If I had only one word to describe the two days I spent with Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valenca on September 2nd and 3rd 2016 at Laurea Leppävaara, it would be creativity. There are, of course, other possible options as well, like innovative and colorful to name a few, but if I was to choose one, it would be creativity.
So what was the two days about? It was about Design Thinking (DT), a form of solution-based thinking currently surrounded with a big hype. DT changes the way we do business, because it is a way to make business people think like designers and designers think like business people (Mootee 2013, p.14). The more I read about it, the more I got the feeling that it was kind of a business life superhero. Something that comes to the rescue when innovation is in a standstill.
The Design Thinking process starts with empathy. DT is a human-centered approach, that focuses on participatory methods (Tschimmel 2012, p. 4). Then it moves on to defining the problem, to giving solution ideas, to prototyping it and finally – to testing it. To make this understandable I gathered some pictures to help you understand the superhero process model:
But why Design Thinking? The world is full of business solutions, do we really need another one? According to many experts, we actually do. Take for example this Stanford University webinar which stated that in business and in life, you have to innovate to change or you die.
Many companies in the market have understood that. To give an example Fazer Food Services organized a CXHack Fazer hackathon event to encourage innovative ideas on digitalizing restaurant services at Aalto University. This kind of event not only brings them new business ideas but also develops commitment and interest towards the company. Not to mention all the great publicity!
In addition to competitive advantage and other vertical actions, innovative solutions should be used horizontally in organizations; encouraging all teams to innovative thinking. According to this report by Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, innovative ways of working increase staff’s trust and commitment towards the company. Using DT in management, companies become resilient – flexible and repellent, says Anne Stenros (Miettinen 2014 p. 60). It is easy to say that innovation creates success in more ways than one.
So that is what it is all about but how to use it in your everyday work? What’s Design Thinking in practice? To figure that out, I participated in the two day DT workshop at Laurea UAS. We learned about the Mindshake 6² Design Thinking model and worked in groups presenting business solutions. One of the tasks was to create a moodboard, here´s mine about studying:
For a rational and organized person like me, this creative type of working was a great opportunity to go “out of the box” and to try something new. In my opinion, the key to successfully think like a designer is to be more innovative for new solutions and not to be afraid of mistakes. To step out of the comfort zone, as they say. Bill Burnett, the Executive Director of Design Program in Stanford University, says that when you start being more creative in your everyday work, others will start too.
Inspired by this, I started working more creatively myself. In only three weeks, I have presented things more visually in my work. I even organized a brainstorm to receive innovative ideas. It is a quite traditional and non-creative organization so there is a lot of work to do, but you have to start somewhere.
To change business culture in your organization, it doesn´t necessarily take much. Begin with a small step. Or a short flight, as Buzz would put it.
Written by Katri Saraste, Master of Hospitality Management student at Laurea UAS
Stanford Online webinar: Apply Design Thinking in your work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U499U4TcyY8
Stanford Online webinar: Strategic Innovation – Design Thinking in business https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmkGNXfYmYw
Fazer Food Services http://www.amica.fi/uutiset-ja-artikkelit/hacaton/
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
Miettinen, Satu (toim.) 2014. Muotoiluajattelu. Helsinki: Teknologiateollisuus ry.
Mootee, Idris. 2013. Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley.
Tschimmel, Katja. 2012. Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation. In Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona.