Me, Designer?

Few weeks ago I was super excited to start my Service Innovation and Design studies. Our heterogeneous group seemed to be full of inspiration, motivation and richness from different backgrounds. During those very first days my thoughts started to wonder around and, to be honest, I felt a bit confused: How can I become a designer? Am I able to think like designer?

”(Design thinking is…) Way of thinking which leads to transformation, evolution and innovation, to new forms of living and to new ways of managing business.”

Katja Tschimmel – Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation.

The magic of Design Thinking

Design Thinking gives tools to improve more traditional processes and toolkits. It widens the aspects of problem solving. To think like designer, you have to be able to manage different aspects of the problem at the same time, e.g. human needs, materials, technical resources and opportunities. By comparing all these different aspects the result will meet both customers and companies needs.

Christoph Meinel describes in his book “Design Thinking: understand – improve – apply” many sides of design thinking. Design Thinker can transform challenges to be opportunities and explores both the problem and the solution. Traditional thinker concentrates just to solve the problem. The process of Design Thinking is an experimental journey, which can make many turns before reaching the goal.

 Katja Tchimmel compares in her article “Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation” characteristics of a Design Thinking Manager and a Traditional Thinking Manager (Table 1). I can definitely find myself from both sides. By thinking these characteristics I can more easily find my self somewhere between traditional thinking and Design thinking. Does this help to clarify your way of thinking?

Ahoy my crew – I’m ready for mind changing adventure!

Main reason to confuse my mind was our first course: Design Thinking. We had two quest lecturers: Gijs van Wulfen from Netherlands and Katja Tschimmel from Portugal. With Gijs and Katja our group was able to take a quick expedition through Design thinking.

Picture 1. The FORTH Innovation Method

Picture 1. The FORTH Innovation Method

We dived into innovation and used FORTH Innovation Method by Gijs van Wulfen (Picture 1). It usually takes 20 weeks to go through this innovation expedition, but we explored it quickly in two intensive days. The mission on FORTH Innovation Method is to create new ideas, choose the best ones, test them and come up with new service concepts. This journey gave good experience how to innovate new ideas and how to transform them into action.

Our mission during these two days was to create a new service for better learning. Our innovative group divided into smaller groups and started to create mindmaps of learning (Picture 2). We also interviewed few students (interview was supported by pictures) and made some visual research to feed inspiration. As a result of these we created a mood board. We also used other design thinking tools such as brainstorming, brainwriting, semantic confrontation and prototyping ideas (by playing with legos!).

I want to point out that everyone can think like Designer and improve Design Thinking skills – just free your mind and be ready for an experimental adventure! Have you already changed your way of thinking?

Our innovative creations.

Picture 2. Our innovative creations.

Ulla Partanen – 2014 SID Student

Used sources

Meinel, Christoph 2011. Design Thinking: understand – improve – apply. Dordrecht: Springer.

Tscimmel, Katja 2012. Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation. In: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona.

One thought on “Me, Designer?

  1. Hi Ulla.

    I really liked your point of view as a between thinker. So you see yourself as a traditional thinker and also design thinker. The differences between Design Thinking Manager and Traditional Thinking Manager characteristics are obvious. Traditional Thinking Manager looks for the correct answer and Design Thinking Manager admits and approves the fact that failure is part of the design thinking process.

    For me personally this was something that I had to learn when I did my designer studies. First it was unusual for me that there is not right or wrong answer in design. Before design studies I accomplished a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree in the university. And there were always just right or wrong answers in tests so the difference was huge. When I got used to it, it was wonderful just go with the flow and execute different kind of ideas.


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