Archive by Author | Marjukka Rantala

Design Thinking helps you to move better when creating something new

We had two great mind shaking days on September when Katja Tschimmel introduced us to Design Thinking (DT), the concept and toolkit for creative processes. You can call DT also a mindset: “the way of thinking and doing”. It is meant also for organisations and businesses outside design field.


We had a concrete case and went through DT process using Evolution 62 model, which Katja has developed, as our guide through creative process. In different spaces of the model, there are several tools from which to pick up the most suitable ones. Those collaborative tools helped us on our way to get understanding and knowledge of the people and context, emerge and generate new ideas from the insights, define and evaluate solutions and finally prototype our value proposition.

It was a very good learning process by doing and we had fun!

Characteristics of Design Thinking

DT is human-centered approach. Multidisciplinary teams design product/services with users. Users are experts in interaction with products/services and their experiences are always true. When understanding other people you need to be able to empathize by stepping on your customer´s shoes (remember to take your own ones away first) to understand their mental state (emotions, feelings), motivations and hidden unstated needs in their context.

Visualising the problem and solution helps to build common understanding. Visualising is like “an external visual memory” for creative process. It frees space to dialogue, to thinking and to seeing all aspects between the problem and solution. Making abstract issues tangible and concrete is important. Early, cheap prototyping and fast failure belong to DT cost-effective process.

Design thinking is iterating and non-linear process although models are usually visualised in sequence order. What is common for DT models is that divergence and convergence phases follow each other. Design thinkers need to be comfortable with uncertainty, unexpected situations and incomplete information.

Using abductive reasoning, seeing new perspectives and future possibilities that do not fit on existing business models is typical.

DT is made for businesses

I see that Design Thinking concept helps organisations to think wider the innovation possibilities to develop existing value propositions, innovate new ones and solve problems to create better future.

Design Thinking brings to business people guiding structured model and helping tools to innovate and develop their businesses in complex, fast changing ecosystems where value chains aren´t linear anymore and you need to understand value networks with multiple actors when constantly developing your business. DT encourages organisations to experiment beyond existing products/services.

There is several good DT models to choose from and it depends on issues like existing resources, timetable, context, innovation field and of course which model feels to be the best for organisation`s purpose. I see this part also a challenge for DT concept as it is offered to business organisations which may not have experience from design models and tools before hand. The challenge can be that organisations do not have time to figure out which model to choose, they may feel confused about different models available and that way loose interest.

Build innovations through humans and experiences

I read Vijay Kumar`s 101 Design Methods book, which presents a structured, practical design thinking approach for building innovations within organisations.

Kumar raised the importance to understanding organisation as whole, its culture and processes, and what innovation actually is, before diving into the innovation process. In my point of view Kumar sees DT possibilities even wider perspective, not only as a concept for innovation processes, but change management tool to building innovation culture to organization`s DNA. In his book he raised four key principles that can be found from organisations, which have been successful innovators.

1# Build innovation around experiences

2# Think of innovations as systems

3# Cultivate an innovation culture

4# Adopt a disciplined innovation process

I see that the wider understanding about the humans, their experiences and context is crucial for building reliable innovations. Especially I like the first principle as it is really human-centered concentrating to user experiences beyond the product or services e.g. running shoes vs running. Reframing the perspective greatens the possibilities for innovation. Design Thinking process helps design thinkers to create this kind of experience-focused innovations.

Kumar`s easy to follow DT model for innovation processes is divided into seven modes. Every modes has their own goals and activities. Book practically guides to cultivate right kind of mindset in every mode. Right mindset helps being fluency enough to be creative and effective in the innovation process.

Vilay Kumar`s Design Innovation Process modelThe modes and 101 methods of Vilay Kumar`s Design Innovation Process model

Vilay Kumar`s Design Innovation Process model, seven modes and 101 methods.

The future and world we are living may seem to be foggy, but when you go out and observe world with empathy and then visualise your insights everything comes clearer. Design Thinking is there to help and guide organisations to better future.

Written by Marjukka Rantala – Laurea, Helsinki, Finland


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.

Kumar, Vijay 2013. 101 Design Methods: Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New Jersey.

Humanity above bureaucracy drives results

I participated to the Future of Work seminar which was held this month at Hanken International Business School in Helsinki. It is time for new solutions says Buurtzorg`s establisher Jos de Blok. Keeping old working models and trying to improve efficiency has come to the end.


Why Buurtzorg? Jos de Blok had a long history working as a district nurse and before that he studied few years economics. He noticed with few co-workers that they were too concentrated to different products instead of patients.

Patient satisfaction went down. Many products, divided to activities, needed specialists. There where too many caregivers treating same patient. The most important thing, patient`s and nurse`s relationship could not be built. Patients and nurses got frustrated. At the same time costs went up as more specialists were needed, also schedule planners and different coordinators were needed to keep processes efficient. The middle management was growing because of the complexity. Professional nurses frustrated even more as they could not plan they own work anymore.

Nurses wanted to do their job as good as possible, but the system was actually against that will. The purpose must have been good in those health care companies, but still things went worse. Nurse job was not inspiring as you could not give your own input by influencing how the job should be done. I think that applies for other industries also. Management is lacking trust and thinking control is the answer to lead people. But control is not driving intrinsic motivation that leads to passion and totally different work spirit and productiveness.

Buurtzorg started 2007 with one team and has grown since that to 800 independed self-directed teams without managers. All employees are trusted and respected professionals. One team consists of max 12 nurses. Teams organize and are responsible for the entire process. Most of the nurses are generalists, so it is easy for the teams to plan themselves nursing/medical and social care. There are no products client needs to buy separately. The care is planned with the client. Nurses are concentrating to the client in a holistic way meaning to the patient`s illness and empathy needs and how to support her/him and help possible family members/volunteers to understand patient situation and how they can help. Patient needs to feel secure, so trust is important.

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TOMORROW is being made today

Tomorrow conference

Tomorrow conference was held at Helsinki music centre on 10th of June 2015.

I as a student had the privilege to attend to this thought-provoking and networking event with world-class speakers from diverse fields. Thanks to Lauri Ahonen, the event organizer and the front seat guests that made the participation for students possible.

For those of you that where not able to participate, I share some of the messages from few of the speakers.


Pekka Haavisto, a Green member of Finnish Parliament and Member of Committee for Foreign Affairs, opened the conference. He encouraged us to know other continents cultures better by being open minded, exploring the world and stepping into the shoes of foreigners to see the world from the different angles. It was a good message to export field – knowing the culture and its people is the first priority to have successful business abroad.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of The Black Swan and Antifragile, raised issues like how companies that love errors are more likely to gain in the world where uncertainty is reality. When competition is everywhere the least expected happenings, the side-effects, can more often be the ones that lead to new business. Those that concentrate to lowering risks are also lowering their variability which means in the long run that their are dropping they ability to survival. Too centralized big countries, companies or projects are more fragile than the small ones.

For individual point of view I see that being always curious to new things, doing many things you love in life, having many incomes from different fields makes you strong and “antifragile”.


Write the futureTuuti Piippo, the author of Futuremakers, spread positive energy when describing the hero`s journey.

You do not need to know everything, but you definitely need to have the passion to learn. Everybody can be a hero. You need to have the courage to explore exciting things that you may be little scared off. Ask a lot of questions to learn and be humble to ask help. Then you need to be strong enough to go through the challenges in the journey where you are making failures and standing up again and again. I love her attitude.

I think her message raises a question for all of us: Are you the hero, the pilot, of your own life or just passenger?

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