Diving into Design Thinking – First Taste

Our service innovation and design studies started with an interesting Design Thinking course held remotely by Katja Tschimmel. During the two instruction days we learned the basics of Design Thinking, went through a Design Thinking process in small groups using Miro and did also some creative thinking as well as thinking outside the box exercises. We liked the execution of the course very much. It was two very intensive but fun days. Below you can read part of our learnings from the course

What is Design Thinking

During the last decade Design Thinking has become a popular approach for innovation. Design and Design Thinking are closely connected as Design Thinking is based on design methodology, the designer’s culture and way of thinking (Tschimmel, K. 2022a, 47). However, design never achieved the same position in the corporate world as Design Thinking has now achieved.

Design Thinking is a cross-disciplinary method which combines innovation with a human-centered approach. It investigates thoroughly the needs and wants of people and turns then into customer benefits and business value. (Brown, T. 2008, 86) Design Thinking is being used in fields such as service, business, organizational, social and educational innovation (Tschimmel, K. 2022b, 13).

Design Thinking Principles

Design Thinking is based on the following principles:

  • Collaboration means that as many stakeholders as possible should be included in the process.
  • Human-centered approach underlines the importance of user’s perspective.
  • Experimentation means that mistakes and failure belong to creative processes.
  • Divergence highlights the importance of thinking in different perspectives and looking for future possibilities.
  • Visualization helps to simplify complicated things.
  • Holistic perspective takes into account the system of interactions around products, services etc.
  • Prototyping makes ideas tangible through early simulation and testing.

Another way to describe the principles of Design Thinking is by dividing them into three main categories with sixteen subcategories (picture 1). The main categories are thinking, actions and mindset. (Tschimmel 2021)

Picture 1: Principles of Design Thinking by Mindshake

Process of Design Thinking  

The way we see this, is that the process of design thinking is out there with an ultimate purpose – to make the world a better place. Designers, innovators and anyone in between strive towards solving challenges of various multitudes by using innovative and creative approaches while getting inspired, ideating and, finally, implementing ideas into real-life environments. The most successful way of utilizing a Design Thinking approach is often a collective process, involving mind work of a number of individuals, who have a common goal to reach, an issue to solve or a process or service to improve. 

Picture 2 and 3 on Team-based Approach to Innovation & Dramatic New Forms of Value: Brown (2008)

Design Thinking’s Areas of Application  

Design Thinking, or human-centered problem solving is traditionally used in business and strategy, as Mootee is describing in his book, however, the application areas of Design Thinking are increasing diverse, versatile and can often be seen utilized in unexpected scenarios within industries that slowly only begin to realize the potential that Design Thinking methods can bring to the table. 

Moreover, Design Thinking in a modern society is seen as far more than simply a product design tool; it is used for creating something that is not only technologically possible, but also financially viable, as well as valuable for a target consumer, with the customer being at a centerpiece of the process. 

Written by Katja Kotilainen & Yulia Lobanova


Brown, T (2008). Design Thinking: How to deliver on a Great Plan. Harvard Business Review June 2008, 84-95.

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, I. (2013).Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation : What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Tschimmel, K. (2021). Design Thinking Master Class 3.-4.9.2021 material. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Tschimmel, K. (2022a). Design vs Design Thinking. In creativity and Innovation Affairs. (in process) Available only for SID students at Laurea University.

Tschimmel, K. (2022b). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centered 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)

5 thoughts on “Diving into Design Thinking – First Taste

  1. Hi, you two have well summarized the principles of Design Thinking as well as learning from the course. Naive or not, but I like your description of the the goal of DT to make the world a better place.and doing it through collaboration. Perhaps, the actual process of DT could have been described more in the chapter, although I understand the limited length of the blog. In the last chapter, “Design Thinking’s Areas of Application”, the sentences are a bit too long and difficult to follow the idea. However, all in all, a good summary and visually nice piece of reading.

  2. I think you captured the essence of service design quite nicely, “making the world a better place”, something i did not reflect on when engaging in the service design studies. For me it was a lot more about obtaining a framework and a process for solving complex problems. Reflecting this now, I think it´s important to remember why we engage in the field of service design, as Simon Sinek put it: “it all starts with why”. Thank you for reminding me that it´s our job to make the world a better place, one small step at a time.

  3. Dear Katja and Yulia,

    you managed to grasp and condense the essence from the two intense days of Design Thinking by Katja Tschimmel. As we learnt, there are numerous ways to describe the Design Thinking (with capital letters) main principles and related activities. On top of the available process and tool categorization, I was especially pleased with your reference to the business realities. One of the key ideas of the whole Design Thinking approach is to create solutions that are financially viable, both from consumer point of view and from the provider perspective (or as we have learnt recently, in the mutually beneficial actor – actor resource exchange).

    Emphasizing with and understanding the target group needs, not perhaps with their wants, collecting and analyzing ideas, improving them via prototyping and quick failure and feedback loops will guide the result towards the goal. Creating wonderful ideas and trying them out can be an exhilarating experience and may provoke novel amounts of positive energy with everyone involved. Nevertheless, it is of paramount importance throughout the development to evaluate much the users are willing to pay for the output, that is if the process was to aimed at becoming a sold service. In case of a non-profit motive, the result still needs to be practical and feasible in financial terms.

    Let’s not have the financial aspects limit us from having fun while learning, trying out and evolving towards becoming driving forces in the area of Service Design and beyond.

  4. Thank you ladies! Amazing how well you succeeded to cover the two days in only one post. Your post was eye catching and it was a pleasure to read it. Especially your pictures were very informative. Good invention to use the bullet points to define the important words. Those words and their meanings are good to repeat, even though I also attended the class.

  5. Thank you for sharing your learnings from the course! I also enjoyed our two intensive, but fun study days.
    It’s true, that nowadays design thinking has become popular, and different organizations use design thinking in their innovation processes in some ways – some more, some less. Still, design thinking and the concepts around it may not be easy to understand, so thank you for clarifying the principles and process of design thinking!
    I also believe that design thinking can make the world a better place, solving problems in collaboration with others with a human-centric approach. This shows to me, that we can have a playful, curious and positive mindset and still make an impact.

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