Design thinking without deep analysis is reckless. A more balanced approach is needed.

Larry Keeley, co-founder of innovation firm Doblin which is now a unit of Deloitte Consulting LLP, says that too often advocates of “design” regard it as an elixir that can somehow transform conservative companies into creative ones. In the most egregious cases, he says, advocates suggest “design thinking” can somehow replace nearly all other forms of analysis, planning, and strategy. However, as is popularly described and delivered, “design thinking” is too superficial to truly deliver on such grandiose expectations.

Keeley argues for a more balanced approach, where deep analysis and synthesis are done recursively and in integrated new ways, allowing leading companies to manage complexity, derive insights, and catalyze innovation in fast-changing ecosystems.

Put simply, analysis without synthesis is predictable and commonplace. Design thinking without deep analysis is reckless. The savvy leader now seeks to do both, recursively, in integrated, even dazzling new ways.

His article presents a range of examples that share one property: They fuse together insights that come from sophisticated analytics, with experiences that are brilliantly designed to be easy, smart, convenient, and entirely understandable.

He concludes:

You will likely get to breakthroughs sooner if you do not assume that “design thinking” is, somehow, the one mystery ingredient you are missing. We make progress when we break things down into amazing insights and then build them up in unanticipated and insightful ways.