Design Thinking big bang!

“Here was a curious thing. My friend’s instinct told him the North End was a good place, and his social statistics confirmed it. But everything he had learned as a physical planner about what is good for people and good for cities neighbourhoods, everything that made him an expert, told him the North End had to be a bad place.” Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Change by Design [1]

In the very first masterclasses about Design Thinking running by Katja Tschimmel and Marina Valenca we, toddlers in the field and students in Service Innovation and Design Programme, went into renaissance era of the design which now is perceived and used as a perfectly crafted methodology by a wider audience including business itself. Big Bang of Design Thinking which – as we were assured – Comes of Age! [2] As lectures went fast with a short history of design and presented different approaches to the design process to smoothly show us their own – well equipped with a whole range of precisely picked tools [3]; like many others, I was waiting for practical part of the meeting. For doing stuff not learning about it, to experience it, to feel it in my heart and to answer fundamental questions: what is, what if, what wows and what works [4]. After all, I took home some thoughts which I present below.

Omnipresent visualisation

If you were asked to describe DT you probably would start drawing something, using Post-its notes, prototyping anything but not words themselves. Visualisation played a priority during our jam session. There is no way to disagree with Liedtka & Ogilvie that “Visualisation make ideas tangible and concrete. […] make them human and real.” [4] It also allows us to avoid misunderstanding and misinterpretation. After that few hours together it is hard to polemise with Katja while saying that “designers analyse and understand problems of the artificial world.” in the meaning that every tangible aspect of the performance was before the creation of intangible thoughts, ideas, notions, and intuition. From this perspective visualisation lets us grab our unrevealed ideas, bring them to the surface and make them enough concrete to evaluate. It also put individual and collective intuition before learning and maybe this is what I the most love about it.

A stream of consciousness. 

If I were asked to show the greatest values of Design Thinking process, I would say that its collaborative, multidisciplinary and co – creative aspects are the most precious one. I enjoyed brain-writing part of our session vastly. But, we always put a human in the heart of all “doing”. In Virginia Woolf’s book the different aspects of Ms. Dalloway; her needs, feelings, context, and experiences are constantly subjected to individual and collective influence and turn from intentions into reality. In DT process it all above makes possible to arise great and innovative idea anchored in the essence of an end user of the service or offering.

Secret Ingredient

Nevertheless to make it happen, I learned that we need to listen to others with engagement on every possible step. In my opinion, like visualisation is the tool of understanding and expressing all ideas and thoughts as listening is the value without which no meaningful idea can authentically bloom. I like how about listening speaks Otto Scharmer and I leave you with his short video to contemplate where innovation and tipping point in any sector starts. Enjoy!

Marta Kuroszczyk

1. “Change by design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation.” Tim Brown

2. “Design Thinking Comes to Age”, Jan Kolko Harvard Bussiness Review,

3. “Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation.”, Katja Tschimmel

4. “Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers.”, Liedtka & Ogilvie

3 thoughts on “Design Thinking big bang!

  1. Thanks for sharing those thoughts… and that really interesting video, Marta! I agree that visualizing and listening are key elements of the design process, and I definitely think we should all consider what *kind* of listening we’re doing — in our design processes and in our personal lives!

    Personally, I think I’ve gotten pretty good at what Otto Scharmer calls levels 1 and 2 — “Downloading” and “Factual Listening.” Interestingly, I think I used to be better at level 3 — “Empathic Listening” — than I am today… not sure why I’ve lost a lot of that skill, but I know I need to get it back. (My wife would heartily agree!) And perhaps even more interestingly, I think I’m pretty good at level 4 — “Generative Listening.” Maybe this is because I’m fascinated with the future and always thinking about how what I’m hearing and learning could be applied to improve the future. I wonder what Otto would say about my bizarre psychological disposition?!

  2. Great blog post on what you learned, and thanks for posting the video! I agree with Otto Scharmer wholeheartedly as far as listening goes. It is really a core skill. I often notice how people listen only to reconfirm their opinions and judgments, and I see this as being kind of dangerous. It doesn’t create any value for anyone else, except of course oneself. So in a sense, it is a selfish kind of listening. It really limits innovation and great new ideas from popping up, that are essential to solving current issues in the world. Looking forward to discussing your ideas concerning “generative listening” and linking this to future projects during our SID journey!

  3. Thanks for the blog Marta! The video on listening is really helpful. It’s interesting to think about the different types of listening as they pertain to the activities within design thinking – for example listening as downloading would dramatically affect ‘discovery’ (just confirming your previous biases), but also limit divergence and idea creation. Whilst generative listening would have the opposite effect – helping to elicit out the best opportunities and solutions that others can see, thereby helping co-creation.

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