Human in Center

Design thinking can be learned and utilized by everyone: whatever is your expertise or field in business, anyone can do things experimentally, with an agile and human-centric way.  The importance of humanity and empathy in today’s business is enormous: during the Covid19 Pandemic, companies have been required to learn to consider the customer experience in a whole new way.

During the Design Thinking course, we learned that customers’ voice needs to listen carefully, but a Service Designer must also dare to make visionary and bold decisions based on knowledge, and in some part, with intuition.

From 3I to E.62  

Highlighting two takeaways from Design Thinking workshop, the first would be the whole design thinking model Evolution 62 (E.62). Professor Katja Tchimmel presented the various DT process models from simple 3I-model to broader models, which introduce also prototyping and amount of iterations. The E.62 model differs from others by systematically and practically offering relevant tools and methods to core phases and keeping the human being in the center.  

Picture: Tschimmel, Katja (2020). Design Thinking course lectures, September 4–5 2020


Another takeaway was the eye-opening bisociation approach which we applied in the teamwork. We were running out of ideas on “How to keep social distancing in educational institutions” but then combined the not-so-obvious dots (IT and Cleaning) resulting the new idea – the gift of bisociation! 

“Someone who makes something better for someone else”

The Design Thinking book emphasizes the importance of developing deep empathy and understanding in order to discover also customers’ unarticulated needs.  As the needs and feelings are not solid and stable, the experiences are constantly in motion and thus evaluation and re-design are needed.

Subheading’s definition of a designer (Oliver King, the Engine Group) is wrapping in its simplicity. Again, a human is in the center and one can start the service design process from empathy, exploring, understanding, and building the insight of the human being. This leads us to the notion of “empathic design”, which Kouprie and Sleesvijk Visser has conceptualized. It is based on the principle that a designer steps into the life of the user, wanders there for a while, and then steps out with a deeper understanding of the user. It covers four phases: discovery, immersion, connection, and detachment. This framework does not leave the designer “on the surface” yet leads systematically into a deeper empathy.

Picture: Kouprie, M & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009) A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life

It’s an ongoing process

Experience is a result of customer’s perception where all touchpoint’s matters. If one point is missed, it will stand out: whether it’s about object or service, a bad design is always visible.

Kleber, S. & Marco, D. (2018). Design Thinking for Creating an Increased Value Proposition to Improve Customer Experience.

Daniel Marco and Stefan Kleber (2018) pointed out that a turbulent and rapidly changing business environment needs new tools for thinking and developing innovative business propositions. Today the lines of products, services, and concepts are blurring, and companies need to think the whole combination of elements and systems. Thus the quite a linear Liedtka J. model was updated to a more dynamic and iterating model for a “Wheel of Design”, that helps to actively develop and reconsider to achieve superior customer experience -human in center.








Thank you for the inspiration for

Tschimmel, K. (2020). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a ménage à trois. In Perspectives on Design: Research, Education and Practice II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. (in process)

Kouprie, M & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009) A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life (Links to an external site.) in Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2009, 437–448

Kleber, Stefan & Marco, Daniel (2018). Design Thinking for Creating an Increased Value Proposition to Improve Customer Experience.
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7874/cb1f74da63e63f1d4b7d6be1fc3e65b9d4f3.pdf

Lockwood, Thomas (ed. by) (2010) Design thinking: integrating innovation, customer experience and brand value. New York: Allworth Press.

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

Written by Johanna Laakso & Piia Lehtinen

One thought on “Human in Center

  1. Thank you for you blog post. This post helped me to realize to major tools for innovation: 1) bisociation approach, and 2) analogy. With bisociation you can look for unlikely combinations that may be difficult to spot otherwise. Innovation is never easy and with bisociation you can force yourself to look further than just for the obvious ideas.

    Also, I found the importance of analogy from Marco’s and Kleber’s Wheel of Design. I think that for a designer it is very important to always keep their eyes open for the world and try to look for analogous situations in other fields that could be applied to a problem at hand. To me this “analogy-approach” can be understood somewhat similarly as Vargo’s and Lusch’s idea of “resource integration”. The core idea being to use an idea or skill from another field and applying it to another problem.

    For me then, this blog post crystallized some ideas of service innovation. Thank you for that.

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