WELL DESIGNED BUSINESS

How well your business adapts to changes?

The world is in constant change. Design knowledge is a vital competence in making companies ready to face changes in their environment. Design`s starting point should always be customers and their needs. Design thinking helps forecast the future and develop organization`s operations to be more flexible, resilient and adaptable.

The importance of design capabilities in safeguarding strong and sustainable business was the topic of Design Forum Finland`s panel discussion in October 2021. The panelists included Satu Heikinheimo (Fraktio), Aino Vepsäläinen (DFF), Minna Koskelo (11Helsinki), Jenni Tuomisto (Schibstedt), Juha Salmela (Spinnova) and Nora Haatainen (Fiskars Group).

Design as part of the business strategy

Senior service designer Satu Heikinheimo underlined that design belongs to all of us, and should not be isolated from the everyday life. Everything around us has been designed: every artefact, service and space is result of a design process. Whether you buy a bus ticket with the HSL app, reserve a medical appointment, or visit a library, all these have been designed by someone.

Employee experience is something that many organizations have recently started to design in order to make employees feel well at the workplace and at the same time increase the productivity and innovation. The physical working space, small services and well-thought details can make a huge difference in improving the commitment, cohesion and work ethic of the employees. Free breakfast in the morning, inspiring artwork at the office lobby or a joint Christmas tree decoration event among the employees may not be huge financial investments for the employer but can improve remarkably the employee experience.

Picture Colin Tessevich. https://www.shinehomepv.com/how-a-green-office-design-can-transform-your-business.html

Business models are also under enormous change and re-design process. In a relatively short time frame, new services and new ways of providing them have emerged. At the moment, world`s largest accommodation service is AirBnB which does not own one single hotel or apartment, world`s largest taxi service is Uber which does not own one single car, and world largest online shop is Alibaba which does not own any of the items it sells. Also, the covid pandemic forced organizations to impose remote work in a large scale which has enormously changed the ways people work and organizations operate.  

Platform economy has created totally new business models and all organizations are under pressure to revise the current models and adapt to the new expectations of the customers. The re-designing of business model forces the organization to conduct an in-depth inventory: who are our customers, what is our focus, how do we best serve our customers, and how do we differentiate from our competitors?

Design`s main objective is to bring clarity into unclarity and obscurity, and to make products and services as desirable as possible so that they fulfill the multiple needs and motivations of the customer. In design, people are put in the center. The starting point is to explore the real problems and then design a solution to them, versus having a solution and trying to sell that to customers. Without conscious design, services are often burdensome to implement and don`t solve the real problems people have. Hence, design saves money, reduces risks and improves the customer experience.

The best take-away from the panel discussion was the note that a designer should always find out the challenges and problems first, and not start with designing a solution. Design is not about innovating and creating, but rather about diving deep into the life of the customers and asking questions.

Where does the design process end, and when can a service designer consider the service as being ready? According to the panelists, service design is a constant learning process and effectively a service is never completely ready. A permanent learning mind-set is an important capability that a designer should acquire.  

Designing the future

According to Minna Koskelo the evolution of design starts with the product design, develops through service design and business model design up to the future design. Organizations that are resilient and have invested in designing their future are 33 % more profitable and grow 200 % faster than their competitors. Still, many organizations don`t actively and systematically forecast the future and prepare for it because they focus on short-term wins and profit. Investing in long-term future forecasts does not fit well in the quarter economy.

Future forecasting is not only about recognizing the signals, but also how to interpret them from the organization`s point of view. Most importantly, organizations and private persons should understand their role as active architects of the future, and stop being passive victims or spectators. Future is something we all create every moment.

Future cannot be discussed without mentioning circular economy and sustainability. Three companies presented their businesses that strongly lean on sustainability: Tori.fi (Schipsted), Finnova and Fiskars. Tori.fi platform facilitates the selling and buying of second-hand items. Every single day a stunning number of 20,000 deals are being agreed in Tori.fi, meaning that all those items find a new life and virgin resources are not exploited to fabricate new products. Someone`s trash can be a treasure for someone else.

Finnova produces environmentally friendly textile fabrics from wood and waste using zero harmful chemicals. Finnova already has created partnerships with renowned brands. Fiskars aims at gaining 50% of the revenue from circular economy products and services by 2030. Renting and sharing are gaining ground also in the sector of small products and kitchen utensils. Tableware can be rented instead of buying, and old frying pans can be renovated instead of throwing them away.

Crisis and frustration contribute to change

Human beings inherently feel fear towards new things. In abnormal circumstances, such as the current pandemic, the need for social cohesion and forgiveness increases. The constantly changing world does not allow any organization to stay static.

On the other hand, not all innovations become shooting stars and not all can be scaled up. This is something that needs to be accepted as being part of the game. If an innovation does not work, it is better to let it go and start looking for new solutions. We can learn from our successes and failures but also from others`. As Minna Koskelo put it: frustration is an important resource. The annoyance contains the seeds for change. If everything goes too smoothly and nicely, it is difficult to find motivation to develop things.

Already now practically all sectors have adopted business models that are based on streaming and platforms. What will be the next step? How could we solve the challenges these new ways of delivering services have created? For example, a family may have five different subscriptions of program streaming, a Wolt driver has no right to benefits and sick leave, and not all Tori.fi sellers are trustworthy and can steal your money. While these services are here to stay, we must find solutions to the current problems and design them better.

Organizations should take a longer and wider perspective when forecasting and planning the future. It is worth looking across different sectors and analyzing drivers that are not directly linked to one`s own business: political, social, technological, legislative etc.

We cannot control the entire future, but we can control how it is being designed. It is important to pay attention to who is using the power when we talk about future. Who`s vision of future is it?

– Laura Ekholm

Service Design Capabilities

Does possessing service design tools make you automatically a service designer? Or does a person need to have special capabilities in order to be a service designer? This question was examined by Nicola Morelli, Professor of university of Aalborg, Denmark, and co-writer of a recently published book called “Service Design capabilities” in a workshop that was organized 15 October 2021 by the Swedish Experio Lab. According to Professor Morelli, the ethos has been that proper tools made a service designer a designer. However, if you have all recipes, ingredients and kitchen utensils, does it make you a cook?

The answer is obviously a no. In order to be a cook you also need technique, skills, and understanding of how different ingredients mix together. In short, you need special capabilities.

The same applies to service designers.

Who designs?

Perspective is important. The famous scientist and Nobel laureate Herbert Simon argued back in 1969: “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones”. Meaning that each time a person finds new solution to an everyday problem on the basis of her/his own knowledge and competences it is about design. But, if everyone is a designer, what is then the role of designer training, professional designers and design agencies?

There has been a significant change in how services are perceived. Some decades ago, services were something that products were not, and the value was seen to be in the good itself. Whereas now the value is seen to be defined by the beneficiary, and it is based on the interaction with users. A bank is nothing but an office space before a customer starts using the banking services. Or, a bus is just a box with wheels, unless a customer uses it to move from place A to B. Physical artefacts and products are only tools for value creation, and value is produced when the beneficiary of a certain service interacts with the service. Producers and service providers don`t offer value itself, but only a value proposition which must be made concrete by the beneficiary by aggregating resources and hence being a co-producer of value.

In comparison with the Goods Dominant Logic, in the Service Dominant Logic the value is perceived and determined by the customer, not by the producer.

A service designer is hence the link that facilitates value co-production by providing a logical infrastructure in which the customer then aggregates resources to create value. If the designer personally participates in the value production process, the interaction is direct, but it can also be indirect. In that case the designer designs products or services that engage the beneficiary.

Professor Morelli linked the GDL with a project-based approach, in which the circle is closed: the process has a beginning and an end. While SDL can be seen as infrastructuring approach and the duration of the process depends on how the customer aggregates the resources that are made available. In the infrastructuring approach also the results are controlled by the customer.

A Map

If service is seen as an interaction and the value of it comes from the co-production, then what is the roadmap for designing better services and better problem solving? Professor Morelli saw three logical levels in seeing service as a systemic institution:

  • Value in use: Solving the problem by one`s own devices and based on own knowledge, or asking a friend for help. The key is interaction and exchange. But does service design have any role on this level?  
  • Infrastructure: Interaction with experts, expert design, organization.
  • Institutional systems: for example access to health care system, rules, legislation etc. System design implies that replication and scalability are embedded in it.

The first level can affect the second and third levels, albeit not directly, but by changing patterns and practices step by step.

Navigation tools = service design capabilities

What capabilities should a service designer then be able to sell to the potential client? According to Nicola Morelli, the needed capabilities depend on the level we operate on. On the first level, Interaction, the designer needs to be able to address the context, build vision, engage stakeholders, model possible solutions and control experimental aspects.

On the Expert Design level, in addition to the requirements of the first level, the designer must be capable of building logical service architectures and engaging in open problem solving. Working on the System Design level requires working across different logical levels ja modelling in a bigger scale to make solutions scalable and replicable.

One example of a System Design level could be the 15-Minute City concept. This concept, created by Carlos Moreno and popularized by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, is designed to ensure that urban residents can fulfill six essential functions within a 15-minute walk or bike from their home: living, working, commerce, healthcare, education and entertainment. With its four components, the 15-Minute City would improve the urban experience and quality of life of its inhabitants, as well as boost community participation in the planning.

Image:  Every Street In Paris To Be Cycle-Friendly By 2024, Promises Mayor. http://www.forbes.com

Service design is always also political. The aim of design is to create something better. The question that inherently comes along is: can we provoke change with the design? And can we imagine the effects that this change would lead to? The core task of a service designer is to visualize something that is not yet there.

And that brings the focus on capabilities rather than tools. After all, it`s not the kitchen utensils that make a chef, but his/her capabilities.

– Laura Ekholm

For more information:

Morelli, N., de Götzen, A. & Simeone, L. 2020. “Service Design Capabilities”

Simon, H. 1969. “The Sciences of the Artificial”

15-Minute City. https://www.15minutecity.com/about

What good is Design Thinking?

Everyone is talking about Design Thinking. Consultants at least, when they are selling something. But does Design Thinking bring any practical benefits? Idris Mootee makes a strong argument that Design Thinking can help organizations in many ways. We will briefly introduce two concepts Mootee talks about, creative culture and importance of predictability that we think are important for organizations to know about.

Creative Culture

Creative culture is about accepting and endorsing two key elements of innovation: uncertainty and ambiguity. And innovation is what organizations should strive for. There are many ways to innovate but one of them is experimentation, where organizations try something, inevitably fail and in the process learn. Through learning organizations are more likely to succeed on the next try. This iterative cycle is an important part of a creative culture and helps to reduce uncertainty and ambiguity. One way to do experimentation in practice is by employing rapid prototyping, as suggested by Mootee.

Innovative cultures are creative cultures.

Idris Mootee

Rapid prototyping is the practice of building some tangible representation of a service concept and its most relevant functions. This representation is called a prototype. For a business person the idea can sound peculiar, but prototyping really helps to bring ideas live in a more concrete manner. Using a prototype to test the service concept with real people will help organization collect feedback and learn what works and what doesn’t. A lot cheaper than actually building a real service. And quite rapid too.

If a picture is worth 1000 words, a prototype is worth 1000 meetings

Tom & David Kelley, IDEO

Service prototypes don’t have to be complex or expensive but they do need to be tangible enough for people to give useful feedback. Since the idea of a prototype is to communicate an idea, prototypes can vary from simple paper sketches to complex physical set-ups that mimic real life service accurately. Whatever works to get useful feedback.

Predictability

Decision makers spend a lot of time thinking about what the future holds and how to make right decisions. That is because making strategic decisions about the future is hard – we simply never have all the necessary information to weigh all options equally. What would help us make better decisions is if we could identify and understand what trends, smaller and bigger, are happening around us. For identifying trends, Mootee suggests to look for weak signals and creating scenarios to help weigh options.

Weak signals are clues about what is going to happen and what trends are relevant. Identifying and processing weak signals is not exact science, though. It takes time and experience to identify which event or information is significant and reliable enough to be considered a weak signal. Even more experience is needed to process and combine weak signals into something useful. Organizations should be looking for weak signals in academic research, media, trends in politics, what innovations start-ups are coming up with and what their competitors are doing, among other things. Processing weak signals and using the insights gained to identify trends and create scenarios is what helps understand what future might hold.

Scenarios are possible futures, in a nutshell. Organizations try to predict what the world looks like in, say, five years from now. Like weak signals, scenario building is not exact science – we are essentially making assumptions based on our assumptions about which trends are relevant. That is why it is important to be honest and validate underlying assumptions as much as possible. In the end, though, scenarios are simply tools that help organizations focus their efforts and give more information to base decisions on. Assumptions based on solid background work are still better than pure speculation.

Written by Kati Lehto & Kimmo Holm, SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

References:

Brown, Tim (2008). Design Thinking: How to deliver on a Great Plan. Harvard Business Review June 2008, 84-95.

Mootee, Idris (2013). Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley.

Tschimmel, Katja (2021). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.

Sitra. Megatrends 2020 – https://www.sitra.fi/en/topics/megatrends

Prototyping User Experience :: UXmatters

Breaking the ice on Design and Design Thinking 

Don’t worry if you are not familiar with the concept of design thinking, here you will get your first dose of design thinking vocabulary!

Figure 1: Perception of Design Thinking 

Before starting our Masters degree program in Service Innovation and Design, the concept of design thinking was vague and unclear also to us. Once the first Design Thinking Master class held by Katja Tschimmel begun, we quickly noticed that there is no universal definition of design and design thinking available in literature, and even professionals and researchers working in the field of design thinking have not been able to agree on single definition (Buchanan, R. 1996; Motee, I, 2013; Tschimmel, K., 2022). It also started to make sense why that is: With a single definition of design thinking, it is impossible to cover the diversity of ideas gathered under the label. Instead, it makes more sense to look for where and how the concept is used in different situations, both theoretical and practical, and what meaning is given to the concept (Johansson-Sköldberg, U., Woodilla, J., & Çetinkaya, M., 2013).

Figure 2: Design Thinking terminologies. 

Since we learned that there are as many definitions as there are people involved in the field, and it is pretty easy to get confused with the terminology such as creativity, creative thinking or design, designerly thinking and design thinking. Our aim is to break the ice by getting familiar with these basic terminologies often used around the topic of Design Thinking. 

Creativity is defined as a cognitive capacity to develop something new (Tschimmel, K. 2021). A person is recognized as creative when a large number of specialists endorse that his work has brought an important contribution to the field. Here, it is interesting to understand the difference between creativity and creative thinking, as the cognitive ability to deliberately and intentionally produce new ideas and targeted results is defined as creative thinking (Tschimmel, K. 2021).

Design is often associated with creativity, and even some researchers consider creativity as an essence and the heart of design. For a lay man, the whole idea of designing is either to create something new, or make existing objects, conditions, and services better and preferred ones. Designerly thinking links theory and practice from a design perspective, whereas, in design thinking the design practice and competence are used beyond the design context, and most importantly the people involved in the process does not necessarily have scholarly background in design (Johansson-Sköldberg, U., Woodilla, J., & Çetinkaya, M., 2013). In simple words, It can be said that design thinking is a simplified version of designerly thinking.

This is only a tip of the iceberg when it comes to the topic of Design Thinking, however, it’s a good place to start our learning  journey, and you should join us!

Written by Usman Sheikh and Hanna Valkonen, SID MBA Students

References:

Buchanan, R. (1996). Wicked Problems in Design Thinking. In: Margolin, V. & Buchanan, R. The Idea of Design. A Design Issues Reader. Cambridge: The MIT Press. 

Johansson-Sköldberg, U., Woodilla, J., & Çetinkaya, M. (2013). Design thinking: Past, present, and possible futures. Creativity and Innovation Management, 22(2), 121-146. https://doi.org/10.1111/caim.12023 

Motee, I (2013). Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. 

Tschimmel, K. (2021). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation.” DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6 

Tschimmel, K. (2022). Design vs Design Thinking. In Creativity and Innovation Affairs. (in process). Available only for SID students at Laurea University. 

Building Creative Confidence and Skills

Creativity is a fundamental element for design processes and innovation. However, many people think that they are not creative, that they are more practical types. David Kelley states that we all have huge potential within us. People are naturally wildly creative, and we just need to take the blocks away from keeping us from being creative. So, how to think out of the box? By following a series of steps, you will solve problems more creatively, make better decisions and attack challenges in the way a designer would do.

Today, a creative person is seen as someone who has an innate potential to think creatively and who can improve creative thoughts by certain techniques and methods. We collected some ideas inspired by Kelley and Tschimmel, how to tackle the empty page problem in idea generation and start thinking more creatively.

Creative Thinking

According to Satiro and Tschimmel (2020) creative thinking can be classified into four groups (Tschimmel, K. 2022). Keep in mind that these following skills are all interconnected, and designers apply all these forms and thinking abilities in their creative processes.

Perception with all senses is an essential form of creative thinking. If you intentionally use all your senses, you can enrich your perceptual experience and produce new and unusual combinations of ideas. Also, a key for creative thinking is the ability to take time to work with unfinished perceptions to not reach conclusions too fast. So, to be able to generate new ideas, you need to avoid stereotyping.

Asking questions can be a driver of innovation. Provocative questions such as “what makes you respond the way you do?”  confront the truths and realities people tend to accept without critical reflection. Imaginative questions such as “what would happen if?” help break the ordinary reality. By asking questions, you can open a variety of answers.

Comparison is the ability to assess ideas in the context of other ideas, where you can make uncommon associations and new combinations of ideas. For example, thinking in analogies helps you to think of one thing as if it was another. By thinking in analogies, you can create novel ideas.

Language is a form of creative thinking where through using narrative thinking and expressive language you can give meaning to people’s lives and to the world. In innovation, using narrative thinking such as storytelling helps make the message of the service or product you designed more accessible to people. Use storytelling and expressive language to set a clear voice to your design.

Improve Your Creative Thinking Skills

#1 Choose creativity

Creative people have one thing in common: they decided to be creative (Sternberg). Deciding for creativity does not guarantee that creativity will emerge, but without the decision, it certainly will not. So, make the decision to be creative, try to find your own way, and look for ideas that are both novel and useful in some way.

#2 Expose yourself to new ideas

If you want a good idea, start with a lot of ideas“, said Linus Pauling. Try to have an open mind for different ideas and apply beginner’s mind to something you do every day. Never fall in love with the first ideas since the first ones are never original ones. Search actively out for inspiration. Try to stay inspired and turn creativity into a habit. Keep in mind that quantity matters!

#3 Understand the needs of end-users

Creativity and innovation need empathy, the ability to see an experience through another person’s eyes and to recognize why people do what they do. Try to observe the persons you are creating for. Do observations in the field to gain more information about how people really act and what are their non-obvious, latent needs. And when you spot a contradiction between what you see and what you expect, it’s a sign that you should dig deeper.

#4 Ask “Why” and “How” questions

Learn more and go deeper by asking questions like “why” or “what if”.  As stated earlier, questions can be drivers of innovation and get you to the heart of the matter. Always try to ask five “why” questions. Ask questions from different people and different age groups. In addition, questions may help you to reframe your challenges. Asking “How might we….” may lead you to find the right question that needs to be answered.

#5 Collaborate your ideas with others

Many of the best ideas result from collaborating with other people. You don’t have to generate all the ideas on your own. Figure out how you can have your own advisory board – it might be a temporary one for a single project or a more permanent one. Build your own creative support network.

Written by Riikamaria Vartiainen and Marika Malmström

Credits

Tschimmel, K. (2022) “Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a ménage à trois”. Perspectives in Design II: Research, Education and Practice II “Series in Design and Innovation” Springer International Publishing (in print).

Tschimmel, K. (2022) “Design vs. Design Thinking”. In Creativity and Innovation Affairs (in process). 

Tschimmel K, Design Thinking Master Class 3.- 4.9.2021 materials. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. (2013) Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business.

David Kelley (2012): How to build your creative confidence. TED Talk

Creativity — Robert J. Sternberg (robertjsternberg.com

Homo partum – unleashing the creativity within everyone

Etienne Girardet – Unsplash

At the age of five I remember following my parents to the local library of the small village where I grew up. At the entrance of the library, an impressive landscape prototype of an upcoming development project where on display, containing miniature buildings, cars, trees and even dogs. 

The local municipality council had gathered local residents, including my parents, to get their feedback, thoughts and ideas on an upcoming development project. As for me, I was fully occupied in trying to figure out how to create miniature asphalt as realistic as in the landscape prototype, unaware of that I was attending my first participatory design event.

Harnessing creativity

According to David and Tom Kelly (“Creative Confidence” 2013), there is no division between creative and non-creative people. To make something innovative, you need to choose to be creative, and in doing so, not being afraid to make mistakes. It is through experimentation and learning that we nurture our creative capacities. Through our literature studies and insights from Katja Tschimmels lectures, we make the conclusion “Homo partum” — Latin for “creative human”, is a very important driver of any innovation process. 

The ability to harness this creativity that resides within everyone is a powerful tool to drive innovation. Research done by company Braineet shows, that 58% of worldwide businesses are piloting co-creation/participatory design projects to help drive internal innovation. Companies like Unilever, IKEA, DeWalt are using co-creation as a strategy to get both employees and customers to join forces in order to build better products, services and experiences. 

Creativity by Participatory design – in urban development 

It´s not just global food or furniture making companies that has seen the advantages of harnessing the creativity of the workforce and end customers. Professor Henry Sanoff of University North Carolina have studied participatory design for over 50 years and in his publication “Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning”, Sanoff illustrates how the creativity of local communities can be unleashed by using participatory design.

When including residents of a community in the design phase of a new development project, the balance between viability (should we build it), feasibility (can we build it) and desirability (do the residents/customers want it), can be better aligned at an early stage, helping the project to be more anchored within the community and ensuring that the outcome of the project will be more inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. By using participatory design, the risk of having to redesign and/or redevelop urban spaces is significantly reduced.

Participatory design in urban development uses some elements recognized from the different design thinking approaches. Sanhoff gives examples of the most common stages:

  1. Collection and analysis of primary information where the urban development specialists inspect the area/facility and identifies of the development potential and the needs of the local residents, business owners and other stakeholders, using field observations and interviews as method.

  2. Informing the residents about the upcoming plans to create awareness and promote involvement in the development process. Usually done through newsletter send-outs, bulletin boards or townhall meetings.

  3. Invite residents to participatory design sessions in workshop format where the residents share ideas, create prototypes and proposals, which conveys their needs, wants, and desires. The proposals are presented and reviewed, and the best ideas are selected using voting mechanisms

  4. Celebration as an important part to recognize the community strength and the common achievement. Giving a sense of unity and appropriation for the upcoming project.

Shannon Chris, Dotte Agency

Why use participatory design?

In urban development projects, it is important to give meaning to public spaces, and who, if not people who live in, work in, or utilize these areas such as parks, squares, courtyards, city gardens, sports fields, and playgrounds, will be the ones that can provide the best input on what their needs are? Involving the “end user” in the design process ensures not only more refined ideas and the unleashing of the creativity within, but also a higher chance of a successful project.

Reflection

My lasting memory from that out-of-the-ordinary visit to the library in my youth was that my parents from that day on mentioned the development project every time we drove by the area in our village and how excited they were that they had the chance to convey their thoughts and input. 

Thinking of it now many years later after reflecting on the impressions from the first sessions at SID, I have come to understand the great value of involving the end user in all projects where innovation is needed. 

/ Eleonora Prits & Johan Svensson

————–

Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. (2013) Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business. 

Sanoff, Henry (2000) Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning. John Whiley and Sons, Inc.

Solis, Brian (2021) This Is Marketing’s Ctrl-Alt-Del Moment: Leading CMOs Prioritize CX And Innovation In Business Transformation, Forbes

Mootee, Idris (2013) Design thinking for strategic innovation, Wiley

https://www.braineet.com/blog/co-creation-examples

Project group 8, DOM.RF, Foundation for the Development of Single-Industry Towns (2018) Involvement of citizens in improvement projects. KB Strelka LLC

Snegireva, Nadezhda (2018) Organization of public discussions of territorial development projects. Project group 8, Program for the development of public spaces of the Republic of Tatarstan

The human-centered concepts of creativity and design thinking

These two concepts have been used when creating the products and services that we use, which have resulted in simplicity and ease of use. But, what are these concepts? And how are they human-centered? Let’s find out.

What is creativity and how is creativity human-centered: Divine comedy or everyman’s labor

How wonderful it is to feel being creative. Having that short-lived touch of magic when a new idea or solution presents itself. A deux a machina – moment as if some divine spark accidentally lands in one’s way and lights up the road. For long we were convinced that this is how creativity is manifested. We also thought that it belonged exclusively to some extraordinary persons and rest of us were to be content with occasional leftovers. That was before we started to study innovation and design thinking. 

Our inspiring SID lecturer Katja Tschimmel argues unequivocally how “creativity is not a trait of supernaturally gifted persons with innate ability to think and act creatively”. Instead she points out that creativity is multidimensional and non-situational BUT it requires a social and economic environment to nurture it. And the more interactions and mental connections our cognitive system is facing the more potential we have to accelerate our creative thinking and thus creativity. To put it another way – innovation is more social than personal.

What is design and how is design human-centered: User, User, User.

Figure 1: Design Thinking Definition (Brownn)

Design Thinking is based on 5 principles: 1. Human-centred approach, 2. Collaboration, 3. Experimentation, 4. Visualisation, and 5. Holistic approach. To get a better grasp of Design thinking, we can look at it as a process (see figure 2).

Figure 2: What is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular? (Dam & Siang, 2020)

Design thinking is used as an innovation method where people work together from different departments without necessarily having a designer in the team. This is the beauty of Design Thinking as it is not limited to gifted people. Design Thinking is also used as a tool for simplifying and humanizing services and products, making even complex technologies simple to use.

How does design and creativity co-exist

According to George Kembels the co-founder and executive director of Stanford d.school, creativity is the adventurous spirit to try something new, to be open to the unexpected. Design is the act of creation, bringing something new to the world. Design thinking is the approach and mindset that explains how to make creative design happen.

Figure 3: D.confestival in Potsdam (Kembels, 2012)

Experiences from masterclass and Conclusion

Based on our experiences at DTmasterclass it is easy to agree that creativity, design and design thinking are inclusive abilities that don’t belong to any particular or exclusive group of geniuses but rather are innate human capabilities that can be trained and developed. 

In the masterclass we were also pushed to our limits in being creative and trying to come up with ideas and solutions to enhance being included at a workplace. Here we were really thinking of the end-user of our solution, and every idea revolved on making the end-user’s experience to be better. The human-centered approach was shining here.

Written by Toni Ekroos & Wasim Al-Nasser

References

Brown, Tim 2019. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Dam, R. & Siang, T. (2020). What is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular? https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-design-thinking-and-why-is-it-so-popular

Kelley, D. & T. (2013). Creative Confidence. New York: Crown Business.

Kembels, George (2012). Discussion between Oliviero Toscani and George Kembels at the d.confestival in Potsdam 2012 https://www.tele-task.de/de/archive/lecture/overview/6606/ 

Kolko, J. (2015) Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture. Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.Tschimmel, K. (2021). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”.

Diving into Design Thinking – First Taste

Our service innovation and design studies started with an interesting Design Thinking course held remotely by Katja Tschimmel. During the two instruction days we learned the basics of Design Thinking, went through a Design Thinking process in small groups using Miro and did also some creative thinking as well as thinking outside the box exercises. We liked the execution of the course very much. It was two very intensive but fun days. Below you can read part of our learnings from the course

What is Design Thinking

During the last decade Design Thinking has become a popular approach for innovation. Design and Design Thinking are closely connected as Design Thinking is based on design methodology, the designer’s culture and way of thinking (Tschimmel, K. 2022a, 47). However, design never achieved the same position in the corporate world as Design Thinking has now achieved.

Design Thinking is a cross-disciplinary method which combines innovation with a human-centered approach. It investigates thoroughly the needs and wants of people and turns then into customer benefits and business value. (Brown, T. 2008, 86) Design Thinking is being used in fields such as service, business, organizational, social and educational innovation (Tschimmel, K. 2022b, 13).

Design Thinking Principles

Design Thinking is based on the following principles:

  • Collaboration means that as many stakeholders as possible should be included in the process.
  • Human-centered approach underlines the importance of user’s perspective.
  • Experimentation means that mistakes and failure belong to creative processes.
  • Divergence highlights the importance of thinking in different perspectives and looking for future possibilities.
  • Visualization helps to simplify complicated things.
  • Holistic perspective takes into account the system of interactions around products, services etc.
  • Prototyping makes ideas tangible through early simulation and testing.

Another way to describe the principles of Design Thinking is by dividing them into three main categories with sixteen subcategories (picture 1). The main categories are thinking, actions and mindset. (Tschimmel 2021)

Picture 1: Principles of Design Thinking by Mindshake

Process of Design Thinking  

The way we see this, is that the process of design thinking is out there with an ultimate purpose – to make the world a better place. Designers, innovators and anyone in between strive towards solving challenges of various multitudes by using innovative and creative approaches while getting inspired, ideating and, finally, implementing ideas into real-life environments. The most successful way of utilizing a Design Thinking approach is often a collective process, involving mind work of a number of individuals, who have a common goal to reach, an issue to solve or a process or service to improve. 

Picture 2 and 3 on Team-based Approach to Innovation & Dramatic New Forms of Value: Brown (2008)

Design Thinking’s Areas of Application  

Design Thinking, or human-centered problem solving is traditionally used in business and strategy, as Mootee is describing in his book, however, the application areas of Design Thinking are increasing diverse, versatile and can often be seen utilized in unexpected scenarios within industries that slowly only begin to realize the potential that Design Thinking methods can bring to the table. 

Moreover, Design Thinking in a modern society is seen as far more than simply a product design tool; it is used for creating something that is not only technologically possible, but also financially viable, as well as valuable for a target consumer, with the customer being at a centerpiece of the process. 

Written by Katja Kotilainen & Yulia Lobanova

References:

Brown, T (2008). Design Thinking: How to deliver on a Great Plan. Harvard Business Review June 2008, 84-95.

Kolko, J. (2015). Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture.  Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.

Mootee, I. (2013).Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation : What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Tschimmel, K. (2021). Design Thinking Master Class 3.-4.9.2021 material. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Tschimmel, K. (2022a). Design vs Design Thinking. In creativity and Innovation Affairs. (in process) Available only for SID students at Laurea University.

Tschimmel, K. (2022b). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centered ménage à trois for Innovation. In perspectives on Design II: Research, Education and Practice II. “Serie in Design and Innovation”. Springer International Publishing. (in print)

Design thinking tools to make meaning from the mess

More and more non-designers know at least some design thinking tools when different organizations commonly use them. Design thinking helps make sense of complex problems, and what is most important, it helps people create new ideas that fit better consumer needs and desires. (Kolko, 2015)

Design thinking is not an exceptional talent or a skill that only designers have, but design thinking practitioners see it as a mindset.

We can use the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and a viable business strategy.  While every designer is a design thinker (Tschimmel, 2022), design thinking tools can make anyone a designer.

Our studies at SID began with a two-day intensive course on Design Thinking. We got the task to investigate and push forward the issue of workplace inclusivity. For this purpose, we utilized the Evolution 6 model (E.6² for short) by Tschimmel and employed various Design Thinking tools along the way to the final presentation of a single refined prototype.

The E.6² model consists of six phases, each with three divergent and three convergent phases called moments. While working on this course, we were encouraged to retrace our steps, review our progress with a critical eye, and make adjustments accordingly.

Our experiences fit in with the notion that the design process encompasses different tools and methods that drive innovation. As Brown (2008) puts it, we executed multiple related activities to foster and engage in Design Thinking to come to innovative solutions. Well-prepared templates and a broad license to utilize, e.g., image material found online, helped our endeavors. 

Design thinking is cross-disciplinary teamwork that brings the user to the center of the problem statement.

Kolko, 2015

During the process, we leveraged the strengths of multi-disciplinary teams. We sought common ground amongst ourselves to further our understanding of the problem and offer solutions in rapid prototypes.

Kolko (2015) defines design artifacts as physical models used to explore, express, and communicate. In the digital context of our lecture weekend, we used online media in picture form to develop our ideas and convey them visually to our group members and classmates, especially during the prototyping and final presentation phases.

Prototypes should command only as much time, effort, and investment as are needed to generate useful feedback and evolve an idea.

Brown, 2008

In the space of this one weekend, we were able to design novel solutions to tackle a complex issue and present those solutions in a coherent and visually striking manner while working with the constraint of not interacting with each other face-to-face.

It is good to remember that while design thinking helps solve complex problems and innovate future solutions, it does not fit all situations or solve all problems. It requires strict expectation management with realistic timelines that fit each organization and its culture.  

While design thinking methods can help to create innovative products, they can still fail to sell. Brown (2008) talks about a project between US-based innovation and design firm IDEO and Japanese cycling manufacturer Shimano. They used design thinking tools to create a new innovative concept of Coasting bikes, which offered a carefree biking experience for the masses.  Several other biking manufacturers incorporated Shimano’s innovative components after their Coasting bikes launch in 2007, and the project won some design awards. But for some reason, the bikes were not selling, and a few years later, they disappeared from the market. (Yannigroth, 2009) Maybe they did not test the idea properly with target users after all?

Written by: Viljami Osada & Saija Lehto SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

References:

  • Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95.
  • Kolko, David J. (2015) Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture. Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.
  • Tschimmel, K. (2021). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation.” DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.
  • Roth, Yannig (2010). What caused Shimano’s Coasting-program to fail? Blog post. https://yannigroth.com/2010/05/12/what-caused-shimanos-coasting-program-fail/ 

Photos: Pexels.com

Empathy in focus: Design Thinking during disruption

Today, the uncertainty around us is overwhelming. The world is saturated with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA). However, we need to manage our daily lives, improve, create, and deliver. Design Thinking (DT) methods provide us with a chain of systematic approaches to tackle the novel beast head-on and conquer. The DT process takes us from identifying the customer problem, analyzing it, coming up with ideas, validating solutions via prototypes, introducing them to others to receiving customer feedback. Yet, under the disruptive global pandemic, customer empathy is the key. But why?

Customer empathy research creates a deep understanding of the issue at hand, especially when what we earlier knew is no longer valid in the VUCA environment. The new norm and related changes in customer’s pains and needs must be thoroughly understood. According to DT principles, emphasizing requires that the customers’ issues be approached both from the favourable and endorsing position and from the more constructive aspects – challenge the existing! There must be a dialogue and an interaction between the Service Designer and the customer. The empathic insights in design are derived from three types of knowledge, that of

  1. Customer needs. Deliver Design Thinking course remotely for the first time.
  2. Delivery language (culture, information media). English with international participants.
  3. Technological. Zoom and Miro. Which together provide a complete frame for knowledge construction and therefore enables empathy.
Design Thinking with Leonardo DiCaprio.

How did we manage in reality?

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Laurea Design Thinking Masterclass 2021 was organized fully online. Instead of chit-chatting with fellow students in the classroom with post-its and whiteboards, most of us sipped our coffees alone in front of the laptop screen – at home.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all methodology for bringing new ideas to life, empathy is a key feature in the human-centred design thinking processes. Several tools have been developed to support an empathic design process. We were able to grasp some of them during the two intensive sprint days.

Empathy in design means leaving the office and becoming immersed in the lives, environments, attitudes, experiences and dreams of the future users. According to Katja Schimmel, design students should become process experts with context-sensitivity and a human-centred systemic view.

Digital tools are not ideal for expressing emotions and for capturing various human traits such as empathy. In digital communications, empathy requires special attention.

We listed our key takeaways from the Masterclass, which can be useful when deepening empathy in remote Design Thinking processes.

Four takeaways

  1. Design Thinking online requires excellent planning and preparations. For example, ready-made Miro templates can make the process smoother if there are many first-time users.
  2. Use creative tools to enhance empathy. For example, we practised our listening skills by introducing each other to the group and did most of the exercises in groups of five persons to build closer connections.
  3. Keep the team motivated with digestible content and “learning by doing”. When one has a passion to learn, small technological challenges cannot stop them.
  4. Patience, humour and mutual support – oh no, a gigantic photo of Leonardo DiCaprio just invaded our Miro board! A good laugh (and solid technological skills) help to overcome most of the challenges.

Written by Anna-Sofia Joro and Jukka Kuusela

SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Inspiration, sources and references

Baird, Nathan (2020): MarketingMag.com: Why ‘Design Thinking’ is as relevant during COVID-19 as ever

Cankurtaran, Pinar and Michael B. Beverland, Industrial Marketing Management: Using design thinking to respond to crises: B2B lessons from the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic

Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. (2013): Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business.

Kouprie, M & Seeswijk Visser, F. (2009): A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of user’s life in Journal of Engineering Fesign, Vol. 20, No.5, October 2009, 437-448

Köppen, E., & Meinel, C. (2014): Empathy via Design Thinking: Creation of Sense and Knowledge. Design Thinking Research, 15–28. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-06823-7_2

Smith, Laura (2021): Tampere University of Applied Sciences: Empathy in remote work communication : a qualitative case study

Thakur, Anupam MD, MBBS; Soklaridis, Sophie PhD; Crawford, Allison MD, PhD; Mulsant, Benoit MD; Sockalingam, Sanjeev MD, MHPE (2021): Using Rapid Design Thinking to Overcome COVID-19 Challenges in Medical Education

Tschimmel, Katja (2022): Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centred ménage à trois 

Tschimmel, Katja: Design Thinking (remote) Masterclass, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Finland