Designing is about doing, not talking!


“Design is all about action, and business too often gets stuck at the talking stage. Uncertainty comes with the territory when business objective is growth. But that doesn’t mean that you are powerless to do anything about it. You can’t make it go away, but you can manage it rather than allow it to manage you.” 

Ogilvie, Tim, and Liedtka, Jeanne. Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers


According to Dr. Katja Tschimmel Design Thinking has, in fact, become an effective toolkit for any innovation process, connecting the creative design approach to traditional business thinking. It is just what business managers need when looking for new opportunities to take their businesses to the next level.

Becoming a Design Thinkerdesign thinking2

Ogilvy and Liedtka assimilate TQM & quality with Design Thinking & organic growth and innovation. Surely the transformation from a structured and rational fact-based business manager into an ambiguous and empathy-focused Design Thinker calls for true desire to learn a new way of thinking. It also means challenging and rethinking some of the most common business tools and development practices.


6 helpful tips on how to apply Design Thinking:

  1. Choose a method or process model and follow it – there are plenty to choose from
  2. Throw away the facts, figures and trends you already have and focus on what you do not know
  3. Be empathetic: take a deep-dive into your customers’ lives to understand their TRUE needs
  4. Embrace trial and error – it will not make you look stupid, it will make you stronger
  5. Test your innovation and be prepared to iterate – it will not be ready the first time around
  6. Include as many people as possible and share the ownership in your internal (and external) Network

Falling in love with ideas

Kuva7Class of 2014 SID studies were kicked off in a spirit of “learning by doing” during an innovation expedition guided by Design Professor Katja Tschimmel and the Innovation Expert Gijs van Wulfen. The two-day Design Thinking Master Class, following the FORTH framework and applying different Design Thinking tools, concentrated in working on an actual business assignment innovating a new service concept for better learning at Laurea.

The Master Class culminated into team presentations of the service concepts and business models. Even with this exercise it became evident that transferring the team’s vision and excitement to an audience outside the innovation process was, in fact, rather challenging. In order for others to buy into your idea they have to love it like it was their own!

Gijs strip



The key insight for me was to recognize the make-or-break value of the concept transfer process presented in the FORTH model.

During the concept transfer process the designer passes on the newly innovated concept to E.g. production or marketing. No matter how great the idea, the design, the value proposition or the business potential of the new concept is, it will never provide the expected outcome unless it is first successfully launched. In order to do this, others must adopt the ownership, too.

In case Design Thinking is applied to improve business outcome, nailing the concept transfer phase is an absolute must!



Ogilvie, Tim, and Liedtka, Jeanne. Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers. New York, NY, USA: Columbia University Press, 2011. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 14 October 2014.

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

Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review.


Katja von Alfthan, SID 2014 student

6 thoughts on “Designing is about doing, not talking!

  1. The comic is funny, lol :). As we were innovating our product in desing thinking course, said Gijs van Vulfen to our team several times no talking right now just doing.

    • Hi Heini,

      There is a good old saying: “easier said than done”. However, for designing great innovations we should have faith it is “easier done than said”!

  2. Hey Katja,
    Great post and I would like to comment on one of the tips on becoming a design thinker. You have written that we sould throw away facts and figures. In my opinion desk research and reading about trends can bring great value to the innovation process. We just need to check the trends surrounding trends we already know and go deeper 🙂

    • Hi Marra,

      Yes, you are right. Of course we should embrace what we know and what ever data we already have invested in – I was rather trying to say that we should not be contented with that but dig deeper and around, just as you pointed out 🙂

      Far too often companies tend to think they know it all and try to understand the future based on trends and past data. And this hardly leaves any room for innovation 🙂

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