Getting in the mood for Design Thinking

As far as Design Thinking goes, I must confess to being quite the “newbie”. Having only recently been enlightened to the magical world of service design, innovation and co-creation, I was excited to learn of the many different models that the design thinking world has to offer.

Katja Tschimmel describes the similarities and differences of the models in both her article “Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation” as well as in the research report D-think. These include IDEO’s 3 I model (Inspiration, Ideation, Implementation), IDEO’s HCD model (human-centred design, Hearing, Creating, Delivering), the models of the (Hasso-Plattner Institute and Stanford University), the Double-Diamond model of the British Council, and the DT toolkit for Educators. Mindshake’s E6 model was also introduced, and I got the opportunity to try it out myself during the course.file-25-09-16-17-59-47-1

During the class sessions, I got a glimpse of how the design thinking process could be applied to solve student-related issues. There was no lack of empathy during this task, as we all dived into tackling issues concerning thesis stress, time-management issues and networking needs.  We grouped ourselves into small multidisciplinary teams, and our team went through a the Design Thinking process to come up with our final conclusion; a service called “Matchup”. It was a service to tackle the issue of networking within our SID group.  The idea actually won!



The service idea did not come by itself, and our team quickly learned what it meant to fail fast, and fail often. Design Thinking takes time and effort, a group effort in fact. There were even some disagreements, which I found to be essential in the design thinking process. We also noticed that we had some competition in the idea department, as it seemed that all of the teams had considered very similar solutions to the task at hand. We had all been affected by intellectual stimuli given to us during the panel discussion, as well as the lectures. The examples given to us had ultimately affected us all in a very profound way, meaning in practice that we all had very similar ideas during our brainstorming sessions. This taught me about how important the facilitator’s role really is. The Design Thinking process can and will be affected by what the facilitator says. I found this fascinating.


As I was reading the book by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilive “Designing for Growth” I was happy to notice that I could already attach some of the dots between theory and practice. The book accentuates the need for using the four key questions: What is? What if? What wows? What works?

According to the authors, the innovation process begins with an accurate assessment of the present (What is?). Visualization is used throughout the process. The first step includes journey mapping, value chain analysis, mind mapping and brainstorming. The next step (What if?) sheds light on opportunities, and involves the ideation process. It is a creative phase, where a hypothesis of the future is given, together with new possibilities and concept development. The third step (What wows?) involves thought and physical experiments, such as rapid prototyping and assumption testing. The final phase (What works?) represents a key difference between invention and innovation. Invention in this case, would mean that something is purely novel, but innovation requires that the invention creates economic value. This phase would include design thinking tools such as customer co-creation and the learning launch.


Looking back to the class workshops, I realize how my mindset is starting to shift, and I am beginning to look at everything through my “service-design glasses”. I feel ready to tackle the next problem I face, be it at the office or even at home, with aspects of the Design Thinking process.

Elsa Mäki-Reinikka


Liedtka, Jeanne & Ogilvie, Tim 2011. Designing for growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers, New York: Columbia University Press.

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

Tschimmel, Katja; Santos, Joana; Loyens, Dirk; Jacinto, Alexandre; Monteiro, Rute & Valenca, Mariana 2015. Research Report D-Think.


2 thoughts on “Getting in the mood for Design Thinking

  1. Very interesting to read that also in the other group the winning service was a social application. Our winning service was also an application with a social aspect and I feel that was the strongest part of the service. Maybe there’s a need for this kind of service in Laurea!

  2. Well written article and the book you read for it sounds a very interesting read. I like rapid prototyping and testing ideas in practice with real people.

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