Design thinking – easy and difficult?

“I never design a building before I’ve seen the site and met the people who will be using it.”
Frank Lloyd Wright

Design thinking is a human centred design method, transforming needs into solutions. Design thinking could be called as a mind-set, a way of using creativity to tackle design problems.

How to solve a problem with design thinking?

Basically designs purpose could be making things easier. Not just easy to use, but making them better, thus making also the world a bit better. To start designing with this method, you need to have people on focus. To achieve this, a designer goes through a process from chaos of problems to implemented solution.

Design Process

Design process is also a creative process, so first phase is to inspire ideas.

Have people in mind: As we recognized in our scenario exercise, by exploring different characteristics of possible users, you may discover that you need to change your service product in order to meet expectations of future users.

Positive attitude: For us this was an application that would solve all problems when visiting in the museum. Imagine if you could get all information needed just from one application! How easy it would be if you would not need to worry anymore losing your child  in the museum because having special tracking systems on your iphone. For sure this will happen in the future, but from now on we are left with our ideas what would be the perfect world .

Brainstorm ideas: Brainstorming different ideas seems to be pretty simple, but in some cases it is easier said and done. How to get from advanced application even more advanced. It could say that our brainstorming work was related to creating  different characteristics. By creating different people with different needs we could more easily get wild ideas on how this specific character would use our application.

 Try the idea out: In this you can also use imaginary characteristics if “real people” are not available. Try to think how different people would react. And finally, you have new business idea?

What did we learn? Reasons to take Design Thinking in daily practice

    • why – to allow good change to happen and accelerate it

    • how – using various design methods to understand the problem and create solutions

    • what – solve problems with a holistic mindset, with a human centred approach

There are tools to transform ideas into prototypes and prototypes into functioning designs. By using scenarios, characteristics and critical artefacts you will learn from customers’ expectations and perceptions, but also from yourself. Do you want to challenge yourself in order to open up your mind and the inner designer?

To enable any methods, a functioning design group is essential. Well-functioning group needs clear roles, goals and communication. It is vital that everyone communicate effectively in order to produce something new and innovative. This is reflected to the idea that internal communication in the organization is one of the key elements in new service development process.

“Learning by doing”
The process itself sounds to be easy; we got good perspective about what the service design is and the different themes and methods. Different exercises supported the process of getting to know how to use these tools in practice. As stated previously, especially making those different characters really helped us to explore more possible users and different artefacts of the application. Probably more guidance would still be in order, so that there would be clear visions what to do next in the process. Of course in design thinking creativity is a positive thing, but when there is lots of different visions and goals are not set clearly, process will lead to “chaos “ instead of organizing one.

The authors: Teija Hakaoja, Tinja Lindfors, Hugo Molina, Tatjana Odigbo, Suleiman Farah Gedi (HAMK)

Slideshare presentation of our group’s scenario assignment on Museum services.

13 thoughts on “Design thinking – easy and difficult?

  1. Practical article and thank you for sharing the experiences with us! I feel it very useful and easy to adopt when comes to the real life. That’s basically all what we need to remember when we create something new for users: keep people in mind -> positive attitude -> brainstorm ideas, which is my favorite part! -> try the idea out!

  2. A very good guide to get started with design thinking as a human centered design method. As a design thinker, the problems you are trying to solve are rarely your own—they are those of a particular group of people; in order to design for them, you must gain empathy for who they are and what is important to them. Thanks for putting it all together!

    • I agree that the blog post here is a good guide to design thinking, thank you! The comment highlights nicely the importance of empathy in design thinking. We must keep practising the ways of gaining empathy but also accept the fact that in every design project we’ll have to start learning from people from the beginning.

  3. Thanks guys for the post! I totally agree with you: more guidance would still be in order. This was just the beginning, so looking forward to the next design courses that will hopefully take us deeper!

  4. Really nice summary of the things we are doing in Laurea. User centrism, positive attitude, brainstorming and learning by doing it is the way to co-create in this days. To be a good designer you always need to thing: why, how and what. What I like the most is “try the idea out”. Let’s be brave and do not afraid to just start and create! As I read in one blog:
    Co-Creation is the way forward!

  5. Thank you for the good summary. I agree that having people in mind and thinking about your users is very important when designing a new service, people first!

  6. The interesting thing I’m still trying to understand during the brainstorm moment when everyone are having ideas, talking about a big group, how to agree what idea is the best one 🙂 How to validate which one is the most useful, applicable and really solves the problem. People sometimes have different expectations and ways of thinking and for me the main challenge is to convince people about how to create on the concept phase without limitations.

  7. Great job! Enjoyed the visualization 🙂 Frank Lloyd Wright’s quote was extremely useful to me, having to discuss the value of Service Design to an architect today. Also liked your summary on why to take Design Thinking in daily practice. And best of all, I liked the positive energy that came through in your writing. Inspiring!

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