Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Doctorate in Business (EDB)



First Advisor

Dr. Pam Ellen

Second Advisor

Dr. Lars Mathiassen

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard Baskerville


Organization transitions are a complex and difficult change process. This complexity has led to a significant percentage of transitional failures. While academic process models exist, few references are made to concrete tools to navigate the journey. The design thinking process is a proven tool when designing new products, but has limited academic exposure in practical business applications. This study explores the impact of integrating the use of design thinking, as a potential change tool, into an organizational transition. Case study methodology was applied to a business unit within a single organization, currently managing an organizational transition. An intact team was recruited to form the design team, which was tasked with creating an innovative experience for their colleagues navigating the transition. Data was collected from existing employee interviews, through observations of the design process and follow-up participant interviews. Results align with existing literature, asserting that a lack of communication and uncertainty, during an organizational transition, leads to employee stress and impacts their willingness to support the change effort. Additionally, the design team have developed the ability to ideate and prototype, identifying two offerings for the organization – an orientation session and video logs (Vlogs). One offering has positive feedback from the overall organization. Participant feedback also highlighted the value placed upon the empathetic interviews and the potential use for those skills in myriad business settings. Study contributions include the confirmation that design thinking is an effective tool to resolve practical business challenges. This study also demonstrated that design thinking has significant value beyond product design. Using empathetic interviews and engaging employees as design-thinking participants result in increased employee engagement and feelings of inclusion.


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