Energized by Design Thinking

Evening after the final contact session of Design Thinking course ended at Laurea, we made a family visit to our friends. Right from the door, they asked about my studies and that pretty much set the course of the evening. Eager to share the experience, I started telling about Laurea environment and learning principles, new colleagues I got to know, and especially about the content of Design Thinking course by Prof. Katja Tschimmel and Gijs Van Wulfen.  I was so highly energized talking about design thinking and innovation process, tools and practical exercises that my wife commented that she didn’t remember me being so passionate about particular topic for very long time. That made me to stop for a moment, asking myself what actually happened to make me feel like that.

Ever since, attempts to answer that question have only opened new ones as I entered the exciting journey through Design Thinking. This article is my reflection on couple of “energy sources” found along the way, rooted in fascinating perspective of changing landscape of business, culture and society.

The Purpose

Traditional purpose of business – to make money, focuses companies to maximize short term profits and delivers returns to shareholders. Great companies, however, believe that the business is inherent part of society as they, being so powerful, effectively shape the lives of their employees, partners and consumers. In those companies, people and society are not afterthoughts or inputs to be considered and discarded but the core to their purpose. (How Great Companies Think Differently by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business Review).

Design thinking is the collaborative process by which the designer’s sensibilities and methods are used to match people’s needs, not only with what is technically feasible and viable business strategy, but what generates social value. It is new powerful and effective approach applicable in different domains that enables non-designers, individuals and teams, to produce breakthrough innovations (Change by Design by Tim Brown). As such, design thinking in now becoming a new competitive advantage.

The Way to Do It

FORTH innovation method

FORTH innovation method

Continuous improvement as commonly practiced in organizations is not enough to ensure competitiveness in the future. For that, companies need to establish systematic innovation process.

One approach is FORTH – innovation method by Gijs van Wulfen. FORT consists of 5 stages which organization can complete in 15 weeks ideating several innovative products or services. It starts with out-of-the-box thinking. First by setting the focus, then continuing with observing and learning about customers’ needs and innovation opportunities, and finally coming to the point of raising and testing ideas. It ends with “home coming” or putting it back to the box in a form of new mini business cases to enable decision making for the implementation.

FORTH comes accompanied with comprehensive set of design thinking tools meant to free and speed up thinking process and ensure more effective interaction with stakeholders (Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation by Katja Tschimmel).

The Takeaways

Design thinking in action

Design thinking in action

We are more creative when moving rather than sitting. What else helps, find out in the following 10 ways to be more creative.

Quantity is more important than quality. Large quantity of ideas produced in short time is essential in divergent thinking activities like brainstorming. That underlines importance of intuition and emotions over rational thinking. Originality usually comes with last ideas in the bunch. Other useful ways to help generate new ideas can be found in The Road to a Solution – Generating Ideas.

The most original ideas come from combining elements of distant knowledge domains. Finding new combinations is in the core of Design Thinking. Go wide in your Mind Map and apply visual and semantic confrontation on elements with the most distant relationship to get the best outcome.

Visual perception is dominant among senses. Sketching and prototyping are used to visualize thoughts and help in discovering new aspects.

Don’t be afraid to fail. Fail quickly and cheaply in order to succeed.

The Movie – Design & Thinking

Inspired by design thinking, documentary interviews business people, designers, scholars, leaders in social change and other diverse individuals in order to portray what they have in common when exploring the profound challenges of design and the influence of design thinking on the course of 21st century. Check it out at http://designthinkingmovie.com/#home

Written by Predrag Miskeljin

2 thoughts on “Energized by Design Thinking

  1. Great post. The real question any company should be asking is, how to make everyone involved to have this type of burning passion and enthusiasm that sparked up in the group during those two days!

  2. Thanks Mika. Good question. The answer is probably in cultivating inspiring environment and people, which comes down to corporate culture. I’m thinkig on human centric culture based on “people first”, not on any particular stakeholder.

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