As an opening to our degree program in Service innovation and design we had Design thinking -course. The blast-like opening of the studies got me really happy, as we got to start doing design tasks from day one. I have been a bit concerned how much creativity it takes to tackle all the design challenges we are going to face during the studies, but this course showed me that we all have a small designer living within us and that we can enhance our design skills by practicing.
According to our professor Tschimmel (2019), it is important to loosen up before starting to create in a new team. After some warm-up exercises, we started to learn in practice what design thinking is all about.
Design thinking in a nutshell
Tschimmel, Santos, Loyens, Jacinto, Monteiro & Valenca (2019) explain that design thinking (DT) could be described as methods and processes to solve problems, to innovate, and to find new solutions as well as viewpoints. This we got to experience already during our first lecture, when we started to solve the first design problem given to us. As I learned from our lecturer Tschimmel (2019), there are several process models and tools in design thinking, which designers can utilize in their attempt to create new solutions to existing and latent problems, and it does not matter that much which ones you use, as long as they are suitable for the design phase you are trying to solve. We got to try out the tools presented in Evolution 6’s model (Tschimmel 2018).
Design thinking enhances peoples’ skills to collaborate and think creatively, and therefore drives innovation in several types of organizations (Tschimmel et al. 2019). As we got to experience first-hand during the lectures, the core of design thinking lies in the ability to discover empathy towards people, which allows DT practioners to step in the shoes of end users, discover their hidden needs and create new solutions and insights to complex problems (Brown 2008; Kelley & Kelley 2015; Tschimmel 2019;Tschimmel et al.2019). Our class got to train our empathy skills during the field-study, where the aim was to find out the latent needs of Laurea students towards their studying facilities.
As Tschimmel (2018) explains, design thinking can be understood as making inventions in processes that involve cross-disciplinary stakeholders. Our class consists of people from different backgrounds, such as engineers, marketing professionals, and journalists. As Kelley & Kelley (2015) explain, the variation in the backgrounds of team members is a great advantage to a team. It was nice to discover how different viewpoints of our team members all brought new ideas and lots of discussion in the team.
Why do we need design thinking?
As I learned during the lectures (Tschimmel 2019), we need design thinking to solve complex problems of today’s societies. There are several issues that have risen due to overpopulation, hunger, climate change, etc., that all wait to be solved. As Tschimmel et al. (2019) explain, today’s societies, organizations, and communities have become increasingly complex also due to rapid changes in technologies. The change has forced organizations to deal with more complex surroundings and also changed the learners’ profile in education field, as digital tools and internet have changed the learning environment (Tschimmel et al. 2019). It seems that there is a real need within organizations to gain competitive advantage through innovation, which can be reached with the help of service design (Kelley & Kelley 2015).
Design thinking includes skills, such as an ability to initiate things, collaborate with others, think creatively and innovate (Tschimmel et al. 2019). For me, these skills sound like something that would be good for everyone to possess in order to make any community, society, and organization to be able to succeed.
Release your inner designer
In their book, David and Tom Kelley describe how we all have inner creativity that is just waiting to be released. We all had it as a child, but when growing up, the learned habits and skills, as well as the surrounding world, might have diminished it. We may consider ourselves as non-creative- individuals, but the Kelley brothers explain that this is not the case: Creativity is something we all possess as human beings, we only need to rediscover the skill.
Kelley D. & T. (2015) suggest in their book an eight phase -program to boost creative confidence. With real-life examples of successful people (such as Steve Jobs) as well as everyday John Does, they manage to give convincing evidence that anyone can build their creativity by starting with small steps and not being afraid to fail. Instead, it is important to prototype in an early phase and go fast forward to receive results. (Kelley & Kelley 2015). I agree with their viewpoint that if you don’t do anything, you cannot evolve in your life. It was great to try out the fast prototyping in the course to see, how you can make prototypes to visualize the possible end results and to develop them further.
For me, the Design thinking -course was an excellent starting point on the way of discovering and enhancing my own designer skills. The course taught me how to proceed with my learning – step by step, not being afraid to try and fail. If you are interested to learn more about releasing your inner creativity, I would suggest you start from the Kelley & Kelley (2015) book and discover the eight phases to creativity.
Author: Mari Vuoti, Service Innovation and Design Master degree programme
Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harward Business Review, June. Accessed 29 September 2019. https://churchill.imgix.net/files/pdfs/IDEO_HBR_DT_08.pdf
Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. 2015. Creative confidence: Unleashing the creative potential within us all. London: William Collins.
Tschimmel,K. 2018. Evolution 6 toolkit: An e-handbook for practical design thinking for innovation [online lecture notes], in Mindshake (ed.). From Laurea Optima workspace Finnish society. Accessed 25 September 2019. https://optima.discendum.com
Tschimmel, K. 2019a. Design Thinking [lecture]. Held on 6-7 September. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.
Tschimmel,K., Santos, J., Loyens, D., Jacinto, A., Monteiro, R. & Valenca, M. 2019. Research report D-think [online lecture notes]. From Laurea Optima workspace Finnish society. Accessed 25 September 2019. https:// optima.discendum.com