One Thousand Experiments Club

Mind shaking

Our Design Thinking (DT) journey started with two days of mind-shaking by Katja Schimmel (Katja). Learning by doing was absolutely engaging. We warmed up with creative thinking skills exercises. While perceptive thinking felt like a hard nut, associative thinking felt familiar and easy to master. In a playful spirit, we got to explore the concept and process of DT. Different DT models were discussed. Finally, using DT Model Evolution 6² as a base, we got to work in teams on a service design challenge. It was curious to work with the DT model incorporating sustainability. Surprisingly, the first tool, media research, intuitively guided us toward the organization’s sustainability goals. There were moments in the emergence phase when rationality would take over the playful spirit. In contrast, the elaboration phase felt like a game, and all team members were curious to experiment when building prototypes. However, the final result, Laurea’s sustainability hub, with spaces for startups, felt like a tangible creative achievement of a diverse team.

Inspired by Katja’s example of Spanish chef Ferran Adrià, we would like to share a video by another Spanish chef, David Muñoz, as a marvelous example of emotional storytelling:

Everyone is creative

People commonly assume that either one is born creative or not. However, creativity, like other abilities, may be developed via training, appropriate methodologies, and the guidance of a professional tutor. While innovation technique focuses on technological (feasible) and business (viable) concerns, design thinking prioritizes human (desirable) factors. The design thinker must believe in his potential to take one more complex problem in the future, continue longer, and overcome unsuccessful attempts before succeeding. The unbreakable relationship between failure and invention is a lesson that can only be learned by doing. Recognizing and overcoming fear, embarrassment, and failure is the first step toward creative purpose, and conquering a fear of failure is simply the first step toward creativity. Curiosity, optimism, perseverance, preference for action and experimenting fuel creativity. The key talent of the major inventor is a tendency toward action that balances preparation with quick prototyping. It does not have to be flawless the first time. It is preferable to tinker and alter something than to ponder and coast. Aside from talents, it is essential to be surrounded by creative individuals to assist in developing creativity. After gaining creative confidence in his initial projects, the designer may embrace continual learning and create his entire life.

Organizational DT chameleon 

Finally, we want to reflect on two articles researching DT practice in companies from a different perspective. 

Even though companies understand DT similarly as the concept is represented in the literature (with five central themes across contexts: User focus, Problem framing, Visualization, Experimentation, and Diversity), they apply DT in various ways in different contexts (as a process, method, toolbox, mental approach, culture, or mix). Therefore there is a need for a flexible description that takes account of the various facets of use. The key to understanding DT might be the interplay among the elements rather than a single element in isolation. To illustrate the idea, let’s look at the description of a Design – Centric Culture in the company. Four elements are necessary attributes: focusing on emotional users’ experiences, using DT tools to examine complex problems, tolerating failure, and creating a clear, simple customer experience. It is easy to notice that the diversity theme is missing. However, the aim is to describe DT as a culture, leaving other ways of applying DT outside. Diversity, as a key to innovation, may be absent when focusing on examining complex problems.

Reading Jon Kolko’s article was a pleasure. It offers a clear and simple user experience. Inspired, we researched the author’s ideas more broadly and can highly recommend his blog

SID students Ali Bider and Milda Jovsaite 

References :

Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. (2013) Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business. 

Carlgren, L., Rauth, I. & Elmquist., M. (2016). Framing Design Thinking: The Concept in Idea and Enactment. Creativity and Innovation Management, Vol. 25, Nr. 1. 38-57.

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.

3 thoughts on “One Thousand Experiments Club

  1. I didn’t check who the writers were before reading, and when we got to the sustainability hub with spaces for startups, it started sounding very familiar… Regards, a proud member of your experiment club! 😀 I also liked the point about overcoming different types of difficult feelings that may hinder the process, if you don’t pay intentional attention.

  2. Great blog! I couldn’t agree more that everyone is creative, and I think having a design mindset helps us to all spread that message wider!

    Our group also felt the elaboration phase was like a game, and we really enjoyed creating physical prototypes to bring our ideas to life.

  3. “People commonly assume that either one is born creative or not”.
    From where does this way of thinking come? A brief reflection on this from my own perspective… When children, we all express our creative abilities in our creations… the first non-sense drawings, the way we play with play dough or those objects… but usually, only those with good skills to represent reality, with drawings for example, are recognised and cheered by other children or adults. There are always some children in the class with these nice skills, that make the rest look at their creations with admiration… Every time there is an activity that requires drawing, for example, children tend to look at those that stand out for the task, removing themselves automatically from the equation. As a result, the creative confidence of these few grows (they are more confident to draw and try new things)… and the creative confidence of the others might be eroded.
    When children, as a natural tendency, we look for recognition and acceptance… as a result of that inner surviving instinct. We depend on the grown-ups for our “survival”. Situation like the one describe above can easily make children with not such drawing skills to think: “Ok, I cannot compare my creations with the ones from this or that other child… I won’t be in a good place when others compare our creations, I better focus in a different thing… I am not creative(!!)”. This though, reinforced time after time, can make many children to assume lack of creative skills… and that can remain until adults… It’s the duty of teachers at that early age of children to reinforce and recognise the validity of each of their creations and reinforce that, as such, all of them are as good as any other.

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