Design Thinking – just another buzzword?

Nowadays service design is a hot topic everywhere. What is behind the word design, that gets easily associated with luxury and high price. How is it linked with building better services?  Little ironically to the association, the roots of design lay firmly on the ground of functionality, simplicity and purpose. In the book Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation by Idris Moore, design thinking is defined as the search of magical balance between business and art; structure and chaos; intuition and logic; concept and execution; playfulness and formality; and control and empowerment. In practice meaning that Design Thinking is to be seen as a thinking process discovering new realities with the help of design culture and methods. Don´t let the lack of concrete in the definition bother you as the design thinking methods and tools are actually very tangible.

 

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Creativity meats processes

Two days spent on Katja Tschimmel´s master class clarified very well, that service design is actually a very structured process, where you proceed from phase to another to reach your goal. The process applies Design Thinking principles such as human centered approach, fast prototyping and co-creation. During the lessons we deepened our understanding by experimenting in practice the phases of Mindshake Design Thinking Evolution 6² model. Several other process models exist. Characteristic to the models is the alternation of divergent and convergent stages. I surely felt like being on a roller coaster ride as we were experimenting various tools of different phases in practice. As the theory was taught by doing, we were forced to innovate. Our process started with a mind map around the word studying and we ended up drawing visual business models. It surely was fun, but also very tough work as you experience such a wide range of emotions during the process. Ideo´s 3 I model explains this: You start from inspiration phase continuing to innovation and landing into the implementation phase.

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Is it just for digital services?

Using the techniques in practice demonstrated, how fun and easy it is actually to get in a flow mode, if you have a good facilitator. What could happen, if all participant would be active in your weekly meeting? Or instead of focusing on, how your customer perceives your service, you would be focusing on the unmet or future needs of the customer. The paradigm has changed from creating for users to creating with users, in order to meet the customer requirements. Companies would benefit greatly, if Design Thinking would be used more as a development method. It would help organizations to leap from running behind the market leader to be the market distruptor. To me the real lesson learned was, that Design Thinking has so much more potential than just to be applied in designing services. It is actually a very broad theme with various specific subspecies.

 

Sources:

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

Mootee, Idris (2013) Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley.

Brown, Tim 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95.

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