Julia von Thienen

Julia von Thienen was born in Berlin. She studied psychology, neuroscience and philosophy at the Free University of Berlin. Her PhD work on causation also bridged these fields. Julia has taught research methodology and philosophy of science for social science students and neuroscientists at the Free University of Berlin, the University of Chicago and the University of Potsdam.

In 2008 Julia joined the Hasso Plattner Institute, specifically the Stanford-Potsdam Design Thinking Research Program. Julia`s studies are concerned with design thinking as an approach to creativity and innovation. Together with her colleagues, she invokes several research perspectives to elucidate why and how design thinking works, in scientific terms. Some insights gleaned over the years are shared in the lecture Why and How Design Thinking Works as well as in the course Design Thinking for Digital Engineering.

Research Approaches:

  • By means of empirical studies, typically with randomized experiments, the impact of the “3 Design Thinking Pillars” or “3P” is investigated: Creative Processes, People and Places.
  • Theories on creativity and innovation from various disciplines are drawn together and compared to design thinking practices.
  • Processes of culture development are modelled, based on creative activity and innovation adoption rates in populations.
  • Studies into design thinking history elucidate theoretical beliefs and concepts that inform design thinking practices today.
  • Design thinking is practically applied to advance human-centred innovation. Specifically, the medical documentation system Tele-Board MED is developed to promote doctor-patient-teamwork at eye-level, and to help medical practitioners as well as patients benefit from new digital opportunities.
  • Design thinking education is a subject of practical developments and research, including face-to-face education and online teaching.
  • Based on innovation theory and empirical research results, new tools are developed for design thinking.
  • Successful design thinking practices are introduced in other work areas to facilitate collaboration and innovation in these fields.
  • One domain of specific attention is the biological basis of creativity and innovation. Recently, this work is part of the initiative to advance the new field of neurodesign.
  • Another recent field of attention is the political environment of countries or continents as a “large-scale place factor” to impact innovation rates and innovation types.

Sample publications regarding these research approaches and a full list of publications can be found at Julia’s homepage.



PI: Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel Abstract The project team e.valuate wants to further pursue its investigation into the … > mehr


PI: Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel Abstract Our 2009 experiment on Design Thinking performance yielded a surprising result: … > mehr

From Prototypes to Innovation

PI: Prof. Christoph Meinel Abstract For companies, the incorporation of Design Thinking as part of the innovation process … > mehr

Tele-Board for Medicine

PI: Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel Abstract Even a person who is commonly very autonomous may experience states of great … > mehr

Tele-BoardMED: Engaging Design Thinkers and Psychotherapists in Mutual Learning

PI: Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel Abstract Tele-Board MED is a software that helps patient and doctor create and use … > mehr

Tele-Board MED: Assessing Interactions and Character Choice in Teams with a Machine Team Member

PI: Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel Abstract The project Tele-Board MED brings design thinking work equipment into medical … > mehr

Tele-Board MED: Supporting Patient Progress with (Meta) Data Analytics (HPI)

PI: Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel Abstract Tele-Board MED is a digital documentation system that allows doctors and … > mehr

Redesigning the MEDICAL REPORT experience: Probing Design Thinking on High-Stake Tasks In Bureaucratic, Hierarchical Organizations

PI: Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel Abstract Medical reports summarize diagnoses of patients, treatments and outcomes. They … > mehr

Design Thinking Medical Record Data: Addressing Innovation Barriers to Doctor-Patient Teamwork

PI: Professor Dr. Christoph Meinel Abstract This joint proposal explores the use of Tele-Board MED (TBM) to enable … > mehr

Remote Care with Tele-Board MED

PI: Professor Dr. Christoph Meinel Abstract While people get ill everywhere, medical expertise is often concentrated … > mehr

Innovation Modelling Based on Human Needs

PI: Julia von Thienen Abstract Human needs are a cornerstone of design thinking. The ability to identify and address … > mehr

Making Design Thinking Accessible to Blind and Visually Impaired People

PI: Prof. Sean Follmer Abstract Design thinking leverages spatial and visual diagramming as a central component for both … > mehr