What makes design thinking so appealing?

by Piia Hanhirova

Inspiration, encouragement and empowerment. In my opinion, those are the most important values and aspects, which design thinking offers, and the reason why it appeals to so many people regardless the field they work in or are busy with. Design thinking underlines the deep understanding of people – their needs, wishes and motivation – and gives voice to users and customers.

This year’s Service Innovation and Design (SID) studies started with Katja Tschimmel from Mindshake. She guided us through the past and the present of design thinking as well as introduced us the various design tools based on the Evolution 6² model.

Evolution 6² model

But most importantly, she simply made us do it, that is, work in multidisciplinary teams and use the design tools in practice. So, our team, coming from different backgrounds with multifaceted experience, moved from divergent to convergent along the way of design thinking process, and worked on tools such as the opportunity mind map, idea hitlist, vision statement, user groups, intent statement, prototype, visual business model etc.

Brainwriting, rapid prototyping, visual business model

Teamwork with a capital T

For me, study weekend’s most precious insights boil down to teamwork. Tim Brown noted this already ten years ago in his famous article Design Thinking, in which he reflected on Edison, who was no lone scientist, but a broad generalist with business sense, who surrounded himself with people with different backgrounds.

Hence, ”team-based innovation” and gathering diverse minds together is no novelty. It seems that it is rather the human and empathetic approach integrated in the teamwork within design thinking that makes a difference for people. Building on the ideas of others without fear of judgment or failure makes people feel inspired, encouraged and empowered.

Embracing your creativity

In addition to embracing teamwork, design thinking boosts one’s self-efficacy and belief in creativity. After reading Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley, my feeling about design thinking’s power got even stronger. Yes, regarding the method and process, but moreover in relation to the person who sets his or her mind to design thinking.

Kelley brothers’ Creative Confidence book can almost be read as a self-help book for people trying to find more meaning, whether with regard to work, or life in general. The book entails subtitles such as Creativity is a mindset, Stop planning and start acting, Permission to fail, From fear to joy, and reminds us that it’s not just a matter of semantics. Thoughts become words, and words become deeds.

Design thinking provides you with inspiration by evoking creativity in you. You can prototype (play) with legos, you can draw stick figures and have fun – while still working on serious matters and making people’s lives better. Only thing that may hinder you is the lack of creative confidence – a skill, however, each of us can practice and learn. Check for example Dan Roam’s Napkin Academy. With five shapes you can learn to draw people figuring emotion, action and relation – for communication – not art.

With five shapes you can learn to draw people figuring emotion, action and relation – for communication – not art.

The appeal in design thinking to so many people may just lie in the inherent need to be creative, be inspired by your work or life in general and treat others as well as be treated yourself with empathy. That, indeed, is a promise design thinking methods and tools deliver.

Design thinking makes you feel not only creative but also empowered to take action, make that change that counts. I believe, at the end of the day, that is what we are all looking for.

2 thoughts on “What makes design thinking so appealing?

  1. For me as well, the group-work done in multidisciplinary teams was one of the highligts of the 2 contact days. We all had (have) different backgrounds and it was really reclected in the richness of ideas and perspectives. Definately something I will carry with me!

  2. Thank you for Napkin Academy link 🙂 I am planning to practise my drawing after experiencing the power of visual thinking and its importance in DT at Katja’s workshop.

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