Military Officers and the Design Gaze
A study of how Danish military officers experience challenges and possibilities when seeking to apply design approaches in their everyday work
This paper investigates how design thinking and its appurtenant practices can be integrated into leadership practices in various military contexts. It addresses the findings of a qualitative research study that followed six Danish Defence officers as they worked. The paper investigates how these officers translate and enact design thinking amid efforts to handle specific, complex problems faced in their actual work-life, including the opportunities and barriers that they meet. The paper suggests the concept of a “design gaze” to understand and illuminate how design transforms military officers’ approaches and understandings of specific complex problems as well as their interactions with stakeholders and participants. At the institutional level, the paper points to three organisational problems that were rendered visible through the application of a design approach: “invisible” problems, “homeless” problems, and “transversal” problems. Finally, the paper discusses implications for organisational learning.