My thoughts before meeting the design thinking?
Design thinking was an unknown concept for me before the Design Thinking course I took at Laurea. Developing processes is something that I had become familiar with before. It was still difficult to create specific expectations for the Design Thinking course because I did not have a clue what was it about. Nevertheless I was excited to have a chance to learn something new.
During the two intensive design thinking days our lecturers Dr. Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valenca taught us some basics about design thinking and the model called Evolution 6. Some of the methods were familiar to me from the workshops and seminars at my present job. Quite often at work we have process developing exercises (often run by consultants) where the high level process follows the following formula:
- Determine a process step or a task that needs to be developed. I must say that the focus has not been in understanding the customer’s need.
- Determine the development actions. Usually the trigger for the development has been a will to ease once job and/or to reduce costs.
- Go live. This is the most challenging part. The created development actions should be taken into production. There is quite often too much hurry at work and there is not enough will and energy for employees to make the change that has been created at workshop unless it is “a must do”.
Instead of arranging “let’s develop something”-workshops, employees, especially managers, should be taught to think differently. Ideation and developing the presence should be part of everyone’s everyday life. We should be able to suggest new ideas all the time and we should have the feeling that ideas are heard.
After getting jammed with the “corporate way of thinking” I hope to find some new ideas and tools to develop processes during my studies at Laurea YAMK. Perhaps the first course, Design Thinking, gives me some new ideas and methods.
There were few points at Katja Tschimmel’s lessons that really stayed in my mind. She advised us to feel free to be curious and to leave the safe and familiar (physical and mental) surroundings to find some new ideas. New ideas are found when you predispose yourself to new triggers. She also encouraged us to laugh at mistakes when creating something new. A real design thinker visualize, make sketches and prototypes to test the idea and to find the possible errors. Still, failures are an important part of design thinker’s everyday life. If you are afraid of them, you cannot invent anything new. (Tschimmel 2012).
Besides the courage to make mistakes, one key messages of design thinking seems to be a deep customer understanding. One must truly understand how the customer experience the service. Understanding is not the same as knowing the customers as segments. Customer understanding must come from empathy towards the customer. Customer is a specialist who should be involved in service development process. (Liedtka & Ogilvie 2011).
Contact sessions with Katja and Mariana introduced us the Evolution 6 model (with phases called emergence, empathy, experimentation, elaboration, exposition, extension). It forced us (students) to visualize the developing steps in quite many ways. Brainstorming, mind mapping, sketching, storyboarding, “legoing”, value chain mapping, etc. Our team had some difficulties to motivate ourselves to express our idea in such many ways. I dare to challenge the need of such many ways to visualize. Though I must admit that this way our team managed to clarify our idea and our service better to each other and to other students.
Perhaps I got the point?
Writing this blog has been a complex process. First I thought I had not learnt a thing. What to write about that? But now after editing this text multiple times I have challenges to decide what to keep and what to cut off to keep this short and understandable enough. It seems that my own thoughts are the ones that changed the most. I’m pretty sure that somehow I gave myself a permission to dream bigger and not to be afraid of making mistakes. Perhaps I have now more courage to think outside of the box and perhaps I manage to encourage people around me to think the same. One must try new things and should be able to laugh at failures.
This was a great start for my studies to become a pro in customer centric service development. This first course made it clear to me with good arguments that in developing service one must always have a deep and genuine understanding of the customer’s needs. Sky is the limit in ideation.
I have a feeling that my journey to the world of design thinking started with picking up some valuable thoughts and principles. Liedtka and Ogilvie’s have a good description about design thinking. They say it is a systematic approach to problem solving which starts with the ability to create a better future for the customer. (Liedtka & Ogilvie 2011).
Liedtka, J. & Ogilvie T. 2011. Designing for Growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers New York: Columbis University Press.
Tschimmel, Katja 2012. Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation. In: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience.