Organizational sensemaking through enabling design services

  • Magnus Eneberg Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden


It is argued that the focus of design is becoming increasingly intangible. At the same time as design consultants are expanding their offerings with new services aimed at enhancing innovation and the strategic process in client firms, studies indicate that industrial design consultancies have a problem getting commissioned and paid for the intangible parts of their service. One possible explanation is that design is regarded as providing a relieving service that delivers aesthetic competence at the end of a product development process. This indicates a problem in communicating the contribution of enabling design services to client firms.

The aim of this paper is to increase the understanding of enabling design services. This is done by comparing the characteristics of design thinking, its methods and processes with sensemaking theory as described by Weick (1995).


Download data is not yet available.


Ainamo, A. (2009) Building the innovation factory: the people dimension, Knowledge, Technology and Policy, 22(4).

Boland, R., Collopy, F., Lyytinen, K., & Yoo, Y. (2008) Managing as designing: lessons for organization leaders from the design practice of Frank O. Gehry. Design Issues, 24(1), 10–25.

Bradford, D., Warner Burke, W. (2005) Reinventing Organization Development: New Approaches to Change in Organizations. San Francisco, Preiffer.

Brown, T. (2008) Design Thinking, Harvard Business Review, 86(6), 84–95

Buchanan, R. (1995) Wicked Problems in Design Thinking. In R. Buchanan & V. Margolin (Eds.), The Idea of Design: A Design Issues Reader (pp. 3-20). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Buchanan, R. (2001) Design research and the new learning. Design Issues, 17(4), 3–23.

Carmel-Gilfilen, C., Portillo, M. (2010) Developmental Trajectories in design thinking, Design Studies, 31(1), 74–91

Cooper, R., Press, M. (2001) The Design Agenda: A guide

to successful design management, Chichester, England, Wiley & Sons

Cross, N. (2006) Designerly Ways of Knowing, London: Springer

Delléra C., Marchesi A., Verganti R. (2008) Linguistic Network Configurations: Management of innovation in design intensive firms, International Journal of Innovation Management, 12(1), 1–21

Dewey, J. (1929) The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action. New York: Minton, Balch & Company.

Dunne, D., & Martin, R. (2006) Design thinking and how it will change management education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 5(4), 512–523.

Döös, M. (2007) Organizational learning. In Educating the Global Workforce: knowledge, knowledge work and knowledge workers, L. Farrell & T. Fenwick (Eds.) London: Routledge.

Edeholt, H. (2004) Design innovation och andra paradoxer – om förändring satt i system [Design innovation and other paradoxes – on change applied to systems]. Doctoral dissertation, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden.

Eneberg, M. (2011) The enabling service of the industrial design consultancy: a change of focus from goods to service dominant logic. Licentiate thesis, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Ford, C., & Ogilvie, D. (1996) The role of creative action in organizational learning and change, Journal of Organizational Change Management, 9(1), 54–62.

Hargadon, A., & Sutton, R. (1997) Technology brokering and innovation in a product development firm. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42(4), 716–749.

Hatch, M. J. (2006) Organization Theory: Modern, Symbolic, and Postmodern Perspectives, (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.

Krippendorf, K. (1989) On the essential contexts of artifacts or on the proposition that ‘design is making sense (of things)’. Design Issues, 5(2), 9–39.

Leavy, B. (2010) Design thinking – a new mental model of value innovation, Strategy & Leadership, 38(3), 5–14

Marshak, R., & Grant, D. (2008) Organizational discourse and new organization development practices. British Journal of Management, 19, 7–19.

Martin, R. (2010) Design thinking: achieving insights via the“knowledge funnel”, Strategy and Leadership, 38(2), 37–41

Mead, G. H. (1934) Mind, Self and Society. University of Chicago Press.

Nonaka, I. (2004) A dynamic theory of organizational knowledge creation. In K. Starkey, S. Tempest, & A. McKinlay (Eds.), How Organizations Learn: Managing the Search for Knowledge (2nd ed.), 165–201. London: Thomson.

Norman, D. (2002) The Design of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books

Norman, R. (2001) Reframing Business – When the map changes the landscape. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons

Olsson (Eneberg’s birth name), M., & Svengren Holm, L. (2009) Strategic growth of industrial design consultancy – a study of changes in ID consultancy in a post-industrial society. The 8th European Academy of Design Conference, Aberdeen, Scotland.

Rylander, A. (2011) Designtänkande – myt och möjlighet, ADA, 20th of September, (retrieved September 20th, 2011)

Sawhney, M., & Prandelli, E. (2004) A dynamic theory of organizational knowledge creation. In K. Starkey, S. Tempest, & A. McKinlay (Eds.), How Organizations Learn: Managing the Search for Knowledge (2nd ed.) (pp. 165–201). London: Thomson.

Selznick, P. (1949) TVA and the Grass Roots. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.

Schön, A. D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. London: Basic Books Inc.

Simon, H. (1996) The Sciences of the Artificial, (3rd ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Stolterman, E. (2007) Designtänkande [Design thinking]. In S. Ilstedt Hjelm (Ed.), Under Ytan: en antologi om designforskning [Under the surface: an anthology on design research] (pp. 12–19). Stockholm: Raster Förlag/SVID.

Ullmark, P. (2007) Forskning, design och konst [Research, design and art]. In S. Ilstedt Hjelm (Ed.), Under Ytan: en antologi om designforskning [Under the surface: an anthology on design research] (pp. 20-29). Stockholm: Raster Förlag/SVID.

Ungaretti, T., Chomowicz, P., Canniffe, B., Johnson, B., Weiss, E., Dunn, K., & Cropper, C. (2009) Business + design: exploring a competitive edge for business thinking. SAM Advanced Management Journal, 2, 4–11.

Valtonen, A. (2007) Redefining Industrial Design: Changes in the Design Practice in Finland. Helsinki: University of Art and Design.

Vargo S., & Lusch, R. (2008) Why ‘service’?, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 36(1), 25–38.

Verganti, R. (2009) Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating What Things Mean. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

Von Wright, G. H. (1986) Vetenskapen och Förnuftet [Science and Reason] (3rd ed.). Borgå, Finland: Bonnier.

Weick, K. E. (1995) Sensemaking in Organizations, (1st ed.). Thousand Oaks Cliff: Sage.

Werkman, R. (2010) Reinventing organization development: how a sensemaking perspective can enrich OD theories and interventions. Journal of Change Management, 10(4), 421–438.

How to Cite
Eneberg, M. (2016) “Organizational sensemaking through enabling design services”, Swedish Design Research Journal, 8(2), pp. 53-59. doi: 10.3384/svid.2000-964X.12253.
Research articles