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A New Way of Thinking for Enterprise Architects

by Anthony J. Bradley  |  April 21, 2010  |  Submit a Comment

Many of you may have heard of the new business craze around Design Thinking (DT). A few business books deeply address the concepts.

One interesting thing about this C-Suite level craze is that it has barely penetrated IT.

Enterprise Architecture analysts Nick Gall and David Newman are driving new Gartner research around applying DT to IT in their research around Hybrid Thinking. Recently published research includes:

Gartner’s choice of the term “hybrid thinking” over “design thinking” was inspired by the article “Forget Design Thinking and Try Hybrid Thinking,” by Dev Patnaik (see ). Patnaik makes the case that hybrid thinking is a more accurate term for this emerging business discipline because many of the leading practitioners were actually not formally trained as “designers.” Gartner concurs. The term “design thinking” posits only one type of thinking — that of a professionally trained designer — as the key to success.

Gartner defines the essential concept of hybrid thinking (HT) as follows:

“Hybrid thinking integrates design thinking with other ways of thinking to produce successful outcomes to wicked problems by co-creating more meaningful, human-centered experiences.”

Another way to view this is that HT=DT+X1T+X2T+X3T to address wicked problem Y. Where XnT are additional and different ways of thinking.

This approach embodies some key principles:

  1. Wicked problems require multiple cross disciplinary ways of thinking
  2. A particular wicked problem can require a fundamental combination of ways of thinking to reach a desired outcome
  3. DT is a foundational way of thinking but it is not enough
  4. The result of HT is a integrative set of principles derived from multiple ways of thinking for application to a wicked problem.

We are very excited about the promise of this research and will be solidifying these concepts in practicality over the coming months of 2010.

Specifically, we will address the wicked problems facing enterprise architects and how HT can lead to desirable outcomes.

What do you think?


Anthony J. Bradley
10 years at Gartner
26 years in IT

Anthony J. Bradley is a group vice president in Gartner Research responsible for the research content that Gartner publishes through its three internet businesses (, and These responsibilities include creating and leading the research organization and infrastructure needed for the strategy formulation, planning, research, creation, editing, production and distribution of the content. He has four global teams of highly talented people who are advancing towards the world's greatest destination for content on how small businesses succeed through information technology.

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