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Design thinking and research: interrogating the doing
Meinel C., Leifer L., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2021. 433 pp. Type: Book (978-3-030620-36-3)
Date Reviewed: Nov 3 2022

This 400-plus-page edited book was published as part of Springer’s “Understanding Innovation” series. (More information about this series is available at http://www.springer.com/series/8802.) Both the series editors and this volume’s editors are Christoph Meinel and Larry Leifer. An annoying feature of most recently edited books is the lack of a final index, which makes cross-checking very difficult. I expected this book to have one because of its more unified theme of “design thinking.” Unfortunately, it does not. Each chapter, however, is well written and very informative.

The book’s editors are highly accomplished individuals in this area; while their credentials are available online, I will briefly highlight some aspects of their qualifications for the sake of completeness. Christoph Meinel, Director and CEO of the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) for Digital Engineering, is a computer science professor and chairs the Internet technologies and systems research group at HPI. Larry Leifer teaches mechanical engineering at Stanford University and has started several foundational design initiatives there. The foreword, written by Hasso Plattner, outlines the joint programs at Stanford and HPI. Emphasis is placed on the importance of creating innovation cultures through multidisciplinary design thinking.

The book begins with “Introduction” by Leifer and Meinel, which includes a roadmap for the rest of the book and outlines the content of the rest of the sections. In the next chapter, visual thinking theories are explained with historical details. I found this chapter very informative.

The rest of the chapters are organized into four broad areas. Part 1, “Effective Design Thinking Training and Practice,” consists of five chapters, all of which explore different aspects of design thinking training and practice relatively independently. Parts 2 through 4 are “Understanding Design Thinking Team Dynamics,” “Design Thinking in Practice: New Approaches and Application Fields,” and “Outlook: Emerging of Neurodesign.” Space limitations do not allow for detailed reviews of each chapter. However, the table of contents can be found online and the chapter titles will give readers an idea of their content.

In conclusion, this is a very comprehensive collection of diverse ideas on design thinking research, composed of well-written chapters by practitioners. It is like a research manifesto for design thinking. I recommend the book to anyone seriously thinking about or working on design thinking or a related field.

Reviewer:  M. M. Tanik Review #: CR147510
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