Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn

What is Design Thinking (DT)? In the beginning DT was used to improve designers thinking abilities and mental strategies. Now it has evolved into a complex thinking process of conceiving new realities, culture fields and methods into business innovation. It offers new models of processes and toolkits for different contexts to improve, accelerate and visualize every creative process in organizational teams. Combining creative approach to business thinking based on planning and problem solving to introduce new business possibilities to innovation managers.

From theory to practise

Design thinking (DT) is a process and method.  The guiding principles are human centered and collaborative, using a holistic perspective, visualization, divergent thinking and learning by doing as experimenting and prototyping make the ideas concrete and tangible

There are well-known models for design thinking – maybe the best known is the 4D model, the Double Diamond from UK Design Council which is a visual mapping of divergent and convergent stages of the design process. Of the IDEO models, I found the IDEO HCD (Hear, Create and Deliver) last stage Deliver interesting as it offers concrete help in lauching new solutions by rapid revenue and cost modelling, capability assessment and implementation planning. Hasso-Plattner Institute’s model introduced a looping model as design thinking is not a linear process but rather an iterative one. Picking a suitable model & toolkit depends on the context of the project and who it is meant to serve.

In our workshop project we used Katja Tschimmel’s Evolution 6 model and its toolkit.


Finding the opportunity and building empathy

As learning by doing (LBD) is the philosophy of Laurea, during our first contact session on Design Thinking we were split in groups of 5-6 and the task was to come up with an original concept idea for a new service stemming for studying in Laurea SID programme by using the above process and methods. Starting from the emergence stage we used the mind map tool to ideate and find opportunities on the theme “Studying in Laurea”.

Opportunity Mind Map

Finding the opportunity with Mind Map

We discovered a new opportunity by combining Laurea’s unique learning by doing method, sharing mindset and quality education building it into an intent statement “Dare to share” – education that travels importing Laurea SID to give equal opportunity to students globally who want to learn about service design. We could have made use of Tim Brown’s  criteria for successful ideas: desirability, feasibility and viability in this phase.

In the empathy phase we used image interviews to gain insight and empathy for our target group and a mood board to convey our idea in visually to the group. A tough spot. Didn’t really succeed in making our idea come thru and alive in an emotionally touching way. At hindsight could say we should have taken more time with this and maybe gone back to drawing board with finding and elaborating on the opportunity gap. Thus looping backwards in our creative process. The stakeholder map part was easy as it was rational – helping us clarify the internal and external parties.

It might have helped us to acknowledge that we, as a team, were undergoing development as well – going thru stages of hope, insight and back to confidence insight being the spot of emotional slump.


Process of synthesis by Tim Brown

Experimenting and elaborating

Moving into the experimenting phase we used brain writing – us each writing down our own ideas in silence. We found it hard to keep to idea-level without already going for the selling elements of the actual service. Then again desktop walk through was a revelation – it brought our group back to common ground as we visualized and role played the service through.


Desktop walkthru and role play

We got valuable feedback  from a peer group – maybe should have paid more attention to a simple question “Is this something unique and new?”.

During the elaboration phase we put the work into concrete steps using the service blueprint.


Walking thru the service blueprint

Sometimes you learn – exposition phase

At the exposition phase,  we pitched our service concept in 2 minutes using a visual business model taking turns explaining the idea. Our idea didn’t quite hit it off with the audience. The importance of storytelling and making an emotional connection was truly visible in the winning pitch.

Turning back, did we spend enough time together on finding an opportunity that has a superclear value proposal that is also something new? Should we have spent more time on empathy building tools to clarify the intent statement and make it really touch by using a persona in the pitch? My biggest take away was to use the process as a guideline but be flexible and agile enough to loop back if extra tools are needed to unite the planning team. Sometimes you win but this time we learnt. Thank you for the shared experience Fox Gang!


The Fox Gang and Dare To Share

Written by Monica Uusiniemi, engagement officer for DearCustomer Design and MBA student in SID programme


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

Brown, Tim (2009). Change by Design. How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation.

2 thoughts on “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn

  1. Really nice to read how your day went and how you went trough Design Thinking Evolution 6 modell phases. And I agree totally, even if you don’t succeed right away you still learn from the process.

  2. Monica, I was there sharing the pain. I felt that at some stages of the 6 evolution phases, I was lost in the process, as this process was new to me and could not really see the outcome and what purpose it served for the next phase. Also selling your idea, as you wrote, it needs to be considered thoroughly and pitching needs to be polished to work, good learnings for the future. Thank you for the story – good to work together, sharing the pain and joy! 🙂 Together we are stronger!

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