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Design Thinking- an evolutionary process

I had the opportunity to attend the intensive masters class course ‘Practical Design Thinking’ offered by Laurea University of Applied Sciences. The course was taught by the energetic guest professor, Katja Tschimmel from Portugal. 

This blog provides insights about my learning during these days and my thoughts about the related material.

Design thinking is described “as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity” (Brown 2008, P86). 

Fig: The Cubists

During these two days, I learned how the creative mechanisms of design thinking work and how we can use design thinking approach for problem solving. Out of all the methods under the design thinking umbrella, we learned the “Evolution 6^2” model, the Innovation and Design Thinking Model by Katja Tschimmel, which elaborates on the different set of tools needed for design thinking approach. We were divided into different groups and worked together through the different phases of this model to come up with an innovative solution for Laurea. Our group, ‘The Cubists‘ worked on a solution to connect design talent.

Fig: Evolution 6^2” model by Katja Tschimmel

In the first step, Emergence, we identify the opportunity by creating an Opportunity Mind Map and Intent Statement. The key here is fluency. You should mark down all the possible opportunities you can think of, without caring how absurd they are. As a group, we visualised our ideas in mindmap and marked down the opportunity in the intent statement.

Fig: Opportunity Mind Map

Step 2 is Empathy. It focuses on the external factors affecting design thinking and getting to know your users and context. The tools we learnt include Stakeholder map, Field Observation, Interview and Insight Map. Since design thinking follows the human centred approach, empathy with the end users becomes the most essential step (Kelley & Kelley 2013).

The Experimentation phase focuses on generating ideas and concept with tools including brain writing, idea clustering and idea hit list.  In idea clustering, we cluster our ideas from the mind map together, where as, in the idea hit list, we filter out the top ones. In their book “Creative Confidence” Tom and David Kelley (2013) state, “ The best kinds of failures are quick, cheap, and early, leaving you plenty of time and resources to learn from the experiment and iterate your ideas”. During this phase, we refine our thoughts and ideas and give them a meaningful direction. Any possible failures and restrictions are also detected in this phase and can be worked upon.

The next step, Elaboration is in which we create rapid prototype. The idea here is to create a minimum viable product or MVP—representing the least amount of effort needed to run an experiment and get feedback (Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup). During our course, we used Legos to demonstrate our idea and jotted down important feedback from other groups during the concept test phase.

Exposition provides tools to communicate our idea/solution to the wider audience. Our group visualised the business model and created a story board. In the end, we gave the elevator pitch for our solution to resolve the issue of connecting design talents to co-create service innovation in Laurea. 

Fig: Story Board

In my opinion, design thinking is an iterative learning process where you learn from every opportunity, experience and failure. Like a muscle, your creative abilities will grow and strengthen with practice. However, a lot of people lacks the courage and confidence to experiment something new.

Written by Naufal Khalid

References:

Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, pp. 84-92. 

Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. 2013. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business.

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking. [lectures]. Held on 6-7 September. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.