Embrace the mess!

Design Thinking – the challenge in daring to embrace the mess of non linear thinking.mindmap.jpg

I am quite new to the field of service design and the tools used in Design Thinking are not yet that familiar to me. Hence I didn’t really know what to expect from the first contact session at SID. I thought it was great that we were assigned to go through the process & use the tools of design thinking straight away.

Here are some of the thoughts I had after 2 intensive days:
  • Learning by doing is really the best way to grasp something in a very short amount of time.
  • When not familiar with the tools for the design thinking process, having an excellent facilitator is key (Thank you Katja!)
  • The always current ‘simplify, kill your darlings!’ mantra. I hope i will get better at it during my time at Laurea 🙂
  • A reminder of the thrilling feeling of getting carried away, excited about something and that optimism is crucial to any creative process
  • It is marvellous to learn from people who all have different backgrounds and patterns of thought
  • How important it is to ‘think with your hands’ and prototype to be able to get accurate feedback
I’ve also been reflecting on how fascinating it is that a creative process that at times felt a bit messy and quite abstract still can lead to one or many concrete solutions. That it is a unique joint effort that a team makes trying to translate a problem into a tangible solution. I’ve learned that the design thinking precess & tools gives precise structures to creating ideas that can lead to innovation. To me my first encounter with design thinking has felt quite empowering. This feeling was further enhanced when listening to the audio book of Tim Browns ‘Change by design’. In the book he writes how design thinking encourages and forces a person to embrace the mess of non linear thinking when searching for solutions. The challenges of this I think is concretely highlighted in Katja Tschimmels article ‘Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation’. There is a passage comparing the characteristics of a design thinking manager vs. that of the traditional thinking manager. It is rather interesting how clearly the differences become when overly underlined.
What becomes clear from Browns book is what huge impact design thinking methods can have on anything and everything. Brown draws attention to the bigger responsibility he sees that future design thinkers could or should have – to find new ways on how to balance desirability, feasibility and viability and the positive impact this will have for businesses, people and the planet.
He concludes his book with a mention that all the great design thinkers of their time have had one thing in common, they have all been optimist and used design thinking in their strive to find solutions for a better future. Here I can conclude that this crash course to design thinking has been very inspiring and a great start on what I hope is the beginning of my path to become a design thinker myself.


2nd and 3rd  September Design Thinking –session in Laurea, teachers Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valença. See also: http://mindshake.pt/design_thinking

Brown, Tim 2009. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Tschimmel, Katja 2012. Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation in Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation from Experience. (http://www.idmais.org/pubs/KatjaTschimmel/2012/actas_internacionais%20c%F3pia/2012.4.ISPIM.KatjaTschimmel1.pdf)



12 thoughts on “Embrace the mess!

  1. I identify with the joy and thrill that comes from getting carried away… a really refreshing environment in which to learn 🙂

  2. I can strongly relate to your feelings in regards to the “first encounter” to Design thinking, and I can’t help myself from associating those two words with a science fiction movie (:D). I guess in a way of thinking, or a learning experience, it was a bit like stepping on a strange planet for the first time. Both confusing and thrilling at the same time. I think you summarized the thoughts spot-on with the bullet points. I love the “Simplify, kill your darlings!” -mantra :). I’d never heard that one before.

  3. I totally agreed – LbD worked great on this lessons
    I did feel lost in my own thoughts at times and really needed to stopoverthinking at times.
    I kept reflecting the tools to my own job – how to make the best use of the tools.
    Ay yhe end – All to all gotta stay optimistic!

    • Thanks for your comment Johanna! I also reflected a lot on my own work during this session. I’ve been working on different design processes for so long it feels really great to be able to take a step back and view things from another perspective and think about where these new tools might help to stir things up 🙂

  4. I also agree about the fascination. I’ve been getting these “Aha moments” the alumni’s told us during the first day. A great feeling! Also reflecting on what our last saturday’s speaker said about accepting the uncertainty and working with it. It’s a very good tip!

  5. It’s great to hear that others had also somewhat messy thoughts at some point of this creative process, but at the end one can be proud of what a great new service has been developed in such a short time. As you Kristiina pointed out, I also understood how important a good facilitator is, especially when working with noobies in the field of Service Design. I remember that the best flow-feeling was when we were guided to silently write down ideas into post-its, even the crazy ones, within 5 minutes. It also gave me the feeling of being empowered, as you described and only the sky is the limit with ideas! Just think when applying this method in any business context and how many problems could be solved with just a hint of creativity and shaking up the old habits! Let alone the human side of it, by empowering people. / Sara

  6. Kristina thanks for sharing your thoughts about this intensive experience with Design Thinking Jam.
    I also share the same feelings and curiosity about the flow of a creative process. It is remarkable, how from uncertainty can arise very constructive and in some way solid solution. Also, I think that it is an important skill and more people which are familiar with and understanding of messy part of the design process will be needed in our disruptive times. I believe that awesomeness of design process comes, as you noticed, from people and multidisciplinary team. Our unique experiences, knowledge and different patterns of solving things out bring magnificent results at the end. The only one think which is hard is to stay away and do not attach to a solution to quickly. As you wrote: ‘simplify, kill your darlings!’. From experience must say easier to say than do!

    • Thank you for your thoughtful reply Marta. Indeed, kill your darlings is a tough one to master..but also repetition is king (or queen) so maybe it will get easier with practise & more practise 🙂

  7. Thank you Krisse for a good story, you are nicely pointing out that the journey can be painful but also very rewarding. Learning to work with Design Thinking process brought to us by Katja also to me felt at some stages a big mess and very frustrating but after the pain and frustration, we could take the next steps on the process and take the ideas into prototyping and learning from there even further. I feel this is a start of a new journey, which will last for a long time and take us to excellent new adventures, looking forward already!

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