Archive by Author | Miikka Kemppinen

Design thinking – learning collaborative culture

Design thinking has been hot topic worldwide since past 10 years, and it is being applied in many, if not all, industries throughout the world. The understanding of the role of a designer has evolved, and still it can be seen as a hero who connects the development and marketing of a product or a facilitating member of an autonomous team who can build confidence to trust on design thinking methods. Or anything from the between. Already in 2009 in the book Change by Design (Tim Brown 2009) it was stated that “the collaboration culture as very important element in applying design thinking, and he stated that “it’s not about “us versus them” or even “us on behalf of them”, For the design thinker, it has to be “us with them”.”.

What is the big picture?

To adopt this mindset where the boundaries of customer and service provider during the co-development are not so clear, practice and trust are required. This observation triggered me to write about my reflections after participating to Practical Design Thinking study unit in Service Innovation and Design program. There are multiple Design Thinking models available like illustrated in research report D-Think (Tschimmel; Santos; Loyens; Jacinto; Monteiro; Valenca 2015), and it is good to remember that these are not competing or contradicting. Instead, your approach should be that you pick the suitable model for your problem in question.

fig. 12 Comparison of the phases of different DT Models (Tschimmel; Santos; Loyens; Jacinto; Monteiro; Valenca 2015)

For learning the secrets of design thinking, it is valuable that there is a structure for the novice non-designer who is trying to grasp what it is all about. It is easier to go on your learning journey when you have a map of the whole model and pre-selected options for steps you should take to forward in the design thinking process. After the individuals and teams get more used to design thinking, they can select the most suitable methods and tools on their way of ensuring the different perspectives to be taken into account while progressing with their iterations.

In the study unit we followed the Mindshake model named Evolution 6^2 guided by Katja Tschimmel

How to practice the collaboration culture?

In the study unit one of our first assignments was to get to know each other and start building trust with the multidisciplinary team. In this exercise we introduced ourselves to the team, and we practiced sharing, active listening and visualizing the findings. This was really concrete way of understanding the 3 of the 5 underlying principles for Evolution 6^2 model: human centred approach, collaboration and visualization. We often forget the human aspect, and in with this exercise it was made concrete that every team member is an individual with specific skills and experiences. Collaboration was evident when team did the member cards by sharing the responsibilities: one is drawing, one is writing, one is sharing and others are listening. Example of my story visualized:

This was really concrete way to build trust by understanding the 3 of the 5 underlying principles for Evolution 6^2 model: human centred approach, collaboration and visualization.


Research Report D-think, Tschimmel, Katja; Santos, Joana; Loyens, Dirk; Jacinto, Alexandre; Monteiro, Rute & Valenca, Mariana 2015

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