How to think like designers do?

Empathy, experimentalism, optimism, collaboration. These are the characteristics designers have – just to name a few. During the introduction lesson lectured by Katja Tschimmel on 8 – 9 September we took an intensive dip into the world of Design thinking. And instead of just listening and learning we also got our hands on to the desing process and acted on a basis of design thinking – learning by doing. We evoked our inner designers in teams amongst the theme ”Studying a Laurea” and our guide during the project was Tschimmel’s and Mindshake’s EVOLUTION 6² model.

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What comes to the characteristics of a designer, here’s my thoughts about them and how we took an advantage of them during the study project.

Empathy – Being a very human-centered and interested in peoples lifestories, to me this is the most inspiring characteristic of a designer. What would be more invigorating than to understand the inner mind of your customer and to create a service that responses to his/her inner needs and desires? In our project we for example interviewed the potential persons from our target group and made customer journey mapping in order to understand better the fictive customer.

Experimentalism – Design thinking releases the acceptance of failures and actually is even provoking to test new ideas and creations in an early stage by prototyping. We didn’t have too much time to prepare our ideas so inevitably we were forced to accept the possibility of a total failure of our ideas. And in addition, we were encouraged to accept the fact that our idea does not work in a real life. And thus we were coached for experimentalism.

Optimism – this characteristic is strongly bonded with experimentalism. Design thinkers don’t hold themselves back by having a pessimist attitude – they don’t limit their ideas by thinking that the ideas wouldn’t ever work in a real life. They let their wild ideas flow and if something appears not to work in a real life after prototyping it, that won’t discourage them.

20170908_152451[1]Collaboration – Design thinking participates as many stakeholders into the design process as possible. With collaboration the design process will be more productive and takes into an account all perspectives of the process. Customers themselves are one of the most important group in design process. Naturally, we didn’t have a possibility to involve all the stakeholders into our rewind-design process but we were conducted to take into an account also other concerned parties and we also made for instance stakeholder mapping for our project.

Do you recognize these or some other designer characteristics from yourself? Which characteristics do you think are the most important ones for a designer and why?





Tschimmel, Katja; Santos, Joana; Loyens, Dirk; Jacinto, Alexandre; Monteiro, Rute & Valenca, Mariana 2015. Research Report D-Think.

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

Meinel, Christoph 2011. Design Thinking: understand – improve – apply. Dordrecht: Springer.

2 thoughts on “How to think like designers do?

  1. I totally agree. All of your picks are essential in the stages of Design Thinking. Empathy and co-creation enable getting deep insight into the subject at hand and experimentalism and optimism are integral to the creation and testing of various solutions to a problem.

  2. I totally agree with you about these key characteristics of a designer. And got inspired of your question: in my opinion the most important characteristic of a designer and a design thinker is definitely ’empathy’ – in the era of robotics and IoT the only thing that humans can do that AI can’t is feeling love and spreading love and empathy. And that’s why everything we create as designers should be based on these human virtues. That’s also the characteristic that I pursue most in my own thinking and the reason why I feel so appealed to service design.

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