Archive by Author | inkamarianne

Design Thinking – the bridge between the problem and solution

I had a chance to attend a two-day intensive course called `Unlocking the Secrets of Service Design´ offered by CityDrivers. The trainers were Dr. Niels Billou and Adil Mansouri who are experts on Design Thinking and innovation. Both trainers created very energetic and enthusiastic environment that helped us, participants, to get excited about the two-day intensive course.

Trainers: Dr. Niels Billou and Adil Mansouri

During these two days Niels and Adil introduced the principles, practices and the process of Design Thinking and methodology of Service Design. I have some experience about Service Design and Design Thinking from my Service Innovation and Design studies in Laurea. By taking the two-day course, my goal was to learn new tools and methods that I haven’t used before and to know how I can apply these to my future projects. Here are my key take-aways from the days.

Day 1 – Introduction and understanding the customer

The first day gave an overview of Service Design and Design Thinking. After an interactive lecture all the participants rolled their sleeves and started working with the case assignment and exploring the first parts of the Design Thinking process – understanding the customer, collecting and analysing the interview data.

What is Design Thinking?

“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
— Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO

 

DT

Billou introduced few different definitions for Design Thinking. In my opinion the most descriptive definition for Design Thinking is from Tim Brown. According to Brown´s quotation Design Thinking helps to make decisions based on what customers want. And when using tools from designer´s toolkit, like applying experimentation and empathy that helps to create innovative solutions to problems.

Trainers introduced a Stanford D. School Design Thinking model that consists of five stages: Understand, Observe, Define Point of View, Ideate, Prototype and Test.

DT processStanford D. School Design Thinking model

During my studies I have noticed the stages of different Design Thinking process models are actually quite the same – only the titles and amount of stages vary. Earlier I have been using only the Double Diamond Design Thinking process, since I know the stages and it is familiar to me. So now I was excited to get to know a new process I haven´t used before.

Power of Empathy

Empathy is all about understanding the people. First phase of the Design Thinking process is to understand the customer. Adil talked about the power of empathy and how important it is to step into customer´s shoes. In this part of the process the data reveals underlying needs of the customer. The trainers introduced few effective tools for this data gathering part:

  • In-depth interviews – help researchers to learn more about a person’s experiences, processes, attitude, problems, needs, pains and ideas.
  • Empathy map – represents a customer’s actions and a mind-set. Interview guide can be adjusted into an empathy map and cover what the customer “Think”, “Feel”, “Say” and “Do”.

 

After an interactive lecture the participants were divided in multidisciplinary teams. Trainers pointed out the importance of cross functional teams – it is vital to have people from different backgrounds who co-create innovative solutions together. My group got a design challenge to redesign the workday lunch experience and encourage people into sustainable eating habits.

Our first step was to go out and interview people regarding their lunch experience. We made an interview guide for the interview – one was interviewing and the other took notes. I have been interviewing people before but I haven´t been using empathy map template. I noticed it helped to sum up the findings and catch a deeper insights from the interviewees such as what the user was saying, doing, thinking and feeling. In my opinion this tool works especially well in mini-interviews when having only 30-60 minutes to do the interviews.

Data visualization leads to insights

Our next step was to analyse and interpret our data to find insights from interviews. Niels introduced us a storytelling tool. Each of us had a chance to be a storyteller and describe what we heard and observed from the interviews. The listeners draw visual images about important details on post-its – finally we had a wall full of post-its. The empathy map template used in interviews was very helpful in this exercise.

Storytelling: Capturing data & clustering insights

The last step of the first day was to cluster the post-its and find common patterns between the notes. This storytelling and the visual data capturing were new tools for me. I was surprised how easy it was to see the overall findings when the post-its were full of pictures, and not just text. I could use this in workshops at work when we have limited time to capture customer data.

Day 2 – From Insights and Ideas to Innovation

The last day started with a summary what we had done so far and what was ahead of us: ideating, developing a prototype and testing it with customers.

Finding a focus

We started the day by creating a persona. Adil explained personas are fictional customers created to represent different user types. The persona helped us to step into the customer´s shoes and it guided us to make useful design decisions later during the day.

personaCreating a persona

At this point of the Design Thinking process we were on the “Define a point of view”-stage. According to Niels the Point of view sentence help us to build a line between the initial problem and future solution – it narrows the focus and makes the problem specific. It was surprisingly hard to summarize our thoughts into one sentence.

Next the trainers encouraged us to generate plenty of wild ideas by using how might we… –method. How might we questions launched many crazy ideas and we put those on the post-its. After that it was time to vote for the best idea. Adil introduced a Prioritization Matrix that helped us to identify the most important and valuable ideas, prioritize them and vote for the best idea.

prio matrix.pngPrioritization Matrix

Presenting a Prioritization Matrix on the lecture was a great reminder for me. Once I have been using that during my studies but since there are so many tools it is easy to forget. Since the time was limited during these two days the impact / effort axis on the Prioritization Matrix helped us to point out the best ideas fast. I put this tool into my toolbox and definitely will use this in the future projects.

Fail early, to succeed sooner

In the afternoon we started to build a prototype that eventually helped to solve the problem. According to Niels the prototype is a draft version of a product or a service. It should present our idea and when showing it to the users the aim is to get feedback for iteration.

This was the best part of the day and we were really excited about this step. The team made a prototype out of Legos. This was a first time for me to do this part with Legos. Lego characters were the actors on the stage and the bricks worked very well when presenting the idea and the experience around it. We were very pleased to our prototype.

Building a Lego prototype

The last step of the Design Thinking process was testing the prototype with users. The team went out and we presented the prototype for few users.

“If prototypes aren´t failing you are not pushing far enough. Failure is part of understanding and improving”
– Dr. Niels Billou

final proto.png
Final prototype

Niels’ quote went straight to the point. We got plenty of feedback and enhancement ideas for the prototype and some users crushed the prototype by saying “That won´t work in real life”. We presented the prototype and the feedback for the whole lecture group. Our team proved Niels´ quote true – the failure is truly part of understanding and improving.

To sum up these two days, this intensive course taught me new tools and methods of Design Thinking and reminded me of tools I already knew. Since there are so many tools to use, the hardest part is to choose the most relevant ones for every project. I´m excited to learn more – practice makes perfect, doesn´t it?

 

If you want to discover more different Design Thinking tools and methods, I recommend This is Service Design Doing Method Library. Library consists of 54 hands-on Service Design methods. This is a useful site when choosing the right methods.
https://www.thisisservicedesigndoing.com/methods

tiss

 

Written by: Marianne Kuokkanen

 

 

 

 

 

The secrets of the Creative Leadership

“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration.”
– Robin. S. Sharma

Creative Leadership

We are living in complex, uncertain and volatile world where human skills such as empathy, creativity and complex problem solving are the most in-demand leadership qualities today. I had a chance to attend a one-day intensive course called Creative Leadership offered by CityDrivers. The trainer of the program was Eleonora Carnasa who is a founder of the design and innovation agency Fabrica 360.

During the day Carnasa talked about how to get the right leadership mind-set with the most essential skills of today: systems thinking, design thinking, creativity and strategic design. By taking the course, my goal was to learn what a Creative Leadership is and how it can be applied to my daily work and life. Here are my key take-aways from the day.

What is Creative Leadership?

“Creative leadership is the ability to create and realize innovative solutions especially in the face of structurally complex or changing situations.”
– Fabrica 360

Creative leadership 2

The quotation summarizes the definition for Creative Leadership quite well. During the day Eleonora opened the subject in more detail and presented three core Creative Leadership focus areas: empathy, clarity and creativity. These are the baseline for Creative Leadership, creating a holistic playground for organisational and personal development.

Empathy

Leadership is all about empathy. It is about to be able to understand people and have the ability to step someone else’s shoes. Eleonora gave examples how a leader can cultivate empathy in their teams:

  • Empathy causes empathy – Ability to feel emotions is what triggers emotions in others. If you let yourself be vulnerable, it is genuinely easier to connect with someone.
  • Be present – Everyone are looking for being validated, seen and head. Leader´s job is to help others know they matter.
  • Catch an invitation for empathy – Catch every smile, tear, frown and eye roll. When you notice them you can shift your behaviour and be present.
  • Go out there – It is hard to get a perspective if you sit at the office every day. To better understand who you are collaborating with, go to them and observe their routines.

Empathy

I think everyone in a team can cultivate empathy, not just the leader. Everyone can be present by asking their co-worker how she is doing and be genuinely interested in her reply. If she sees that you care, she can open up about what might be bothering her and what ideas she might have. This creates trust among the team members and confirms the team spirit.

Clarity

In leadership clarity is a critical component of success. We are living in a constant state of change and chaos is present every day. To create the optimal environment for innovation it requires clarity from the leader. How the leader can bring clarity into the team? Here are few points what Eleonora pointed out:

  • Clear vision – Leader and the team get lost if they don´t know where they are going. Knowing and communicating the direction where the team is heading is crucial for the success.
  • Meaningful values – Core values guide the team in the right direction. Communicating the core values and explaining how the team is benefiting from the values creates clarity
  • Create expectations – Clarity of goals and objectives are vital part of the success. This way the team knows where to focus on and that way effectiveness increases.
  • Constructive feedback – Everyone make mistakes, but criticism usually don´t help to fix them. Feedback can be done in a way that allows the team to learn and improve, so that next time they know how to avoid mistakes.

Clarity

I have noticed that sometimes we have so many great ideas that we forget to focus on our actual goal. I think that focusing into right matters are the key element for success. It is great when a leader brings clarity to the table, tasks and roles become into focus and the team forms one solid unit.

Creativity

I´ve been wondering what is creativity in this context. Eleonora brought up a quotation from Ken Robinson that summarises the definition of creativity quite well: “Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it´s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture”. What creates creativity in teams? I think Eleonora pointed out two most important points how a leader can nurture creativity:

  • Embrace diversity – Diversity at workplace is the key for creativity. Multidisciplinary teams create diverse ideas. If a leader can create a safe environment, it will encourage everyone challenge shared ideas and offer their own.
  • Encourage failures – Fear of failure can hinder creativity, that´s why it is important that a leader encourages to fail in that manner that the team will learn from it.

I think leader´s core role is that he can facilitate creativity in others. Meaning that leader encourages and finds the way how everyone can get creativity out from themselves. The highlight of the course was the Superpowers Card Deck, introduced by Carnasa. In my opinion the card deck is a great concrete tool how team members can discover their strengths and that way cultivate their creativity.

SuperpowersSuperpowers Card Deck

We played with the cards in the lecture and the cards helped to discover my superpower – what I do better than anyone else on the team. When knowing my own superpower it is easier to activate those powers and be at your best. I´m definitely presenting these cards to my team. If you want to get more information about the superpowers and order the Superpowers Card Deck, here is the link: https://superpowers.sypartners.com/

To sum it up, this one day intensive course opened up the secrets of the Creative Leadership and helped me to find effective ways for building empathy, clarity and creativity in my team. I learnt that when all the team members know and use their superpowers it will clarify the strengths of the whole team. Together we are more.

 

If you are more interested in the subject, here are few book recommendations I got from the lecture:

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – The book explains the two systems that drive the way we think and what effects on our behaviour. System 1 is emotional, intuitive fast and System 2 is more logical and slower.

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle – The book offers a roadmap for creating an environment where problems get solved, expectations are exceeded and innovation flourishes.

Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement by Glenn Elliott & Debra Corey – The book provides a practical approach to improving employee engagement through ‘The Employee Engagement Bridge’ – model.

 

Written by: Marianne Kuokkanen

How to facilitate a successful Circular Economy Jam event?

Jam

“As a facilitator, a lot of the success of the Jam relies on your shoulders. Not just helping the team deliver a good, validated concept, but their experience along the way.”
Jesse Grimes – Service designer & Jam’s special guest from Amsterdam

The quotation by Jesse Grimes goes straight to the point. The success of the Jam event is depending on the facilitation. Service Innovation and Design students in Laurea had a chance to facilitate in Circular Economy Jam 2019. The Jam was a two-day event and the purpose of the Jam was to discover new possibilities, share insights, and develop new circular economy solutions around university operations and campus life in Laurea.

How well the facilitation of the Jam went depended a lot how well the facilitators were prepared. I couldn´t participate to the Jam as a facilitator but I was preparing and helping my facilitation partner for the Jam. This blog post is about how to prepare for the Jam and that way facilitate a successful Jam event.

Introduction to the topic

The Circular Economy Jam was divided in seven different topics around circular economy challenges. Each challenge got two facilitators. My facilitation partner and I chose the challenge: “How to improve the efficient use of products or resources through Collaborative Consumption and Sharing Platforms?

Firstly we had to get to know the topic better. We started gathering information and reading several articles regarding collaborative consumption and sharing platforms. We learned especially millennials no longer want to own stuff and value experiences over owning things. In sharing economy and collaborative consumption individuals or organizations share resources like products, services, time or skill via a digital platform. In addition to digital platform sharing economy requires the culture of trust.

Part of the information search we started thinking about the research questions that are related to the topic: What can be shared? How to motivate owners and seekers? How to gain the trust among the users? What are the risks and how to minimize threats? These questions and articles we read helped us to understand the topic better.

Time-keeping is the challenge

When we were familiar with the topic we started planning the Jam structure. At first we realized the biggest challenge will be the time-keeping. From the experience we knew it can be difficult to stop the team during an activity when they feel they are not ready yet.

If one team is delayed, it may cause timing problems for all the other teams too. That´s why the most important task of the facilitator is to ensure that the team will achieve the goals of tasks in time. Facilitator should improvise during the Jam and friendly guide the team to the next step and also communicate that things don’t have to be perfectly complete.

Designing the Jam structure

When we were familiar with the topic and aware of the challenges with the timing we started planning the Jam based on the Design Thinking structure. We planned what tools and methods the team would use and how much time each phase and step would take.

The base for the successful Jam is that the facilitators and participants get to know each other. When everyone know and trust each other it is easier to create honest and safe environment to be creative and fail.

The plan for the first day:

  • #1 Framing insights phase was planned to consist of creating research questions around the problem, doing a short field research, gathering the findings into key insights and creating a customer journey map and personas. In our opinion it is easier to search for pain points and opportunities from the customer journey map and then translate the pains into ‘How might we…?’ questions.
  • #2 Ideation & concepting phase was planned to start with the `Three Brain Warm-Up` exercise. We thought it could be hard to be creative without an exercise, so the idea of the warm-up activity is to help the team get into creative mode. Next we planned to run a Crazy 8 exercise for quick divergent thinking as part of the ideation. Crazy Eight works great in the early stages of the ideation process to come up with a lot of different ideas very quickly. At the end of the day the team votes for the best idea.

The plan for the second day:

  • #3 Prototyping phase was planned to start with the discussion around the best idea and the team selects one concept to be prototyped. Next they create a scope of the prototype and a success criterium for testing. Eventually the team build, test and improve the prototype.
  • #4 Test & Feedback phase was planned to be the last part of the Jam and the team prepare a final concrete concept based on the prototype. Finally all the teams present the concepts for everyone.

 

design thinking
The Circular Economy Jam structure based on Design Thinking.

Trusting the plan leads to a success

Since I couldn´t participate to the Jam I don’t have own experiences how well our plan  worked for the Jam. According to my facilitation partner the Jam day was busy and all the things didn´t go as planned. This didn´t matter – the Jam was successful since we had a solid and adjustable plan on which she trusted and she let herself and the team have fun, be creative and open-minded!

Written by: Marianne Kuokkanen

Design Thinking – Be creative and fail fast

“What if I´m not creative?”
– Of course you are, we all are – otherwise we don´t survive in this world.
Prof. Katja Tschimmel

This is how our lecturer, Prof. Katja Tschimmel, answered the question when our two-day Design Thinking module started at Laurea. An interesting journey started for all the new Laurea MBA Service Innovation and Design students. After the module I realised that those two days were an amazing trip to a Design Thinking world – collaboration, new innovations and solving problems that required being creative and explore failures.

What is Design Thinking?

“Design Thinking today is not only a cognitive process or mind-set, but it has become an effective toolkit for any innovation process, connecting the creative design approach to traditional business thinking, based on planning and rational problem solving”.
Prof. Katja Tschimmel – Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation

DT mindsetThis is Tschimmel´s description of Design Thinking in her article `Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation`. Before the module I didn’t know much about Design Thinking. I had only read Jeanne Liedtka´s article `Innovative ways companies are using design thinking` for the Laurea entrance exams and remembered it had something to do with how companies can solve problems using the design tools. Katja introduced Design Thinking to us via her own Design Thinking process model called Evolution 62. First I was a bit confused – I remembered the process model and the toolkit from the article to be a bit more simple and that there weren’t so many tools as described in Evolution 62. Katja´s toolkit is quite complex and we only had two days to learn how to use it. Usually it takes months to experience and get to know such a complex tool!

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