Climate change, globalization, aging and digitalization are huge factors which, among others, are forcing us to think and act differently. In order to be resource efficient and competitive, to take care of older generations, and take the advantage of possibilities of digitalization, we need new sustainable innovations here in Finland.
I believe that Design Thinking is versatile toolkit which can help us to create a better world. In this blog, I will first briefly introduce the main idea of Design Thinking and then later explain of what benefits this ideology has to offer for public services.
Design Thinking gives us tools to create more sustainable innovations.
Design Thinking is a way of thinking, not a strict discipline
Before the Design Thinking master’s program at Laurea University of Applied Sciences, I had some preliminary ideas about what Design Thinking is. However, already during the first couple of days of the program sessions lead by Katja Tschimmel and Sanna Marttinen 8-9 of September gave me a much wider perspective on the matter.
In general, Design Thinking is based on planning and rational problem solving by applying the principles of designing to find optimal solutions that both meet user/customer needs and are financially profitable to businesses. However, instead of offering a single way of looking at Design Thinking, Tschimmel taught us that there are many different kinds of models and tools to apply. The models provide useful frameworks to make people to understand processes better. This notion of lacking a universal, single-truth-model is aligned with the findings of Tschimmel (2012) adding that the assessment of the value of each Design Thinking model has to be done by each innovator himself.
Katja Tschimmel has created her own model: Evolution 6² innovation and design thinking model.
Just to give a bit of taste and examples of some of the best known Design Thinking models, maybe the 3 I model (Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation) and the HCD model (Hearing, Creating and Delivering) by IDEO are worth mentioning (Tschimmel 2012). In my opinion, the strength of Design Thinking is that people involved in creative working process are not required to follow always the same paths or use the same models and tools. Same old tools lead to same old solutions, you know.
Old wisdom says that learning starts by failing. One of the delightful aspect of Design Thinking is that it allows you to fail. In a way, Design Thinking aims at preventing the massive failures and allowing solutions to fail fast by rapid and early prototyping, visualizing and testing new solutions. (Tschimmel 2012). In Design Thinking mistakes are not seen as negative outcomes but instead as the source for learning and self-confidence.
Design Thinking provides new methods and tools for modernizing public services
To be an innovative and create new services and business models we need to observe, find the users’/target group’s needs and connect them to service providers goals. It is not possible without interaction among different people and groups.
Design Thinking is based on interaction and co-creation.
I have worked last seven years in development projects in a public sector. I have been happy to see that instead of rigid top-down mentality, little by little users, residents, and personnel are together getting involved in planning, developing and creating new or modernizing existing services. Indeed, some British researchers think that this new way of co-creation is revolutionary and necessary method for re-designing the public services (Miettinen 2014). Design Thinking gives tools for co-creation. I believe that using Design Thinking i.e. municipalities are able to produce more effective services and be competitive in future. I am really excited to be part of this kind of course of action.
Miettinen, Satu (toim.) 2014. Muotoiluajattelu 2014. Helsinki: Teknologiateollisuus ry.
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. http://www.academia.edu/1906407/Design_Thinking_as_an_effective_Toolkit_for_Innovation