OH, THE EXCITEMENT! – The Design Thinking Crash Course

I was very excited about starting my studies in SID Laurea yet many thoughts of anticipation haunted my mind. What would my study buddies be like? What kind of avalanche of knowledge will we encounter? How will I ever find the time to combine my work and studies – with the rest of my life?

It all started off smoothly with a crash course in Practical Design Thinking by Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valença. I really enjoyed the three day session in which we got an interesting introduction into design thinking. What I really liked the most was getting our hands dirty with a full array of service design and design thinking methods. The framework we used was Evolution 6² (http://namente.pt/?page_id=407) which was developed by Katja and combines a high level design process with practical methods for each phase. The phases in the process can be seen in the picture below and you can check out the 36 methods in the framework on the framework WWW-page.


All the students were tasked with improving studying in Laurea. My group focused on developing the virtual learning experience in Laurea which we thought would be interesting because there are not many human-oriented learning environments around nowadays. We came up with an environment for connected devices, connected education materials with constant feedback and analytics based on feedback which enable social learning in local or distance circles. The topic is on the rise and after our session I started looking into what kind of solutions there are and bumped into the Minerva Schools Active Learning Forum (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk5iiXqh7Tg) which encases a lot of the principles we also came up with.


As part of our Design Thinking crash course were also tasked with looking into Katja Tschimmel’s article “Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation”. It supplemented the course very well as it went deeper into some ideas Katja had been speaking about during the workshop sessions. The article is basically a introduction into the concept of design thinking and presents the most important frameworks that are known – or that were known when the article was published in 2012. Not yet being an expert in the field I would guess strides have been made since. Katja’s article also includes methods for different phases of the design thinking process. Getting acquainted with the Evolution 6² during the workshop showed us the integration of process, phases and service design methods that Katja had been up to after the publication of the article. I seriously like Katja’s approach of elaborating on the phases and making design thinking as fun as it can get during three days. If someone reading this post hasn’t been to one of Katja’s workshops I warmly suggest participating if you are in for and hands-on introduction to design thinking.

To trianglulate on Katja’s approach to the design thinking process I looked into Gijs van Wulfen’s book “The Innovation Expedition: A Visual Toolkit to Start Innovation”. Gijs makes the analogy between service designers and explorers such as Columbus and Magellan to chart out a map to innovation. The Forth innovation method presented in the book consists of five steps:

  1. Full steam ahead: teaming up and seeking opportunities
  2. Observe and learn: exploring the opportunities and trying to find customer frictions
  3. Raise ideas: brainstorming ideas and developing them into concepts
  4. Test Ideas: testing concepts and developing them based on feedback
  5. Home coming: creating business cases out of the concepts

Looking at the two approaches by Katja and Gijs shows that that there probably are a lot of design thinking frameworks available. Both the ones by Katja and Gijs seem to me as being forward moving frameworks which are not heavy on customer insight but rather incorporate a lot of elements together. I guess there is no framework that is valid for all situations but situations themselves require appropriate support on process, method, and framework levels. Probably each designer will in time have their own variations of the design frameworks.

I’m currently very interested in creating a creative tension between the service design thinking and the capability-oriented business architecture discipline so that the aspects of retracing our steps towards a desired future and stability in what our organization already is good at can be addressed. If you’re interested in the topic I suggest you look into the “Intersection: How Enterprise Design Bridges the Gap between Business, Technology, and People” book by Milan Guenther for ideas on this approach.

enterprise design 2

Now, two weekends into the SID program, I feel extremely interested in the topics I’ve been exposed and see high potential in them in evolving a few burgeoning thoughts into full bloom.

Written by Mikael Seppälä, burgeoning service designer.

One thought on “OH, THE EXCITEMENT! – The Design Thinking Crash Course

  1. Hello Mikael,
    Your statement “I guess there is no framework that is valid for all situations but situations themselves require appropriate support on process, method, and framework levels. ” This basically defines Design Thinking in my opinion. My takeaway from the course was always try to think out of the box and in your customers shoes. Thanks for your book recommendation will definitely try to read it.

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