Design Thinking – Be creative and fail fast

“What if I´m not creative?”
– Of course you are, we all are – otherwise we don´t survive in this world.
Prof. Katja Tschimmel

This is how our lecturer, Prof. Katja Tschimmel, answered the question when our two-day Design Thinking module started at Laurea. An interesting journey started for all the new Laurea MBA Service Innovation and Design students. After the module I realised that those two days were an amazing trip to a Design Thinking world – collaboration, new innovations and solving problems that required being creative and explore failures.

What is Design Thinking?

“Design Thinking today is not only a cognitive process or mind-set, but it 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”.
Prof. Katja Tschimmel – Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation

DT mindsetThis is Tschimmel´s description of Design Thinking in her article `Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation`. Before the module I didn’t know much about Design Thinking. I had only read Jeanne Liedtka´s article `Innovative ways companies are using design thinking` for the Laurea entrance exams and remembered it had something to do with how companies can solve problems using the design tools. Katja introduced Design Thinking to us via her own Design Thinking process model called Evolution 62. First I was a bit confused – I remembered the process model and the toolkit from the article to be a bit more simple and that there weren’t so many tools as described in Evolution 62. Katja´s toolkit is quite complex and we only had two days to learn how to use it. Usually it takes months to experience and get to know such a complex tool!

I learned that there are many different Design Thinking process models and like Tschimmel mentions in her article, there is no universal ¨best¨ Design Thinking process model that is the most suitable to use. Everyone can form their own opinion about the models and use the most appropriate one into their creative working process. Our journey started with the model Evolution 62.

Being creative

Hands on! We started working in small groups and getting to know each other. From the beginning ideas started flying. We explored the Evolution 62 in different phases by using the relevant tools:

E1 Emergence – Identification of an opportunity and defining what is the challenge //
E2 Empathy – Knowing the context and stepping in customers´ shoes – defining the user //
E3 Experimentation – Generating new ideas and selecting the most promising ones //
E4 Elaboration – Transforming the chosen idea into a tangible concept //
E5 Exposition – Our team presented the concept and explained what the concept could be // E6 Extension is the last phase but we didn´t explore that since the concept didn’t really go to implementation phase.

Evolution 6

After this process I felt that learning-by-doing is the best way to explore the Design Thinking journey. Collaboration is needed in the multidisciplinary team including all the stakeholders. I learned that human-centred approach is crucial during the creation process – we really had to step in the user´s shoes and be empathetic towards them. Products and services really should be experienced from their perspective. I read Tim Brown´s book `Change by Design` – it mostly consisted of cases from design and innovation firm IDEO. Throughout the book he stresses the fact that Design Thinking is human centred practice and in almost all cases he described how they always started the projects by understanding the culture and context around human.

Failing fast

“Fail early to succeed sooner.”
— As we say in IDEO
Tim Brown – Change by design

The quotation from Brown´s book goes straight to the point. The Design Thinking process cannot be done without visualisation and experimentation that requires failures. We made a quick prototype and soon realised some parts of it didn’t work, after getting feedback from another group. Brown also talks about the importance of prototypes in the process of Design Thinking in order to progress. The point of prototyping is to ensure ideas will work and to validate the assumptions made when conceptualizing the ideas. Failure provides massive learning opportunities, which will eventually lead to new insights and eventual success.

I noticed that a curious mind-set can help challenge assumptions, inspire others, and unlock creativity. Design thinking is really a process for creative problem solving. It can be summed up by: collaboration, insight, building and testing based on human centred design. Brown concludes that Design Thinking could and should be practiced by everyone, and be infused in all aspects of life as it will bring great benefits to all.

I totally agree and my journey to the Design Thinking world has just started!


Written by: Marianne Kuokkanen

Brown, Tim (2009), Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation.

Tschimmel, Katja. 2012. Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation. In Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM

Tschimmel, Katja. 2018. E.62 Mindshake – Innovation & Design Thinking Model

2 thoughts on “Design Thinking – Be creative and fail fast

  1. I am a big fan of Tim Brown´s approach to failure: “The Design Thinking process cannot be done without visualisation and experimentation that requires failures”. Based on my experience a fear of failure is one of the biggest hinders for any kind of development.

  2. Fail fast is something we- read I- shuld learn more. Not fall in love with my own ideas but to think those as learning tasks. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn” 😉

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