Design Thinking has made me realise there is definitely a conspiracy going on

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.


Katja Tschimmel sometimes wore sunglasses indoors

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:

Get to know your users and the problem

1. Find Clues

Investigating your users suspects and doing detective work on the problem you are trying to solve from many different angles. What are their motives?

Ideate in a group around a piece of paper with lots of post-its

2. Ideate

Generating ideas and leads based on the evidence. Its important that these ideas are both vertical (or numerous) and lateral (as different as possible).

Refine your ideas through discussion and various techniques

3. Refine

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.


4. Execute 

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.

7 thoughts on “Design Thinking has made me realise there is definitely a conspiracy going on

  1. I love the way how you used “Storytelling”! Especially the sunglasses :o) Your blog post convinced me that storytelling is a powerful method to teach contend to others and make it understandable for everyone. I am happy to be part of the social Experiment!

  2. Fully agree with Mirjam! There was drama and the idea of design thinking sounds very appealing! And being art of the experiment so it is :-). I also liked your theater metaphor, you really cracked the idea. If you are watching a performance in addition to facts and the story you experience feelings. I think a good service touches your emotions. Thank you for this insight!

  3. Olli, great storytelling skills 🙂
    Here are a couple comments from my side:
    – You seem to truly have a call for observation. Now that you’re a pro in shadowing, what about talking to your suspects too? They might significantly help you out in collecting relevant information or reveal unexpected insights
    – Questioning things is a fundamental skills of a design thinker. Trust is too! Perhaps by lowering your suspicion bar you’d open up to new perspectives.
    Good luck for your future investigations and bravo!

  4. Olli, Very Interesting way of representing your learnings through such creative storytelling. Your words and pictures match the suspense created from the course and the learning process. You really captured the real essence of the learning process in Laurea, which matches with my thoughts too. That learning is not just from tutors but from fellow students, learning by doing and we are all subject of experiment for each other. Glad to share the same class with you. Cheers!

  5. I totally agree with the other commenters that the storytelling here is great! Very interesting how you named the post and kept the story alive the whole way. It is so nice to be learning from all of you!

  6. Olli, I love that you had a clear and fun viewpoint in your blogpost! I find it hard to read text’s that are lacking the most crucial thing of storytelling.

  7. Well done! Really powerful storytelling towards explaining some important concepts, makes it really easy to digest and understand. One note, the design thinking environment should foster openness and collaboration not just from the professionals but from also the users, it should happen in an open and inviting environment. Another good point mentioned and I want to highlight too that we are learning a lot not just from our tutors but mostly from each other. Thanks mate. 🙂

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