Design thinking: Innovation with creativity and confidence

Getting back to studies after a decade was like, having butterfly effect and feeling equally anxious and excited! Moving ahead with hopes and believes, that this course in Service Design and Innovation will be a serious learning curve for current and future growth in my career path. We jumped into the course of Design Thinking with Katja Tschimmel at Laurea University on 8-9 September, along with many new faces around and hundreds of new thoughts churning in my head.

A course stimulating, creative, full of learning and findings using Design Thinking methodologies – Evolution E6 introduced to us by Katja Tschimmel. We explored this highly complex tool, which usually takes months when practiced professionally,  in just two days. It was an intensive experience of learning with creativity and building confidence among group. Started off with pre preparation to build group spirit and gain understanding of group members by sketching and writing on post-it about each other, soon we realised our group was  – ‘Vegabond Yogi’s’

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The first question arises in the group work was; So what is Design Thinking?

According to Tschimmel, Katja (Article – Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation) – “Design Thinking today is not only a cognitive process or mindset, but has become an effective toolkit for any innovation process, connecting the creative design approach to traditional business thinking, based on planning and rational problem solving”. The similar question is also asked by Mootee, Idris (In the book – Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School) and the definition of design thinking is defined by following and more:

  • It’s a way to take on design challenges by applying empathy
  • An approach to collective problem solving
  • A framework to balance needs and feasibility
  • A means to solve complex or wicked problems
  • A mind-set for curiosity and inquiry
  • A fixed process and a tool kit
  • A problem-solving approach to handle problems on a systems level
  • A culture that fosters exploration and experimentation
  • A design buzzword to suggest that designers can do more than just design
  • A management buzzword sold as the next strategic tool and many more


As shown by Katja in the course there are many different design thinking models and tools available to follow like IDEO’s 3I model, IDEO’s HCD model, model of the Hasso-Plattner institute, 4D or Double Diamond model, SDT – service design thinking model and many more. These shows that there are many different ways to practice design thinking process, depending on the needs. We followed MindShake’s – Evolution E6 – innovation & design thinking model.

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E1 Emergence – Identification of an opportunity we created opportunity mind map as a divergence process and intent statement as the convergence process.

E2 Empathy – Knowing better the context, we created stakeholders map as a divergence process and created insight map as convergence process.

E3 Experimentation – Generating and testing ideas, we created brainwriting/sketching  as divergence process and created Idea hit list as convergence process


E4 Elaboration – Working on material and semantic solution, we created rapid prototyping & desktop walkthrough as divergence process and created service blueprint as convergence process

E5 Exposition – Communicating the new concept and solutions, we created storytelling as divergence process and Vision statement as convergence process.

In this process of Design Thinking I felt that the approach of learning by doing and getting your hands dirty by experimenting among individuals with creativity and confidence is solving problems.  Some other values that design thinking broaden my perspectives are:

Learning by failure – Embracing failure as a step towards new learning experiences. Learning that came out from unexpected failure was may be more valuable than the success might have been. It is to prove that you didn’t know what you thought you really knew and through that you learn something unexpected.

Being creative and confident – It’s a notion that you have big idea and have the ability to prove them. It can be done by building confidence by taking baby steps, going through lots of iterations and each time one finds oneself successful by the end one is a creative person.  If you have creative confidence you have more intuition to try more things and you go down different paths becoming  fearless to failure and this leads to Innovation.

Being empathetic to end users – Empathy is not just putting yourself into someone else’s shoes, but it’s more than that. Its chance to fall in love/hate, chance to  be completely other than usually are and discover so many other things about life and living. It’s all about people they are in the heart of Human centered design. In order to have true Human centered design one needs to understand the people, there needs and desires for whom one is designing.

Embracing ambiguity – critical piece of embracing ambiguity is letting multiple ideas coexist simultaneously, which is exploring lots of possible solutions and answers because we don’t know what’s going to work out in the end. We need to give ourselves the permission to explore. Design thinking is a process of creating several new ideas, going through it to get innovative solutions that really works for people. It means we don’t know the answers yet, which might be uncomfortable as we are not used to such scenarios.  Hence we should embrace ambiguity, explore multiple ideas and iterate them, so that the answers can reveal itself in the process.

Being Optimistic – to be a designer one needs to be optimistic about the ability to come up with new solutions. Bigger the challenge more essential is optimism. Optimism is the thing that drives one forward to make it possible. Optimism is Art of possibility.

Make it – try by doing and developing ideas – to make the ideas and concepts come to reality one needs to make it and try by doing/iterating. Idea is to start with low resolutions to get basic feedback and not spend too much time refining it, just get the main idea to convey.

Iterate Iterate Iterate – Iteration is important process in design thinking to gain validation along the way, to know that we are working towards better solutions. Moving through concepts more quickly and in process gain input from users one can arrive at better solutions quickly. Iterating early on and testing different ideas, so that we are not investing too much on a idea that might fail in the end.

“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing there will be no results” – Mahatma Gandhi.

Namita Savla


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.

Brown, Tim 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95.   

Mootee, Idris (2013) Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley

One thought on “Design thinking: Innovation with creativity and confidence

  1. I really liked the way you summed up the key bearings of the design thinking course. New point of view to me was the optimism that you presented as a competence and it totally makes sense. I also liked the quote from Gandhi. The world needs so much more experimenting!

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