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Transformative design thinking: a human-centred model for innovation.

Malins, Julian Paul


Julian Paul Malins


In recent years there have been a number of Innovation Centres established in the UK and associated funding calls to support the development of new ones, however there is no common theoretical framework, which underpins the methodology for their operation. Innovation Centres range from Business Parks clustering businesses from similar sectors, through to University Knowledge Exchange projects involving multidisciplinary teams of individuals working with companies from a particular sector or across all sectors, perhaps focused on cultural change. This paper describes a number of models for Innovation Centres some of which are based on principles derived from design thinking (Brown 2009) and others that are more focused on technology push (Martin 1994). Key government policies and subsequent public investment are relying on a number of assumptions that underpin the theoretical frameworks on which these Innovation Centres are based. Developing reliable methods based on a strong theoretical framework that questions existing assumptions has implications for ensuring that these investments are not wasted. This paper examines the use of user-centred design versus the more serendipitous process of invention and concludes that a process based on critical reflective reframing of problems through observational methods involving the identification of key stakeholders, may lead to sustainable transformational innovation. The paper concludes by proposing a theoretical framework and methods for supporting the establishment of a successful Innovation Centre, applying methodology designed to bring about transformational innovation.


MALINS, J.P. 2013. Transformative design thinking: a human-centred model for innovation. In Proceedings of the 10th International conference of the European Academy of Design (EAD 10): crafting the future, 17-19 April 2013, Gothenburg, Sweden. Gothenberg: University of Gothenberg [online], paper number 67133. Available from:

Conference Name 10th International conference of the European Academy of Design (EAD 10)
Conference Location Gothenburg, Sweden
Start Date Apr 17, 2013
End Date Apr 19, 2013
Acceptance Date Apr 30, 2013
Online Publication Date Apr 30, 2013
Publication Date Dec 30, 2013
Deposit Date Nov 8, 2013
Publicly Available Date Nov 8, 2013
Publisher University of Gothenburg
Article Number 67133
ISBN 9789197954150
Keywords Innovation Centres; Transformational design; Human centred design; User centred design; Reflective reframing
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