Once upon a time, there was a design thinker…

The first course in our exciting journey of Service Innovation and Design learning started with a deep dive into the world of Design Thinking. Our class has an interesting mix of different professional domains and backgrounds, which, as we learned from professor Katja Tschimmel, is a great foundation for a creative team. 

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on unsplash.com

…who believed in the power of collaboration

The two intense sprint days gave us an overview of what design thinking is and can be. During those days most of the learning was done in the form of practical teamwork. We were put into teams to find solutions to inclusion-related problems in workplaces. This is where we discovered what it was like to work intensively with other people, using Creative Thinking methods to find new ideas, doing mind mapping, brainstorming, and collecting data from real interviews. As teams, we first worked out solutions and chose one that we pitched to the others using storyboarding. During the class, we also saw the importance of warmups and wakeups and how they impact the atmosphere and create a safe, innovative space to work in.  

…who stepped into the life of others

Design Thinking is a framework embracing empathy in design thoughts. Design serves people best when based on real needs. The way to get optimal results is to have end-users be part of the process, from start to finish. To gain a deeper understanding of the users, the designer needs to step into their life, feel their emotional state and get to know their circumstances and experiences. On our intense sprint days, we had the possibility to try this in practice as we planned and conducted interviews with our potential end-users and collected good insights on how to proceed with ideating.   

Photo by Nicolas Hippert on unsplash.com
Photo by Javier Esteban on unsplash.com

…who found creativity all around

Professor Katja Tschimmel presented us with several ways to open our minds to creativity and think outside the box. We learned creativity is for all and can be found everywhere. It is a very comforting idea, that it is not just some supernatural gift, but a skill that can be practiced and improved. The Kelley brothers highlight the fact that the creative potential is a natural human ability that exists within us all, and if blocked, it can be released. They also point out that in order to gain your own creative confidence you have to believe in the ability to create change around you.  

…who wasn’t afraid to try, as there’s a lesson in every failure

Working in an iterative way gives the best results. One of the most significant learning out-come for us has been the “fail fast, improve faster” -approach. The earlier you fail, the earlier you can learn from the failures and improve what needs fixing. The key-idea is not to give up, but to keep trying and let the failures guide you towards the right direction. Both Tim Brown and the Kelley brothers have brought up Edison’s invention of the lightbulb as a great example of the Design Thinking process. Edison understood the importance of teamwork, the needs of people, and saw the possibilities to learn from each iterative step, and then managed to combine this with a market opportunity and a viable business strategy.  

The Design Thinking method and approach is for everybody, and it might just be the thing needed to find the right solution.  

And this is not the end, the story has just begun. 

Photo by Carmen Martinez on unsplash.com

Written by: Venla Knuutila & Marja Gorbinet 

Inspired by:  

Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95.  http://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/thoughts/IDEO_HBR_Design_Thinking.pdf (Links to an external site.)    

Kelley, David. & Kelley, Tom. (2013) Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business. (http://www.creativeconfidence.com/ (Links to an external site.))  

Kouprie, Merlijn & Visser, Froukje Sleeswijk. (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  

Tschimmel, Katja. (2022). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking - a human-centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II: Research, Education and Practice II. “Serie in Design and Innovation”. Springer International Publishing. (in print)  

Tschimmel, Katja (2021). Design Thinking course lectures, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences (online)  

7 thoughts on “Once upon a time, there was a design thinker…

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this blog and making it so visually appealing. It was pleasant to read. In the collaboration paragraph you mentioned that it is important to have warmups and wakeups during the workshop to ensure safe environment. I’ve never thought about those wakeup breaks as a way to create a Safe atmosphere rather than as a way to let people relax from intense work. That is actually a good point.
    I like how you combined the things that you learned in the workshop with the literature of your choice. I think you brought up the most significant features of Design Thinking!

  2. I really liked your blog post! Making the headlines to continue as story was an excellent idea. It provided fun and pleasant reading experience. In addition, I loved the way you have used the possibilities of WordPress to make the layout look professional.
    The content of your blog reminded me about some important perspectives and ideas discussed during the workshop. You managed to combine the practical experiences of the workshop with the course literature successfully.

  3. Well well well, I must appreciate your story making/telling skills and this is what I expect in a blog. The content of the blog is telling the insight information about the design thinking process and yet you did not overload the user with so much academic terms and definition. While, reading this blog, all the learning and memories from the Design thinking class held by highly professional speaker Katja Tschimmel got refreshed in my mind, and you have nicely presented the key take aways from that class. I am not very much found of reading articles which are over-loaded with information, and mostly I like light stuff, that’s why I like this blog. Hope you will keep writing !

  4. Thank you for bringing this vivid review on the DT masterclass and the contextualization.
    The line of stepping into to the life of others and the emphasis on involvement of end-users in the process made me think of how the method could work with elderly people. Or wouldn’t it? Especially for those seniors, who are not familiar with computers, living in retirement homes, or such. I would appreciate to explore any experience or inspiration here.

  5. Thank you for this nicely constructed blog post! I think it is important that brought up the fail fast, improve faster -approach as it highlights well the value of iteration and the fact that Design Thinking is a nonlinear problem-solving process. It’s essential to “love the problem, not the solution” as any solution or idea that one might have isn’t valuable until it’s been successfully tested with the end user.

  6. The images and headlines positively drew my attention to this post. A nicely and descriptively written summary of our two intensive study days. As you wrote we did and learned a lot during those days and Katja Tschimmel was an excellent teacher who knew how to keep the interest going all the time. That fail fast, improve faster approach you mentioned is really an important lesson from the course. It is something that many companies would certainly still have a lot to learn so it is important that we spread a word about it.

  7. This post stands out for its visual appeal, really nice job there! Also, the story format of this was different and positively engaging, I really enjoyed reading this one. I like the conclusion where it says that Design Thinking is for everyone, this is important to remember, and whenever I see it, I have more motivation to keep on learning and developing in that area!

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