I went in to learn about Design Thinking… but left having realised I was involved in a massive social experiment!
It all started innocently enough. It was a rainy autumn day, in southern Finland. We were told this would be a design thinking workshop. That’s right, Design Thinking. Nothing more, nothing less. But what happened on those two fateful days proved so, so much more.
We were guided through the workshop by Katja Tschimmel, a well-spoken and experienced workshop facilitator. Immediately I was suspicious – what was she hiding? What are her motives? I eyed everyone in the room, but they all seemed immediately captivated by her process.
She introduced the E6 methodology which is the similar to other more popular methods like IDEO’s 3I or the Design Council’s Double Diamond. Wanting to find more evidence of my suspicions, I read her reportDesign Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation.
As a overview, the main stages of Design Thinking include:
1. Find Clues
users suspects and doing detective work on the problem you are trying to solve from many different angles. What are their motives?
Generating ideas and leads based on the evidence. Its important that these ideas are both vertical (or numerous) and lateral (as different as possible).
Critiquing the ideas using specific criteria ideally with other detectives and maybe even the whole squad. Filter the best ideas and question how they can be improved, then check if they are feasible within the time-frame / budget.
Going through with one or more of the refined concepts. Creating a draft version (or prototype) and implementing it.
Its important to emphasise that these are merely rough guidelines and not prescriptive concrete stages and that if you don’t catch the bad-guy in a car chase you should go back to a previous stage and rethink your plans.
It was when we arrived at a specific technique called Service Blueprinting that I realised what was actually going on…
Service Blueprinting helps to visualise all the necessary steps in a service process on a timeline. There was a metaphor I remembered from the bookThis Is Service Design Thinking which helped clear confusion about the distinction between front- and back-stage interactions by setting out the premise of the service as being like a theatre performance. This makes the customers of the service the audience, the front-stage interactions the actors, and the back-stage interactions as what happens behind the curtain to ensure the smooth running of the performance.
This was the moment it hit me! I realised how much we service design students will actually learn not just from our tutors but mostly from each other, and that the course itself is set up as a massive user-focused design experiment! To those of you naysayers immediately doubting this truth I present some further evidence confirming this conspiracy found inDesign Thinkingby Nigel Cross. Nigel repeatedly cites that “one way of studying design thinking in action… The designers’ statements and actions are recorded for later analysis… case studies are derived from these types of experiment”
After this realisation, I’ll continue to suspiciously look over my shoulder and keep an eye out for further confirmation of this newly unveiled conspiracy.
Good Night and Good Luck.
Olli, Signing out.