Archive by Author | annikki80

The Rules of Innovation and Design Thinking

by Tiina Salminen, SID19 student

After the contact lessons in Practical Design Thinking I started to wonder the rules in innovating. Maybe this was because I was a bit surprised about the fact, how much rules there are in design thinking and innovating. When thinking of innovating, you don’t first think, that it is something that is done with strict rules. You may be thinking of Gyro Gearloose, who is always coming up with new ideas from zero and brings them to life in no time. Or as Tim Brown (2008, 88) says: “We believe that great ideas pop fully formed out of brilliant minds.”

The first signal about these rules was, when our teacher Katja Tschimmel in the Practical Design Thinking contact lesson, asked me why I wanted to use red post-its when others were using blue. Well, I liked that there are more colors on the board. How wrong could I go! Katja pointed out, that it is important, that the colors have meanings, if you use them. Also, there is a difference when to use a black marker and when to go with different colors.

These were minor rules but as we continued, I realized there are also bigger rules when innovating. At the end of our contact lesson, Katja highlighted that innovation comes when you are in a closed room in a closed time and you don’t have too much time before the deadline. Tim Brown (2009, 21) confirms the idea, saying that clarity, direction, and limits are vital to sustaining a high level of creative energy.

Our projects Stakeholders Map (MINDSHAKE model Evoluton 62, 2012 – 2016). This is where I would have liked to go with the red post-its. You can maybe see, there is no space for red ones!

I was a bit scared. I am terrible at following strict rules and processes. I was relieved from this by Katja Tschimmel. As strict as they say that design thinking project should be, Katja pointed out, that it is very important that you use the design models in innovative way. If you stuck on doing things with the way that your model presents, you could go wrong. You need to be innovative when using your design model.

After this, questions aroused in my mind. For example, how do you know when to be bold and innovative and not follow the rules and models? And when to stay in strict command? I got help from Tim Brown (2008, 88-89). He outlines that the design process is best described as a system of spaces rather than a predefined series of orderly steps. And the project passes through three spaces; inspiration, ideation and implementation.

At the end I realized that everything depends on the project. You need to go with the flow of the project. See what the points are, where to amend your model and when to stay at course. I have a feeling that this comes when you are really listening and noticing how people are going forward with the project and what kind of questions are coming along the way that needs to be answered.

Design thinking as a discipline is here, because otherwise we would just be bouncing here and there with our ideas and innovations. And at the end would not get anything done. With rules and models, we can achieve something, that would otherwise be unreachable and unidentified. Also design thinking is here to help everyone be part of the innovation process. It is not just something for the Gyro Gearlooses.

When doing the opportunity mind map, you can be more flexible with the colours. But I still wonder, if we got carried away with them..

Choose your model. Be bold, be flexible and innovative. But use the right colors!

References

Brown, T. 2009. Change by Design. How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review. June 2008. Brighton: Harvard Business Publishing. 84 – 92.

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking contact lessons. 6.-7.10.2019. Laurea campus. Espoo.

Tschimmel, K. 2018. Evolution 6² Toolkit: An E-handbook for Practical Design Thinking for Innovation. Mindshake.