The Rise & Fall of Design Thinking at Oticon

Service Design Thinking

In 2007, top management of hearing aid manufacturer Oticon boldly established a working group dedicated to a rather new and odd thing called design thinking. Three years later, the group was dissolved. This is the story of a tragic misunderstanding and untapped potential.

We talked to a former Oticon employee who decided to go to Denmark in 2007. At first it was difficult for him to find a job there. Even with a degree in mechanical engineering from one of the best universities in the US and a lot of work experience with his own consulting company it seemed difficult to get hired. Then a recruiter took a special interest in him, and the result was a job offer at Oticon, one of the world’s leading hearing aid manufacturers. They made a surprising proposal: “We’re just starting a new group called Centre for Design Thinking (CDT). You would be perfect for it.”

At that time, Oticon was taking a courageous step in a new direction. The top management decided to invest in a completely new group with an uncertain outcome a group that would “invent things.” The leader of this innovation group decided to embrace a relatively unorthodox idea called design thinking, and top management soon came to support the philosophy.

New Working Styles

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