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Design Thinking – Innovation in progress

What stayed with me for all these weeks, was the inspiring figure of Katja Tschimmel, explaining us how better results could be achieved, if Design Thinking was to be applied in more disciplines or professions. Passion is easily transmitted and while exploring the depths of the Evolution 62 model in action, it grew stronger. Here is what I’ve learned in our sessions.

What is Design Thinking?

While in the past design had been associated mainly with the shape characteristics of an object and speaking of design would inherently lead to the conclusion that the reference concerns an artifact, nowadays the term has acquired a broader sense that includes a wider range of applications and disciplines. An accurate definition of D.T would be that of Michlewski (3): “Design Thinking could be described as a movement that promotes the philosophies, methods and tools that originate in the practice and culture of the design professions.”. The definition succeeds to incorporate D.T’s philosophy in a short but comprehensive sentence. D.T attempts to transform existing conditions into preferred ones, create a better version of the world we live in, achieve innovation. It focuses on synthesis and is abductive in thinking (a term used by R.Martin) (2,) with a great concern for the human factor. D.T fundamentally changes traditional ‘’institutionalized logics’’ (5). For designers, failure is accepted (1), emotional language is encouraged (5), linear thinking is replaced by mind mapping (1).

How does it work?

We should envision D.T as a problem solving method, which follows mainly, but not only, the following steps (SDT Model) (4):

Step 1 – Exploration: Observation and understanding of the problem, expansion of the problem’s space thus achieving greater understanding of its core causes.

Step 2 – Creation: Rapid prototyping and brainstorming, embracing failure as a prerequisite for success.

Step 3 – Reflection: Narrowing down of proposals, focusing on those that have proven more functional during the previous phase. Further building and prototyping.

 Step 4 – Implementation: Communication and testing of the proposal, prototyping material from previous stages applied in practice.

Further variations and visual models exist. Other than the Evolution 62 which was applied in full during our sessions (fig.1), the 4D (or Double Diamond) model by the British Council, IDEO’s 3I and HCD models and the Hasso-Platner model are the most representing D.T models.

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