I started my studies in Service Design this autumn 2017 and Design Thinking was the very first course I took part in. As there was the word “design” in the course title I was a bit worried about my capabilities to succeed in this. These worries became a reality soon as the course started and I found myself with a pencil in one hand and a Lego dude in the other. Do I really have to draw something? What is this thing with post it –notes? Are we seriously going to play with legos?
Our lecturer Katja Tschimmel gave us a brief introduction to the world of design thinking and how it has evolved during recent years. She also introduced us few models, including her own tool kit Mindshake E.6² that are used in innovative, problem solving processes. According to Tschimmel, even though we are not professional designers, we can adopt certain methods from traditional design processes that can help us solve problems in a creative and innovative way. (And we don’t necessarily need to wear black turtleneck pullover and designer classes.)
So let’s do it! We were divided in a group of five people. Using the Mindshake E.6² tool kit we started working on a subject “Studying in Laurea”. By drawing a mind map we explored all the possible ideas related to the subject. We soon discovered that the most important topic for us all was how to find your own career path when studying in Laurea. As most of us had experienced some kind of career crisis in life, the topic was close to our hearts and easy to work with. “Find yourself in Laurea” was the working title of our project.
We continued our problem solving process for the next two days somewhat intensively. The process was very unlike any project work I’ve been involved with during my career or previous studies. The main premise was that failure is allowed and part of the process. Very radical idea for a person like me who has worked in a banking industry for the last 15 years. We did not present our results with PowerPoint –slides but with post it- notes, sketches and legos. The important part of the process was storytelling and roleplay. So not really the usual day at the office.
Did I turn out to be a designer in two days? Not really, but the most important realization was that the idea about “the lone genius inventor” is more or less a myth. Interdisciplinary collaboration and active engagement with other people create the most valuable ideas. But it also requires good tools, open-mindedness and tolerance for failure and ambiguity. I assume these requirements are not always easy to fulfill in a hectic corporate environment that addresses effectiveness and fast results.
As Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO explains it, design can be so much more than fancy products. Design thinking can be seen as a tool for developing meaningful services for people. This idea is very appealing. Design thinking is applicable in all areas of life, not only in commercial services but also in education or third world projects. I most certainly cannot call myself a designer after two days workshop, but I have learned some useful tools and adopted a mindset that makes innovating possible.
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: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona.