Archive by Author | Tarja Paanola

From nobody to creative designer

One Friday morning 28 students from different backgrounds sat down in a classroom at Laurea. At least as I know, majority of these people, had no or just little experience on designing, rather the opposite. The journey from nobody to be a designer had begun.

For long we have lived in a world where we have categorized people to either be creative or not.  As Tom and David Kelley state in their book Creative Coffidence, creative people were considered to be artists, architects, designers etc. Others should stay in their tightly described boxes and at least stay as far away from marketing or product development as possible. Tom and David call this “The creative myth”, which we, brave new students, were about to break.

As the world is changing into more and more complex, we need more creativity and ideas. Traditional way of creating things is just not enough anymore. Our lecturer Katja Tscimmel well pointed out; “just look around in your everyday living. Is there anyone more creative than a mon trying to get the kicking kid into kindergarten. Or have you ever realized how many variations of food you can make from yesterday’s leftovers.” How could we harness this everyday creativity to serve a bigger purpose?  The key is in mindset change.IMG_4140

Tim Brown stated already 2008 in Harvard Business Reviews article, that by changing the way we think, we can transform the way the business and the world is developed.  Creativity in business context is group work. Its taking advantage of peoples’ different experiences and outlooks on life and turning it into new innovative combinations of services, products or strategies.  Thinking an ideating together, testing new ideas and being able to think outside the given box is in the core of coming up with new ideas and innovations.

As we, new students at Laurea, were given our first task to innovate new student services, I was sceptic. Would we ever come up with any ideas or anything we would ever dear to show someone else? By letting go of the need for control or knowing the end results before even starting the work and just trusting the process, we dived into a fun, inspiring and in the end very creative group work.

Tim Brown listed some personality features needed to be design thinker and this how those showed in our case. We had to let go of our deep beliefs and step into the end users’ shoes. “What are the problems exchange student face?” Empathy combined with ability to use integrative thinking was critical. The use of “what if”, “How Could we” and “furthermore” took us forward in your thinking and in your ideation process. We had to stay optimistic and experiment things, as the clock was ticking. If it didn’t work, fail fast, take the next idea and be willing to start over if needed.

In the end of very inspiring two days we had internalized the design thinking idea, tested many creative DT tools and  created several new services to improve exchange students stay in Finland. Pretty well from “nobodies”   😉