Hand me the Legos – I’m in!

Starting new studies after years of steady working life can without doubt force you out of your comfort zone as it is. Enter the first course on a subject not familiar to the student at all – and see if you end up with innovative ideas and new motivation, or despair and feelings of incompetence. Luckily, the Design Thinking course by Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valenca resulted in the former.

The start of the two-day course gave us a summarised yet comprehensive theoretical base to build our knowledge and practical assignments on. To start with, my head was full of questions about what design had to do with my field – it sounded like something visual that graphic designers do, and working in hospitality I had not connected the theory fully to my own working environment and needs. Those questions started to fade as my brain began to grasp the idea of design thinking being applicable for different disciplines, assisting with not just visual but any design process and giving tools for developing all sorts of products or services. It was also a relief to hear that we do not need to be experts on design thinking to start to apply these practices and tools to our own fields of expertise.


After introducing us several design thinking models we learned more about the Evolution 6model developed by Katja Tschimmel.


We had plenty of practical activities to familiarise ourselves with some of the tools of systematic design process. Familiar activities such as mind maps were happily accompanied by things like Lego Serious Play that made a couple of us giggle as some had not touched Legos since their childhood.


The theoretical framework combined with the exercises in small groups showed us how design thinking could assist us to better develop services in our own field. The two days with Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valenca opened my mind to how beneficial it would be to adopt approaches from the world of Design Thinking across different disciplines, and to continue learning I went on to read more about design thinking and service design.

The article “DesignThinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation” by Katja Tschimmel revised and added to the theory and principles we visited during our contact lessons. With more understanding on the topic I next dived into “Designing for growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers” by Liedtka & Ogilvie. After these two thought provoking resources I wanted to learn more about how to implement design thinking specifically in service design, so I went through a Finnish book “Palvelumuotoilu” by Juha Tuulaniemi. It was good to look at the processes and theory also from a perspective closer to my everyday working life and specifically learn more about how the design process traditionally associated with designing products can be applied to service design. As tried and tested during the course, the book highlighted that the strong points of design such as creative and analytical approaches, understanding the cultural context and environment, as well as prototyping and visualising can truly assist service designers in their customer-centric service development. The book went through the same principles as during our course on design process being iterative and incremental, and consisting of both divergent and convergent parts to optimally form the best possible outcome – easily remembered by the visual Double Diamond model. Going through both books as well as Katja Tschimmel’s article after our contact lessons strengthened the feeling I got about the benefits of design thinking being implemented across very diverse industries.

lego1If there was something I had to say I especially will adopt from design thinking I would say the openness to innovation and even those “crazy” ideas that can very well lead to failure before a breakthrough. If these diverse techniques and tools we learned about will help us open our minds and develop better services and products, hand me the Legos please – I’m in!


By Kaisla Saastamoinen


Liedtka, J. & Ogilvie, T. (2011) Designing for growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers. New York: Columbia University Press.

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

Tuulaniemi, J. (2011) Palvelumuotoilu. Talentum Oy.

2 thoughts on “Hand me the Legos – I’m in!

  1. After this crash course into the world of Design Thinking, I also was left with the feeling that I have gotten some new tools I will most definitely use in my work. And even though the Legos kind of scared me at first, they were an important part of the process that helped me realize how different ways of visualising the service can truly help us be more innovative and create better services.

  2. I enjoyed the fact that you truly seem to have picked up some new tools that you can immediately take into use on your current job. Hopefully you will be able to make the company you work for encourage other employees also to embrace the design thinking methods and you organization will therefore grow more innovative.

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