By Marja Hyypiä, first year SID student
My journey as a future design thinker started on a Laurea UAS course on Design Thinking in September 6-7, 2019 where we had the pleasure to have Katja Tschimmel – Professor, Researcher, Trainer and Consultant in Creativity and Design Thinking (LinkedIn) – as our teacher. The two-day course with Katja was like a deep dive in design thinking practice – relatively short but gave a good hands-on experience of why and how to apply design thinking approach in innovation processes.
Various visual design thinking models are like recipes for novel practitioners. It does not matter which model you choose, they all pave the way by reminding of the most important principles like human centeredness, collaboration, experimentation, visualization and holistic perspective. Although the models are structured in sequenced phases, proposing suitable tools and methods for each phase, they are all iterative in nature. Usually there are repetitive and successive stages of divergence and convergence embedded in each phase, implemented through different tools. In the end, it is important to know why, when and how to apply each tool – once you get familiar with practice you will learn how to get the best out of each situation or challenge.
From Katja I also learned many useful insights for real life workshops: for example, how quantity turns into quality when producing original ideas, or how visualization is the way to test and turn abstract ideas more tangible. As I am looking for a deeper understanding and ability to enhance design thinking also at an organizational level, I picked Idris Mootee’s Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation (2013) from the course’s selective books list to support these practical lessons from classroom. I was assured by the back cover promise for the reader to learn (among other things) “How to create a design thinking culture within your company”. I was looking for some kind of guidelines, a pathway for how to initiate design thinking culture in an organization.
For me, Mootee’s (2013) book is a guidebook for understanding why design thinking approach is vital for the survival in today’s unpredictable and ever-changing markets. Mootee (2013) shows how old management techniques and s systems, searching for answers from the past or trying to predict change with almost a scientific rigor, all fail to preserve value or competitive edge, not to mention their failure in creating any new ones. He stresses that we all must accept ambiguity and prepare ourselves for a variety of possible futures. Design thinking approach can help organizations become more agile in recognizing new possibilities and taking advantage of emerging niches. It calls for a pervasive design thinking culture of collaboration, inclusiveness and curiosity where also trial and error are embraced. By listing eight crucial challenges businesses face today and then pinpointing design thinking features that best serve tackling those challenges, Mootee (2013) provides a valuable vocabulary for selling the approach also to business managers.
As a design thinking novice I was curious how Tim Brown (2008) would approach the subject and completed my course reading with his Design Thinking article published in Harvard Business Review. Brown (2008) manages to clarify practical principles and opening the strategic possibilities through a few intriguing examples. He explores Thomas Edison work to remind us the basics of design thinking and innovation: hard work, collaboration, combining knowledge, learning from setbacks and understanding what other people need in their lives. Correcting nurses’ time-consuming shift change and information exchange illustrates how applying design thinking can result in meaningful improvements for all stakeholders. Japanese manufacturer of bicycle components facing market decline recognized a completely new market segment after researching beyond assumed markets. India’s Aravind Eye Care System shows how systemic approach and a strong human-centered mission can solve the challenges in heterogeneous context with e.g. vast cultural and economic differences, where one solution does not work for all.
All three, our dive into design thinking practice in class sessions with Katja Tschimmel, review on business challenges by Idris Mootee (2013) and exploration of real life cases with Tm Brown (2008) have given me inspiration and courage to take the next needed steps to become a practicing design thinker.
Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95. http://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/thoughts/IDEO_HBR_Design_Thinking.pdf
Mootee, I. 2013. Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School: Wiley.
Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking. [lectures]. Held on 6-7 September. Laurea Univesity of Applied Sciences.