlying coding schemes are explained.

3.1 Research Design

Because of the difference in disciplines and fields, different types of research exist in qualitative research. One of the nowadays most common research methods is Grounded Theory. Since the first systematic formulation of Grounded Theory by Glaser and Strauss in the 1960s (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), this methodology has been discussed extensively in the literature (see, for example Corbin & Strauss, 1990, 1994 and 1996; Brüsemeister, 2008; Berg & Milmeister, 2008; or Breuer, 2010). With an emphasis for theory development, Grounded Theory is a methodology “that is grounded in data systematically gathered and analysed” (Strauss & Corbin, 1994, p. 273). Therefore, the researcher needs to have theoretical sensitivity, which is refers to “the attribute of having insight, the ability to give meaning to the data, the capacity to understand, and capability to separate the pertinent from that which isn’t” (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p. 42). The researcher needs to elaborate links between “conditions, actions, and consequences” (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p. 11). By interpreting data that is based on realty, Grounded Theory aims for understanding “the world out there and for developing action strategies that will allow for some measure of control over it” (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p. 9). In particular, Strauss and Corbin (1990) point to the better understanding of an


[1]Finalism assumes that final causes determine the course of all events, while mechanism assumes that phenomena are only determined by mechanical principles, i.e. their composition of parts.


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Title: Can design thinking be understood in a Bergsonian way?