“Design thinking is a human centered, creative, iterative and practical approach for coming up with new ideas and solutions” (Brown, 2008).
The approach can seem chaotic at first as the process doesn’t follow a linear path. The above picture by Tim Brennan of Apple’s Creative Services illustrates this well (Liedtka and Ogilvie, 2011).
The Different Stages of Design Thinking
There are several models that can be used to implement design thinking. For example at IDEO the design projects go through three, what they call, “spaces”: inspiration, ideation and implementation. The projects go back and forth through these three spaces in order to refine the idea and find new directions (Brown, 2008). Alternatively, the Portuguese company Mindshake follows the innovation process EVOLUTION 6². In this approach there are six steps: emergence, empathy, experimentation, elaboration, exposition and extension. It starts from identifying an opportunity and ends at looking at ways how to implement the solution. In the end, it doesn’t matter which model you use to implement design thinking as all the models use similar tools to move through the different stages.
Divergent and Convergent Thinking
At the beginning of each stage, designers seek to look broadly at the problem, so they don’t get fixed on the most obvious first set of solutions. Designers refer to this as divergent thinking (Liedtka and Ogilvie, 2011). A good example of this is brainwriting, where participants write on post-it notes all the ideas that come to their mind. The more extreme the better. After having come up with new solutions, the designers need to start narrowing them down to the most promising ones. In this case to idea clusters, where similar ideas are stuck together on the wall (see below picture). This is referred to as convergent thinking.
There are plenty of tools to help designers to widen and narrow the set of questions in the different stages of the design thinking process. According to Liedtka and Ogilvie (2011): “Visualization is the “mother of all design tools”.” It is used in every step of the design thinking process. It helps to decrease the risk of wrong assumptions and one doesn’t have to be an artist to do it. Simplicity is key and just drawing stick figures is usually enough (Liedtka and Ogilvie, 2011). An equally popular tool is prototyping which is an easy and inexpensive way to quickly collect feedback on an idea before investing more time and resources on it (Brown, 2008). See below the example of the prototype of the Green Laurea concept which we created in class. The prototype was made by using only Legos and pieces of paper to simulate the ways in which the students and staff could collect green points, for example by biking to school.
Design Thinking is for Everyone
In this blog I talked about designers going through the different stages of Design Thinking. However, you don’t have to be a designer to implement the above learnings in your organization. You can be an accountant or a buyer and still do all the above. Design thinking is really meant to be used by anyone in any industry. You can start by using one of the tools or go through the whole process. And don’t let the word design thinking intimidate you, just think of it as trying a new way of working in your organization.
1. Join a Book Club and Actually Finish Reading a Book on Your Reading List
point: Ever since I heard about the much buzzed about Palvelumuotoilun bisneskirja
(The Service Design Business Book), I was eager to get my hands on it. Needless
to say, I never got around it. It wasn’t until I saw the advertisement for the
Service Design Network’s Book Club featuring the book, that I decided to
finally read it. There is nothing like a set deadline to boost your motivation.
2. Discuss with Interesting Participants in a
It was great to exchange views about the book with other service design enthusiasts. The consensus was that the book outlines well why a business should invest in service design. Several recent business cases were featured in the book to help comprehend how service design is implemented in practice. The book also described the different stages that a company goes through when transforming to a service design-led organization. One of the participants said it well: “It is easier for a company that is born now to be inherently customer driven than for a company that has a long history to transform its well-established processes and ways to be more customer centric.” The book was also really reader friendly, thanks to the clear illustrations and jargon free writing. It is now on my recommendations list for anyone who wants to learn about service design especially from a business perspective.
3. Gain Fascinating Insights from One of the Authors
One of the book’s authors, Mikko Koivisto (pictured in the middle), took part in the book club. Koivisto shared that the cover and the title of the book were decided even before any content was written. This was because the publisher wanted to start promoting the book straight away. And even though there has been interest for an English version of the book, Koivisto said that it will have to wait for now. All the authors are quite busy at the moment and translating the book into English would require also updating the content to better serve an international audience.
4. Host the Next Book Club
Naturally the next step is to host the next book club. Yep, I got asked to host the next one and I gladly accepted the challenge. So, get your calendars out and mark yourself busy for the 2nd of December from 5pm to 7pm. The next book club will take place in the Helsinki Central Library Oodi. Details of the book will follow. Stay tuned and I will see you there!
Dash Talks hosted the event “Design + Business” where three professional business designers came to speak about the challenges and value of design thinking in the world of business. Hanne Nissinen from OP, Jaakko Luomaranta from Palmu/Solita, and Petteri Kolinen from Design Forum Finland came to share their personal journeys and observations of not only how the design thinking movement has impacted modern business development, but also where they envision it leading businesses into the future. Although they each had unique stories and insights to share, there were some overlapping themes that manifested in all three presentations.
In the book “Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation” by Idris Mootee, the author explores using design thinking as an unorthodox approach to disrupting the current linear processes of business model and strategy creation and execution. He also explores the differences in the business model (how business value is monetized), business strategy (branding, relevance, and futures thinking) and how design thinking when spread throughout an entire organization has the potential to keep businesses connected, competitive and malleable in order to keep up with a world that is undergoing an increasingly rapid transformation and progression into uncharted territories.
Despite the excitement over this new palette for design thinking in the realm of business design, the first big challenge that all three speakers touched on was the novelty of design thinking as a major influence in business planning. Service design in services has been around the block a bit longer than design in business, and there are not yet common established frameworks unifying the application of design thinking in business scenarios. Hanna and Jaakko illustrated examples of how, due to a lack of solid definition of the process of business design, this can make some businesses wary of adapting business design as new mindset, method of operation, and vehicle for innovation.
Which leads to the next substantial hurdle of the resistance of established companies to the drastic structural and operational changes inspired by design thinking. The older, more established, and successful a company is, the less receptive they will be to drastic organizational and cultural change. It is the job of the designer to be the leader in a shift towards design thinking and laying the foundation for multidisciplinary interactions that break down the walls of the traditional isolated silo style way of working; starting at the top with the CEO and upper management (this is key) and rapidly spreading across the entire organizational structure.
Hanna shared a list of challenges faced by business designers at OP that I think could apply to any business designer shaking up company culture for the first time with new design thinking inspired ideas to take into consideration:
She also spoke about some good qualities a business
designer should have when working with a company new to design thinking:
proactivity (in finding/creating projects)
the ability to successfully pitch your idea
successful cases (to prove it works)
the ability to not be overly discouraged by
failure (we all know this will happen)
the courage to be different
Most importantly, she said that the most important element that is needed between the service designer and upper management is trust.
One of the other challenges I would like to touch on that all three speakers mentioned was the difficulty of finding people qualified to hire as business designers. Yes, a business designer is a design thinking professional, however according to the speakers at this event, businesses are often looking to find candidates who also have a business background and are willing to find ways to combine both quantitative and qualitative methods to gain better consumer and business insights. They spoke about looking for a special combination of talent profiles, and each business was looking for a slightly different combination of design and business skill. The one thing all three speakers agreed on was that the most important attribute in a potential candidate is creativity and positivity.
challenge that was presented was the balancing act between what is best for the
user and what is best for the business.
Although this was not explored in depth during the talks, this is
something that I would like to research further on my own as it is an interesting
concept for me to personally explore in my own work.
To end this section, I would like to mention a podcast that Jaakko highlighted called “Beyond Users” aimed at merging design thinkers with the world of business. Here is the first episode in the podcast series (featuring Trent Huon from IDEO Munich) that explores the role of business in design and why it is important for designers to not forget about the importance of the business they are designing for in their designs:
“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” —John F. Kennedy
speaker, Petteri, spoke about the positive effects that design thinking can
have on a business. To a business that
is open to fully embrace the concept, it has the power to incite change at the
very core of a business identity, value system, and culture. Critical
application of design thinking within a business can challenge long standing
traditions and viewpoints forcing a business to not be complacent with past or
present successes, but to focus on the future. The application of design
thinking to business models and strategy plans can enhance value co-creation
and establish a holistic brand experience with their users.
One report that all three speakers spoke about was “The New Design Frontier” report by InVision. This report is “An industry-spanning report that redefines design maturity today. InVisionsurveyed thousands of companies to explore the relationship between design practices and business performance”. One of the main discoveries is that currently only very small percentage (5%!) of companies are using design thinking to maximum advantage. Roughly 41% of companies surveyed “have significant room to grow”.
created the “Design Maturity Model” to highlight the disparity between
companies that have embraced design thinking, and those that have not:
If you would like to read the report in its entirety and get more details about each of the levels visualized in this model, I urge you to read the full report published on the InVision site:
In order to keep moving forward and be adaptable, I believe it is necessary for businesses to rethink the way they operate and innovate with the assistance of design thinking.
The resistance to change in large companies is something I understand and encounter in my own work. It is good to keep this in mind as I move forward and to remember the strategies suggested in this talk should I ever be placed in the situation of being the person trying to bring drastic change. On a smaller scale, I challenge myself to remain open to changes and adjustments to old working habits when someone presents a good idea that shakes things up in the workplace, and not resist change just because I am comfortable. Things may be currently working well, but you will never know if it is possible for them to be better if you don’t let yourself remain open to change.
While this transition period (from traditional business structures to design influenced structures) can be a scary time for some, I find this time of change and uncertainty (uncertainty is not always bad) to be exciting to watch unfold. The ball is in the court of the business designers to prove the efficacy of design thinking on business organizations, and only time will tell how this great experiment will turn out.
“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” —Niccolo Machiavelli
Written By: Johanna Johnson
Mootee, Idris (2013) Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley.
I had a chance to attend a two-day intensive course called `Unlocking the Secrets of Service Design´ offered by CityDrivers. The trainers were Dr. Niels Billou and Adil Mansouri who are experts on Design Thinking and innovation. Both trainers created very energetic and enthusiastic environment that helped us, participants, to get excited about the two-day intensive course.
Trainers: Dr. Niels Billou and Adil Mansouri
During these two days Niels and Adil introduced the principles, practices and the process of Design Thinking and methodology of Service Design. I have some experience about Service Design and Design Thinking from my Service Innovation and Design studies in Laurea. By taking the two-day course, my goal was to learn new tools and methods that I haven’t used before and to know how I can apply these to my future projects. Here are my key take-aways from the days.
Day 1 – Introduction and understanding the customer
The first day gave an overview of Service Design and Design Thinking. After an interactive lecture all the participants rolled their sleeves and started working with the case assignment and exploring the first parts of the Design Thinking process – understanding the customer, collecting and analysing the interview data.
What is Design Thinking?
“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
— Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO
Billou introduced few different definitions for Design Thinking. In my opinion the most descriptive definition for Design Thinking is from Tim Brown. According to Brown´s quotation Design Thinking helps to make decisions based on what customers want. And when using tools from designer´s toolkit, like applying experimentation and empathy that helps to create innovative solutions to problems.
Trainers introduced a Stanford D. School Design Thinking model that consists of five stages: Understand, Observe, Define Point of View, Ideate, Prototype and Test.
Stanford D. School Design Thinking model
During my studies I have noticed the stages of different Design Thinking process models are actually quite the same – only the titles and amount of stages vary. Earlier I have been using only the Double Diamond Design Thinking process, since I know the stages and it is familiar to me. So now I was excited to get to know a new process I haven´t used before.
Power of Empathy
Empathy is all about understanding the people. First phase of the Design Thinking process is to understand the customer. Adil talked about the power of empathy and how important it is to step into customer´s shoes. In this part of the process the data reveals underlying needs of the customer. The trainers introduced few effective tools for this data gathering part:
In-depth interviews – help researchers to learn more about a person’s experiences, processes, attitude, problems, needs, pains and ideas.
Empathy map – represents a customer’s actions and a mind-set. Interview guide can be adjusted into an empathy map and cover what the customer “Think”, “Feel”, “Say” and “Do”.
After an interactive lecture the participants were divided in multidisciplinary teams. Trainers pointed out the importance of cross functional teams – it is vital to have people from different backgrounds who co-create innovative solutions together. My group got a design challenge to redesign the workday lunch experience and encourage people into sustainable eating habits.
Our first step was to go out and interview people regarding their lunch experience. We made an interview guide for the interview – one was interviewing and the other took notes. I have been interviewing people before but I haven´t been using empathy map template. I noticed it helped to sum up the findings and catch a deeper insights from the interviewees such as what the user was saying, doing, thinking and feeling. In my opinion this tool works especially well in mini-interviews when having only 30-60 minutes to do the interviews.
Data visualization leads to insights
Our next step was to analyse and interpret our data to find insights from interviews. Niels introduced us a storytelling tool. Each of us had a chance to be a storyteller and describe what we heard and observed from the interviews. The listeners draw visual images about important details on post-its – finally we had a wall full of post-its. The empathy map template used in interviews was very helpful in this exercise.
Storytelling: Capturing data & clustering insights
The last step of the first day was to cluster the post-its and find common patterns between the notes. This storytelling and the visual data capturing were new tools for me. I was surprised how easy it was to see the overall findings when the post-its were full of pictures, and not just text. I could use this in workshops at work when we have limited time to capture customer data.
Day 2 – From Insights and Ideas to Innovation
The last day started with a summary what we had done so far and what was ahead of us: ideating, developing a prototype and testing it with customers.
Finding a focus
We started the day by creating a persona. Adil explained personas are fictional customers created to represent different user types. The persona helped us to step into the customer´s shoes and it guided us to make useful design decisions later during the day.
Creating a persona
At this point of the Design Thinking process we were on the “Define a point of view”-stage. According to Niels the Point of view sentence help us to build a line between the initial problem and future solution – it narrows the focus and makes the problem specific. It was surprisingly hard to summarize our thoughts into one sentence.
Next the trainers encouraged us to generate plenty of wild ideas by using how might we… –method. How might we questions launched many crazy ideas and we put those on the post-its. After that it was time to vote for the best idea. Adil introduced a Prioritization Matrix that helped us to identify the most important and valuable ideas, prioritize them and vote for the best idea.
Presenting a Prioritization Matrix on the lecture was a great reminder for me. Once I have been using that during my studies but since there are so many tools it is easy to forget. Since the time was limited during these two days the impact / effort axis on the Prioritization Matrix helped us to point out the best ideas fast. I put this tool into my toolbox and definitely will use this in the future projects.
Fail early, to succeed sooner
In the afternoon we started to build a prototype that eventually helped to solve the problem. According to Niels the prototype is a draft version of a product or a service. It should present our idea and when showing it to the users the aim is to get feedback for iteration.
This was the best part of the day and we were really excited about this step. The team made a prototype out of Legos. This was a first time for me to do this part with Legos. Lego characters were the actors on the stage and the bricks worked very well when presenting the idea and the experience around it. We were very pleased to our prototype.
Building a Lego prototype
The last step of the Design Thinking process was testing the prototype with users. The team went out and we presented the prototype for few users.
“If prototypes aren´t failing you are not pushing far enough. Failure is part of understanding and improving”
– Dr. Niels Billou
Niels’ quote went straight to the point. We got plenty of feedback and enhancement ideas for the prototype and some users crushed the prototype by saying “That won´t work in real life”. We presented the prototype and the feedback for the whole lecture group. Our team proved Niels´ quote true – the failure is truly part of understanding and improving.
To sum up these two days, this intensive course taught me new tools and methods of Design Thinking and reminded me of tools I already knew. Since there are so many tools to use, the hardest part is to choose the most relevant ones for every project. I´m excited to learn more – practice makes perfect, doesn´t it?
If you want to discover more different Design Thinking tools and methods, I recommend This is Service Design Doing Method Library. Library consists of 54 hands-on Service Design methods. This is a useful site when choosing the right methods. https://www.thisisservicedesigndoing.com/methods
“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration.” – Robin. S. Sharma
We are living in complex, uncertain and volatile world where human skills such as empathy, creativity and complex problem solving are the most in-demand leadership qualities today. I had a chance to attend a one-day intensive course called Creative Leadership offered by CityDrivers. The trainer of the program was Eleonora Carnasa who is a founder of the design and innovation agency Fabrica 360.
During the day Carnasa talked about how to get the right leadership mind-set with the most essential skills of today: systems thinking, design thinking, creativity and strategic design. By taking the course, my goal was to learn what a Creative Leadership is and how it can be applied to my daily work and life. Here are my key take-aways from the day.
What is Creative Leadership?
“Creative leadership is the ability to create and realize innovative solutions especially in the face of structurally complex or changing situations.” – Fabrica 360
The quotation summarizes the definition for Creative Leadership quite well. During the day Eleonora opened the subject in more detail and presented three core Creative Leadership focus areas: empathy, clarity and creativity. These are the baseline for Creative Leadership, creating a holistic playground for organisational and personal development.
Leadership is all about empathy. It is about to be able to understand people and have the ability to step someone else’s shoes. Eleonora gave examples how a leader can cultivate empathy in their teams:
Empathy causes empathy – Ability to feel emotions is what triggers emotions in others. If you let yourself be vulnerable, it is genuinely easier to connect with someone.
Be present – Everyone are looking for being validated, seen and head. Leader´s job is to help others know they matter.
Catch an invitation for empathy – Catch every smile, tear, frown and eye roll. When you notice them you can shift your behaviour and be present.
Go out there – It is hard to get a perspective if you sit at the office every day. To better understand who you are collaborating with, go to them and observe their routines.
I think everyone in a team can cultivate empathy, not just the leader. Everyone can be present by asking their co-worker how she is doing and be genuinely interested in her reply. If she sees that you care, she can open up about what might be bothering her and what ideas she might have. This creates trust among the team members and confirms the team spirit.
In leadership clarity is a critical component of success. We are living in a constant state of change and chaos is present every day. To create the optimal environment for innovation it requires clarity from the leader. How the leader can bring clarity into the team? Here are few points what Eleonora pointed out:
Clear vision – Leader and the team get lost if they don´t know where they are going. Knowing and communicating the direction where the team is heading is crucial for the success.
Meaningful values – Core values guide the team in the right direction. Communicating the core values and explaining how the team is benefiting from the values creates clarity
Create expectations – Clarity of goals and objectives are vital part of the success. This way the team knows where to focus on and that way effectiveness increases.
Constructive feedback – Everyone make mistakes, but criticism usually don´t help to fix them. Feedback can be done in a way that allows the team to learn and improve, so that next time they know how to avoid mistakes.
I have noticed that sometimes we have so many great ideas that we forget to focus on our actual goal. I think that focusing into right matters are the key element for success. It is great when a leader brings clarity to the table, tasks and roles become into focus and the team forms one solid unit.
I´ve been wondering what is creativity in this context. Eleonora brought up a quotation from Ken Robinson that summarises the definition of creativity quite well: “Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it´s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture”. What creates creativity in teams? I think Eleonora pointed out two most important points how a leader can nurture creativity:
Embrace diversity – Diversity at workplace is the key for creativity. Multidisciplinary teams create diverse ideas. If a leader can create a safe environment, it will encourage everyone challenge shared ideas and offer their own.
Encourage failures – Fear of failure can hinder creativity, that´s why it is important that a leader encourages to fail in that manner that the team will learn from it.
I think leader´s core role is that he can facilitate creativity in others. Meaning that leader encourages and finds the way how everyone can get creativity out from themselves. The highlight of the course was the Superpowers Card Deck, introduced by Carnasa. In my opinion the card deck is a great concrete tool how team members can discover their strengths and that way cultivate their creativity.
Superpowers Card Deck
We played with the cards in the lecture and the cards helped to discover my superpower – what I do better than anyone else on the team. When knowing my own superpower it is easier to activate those powers and be at your best. I´m definitely presenting these cards to my team. If you want to get more information about the superpowers and order the Superpowers Card Deck, here is the link: https://superpowers.sypartners.com/
To sum it up, this one day intensive course opened up the secrets of the Creative Leadership and helped me to find effective ways for building empathy, clarity and creativity in my team. I learnt that when all the team members know and use their superpowers it will clarify the strengths of the whole team. Together we are more.
If you are more interested in the subject, here are few book recommendations I got from the lecture:
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – The book explains the two systems that drive the way we think and what effects on our behaviour. System 1 is emotional, intuitive fast and System 2 is more logical and slower.
The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle – The book offers a roadmap for creating an environment where problems get solved, expectations are exceeded and innovation flourishes.
Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement by Glenn Elliott & Debra Corey – The book provides a practical approach to improving employee engagement through ‘The Employee Engagement Bridge’ – model.
During Gdynia Design Days and Design Talks Business Summit, I had a chance to participate in a workshop about Holacracy run by Ewa Bocian – a partner at Dwarfs and Giants, an innovation company which is organized in a holacratic way and its mission is to help shape the future of work.
Source: Harvard Business Review
Source: Harvard Business Review
For those who are not familiar with holacracy, let me introduce you to it shortly. It is one of the alternative ways of managing a company by replacing the hierarchy. Holacracy makes everyone an entrepreneur. Everyone is a partner in an organization with dynamic roles to take and a purpose to realize instead of a static job description. The company is organized around circles (projects) which consist of people with supplemental roles.
In holacracy, nobody can tell you to do something. You are your own boss and you decide how you would realize your purpose as long as it does not violate the common rules.
Together with other participants we took part in a simulation of a tactical meeting. We could see the IT system used for managing projects. We had a few volunteers who played a few roles at the meeting. There was a secretary of the meeting and a facilitator (Ewa) who helped to moderate the discussion. The rest of the workshop participants were able to observe everything. Ewa (facilitator) took us through the tactical meeting, one of the two types of meetings which is arranged in every project circle.
It usually takes a few weeks to get accustomed to holacracy as people have lots of habits to change during job meetings. For example speaking whenever you feel there is a need for it. In holacracy you speak at your turn and otherwise leave the stage to others. We could observe how the participants were struggling with it.
We did not have enough time to go through the process in detail but this short sample gave us a chance to experience it on our own.
If you would like to see the example of tactical and governance meetings, check Springest company videos on YouTube e.g.:
I must say I was impressed by the order holacracy brings to the meetings, how it gives space to everyone and enables meetings to move forward even if there is a strong need of some participants to give advice and digress. From my experience, the latter is usually the main reason for unproductive meetings.
Whether you implement holacracy or not, there are certainly things which you can take from it. For example how you organize your meetings. Creating common rules and nominating a meeting secretary, as well as having a facilitator, really help.
If you are searching for examples of companies who use holacracy, a fascinating example is Gore: https://www.gore.com/about/working-at-gore Interestingly, Gore is also one of the most innovative companies. Does an innovative way of working mean that innovation flourishes? Or is it the other way around, innovation provokes an innovative way of working?
To fully understand and work in a holacratic way takes weeks or even months but I am really glad that I had a chance to try it and would recommend you to do the same. You can find more information on the HolacracyOne website: https://www.holacracy.org/holacracyone
Additionally, check this TEDx video with the founder’s story to get a quick understanding of how it works:
My main take-away, if you are about to start your own company or you are already an entrepreneur who is willing to share the profits with others, holacracy is definitely worth considering. However, if you are working in a hierarchical organization with bosses who would love to have full control over its finances, I do not believe that this approach will have a chance of being successful. One more thing is definitely needed in order to apply holacracy, it is trust in your employees’ competencies to get the job done. If you do not believe that anyone in your company can play their role independently, there is no point of even trying holacracy.
Gdynia Design Days is a one-week design festival in Poland at the seaside.
It offers unlimited possibilities to explore the newest trends and good design practices via exhibitions, speeches, meetings or workshops. Among the events, there is also an extraordinary two-day conference, Design Talks Business, created to discuss the contribution design can make towards business, give opportunities to learn and try different practical tools, listen to tips from design experts, and share your own experience with others at networking sessions.
The conference started with an inspirational session by Fjord Trends 2019, a purpose – driven guide for the future by IDEO and design for circularity in IKEA.
What is particularly interesting is that this year there is one theme which links all the trends together – people are searching for value.
Among trend summaries I would recommend having a closer look at the Fjord one as the authors said that they managed to spot lots of possibilities to innovate within it and in the next 1 to 5 years the upcoming changes are going to be spectacular.
Here is the mentioned overview of Fjord trends 2019:
Charlota Blunarova from IDEO München, took us on a cruise towards the future. As IDEO does best, she taught us through storytelling the importance of purpose as a guiding North Star. The company’s purpose is the reason to exist beyond profit. Why is it worth having it clarified? The purpose can improve our vision. It can accelerate our strategy and foster our values. It also powers performance, attracts talent, and builds edge. The purpose builds company culture which is a competitive advantage that cannot be copied. Purpose exists on three levels: organization, team and self.
She left us with a small task to do. She asked us to think about the purpose of our team: What do we enable?/ What do we serve?/ Why does it matter? and then write it down:
I would recommend using this task at the beginning of our personal or work-related projects and have it visible throughout it.
During the 30-minute break, there was a chance for networking and discussion at the theme-focused tables . For example, the participants could take part in a signal analysis session from which I took away the interesting example of a signal flashcard:
The next block of talks was built around case studies. Slavo Tuleya from a Slovakian agency, kiuub studio, told us about the adventures of building in-house innovation labs. Usually, the need for innovation starts with the need for becoming agile. 96% of companies realize that they need to be agile. They got inspired by some examples such as Uber, Airbnb or wework and then decided to give it a try and arrange some budget for it. However, this traditional approach is not always successful. Although there is a team of business, design, and tech people with lots of money, there is no execution, skill, or stakeholder buy in.
Slavo emphasized the need for an alternative approach called Skin in the game. This approach is outcome driven (not activity driven) and is based on objectives with the risk of ruin. There should be some money and time constraints put on the Innovation department as well. He also admitted that the agency might bring help here. However, if the company thinks seriously about innovation, it should make it its own competence.
Alistair Ruff from PDR International Centre for Design and Research told a story of how they helped Kenwood create the Internet of things thanks to research: starting with technology, market, trends and themes analysis to participatory research, ethnographic observation, context driven observation and questionnaires.
Mikołaj Molenda from Tylko.com shared with us the story of how he created his innovative furniture company by changing the currently dominant business model and linking designers with customers directly. They even go further allowing customers to design their furniture on their own. Thanks to this, Tylko is able to meet client needs better.
Design Talks Business Summit also offered workshops. I was able to take part in two workshops. I will share my take-aways from one of the workshops with you in my next post as I didn’t find the second workshop very inspiring.
The next edition of Gdynia Design Days and Design Talks Summit is planned for next summer but the organizers promised more opportunities for design meetings throughout the year so it is good to stay tuned and check the website: http://gdyniadesigndays.eu/en