“Doing things differently” or “Doing different things”.

Innovation can either be doing things differently, or doing different things. Within the field of innovation people are now doing a lot of different things, but I would say its only done a little differently when speaking about areas such as “Employee driven innovation, “Service innovation”, “Sustainable innovation”, “Social innovation” and so on. This can be a bit of confusing, but Gijs van Wulfen founder and author of FORTH Innovation method has done a lot of great work on this area, and is telling us both when you should NOT innovate, and how you can use his 5 steps (shown on picture) to create attractive innovative products and services within a multidisciplinary team. On the very first contact session, starting my MBA in Service Innovation Design we did exactly that. Our multidisciplinary class formed teams of 4/5 people, using the FORTH innovation method on the following case: “Create new products or services for your university campus to make it a better place to be, learn and live”. Being an international exchange student, ideas easily popped up in my head!

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Together with Gjis, Katja Tschimmel Researcher and Consultant in Creativity led us through the Design Thinking course. Katjas creative approach and her long experience and contribution within the field show clearly. Gjis and Katja met at a creative conference where they decided to team up. Gjis tells that he has a more “innovation and structure” focus, while Katja delivers the design thinking tools. “The best way to learn is not to listen, but to do it” (Gjis). Throughout the Design Thinking Course we did exactly that, we got the perfect combination of theoretically and practical work.

 “Highlights and eyeopeners”

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Since this course took place over two days, I will not go in detail of every exercise, but highlight the ones that were new to me or made me think differently – “an eye opener”. We were a few exchange students in my group and therefore focused on “short-term housing options for exchange students”.

Based on working in teams within my previous Social entrepreneurship studies at University of Oslo, and working as a team on a start up I have really seen the importance of creating “good” collaborating teams that communicate well and know each other to a certain degree before starting a collaborating process. I therefore enjoyed Katjas exercises that introduced our multidisciplinary group. The picture to the left shows one of the exercises:

“Who are we”: I had to draw a team member, while another member wrote down interest and information on post-its as she was explaining them. All of these posters are still hanging in our classroom so we can look back at them to refresh our thoughts since we only see each other once a month!

I really like how we used brain writing and semantic confrontations. Design Thinking is an experimental and iterative process not a linear process and there are no “Best solutions” existing. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up with an idea that gives the best “business outcomes” at an early stage. These exercises made you take a long step away from that, combining totally different elements leading to creative solutions.

“The most original ideas arise when elements of one knowledge domain are combined with elements of another knowledge domain, distant from the first”

(Tschimmel, K. 2008).

To warm up we used divergent thinking “what can you do with a pencil”. Description of these methods can be found in Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation.

 To explain the idea, we made a rough prototype using materials free choice and tested the idea on other groups for feedback. I really discovered the beauty of being silent and only listen to feedback, not commenting (as you often to “when falling in love with your idea”). The feedback we got from other groups actually made us re-do our prototype almost five times before we got the end result that we presented. I was able to transfer a lot of this knowledge when arranging an event later on (that I will describe in another blog post soon).

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I hope these exercises can be helpful for other people curious on Service Design and Design Thinking. I recommend you to take a closer look at the material produced by our facilitators  Gjis and Katja,  which I found very interesting. For any comments or questions do not hesitate  to leave them here or use my Linkedin contact info.

This blogpost is written by Caroline Chaffin,

a Norwegian exchange student at the 

MBA program in Service Innovation and Design

Laurea University of Applied Sciences (2013-2014)

LinkedIn profile

2 thoughts on ““Doing things differently” or “Doing different things”.

  1. I really enjoyed Gijs innovation expedition map, so much I glued it to my wall at work to remind me that not all companies should innovate if the culture is not right or timing is not right. It is only a true innovation when you have been able to follow through the whole process.

  2. I enjoyed also those exercises very much what we did for getting to know each others. It was fun and efficient way to introduce new members in new group.

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