Unlocking Creativity for Design Thinking

We started our journey as SID students in early September 2020 with a two-day workshop that introduced the concept and process of Design Thinking. It was hosted by Katja Tschimmel and our tutoring teacher Päivi Pöyry-Lassila. Katja is the founder of design agency Mindshake and the model Evolution 6² or E6² (2018), Päivi is a Principal Lecturer at Laurea.

In the limited timeframe, Katja walked us through the design process with Mindshake’s Evolution 6² model to support the creative thinking process. This helped us form an understanding of what the design process can be like.

Group work for idea clustering in the Design Thinking workshop

We are all designers

Historically designers were typically arts-based design professionals. It is now known that successful designers do not differentiate themselves only through their specialised knowledge, but by their ability to think creatively. (Tschimmel, K. (2020).

According to Kamil Michlewski (Design Attitude, 2016) we all possess some form of design skills. Even though some are inherently better at designing than others, there are a set of steps anyone can follow on the road to innovation.

Unlocking creativity and getting to know the team

Design Thinking

Design for Innovation always implies the creation of something new, it is always based on creative thinking or design thinking. Design Thinking is not only a cognitive process or a mindset, it has today become an effective method with a toolkit for any innovation process, connecting the creative design approach to traditional business thinking.

Design is also no longer viewed as just a creative or rational problem-solving process, but rather as an opportunity and knowledge generating activity that helps to deal with intricate problems.

It’s important to remember however that, as concluded in Design Thinking comes of age, “Design doesn’t solve all problems”, it offers unique opportunities for humanising technology and developing emotionally resonant services and products.

Today design is making significant economic contribution to businesses, organisations and economies and designers are the closest group between the company and its internal and external consumers, they are change agents who are transforming organisational cultures.

Courage to take risks, empathy for understanding

An underlying theme from our research is courage and the ability to embrace risk and ambiguity. For creativity to flourish, the culture needs to be one that allows not getting things right the first time, gives room for quick prototypes and iteration.

So, to “boldly go where no man has gone before” we need creativity, design thinking and a design attitude. We need to have courage to experiment, a toolbox to choose tools from for divergence and convergence for designing and to create new meaning from complexity. When we are able to solve problems, we are at best creating meaningful value for the society and our planet.

Blog text written by Elena Howlader and Anna Sahinoja, SID2020 students


Kimbell, Lucy (2012). Rethinking Design Thinking: Part II. Design and Culture, Volume 4, Issue 2, July 2012, 129-148.

Kolko, Jon (2015). Design thinking comes of age (https://hbr.org/2015/09/design-thinking-comes-of-age). Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71. 

Michlewski, Kamil (2015). Design Attitude. Gower Publishing Limited. England.

Tschimmel, Katja (2020). Design Thinking course lectures, September 4–5 2020. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland. 

Tschimmel, Katja (2018). Evolution 6² Toolkit: An E-handbook for Practical Design Thinking for Innovation. Mindshake. 

4 thoughts on “Unlocking Creativity for Design Thinking

  1. Hi Elena and Anna, I love the phrase “design attitude”! Indeed, that attitude is for sure needed from everyone in the process of innovation; our selves and the organization / group we are working in; how failure is seen and is it ok to try new things out.

    What is also to think about, are the external stakeholders and their design attitude. Sometimes when a company does a major move in the way they communicate, or they change the look of their previously well-known products, the initial customer feedback can look like a brick wall: NO, this is not working. Sometimes it might be that the audience just LOVES the result.

    After reading your post, I am thinking, can customer feedback be viewed as a form of design attitude, or as a initiative to co-design. When the customers are brave and step up with their opinions, when we start a dialogue, could they be seen as designers together with us, fading the concept of external stakeholder?

  2. As Tschimmel emphasized during the lectures, one should not be satisfied with the first solution in any design process, since that solution most probably has already been utilized by someone else. Designer should dig deeper and have multiple ideas how to address the issue in question. As I see it, it is important to think beyond formal or known categories or stereotypes in order to create something truly novel. Furthermore, it is important to have an attitude that processes are not linear, often there is no such type of causality as one has anticipated before-hands. In addition, it is crucial to point out that risk in design (as well as all human action) is relative. Risk can be perceived differently according to the actor, there are multiple layers related to the concept of risk. I think it is important to investigate how actors in the design process are viewing risks and does it have an influence to the creative process of the certain project.

  3. Hi Elena and Anna,

    Thanks for a nice blog post that summarises well the core of the design thinking and makes some very good points about the nature and limitations of design thinking. It’s true that it’s easy to start to look at design thinking with too much idealism. After all, it’s just an approach and not a solution itself. But it can serve as a roadmap to where we want to go. As you say, we as people need to develop our problem solving skills in order to add value to our society and the planet.


  4. Hi Elena and Anna,
    As someone who started the studies this year and just recently took this course, I fully agree with the points you make and I’m especially happy to see you mention “the courage to take risks and empathy for understanding”, that goes great together with the idea of “fail fast, to improve faster”. I find it interesting to learn more about how facilitating can help others participating to have even more courage and help in the creative thought process. Also, the note on: “Design doesn’t solve all problems, it offers unique opportunities for humanising technology and developing emotionally resonant services and products.”, is very valuable and a good reminder of how versatile Design can be.

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