Get you Post Its… it’s playtime!

It truly was a great start of becoming a design thinker when we started our journey towards the new goal with intensive two-day course run by Katja Tschimmel. Afterwards I felt like rundown by bulldozer. So many new things, interacting and so much more. But wait…something felt familiar! It’s all that fearless creating, drawing, role paying, acting and being with a team. It was like back in childhood when there were no limits, not even the sky. Something that we had, but lost when growing up.

Pablo Picasso said that it took him four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child. I think we haven’t lost the ability to fearlessly create, imagine, role play or draw. We just have to find it again. It’s all about practicing and getting comfortable with all these methods that have been brought back to us by Design Thinking.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games, there are rules also. Not to limit us but guide us through the creative process. Maybe they should not even be called rules but best practices, methods, tools or guide lines.

Katja Tschimmel presents and compares Design Thinking models in her paper Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation. Most of the methods have similar steps or spaces like they are called and tools that can be used in the process. Every team or project has to find the best ones to suite their practice. Like Tom and David Kelly write in their book Creative Confidence: There is no one-size-fits-all solution for bringing new ideas to life, but many successful programs include a variation on four steps: inspiration, synthesis, ideation/experimentation, and implementation. They also mention that they adapt and evolve their methodologies continuously.

Brave enough to fail

In my opinion Design Thinking is also an attitude. You have to get out of your comfort zone, interact with others, maybe you have to be little bit crazy and you have to learn to accept failure. If you never fail you probably have only done some iteration and not found anything new, like Katja mentioned during the course. Tim Brown also wrote “Significant innovations don’t come from incremental tweaks. Design thinkers pose questions and explore constraints in creative ways that proceed in entirely new directions.” I think this is what it’s all about, finding new opportunities, new ways of looking things. Nigel Cross also mentioned in his book that one of the important features is how designer can cope with uncertainty. I think both of the features are something we are thought to avoid through life. Don’t fail and don’t do anything foolish. Stay inside the borders. Now we need to unlearn these rules and become brave explorers.

Our crew in the sand box

When we were kids we played with who ever showed up in the yard. All had ideas about games to play. This is also one similarity with Design Thinking. Design thinking is not a game to be played alone but with a team. Design team’s strength is wide knowledge and experience base and understanding situations from many different angles.

Toys, toys, toys

Design thinkers probably are heavy users of Post its. Along the two days I used more post its than ever before. During the course I was bit confused with all the toys brought to us! There are plenty of toys to play with and many games to play during the process: post its, markers, mind maps, prototypes, Legos, sketching, storytelling – whatever makes the visualization and passing the idea easier and of course what helps to come up with many ideas to start with. It’s fast and it’s a lot and that’s why the process needs to be well facilitated.

After the playtime was over

After the two days was over our groups had many great ideas and I definitely had deeper understanding where we are heading and I’m thrilled about it. Design thinking sound not only really cool but something that might help to solve many problems by offering people not only what they ask for but what they need through deeper understanding of people, situations and cultural connections.

7 thoughts on “Get you Post Its… it’s playtime!

  1. Really good writing and summary from our two-days course and design thinking.
    You put my ideas in words about how process needs to be well facilitated. It is also big part of design thinking process.

  2. I really appreciate what you write about changing our attitudes about accepting failure and coping with uncertainty. Two of my least favourite things, that I’m so going to struggle learning to live with.

  3. Thank you for your inspiring blog post! I am really looking forward to finding my inner child again in our Design Thinking journey.

  4. I really like your statement that Design Thinking is also about the attitude, and that you emphasize the bravery and willingness to question and change the world to really be a “good” designer / design thinker. Also I agree that a good design thinker is not only supposed to find the solutions that people think they need, but to go deeper than that through a thorrow process where you really consider all the aspects, instead of just taking “the easy way out”.

  5. I agree that we are all able to create something new, imagine and draw, but together as a team, when taking in consideration the people and environment around us, we are even better. In Design Thinking there are no right or wrong answers. Just do it! Design Thinking is a powerful tool and it might lead you to unusual solutions, in your daily life or any business. When we find the playful inner child in ourselves, we are one step closer to successful Design Thinking.

  6. Your blog post echoes some of the messages in the Change By Design, and Creative Confidence books – Design thinking can be playful, fun, child-like and serious. The idea that difficult problems can be solved by taking a new child like look at them, along with tools to help break out of fixed mindsets and provide some direction is pure brilliance. It is also very human, as all of us were children once, and tried, failed, built, drew, created, planned, and worked out what works- we practiced many elements of design thinking as part of our natural development.

  7. I like a lot your argument concerning the importance of right attitude which demands unlearning the adverse rules, such as rethinking the failure: to be brave enough to fail and explore freely. And as you say being playful in the design thinking process means withdrawal from fixed mindsets and dreaming together as a team. It’s still important remember that there is a goal somewhere out there just like you state. Design thinking is not just a free ride. As you mentioned the design thinking process needs facilitation to be able to reach the final goal, the new service. To sum up one could say there must be a focused goal, balance between playtime, ability to cope with the uncertainty and knowledge and experience to apply the right toys (=tools) at the right moments to be able to be a good design thinker.

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