Playfull innovation

Play has evolved as an advantageous and necessary aspect of behaviour. Why is it then that we so often leave it on other side of the office door? (Michlewski & Buchanan, 2016)


The power of Design Thinking

Design Thinking is as a creative way of thinking which leads to transformation and evolution of new forms of living and to new ways of managing business. Designers not only develop innovative solutions by working in teams with colleagues and partners, but also in collaboration with the final users.

Its visual tools (drawing, sketching, mapping, prototyping, brainstorm, etc) help professionals to identify, visualize, solve problems and preview problems in innovative ways. Enable designer inquire about a future situation or solution to a problem and transform unrealized ideas into something to build on and to discuss with colleagues, final customers and other stakeholders.

Design Thinking characteristics are analytical and emphatic, rational and emotional, methodical and intuitive, oriented by plans and constraints, but spontaneous.


Several process models have been presented. The criteria used to choose the more appropriate model include the characteristics of the task, its context, the number and composition of the team and its dynamic and the available time for the innovation process.

Some examples are: IDEO’s 3 I and HCD Models; Model of the Hasso-Plattner Institute; 4 D or Double Diamond Model of the British Council; Service Design Thinking (SDT) Model; Evolution 6² Model.


Study Case

In order to present an innovative idea to Laurea University, my colleagues and I used the Evolution 6² Model and its tools to guide us in the innovative process.

1. Emergence: identification of an opportunity.

We used Mind Map that is a hierarchical visual diagram to organize information. Associated representations of ideas were added around the concept “Laurea University”. Then we highlighted the potential insight and we wrote our Intent Statement: creating a new service including the learning philosophy from Laurea.


2. Empathy: knowing better the context.

We used Stakeholder Map to identify the internal and external individuals that are affected by our initiative, and then we used images to collect spontaneous thoughts from them. Based on the analyses from the Image Interviews, we selected images and created a Moodboard to give us a general idea of the context.


3. Experimentation: generating ideas, developing concepts.

We used Brainwriting that helped us to think more flexibly and radically, with fluency. A silence moment when each participant wrote insights in post-its and glued it on a wall to inspire others. To compress ideas, we used Intuition Assessment where participants select the potential ides and organize them hierarchically.


4. Elaboration: working on material and semantic solution.

We built a Role Play with Lego and cardboard to test and gather feedback from users, and fix problems. We also created a Blueprint to display the process function in a rapid and accurate visual reproduction of the possible solution.


5. Exposition: communicating the new concept and solutions.

To present our potential solution, we created a Visual Business Model. Unfortunately we found out that it didn’t catch attention of the audience. In my opinion the ideas chosen were based on existing technologies, rather than real customer need and the result was a repackaging of existing services that didn’t offer new value. We have to consider new touchpoints, new revenue models, new technologies, and new relationships with customers. Focusing on the current reality makes it hard to envision a new world.



Design Thinking creates a healthy tension in the search for innovative ways to create services, and deliver an enhanced customer experience, capable of truly helping service brands succeed in the market. Imperfection and iteration early in the process keeps the cost of failure low and the rewards of a possible breakthrough high. To maximize the impact on corporate outcomes, designers should understand stakeholder priorities, visualise and prototype concepts, and translate cutting-edge ideas into effective strategies. Mindfulness, open-minded collaboration, abductive thinking and permission to risk early failure are emotional condition that have to be introduced into the organization culture for Design Thinking happen.

Written by Tais Di Sciascio, Service Innovation and Design MBA Student



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. ISBN 978-952-265-243-0.

Lockwood, T., 2010. Design thinking: integrating innovation, customer experience and brand value. Allworth Press

5 thoughts on “Playfull innovation

  1. It was lovely to read your toughts about Design Thinking study module and see your achievements from those days! And it’s great to see that through the visual business model you realized what could be done differently.

  2. Thank you Tais for reminding us the great journey we all did. It’s interesting to read how your group carried out the project and see how your creative process took place. At the end of the course I was surprised how similarly all groups handled the task so it was eye opening to see the actual process.

  3. Thank you for your blog post! I was wondering what kind of experiences you had on generating ideas with Brainwriting? I tried it for the first time during the course and noticed that I found generating ideas standing up and constantly monitoring other people’s input much more difficult than other methods that I’ve tried where you sit down and write your ideas for 2-3 minutes and only then share them with the group. I guess the optimal would be to include different types of ideation methods to get the most out of every participant (if there is time to do so) 🙂

  4. Tais, interesting, informative and clear depiction of Design Thinking process by you.
    I wonder what would be your results with a visual business mode tool if you had drawn pictures on post-it notes, instead of doing it straight on canvas, so that it would be easier to improve upon them or change?

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