DT is becoming extensively popular in modern era as more and more organizations are striving to provide compelling and innovative solutions to their customers. Design thinking helps to expand one’s creativity as well as enables one to utilize a broader range of tools and approaches for innovative solutions.
What is it exactly?
Design thinking has no single, unifying, common definition and if you ask a bunch of people to describe it, their answers will vary. Creative professional Idris Mootee (2013,29) states that: “If we take into consideration the concept’s predilection for dealing with ambiguity, perhaps there should not be only one definition.” In Mootee’s own practice, design thinking is a framework for a human-centered approach to strategic innovation, and a new management paradigm for value creation in a world of disruptive technology and radically changing networks. According to an experienced designer Jon Kolko (2015), that is exactly what Design thinking as an approach is for the most part, a response to our rapidly evolving and ever changing modern technology and business.
But we need to try and keep up somehow, right?
Keeping up with design thinking
People need help making sense of all the modern advances. To be exact people need their interactions with complex systems such as technology to be amiable, simple and intuitive and it seems that design thinking might be the best tool we got to achieving this goal. (Kolko, 2015.) Design thinking as a framework includes a lot of different tools and/or processes but according to Mootee (2013, 32), it is the framework itself where the magical balance resides.
This might be true hence design thinking is all about cognitive flexibility and how we are able to adapt the process to the challenges. The process of design thinking entails trying to think outside of the box and searching for solutions through trial and error. This method of trial and error, and the fact that design thinking is an approach to collective problem solving aimed to take on design challenges by applying empathy, makes it actually a very humane process.
All in all the tolerance for failure, the empathy with users, and a discipline of prototyping, is the best tool we have for creating responsive flexible organizational culture and those amiable interactions (Kolko, 2015).
Our first masterclass was a mindshaker
Our first Design Thinking masterclass however showed us also, in addition to the framework, the value of tools and co-creation. We had a two-day workshop that focused on understanding the fundamentals of design thinking in the beginning of our Service Innovation and design studies. The two days were interactive and very inspiring. During these two days we learnt about Katja Tschimmel’s Innovation & Design Thinking Mindshake model.
Learning by doing
This design Thinking masterclass was not just another rough and boring two-day lecture. Instead, we did various fun activities to understand the concepts of design thinking. These activities included teambuilding exercises and a symbolic representation of ourselves and our teamwork.
We discussed each step of the Mindshake model with six stages and applied these steps to solve suggested problems. From all the tools, we found the insight map the most fascinating to learn. One interesting aspect in our sessions was the way we used Miro board to imitate a real-life classroom situation. The digital whiteboard enabled us to work together side by side in a way similar with actual interaction.
Learning by studying
This interactive session motivated us to learn more about design thinking, so we read Tim Brown’s (2009) seminal paper on the same topic. The seminal paper depicts various approaches of the firm IDEO. These approaches have made the firm one of the leading organizations in the field of design consultations. Tim Brown for example advocates that empathy is a fundamental tool to understand the perspective of the end user and the problems they are dealing with. This research paper further enhanced our understanding about the concept of Design thinking.
Overall, our first touch with the world of design thinking has been a tremendous experience, not only because of the interactive session where we got a chance to work together with new people, practice design thinking concepts, share ideas and learn various new things by practicing and developing, but also because of the learning that happened afterwards through recommended literature. We especially enjoyed Katja’s Mindshake model. We feel now highly motivated to implement the concept of design thinking in our professional lives and hope to expand known boundaries in the future.
Written by Henna Helminen & Nida Iram
SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences
Brown, Tim 2009. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Kolko, J. (2015) Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture. Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.
Mootee, Idris (2013) Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley.
Tschimmel, Katja (2020 forthcoming). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centred ménage à trois
Tschimmel, Katja (2020). Design Thinking course lectures, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.