Reflections on Design Thinking: a conversation with Sheena OhUiginn and Anmol Kumar

As budding Service Designers, coming together with this diverse group for three days of collaboration and problem solving was an incredible way to kick off our studies. After a few days of reading and reflecting, two of us sat down to discuss the experience and share our thoughts… 

Anmol: What an amazing and intensive master class! 

Sheena: Agreed, I’m looking forward to discussing this with you! Let’s start broad – What was your biggest “lightbulb moment” from our Design Thinking contact sessions? Did anything inspire or surprise you?

Anmol: It really surprised me how much human psychology plays a role in not only designing something aimed at end-users but also in the amount of psychological aspects that are important when designing a team and considering the personality dynamics among team members.

Sheena: Absolutely. I thought it was really interesting how certain activities and models are designed to help limit any hierarchy or otherwise change the dynamics to encourage contributions from everyone. For example, the Idea Hitlist activity really fostered empathy and compromise within our group. 

Anmol: Indeed! All the group work helped us get to know each other and work as a team.

Sheena: The workshop put us into groups and had us work together to identify a problem, conduct some research on campus, and begin prototyping our solution, leveraging the Mindshake Evolution 62 model. What did you learn most from our group and how can you see this informing your future approaches to Service Innovation and Design?

Mindshake design thinking model

Anmol: This was a great way to put knowledge into practice. It was quite fascinating to go through each step of the service design processes. With so little time, we came up with great ideas as well as rapid prototypes. I would definitely implement these steps in my future projects. 

How would you suggest that service design be integrated in current business models?

Sheena: Oh good question. I really do believe that Design Thinking is steadily becoming the most effective driver of business innovation and that the best way to integrate Service Design is by embracing the mindset. A lot of what has been taught in business schools hasn’t changed in over 30 years and is really rooted in a distorted concept of value. 

One of the books in Laurea’s ebook Library, Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation by Idris Mootee discusses this really clearly. Montee posits that “more than 80 percent of our management tools, systems, and techniques are for value-capture efforts, not for value creation” (Mootee, 2013, 59). What I think he means here is that we’ve been totally preoccupied with consistency and predictability and in doing so we’ve dampened our ability to innovate. 

Anmol: One of the best ways to move past the obvious is to conduct interviews. I will be going to focus more on collecting field data from end-users to further polish my prototyping. As rightly conceptualized, “Service designing is a constantly evolving process” (Brown, 2008) and end-users input is a key factor in improving design.

“Faces of creativity” Drawing of Sheena and Anmol

Sheena: I really appreciated how eager you were to talk to people on campus. I can be a bit shy, but it’s important to talk to your users – they might surprise you! Montee says that “innovation is about maximizing the chance of lucky surprises” (Mootee, 2013, 52), and so I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I think that one of the most valuable ways to integrate Design Thinking into current business models is to really focus on fostering a mindset that aims to push past the obvious and find something surprising, even if the unpredictability requires you to give up a bit of that control. 

Anmol: That takes a lot of creativity.

Sheena: It really does. I like how Katja Tschimmel posits that Innovation arises at the intersection of Creativity, Design, and Design Thinking and that Service Designers must form a nuanced understanding of the definitions of and relationship between these three concepts (“Creativity, Design and Design Thinking—A Human-Centred Ménage à Trois for Innovation,” 2021)

Throughout the Design Thinking contact sessions, where else did you see Creativity and Design come into play? Did you come out of the workshop with a deeper understanding of these distinct concepts?

Anmol: I certainly came out with a deeper understanding of these distinct yet essentially interconnected concepts. Creativity leads to better design and a better design fuels further creativity. In my opinion, this interlink is not so linear, but rather a more circular process in the design thinking process.

Sheena: That’s really interesting. I look forward to our next sessions and furthering my learning with you and the rest of the class!

Written by SID 2022 students Sheena OhUiginn and Anmol Kumar


Brown, T. (2008, June). Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review.

Creativity, Design and Design Thinking—A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. (2021). In J. Neves, J. Silva, & D. Raposo (Eds.), Perspectives on Design II: Research, Education and Practice. Springer International Publishing.

Midshake. (n.d.). Design Thinking. Mindshake. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from

Mootee, I. (2013). Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business Or Design School. Wiley.

8 thoughts on “Reflections on Design Thinking: a conversation with Sheena OhUiginn and Anmol Kumar

  1. A lovely fresh take on the assignment in the form of dialogue, with sharp observations from our sessions! 🙂 I’ve also been musing about serendipity lately – the chance for lucky encounters which may reveal something totally unique!

  2. This a unique way to writing a blog post. Very precisely summarized the contact lectures of Design Thinking course. A dialogue between two fellow service designers is very refreshing, and also to see how people from two completely different academic and professional background approach Design Thinking in their own unique way. 🙂

  3. Nice article! This comment by Sheena caught my attention for a reflexion:
    “I really appreciated how eager you were to talk to people on campus. I can be a bit shy, but it’s important to talk to your users”
    and I could draw an analogy with creativity 🙂
    I think, as in creativity, the braveness to talk to users can be practised and reinforced! Of course talking to users, usually unknown people, it’s a barrier we have to overcome and get self-confident doing, but as we keep trying (and sometimes failing!), having a clear purpose in our mind, being confident with the process and with the objectives to achieve out of that conversation with strangers, we’ll do it more and more natural 🙂 we are in the good way!!

  4. Thank you Anmol and Sheena. Your blog summarizes the whole two days contact session and used pictures from the workshop to illustrate in the blog. I totally agree with your statement there is a relationship between design and creativity but not linear.

  5. What an insightful and easy flowing post! Such a great approach to engage into a dialogue to discuss Design Thinking – and telling by showing what Design Thinking is.

    It is easy to agree with the importance of the psychological aspects in teamwork, and the way a team is built; getting to know each other at group work and speaking to other people. Sheena’s observation of Anmol’s talking with other people caught not only Alvaro’s attention, but mine too. Speaking with people is often one of the pre-requisites in getting to know them, and speaking is easier when you feel you are heard and respected. Our group has proven to attend to and encourage discussion, which I cannot but appreciate.

    Another key point to me was that Design Thinking brings the humanities kind of approach closer to business. The interpretation of Mootee’s thoughts of seeing preoccupation with consistency and predictably being among the causes of dampening our innovation ability, hits the nail on the head. Business can certainly do with complementary and alternative approaches in an increasingly complex world.

    Finally, bloggers did a brilliant picture choice by selecting ‘Faces of creativity’. Thanks for an inspiring post!

  6. What a fresh way of writing a blog post! I really felt like having a cup of coffee with you and listening to you talk. Thank you for incorporating the “knowledge” into your discussion in a very natural way.
    I was not surprised to find out that 80% of our tools and systems are for value-capture rather than value creation. This being said, and based on the other literature we have read (also for other courses like service-dominant logic), I feel like my pink glasses have been taken away and I am seeing so many of “the wrong” that there is an immense urge to try and change companies towards value creation or indeed seeing the service-dominant logic.

  7. Thank you for your creative post! It is very refreshing to read a blog post in the form of a dialogue between the two of you. In addition to creativity, your comments also summarized the contents of the 2-day-masterclass very well. The classes and much of the literature highlighted human-centricity and empathy being essential factors in Design Thinking. You also included those important factors in this assignment with this dialogue format. 🙂

  8. The blog post in the form of a dialogue was very creative : ) ! Most of the time the dialogue seemed very fluent and natural. However, some quotations did not quite fit in towards the end of the post.

    I totally agree with you that the workshop was great in the sense that we had a chance to put the received information into practice right away. I will also utilize some of the practical DT tools in my work team, which was established only in September, in order to innovate new forms of co-operation.

    And it was nice to hear that it’s not just the Finns who are shy in a group of strangers : ).

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