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Design thinking tools to make meaning from the mess

More and more non-designers know at least some design thinking tools when different organizations commonly use them. Design thinking helps make sense of complex problems, and what is most important, it helps people create new ideas that fit better consumer needs and desires. (Kolko, 2015)

Design thinking is not an exceptional talent or a skill that only designers have, but design thinking practitioners see it as a mindset.

We can use the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and a viable business strategy.  While every designer is a design thinker (Tschimmel, 2022), design thinking tools can make anyone a designer.

Our studies at SID began with a two-day intensive course on Design Thinking. We got the task to investigate and push forward the issue of workplace inclusivity. For this purpose, we utilized the Evolution 6 model (E.6² for short) by Tschimmel and employed various Design Thinking tools along the way to the final presentation of a single refined prototype.

The E.6² model consists of six phases, each with three divergent and three convergent phases called moments. While working on this course, we were encouraged to retrace our steps, review our progress with a critical eye, and make adjustments accordingly.

Our experiences fit in with the notion that the design process encompasses different tools and methods that drive innovation. As Brown (2008) puts it, we executed multiple related activities to foster and engage in Design Thinking to come to innovative solutions. Well-prepared templates and a broad license to utilize, e.g., image material found online, helped our endeavors. 

Design thinking is cross-disciplinary teamwork that brings the user to the center of the problem statement.

Kolko, 2015

During the process, we leveraged the strengths of multi-disciplinary teams. We sought common ground amongst ourselves to further our understanding of the problem and offer solutions in rapid prototypes.

Kolko (2015) defines design artifacts as physical models used to explore, express, and communicate. In the digital context of our lecture weekend, we used online media in picture form to develop our ideas and convey them visually to our group members and classmates, especially during the prototyping and final presentation phases.

Prototypes should command only as much time, effort, and investment as are needed to generate useful feedback and evolve an idea.

Brown, 2008

In the space of this one weekend, we were able to design novel solutions to tackle a complex issue and present those solutions in a coherent and visually striking manner while working with the constraint of not interacting with each other face-to-face.

It is good to remember that while design thinking helps solve complex problems and innovate future solutions, it does not fit all situations or solve all problems. It requires strict expectation management with realistic timelines that fit each organization and its culture.  

While design thinking methods can help to create innovative products, they can still fail to sell. Brown (2008) talks about a project between US-based innovation and design firm IDEO and Japanese cycling manufacturer Shimano. They used design thinking tools to create a new innovative concept of Coasting bikes, which offered a carefree biking experience for the masses.  Several other biking manufacturers incorporated Shimano’s innovative components after their Coasting bikes launch in 2007, and the project won some design awards. But for some reason, the bikes were not selling, and a few years later, they disappeared from the market. (Yannigroth, 2009) Maybe they did not test the idea properly with target users after all?

Written by: Viljami Osada & Saija Lehto SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

References:

  • Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95.
  • Kolko, David J. (2015) Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture. Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.
  • Tschimmel, K. (2021). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation.” DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.
  • Roth, Yannig (2010). What caused Shimano’s Coasting-program to fail? Blog post. https://yannigroth.com/2010/05/12/what-caused-shimanos-coasting-program-fail/ 

Photos: Pexels.com

Why do we need empathy in the design process and how to gain it?

Introduction to empathy

Most of us can probably recall products or services where it is clear that usability has been so far off from the priority list that the product/service is unreasonably difficult or even impossible to use.

Photo: A real life example of an ATM machine in a town of Räpina, Estonia. Photo source: https://www.delfi.ee/artikkel/84142766/foto-rapina-pangaautomaat-endiselt-liiga-korgel-tadi-peab-seisma-pangel-et-rahamasinani-ulatuda

What is needed that these above-mentioned mishaps can be avoided and services and products designed are actually usable and desirable for their users? We believe the answer lies greatly in empathy.

Empathy helps designers to understand users better

With the spread of design thinking and service design over the past years, the role of a user and user experience has gained central prominence. For instance, Katja Tchimmel (2022) names design thinking as “the design of an alive and dynamic system of user experiences” and elaborates further by stating human-centered approach to be one of the five main principles of it.

The role of empathy is further addressed by Iris Motee (2013), who states that design thinking promotes empathy as it locates users at the core of everything and it encourages using tools that help better understand behaviours, expectations, values, motivations and needs. Brown (2008) describes the designer mindset with empathy as a personal characteristic to be able to observe the world from multiple perspectives.

But what is empathy in design and how can a designer use it in the design process?

Kouprie and Sleeswijk (2009) draw that despite the somewhat hazy common concept of empathy, it nevertheless is “related to deep understanding of the user’s circumstances and experiences, which involves relating to, more than just knowing about the user”. Kouprie and Sleeswijk have further presented their own framework for applying empathy in design, consisting of four phases: Discovery (designer enters the user’s world), Immersion (designer wanders around in the user’s world), Connection (designer resonates with the user to understand the feelings and the meanings) and Detachment (designer reflects to deploy new insights for ideation). They claim that in addition to that the fundamentals of empathy helps designers better to choose the techniques and tools and their order, this framework can help designers to plan their time accordingly as a process of empathy in design practice requires time and not spending unreasonably long time in only one or two phase and actually going though all the phases explicitly can enhance designer’s empathy. (Kouprie & Sleeswijk Visser 2009.)

Tools and methods to gain empathy

In the SID Design Thinking Masterclass we were introduced to Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6², developed by Katja Tschimmel (2021), one of the several models in Design Thinking. The “E.62” model offers tools and methods to support divergent and convergent thinking during the design process. Empathy (E2) is the second step in the model and aims to better understand the context, users and their latent needs. The exploration phase introduces methods such as stakeholder map, field observation and interview. Personas, user journey map and insight map are used for visualizing users and their needs for all in the design process in the evaluation phase.

It is nice to realize that despite not using all the tools of the model we went through all of the four stages of the Kouprie and Sleeswijk Visser’s framework on the process of empathy. In the Discovery phase we approached the design challenge and the users’ problems with How might we? questions on Opportunity map and formulated Intent statement for selected opportunity, followed by User Interviews on selected design opportunity in the Immersion phase. We seeked to achieve emotional understanding of their feelings and meanings while collecting the findings on the Insight map and formulating the Intent statement in the Connection phase, and finally, ideated and Prototyped the solutions in the Detachment phase.

Conclusion

Empathy in the design process is not only a set of different tools and methods but also a designer state of mind and characteristics. Understanding the users’ latent needs is essential for developing products and services.

Written by Peegi Kaibald & Tiina Auer SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E1: Opportunity Map and Intent Statement (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E2: Interviews and Insight Map (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E3: Brainwriting and Clustering (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E4: Rapid Prototyping (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E5: Storyboarding and Concept Visualisation (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

References

Brown, T. (2008). Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June 2008: 84-95.

Kouprie, M & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009). A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life (Links to an external site) in Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2009, 437–448.

Mootee, I. (2013). Design thinking for strategic innovation: What they can’t teach you at business or design school. Wiley.

Tschimmel, K. (2021). Design Thinking Master Class 3.-4.9.2021 material. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.

Tschimmel, Katja (2021): Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.

Tschimmel, K. (2022). Design vs. Design Thinking. In Creativity and Innovation Affairs. (in process) Available only for SID students at Laurea University.

Diving Into the World of Design Thinking

“Now I want you all to introduce yourselves, but this time you will do it differently.” – this is how our Design Thinking course started and little did we know what will follow afterwards. To present ourselves we were divided into groups, where each of us had to first, speak about her/himself, second, count one minute, third, draw the speaker and fourth, listen. What a mindshake on a Friday morning! 

In this blog we will tell you what else we did during our workshop. But first, let’s focus on the definition and purpose of Design Thinking.

Our Portraits Created by Our Teammates in Miro

What is Design Thinking?

Historically design has not been a key step in the developing process. Designers came along at the very end of the process to make the product look aesthetically desirable or have a nice package. Due to the shift from industrial manufacturing to knowledge work and service delivery, the objectives of innovation are no longer physical products, but they can be services, processes or applications.  (Brown 2008)

Design Thinking today is understood as an effective method with a toolkit for innovation processes in multidisciplinary teams in any kind of organization (Tschimmel 2021). User-centric perspective and empathy for gaining a deeper understanding of the user’s needs is essential in the design thinking process (Kouprie & Sleeswijk 2009). 

Motee (2013) emphasizes the role of business leaders in creating a design thinking culture within a company. In his opinion, future business leaders should practice disciplined imagination to formulate problems and generate alternative outcomes, look beyond the limits and enable collaboration in the company.

Mindshake E6² Model in Practice

Professor Katja Tschimmel introduced us to the Mindshake Evolution 6² model, which we will describe below and explain how we used it in the workshop.

To begin with, we were given a topic of “Inclusion at work”. We started by identifying challenges and opportunities of the issue. At this stage, we created an Opportunity map and formulated an Intent statement (Emergence). 

We planned and conducted short Interviews in order to gain Empathy with the target group and filled the results into the Insight map.  

In the Experimentation stage, we used Brainwriting for ideation and learned to come up with as many ideas as possible since the first ideas are always the obvious ones. 

The purpose of the Elaboration is to figure out how to transform an idea into a tangible concept. We utilized Rapid Prototyping to visualize our concept. 

Collaborating in Miro / SID Design Thinking Master Class Autumn 2021. 

In the Exposition stage, we created a Storyboard of our concept for presenting the key results of our innovation process and the benefits of the new vision.

At the Extension stage, we collected feedback from our classmates to potentially develop our idea-solution. Normally, at this stage, the team has to think how to implement the solution in practice. Because of the time and resources frames we couldn’t fully experience the Extension stage, however, we went through the whole cycle of the Innovation process and understood the main principles. 

The Key Points Learned of the DT Process

  • Human-Centeredness and Empathy  – We need to step into the user’s shoes.
  • Co-creation and Collaboration – Include as many stakeholders as possible throughout the process.
  • Creativity – Every idea is welcome.
  • Creativity can be developed through practice.
  • Visualizations help to communicate ideas with others.
  • Experimentation – Playful thinking and making mistakes are an important part of every creative process.

Written by Sari Eskelinen & Lada Stukolkina SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Literature:
Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95. 

Courtney, Jonathan (2020). What Is Design Thinking? An Overview. YouTube Video.

Kouprie, M & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009) A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life (Links to an external site.) in Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2009, 437–448 

Mootee, Idris (2013) Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley. 

Tschimmel, Katja (2021): Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.

Tschimmel, Katja (2021). Design Thinking course lectures, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

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Design Thinking at first touch

DT is becoming extensively popular in modern era as more and more organizations are striving to provide compelling and innovative solutions to their customers. Design thinking helps to expand one’s creativity as well as enables one to utilize a broader range of tools and approaches for innovative solutions.

What is it exactly?

Design thinking has no single, unifying, common definition and if you ask a bunch of people to describe it, their answers will vary. Creative professional Idris Mootee (2013,29) states that: “If we take into consideration the concept’s predilection for dealing with ambiguity, perhaps there should not be only one definition.” In Mootee’s own practice, design thinking is a framework for a human-centered approach to strategic innovation, and a new management paradigm for value creation in a world of disruptive technology and radically changing networks. According to an experienced designer Jon Kolko (2015), that is exactly what Design thinking as an approach is for the most part, a response to our rapidly evolving and ever changing modern technology and business.

But we need to try and keep up somehow, right?

Keeping up with design thinking

People need help making sense of all the modern advances. To be exact people need their interactions with complex systems such as technology to be amiable, simple and intuitive and it seems that design thinking might be the best tool we got to achieving this goal. (Kolko, 2015.) Design thinking as a framework includes a lot of different tools and/or processes but according to Mootee (2013, 32), it is the framework itself where the magical balance resides.

This might be true hence design thinking is all about cognitive flexibility and how we are able to adapt the process to the challenges. The process of design thinking entails trying to think outside of the box and searching for solutions through trial and error. This method of trial and error, and the fact that design thinking is an approach to collective problem solving aimed to take on design challenges by applying empathy, makes it actually a very humane process.    

Storyboard- The result of a two-day design sprint

All in all the tolerance for failure, the empathy with users, and a discipline of prototyping, is the best tool we have for creating responsive flexible organizational culture and those amiable interactions (Kolko, 2015). 

 Our first masterclass was a mindshaker

Our first Design Thinking masterclass however showed us also, in addition to the framework, the value of tools and co-creation. We had a two-day workshop that focused on understanding the fundamentals of design thinking in the beginning of our Service Innovation and design studies. The two days were interactive and very inspiring. During these two days we learnt about Katja Tschimmel’s Innovation & Design Thinking Mindshake model.

Katja Tschimmel’s Mindshake model

Learning by doing

This design Thinking masterclass was not just another rough and boring two-day lecture. Instead, we did various fun activities to understand the concepts of design thinking. These activities included teambuilding exercises and a symbolic representation of ourselves and our teamwork.

We discussed each step of the Mindshake model with six stages and applied these steps to solve suggested problems. From all the tools, we found the insight map the most fascinating to learn. One interesting aspect in our sessions was the way we used Miro board to imitate a real-life classroom situation. The digital whiteboard enabled us to work together side by side in a way similar with actual interaction.

Team building time- DT masterclass

Learning by studying

This interactive session motivated us to learn more about design thinking, so we read Tim Brown’s (2009) seminal paper on the same topic. The seminal paper depicts various approaches of the firm IDEO. These approaches have made the firm one of the leading organizations in the field of design consultations. Tim Brown for example advocates that empathy is a fundamental tool to understand the perspective of the end user and the problems they are dealing with. This research paper further enhanced our understanding about the concept of Design thinking.

Afterthoughts

Overall, our first touch with the world of design thinking has been a tremendous experience, not only because of the interactive session where we got a chance to work together with new people, practice design thinking concepts, share ideas and learn various new things by practicing and developing, but also because of the learning that happened afterwards through recommended literature. We especially enjoyed Katja’s Mindshake model. We feel now highly motivated to implement the concept of design thinking in our professional lives and hope to expand known boundaries in the future.

Written by Henna Helminen & Nida Iram

SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

References:

Brown, Tim 2009. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Kolko, J. (2015) Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture.  Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.

Mootee, Idris (2013) Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley.

Tschimmel, Katja (2020 forthcoming). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centred ménage à trois 

Tschimmel, Katja (2020). Design Thinking course lectures, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.   

Breaking the glass ceilings

Women entrepreneurships days seminar 19.11.2020

“I don’t mind, I don’t mind…” sings a beautiful brown-haired woman on a screen. “Tools for breaking the glass ceiling-seminar” is about to start. WED- seminar (Women entrepreneurship day) is international event trying to raise the awareness of equality and women rights. As all events this fall, this is also organized online.  

“I don’t mind….” Is the lady still singing, But we really should! 

Why should we be interested on female entrepreneurs or care of equality or women rights in business? In business, does it matter who is in charge? 

Wendy Diamond the founder of WED organization opened the seminar by stating some facts. Companies led by women have higher stock returns and better profits globally than those led by men. Also, it is reported that employee satisfaction is on higher level in companies led by women. 

So if the fact is so, why most companies are still run by men? 

There are some quite speculative explanations people are more satisfied in companies led by women. Some say it is about women being more emphatic some that women have different outlook on life, and they read quiet signals and trust on their intuition in decision making more than men. At the same time, statistics show that even these companies might do well in revenues, they tend to grow in slower phase than companies led by men. Statistics also show that women have less access to capital to raise the business. Do men have more knowledge on these areas of business or is about courage?

Well, we need to remember that not all female entrepreneurs are running big companies. The number of female entrepreneurs is growing globally and there is a reason. Many women in developing countries start their entrepreneurship with the help of micro loans. By enabling microloans to women, different organizations actually do much more than just help on woman starting her small business. When woman get a change to employ herself, it usually means that her children get a change to go to school, learn to read, get better jobs, develop their country etc.

But let’s get back to the actual event. After the interesting start, we heard different entrepreneur stories. They were encouraging, energizing, positive but something was missing. “No one was was talking about financing, budgeting, making business plans. There were a lot of talking about Following your dream”, “wanting to live a dream life and surfing”, “jumping out from the wheel”. This all sounds great but where is the reality check?

I have attended to many women entrepreneurship seminars and events. In too many cases I have been disappointed as the content is too soft. I have the highest trust in female potential, and I stand behind all those who has the courage to take the risk of starting their own business, but these seminars tend to be a disappointment after another. It would benefit all female entrepreneurs to talk about these “hard business factors”. In the eyes of the investors and other parties that can help you to raise your business the combination of emphatic leader and sharp economist is a very compelling candidate.


Tarja Paanola
SID Student

Does the glass ceiling still exist?

Photo: https://www.hcamag.com/au/specialisation/diversity-inclusion/does-the-glass-ceiling-still-exist/142119

Designing your own way with design thinking

Making career choices when you’re 18 years old can be cumbersome. The childhood dream jobs, being a doctor or a policeman, probably have changed multiple times leaving you uncertain about what the future will look like. So, what does it take to find your dream job?

As we started out journey in the SID program and got to know one another better, we found out that both of us had had the same career idea; working with design. At that time, applying for any program majoring in design required skills in drawing, which we didn’t have on the required level. In the end, it felt like one career opportunity had closed its doors although the interest towards the field didn’t pass.

The world is changing rapidly around us, which requires flexibility and innovation from both employees and companies. As the operational environment of businesses change constantly, also duties in work places change. Joining work life made it even more obvious. One big change we have seen within design and its position in the organizational culture. According to Kolko (2015), the importance of applying the principles of design to the way people work was largely due to the increasing complexity of modern technology and modern business. Thus, many companies have put design thinking at the core of the company, making designers an increasingly competitive asset in creating new forms of value (Brown, 2008). Putting design thinking into practice helps companies understand the constant disruption better as well as maintain and develop competitiveness (Motee, 2013).

Making a cultural shift

Making a cultural change towards design thinking comes of age. And, so does for many of us. Adopting this perspective isn’t always easy but having natural aptitude towards design helps. Usually, it flourishes after right development and experience (Brown, 2008). Probably, many of us in SID program can relate to this. Having natural aptitude towards design doesn’t yet guide you to your desired career path in working with design. A design thinker’s profile develops through time with the right experiences but owning the capability is as important. So, what are the traits of a design thinker? It takes empathy, integrative thinking, optimism, experimentalism and collaboration (Brown, 2008). Many of these characteristics take time to develop.

Nowadays companies tend to share similar problems and transitions as the world becomes smaller through internalization. Also, different fields of businesses become even more connected with each other. According to Motee (2013), design thinking assists in understanding complex connections between people, places, objects and ideas, which is also highly effective tool for innovation. We also noticed this during our first days at SID program as we all have different backgrounds, but we share the same passion for design. During the group work tasks, our distinct knowledge became our strength since we were able to combine several perspectives and ideas by means of design thinking.

In the past, being employed at the same company, in the same position wasn’t abnormal. Today, there is no permanent career solution to choose from. As with design thinking, finding your dream job comes through experimenting, from trial and error. Without exploring choices and being open to even unorthodox possibilities, new career directions won’t emerge.

Written by Emmi Kytösalmi and Jenna Isokuortti

REFERENCES

Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95.

Kolko, David J. (2015) Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture. Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.

Mootee, Idris (2013) Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley.

Becoming a Design Thinker and Doer

Design Thinking in action

Our journey to the realm of Design Thinking started in extraordinary conditions, because our lecturer Katja Tschimmel wasn’t able to attend the course physically – nor some of the students – because of COVID-19. In spite of this, we got an inspiring and participative start for our studies.

When quantity is more important than quality: the process of identification of opportunities.

The best thing was the “learning by doing” mentality. It was easy to get a grip about the Design Thinking principles and Service Design process through the small exercises and the group task which tackled each service design processes’ phase one by one. The most difficult thing was the shortage of time. As Tim Brown states in his book Change by Design (2009, 84), time is the most insistent limit for design thinkers, even more insistent than limits of technology, skills and knowledge.

The process of Ideation.

During the lecture we got to see that there are many ways of describing the Service Design process. Brown (2009) presents the process through three main “spaces” of Design Thinking: 1) inspiration , 2) ideation and 3) implementation. In our group work we used the Mindshake Design Thinking Model, which has six different steps. Through using the model, the process with its different phases came really concrete. 


Mindshake Design Thinking Model, Pinterest

While doing our group work we also noticed that it can be difficult not to offer ready-made solutions before defining the problem to solve. A valuable tip here is that don’t ask what, ask why! It’s also good to remember that the design process can make unexpected discoveries along the way. Though the insecurity about the outcome may feel difficult, it’s better to “fail early to succeed sooner” (Brown 2009.)

Don’t just do design, live design

We’ve now learned that Service Design is all about thinking like a designer – it’s a mindset you have to switch on. Anyhow, it’s easier said than done. The mindset of an individual doesn’t change all of a sudden. Also the organizational shift is never easy and culture changes slowly. In many companies we can weekly observe a board of managers debating about internal processes and making decisions of company’s strategies behind closed doors. Concerning the change, the expectations must be set appropriately and aligned around a realistic timeline (Kolko 2015).

It is important to internalize that Design Thinking is a collective and participatory process. The more parties and stakeholders are involved in the development process, the greater range of ideas, options and different perspectives will occur. Also, to harvest the power of Design Thinking, individuals, teams and whole organizations have to cultivate optimism. People have to believe that it is within their power to create new ideas, that will serve unmet needs, and that will have a positive impact. (Brown 2009.) 

There are many cases to show how Design Thinking can be used for social change and the common good. For example, the Indias Aravind “Eye care system” has built a systemic solution with Design Thinking to a complex social and medical problem (Brown 2008, 90-91).  Also Warren Berger explains how design can change the world through solving problems on a case-by-case basis around the world.

The advantages of Design Thinking seem obvious. It offers an powerful, effective and accessible approach to innovation which can be integrated into all aspects of business and society and that all individuals and teams can use it to generate breakthrough ideas. So: get into the world to be inspired by people, use prototyping to learn with your hands, create stories to share ideas, join forces with people from other disciplines. Don’t just do design, live design! (Brown 2009.)

Thought and conclusions by Maiju Haltia-Nurmi and Elena Mitrofanova, first-year SID students at Laurea UAS

References: 

Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95. http://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/thoughts/IDEO_HBR_Design_Thinking.pdf 

Brown, Tim 2009. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Kolko, Jon (2015). Design thinking comes of age (https://hbr.org/2015/09/design-thinking-comes-of-age). Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71. 

Tschimmel, Katja (2020). Design Thinking course lectures, September 4–5 2020. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland. 

Warren, Berger (2009). Can design change the world? (http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/11/06/berger.qanda/index.html)

Fail like a designer

Our image of the world is built on assumptions and schemas. Without them, our everyday life would feel chaotic and quite burdensome. However, in an innovation process, our assumptions mainly work against us. They keep us from thinking outside the box. You could even say that assumption is the mother of all screw-ups 

Without intentionally reflecting on our thinking patterns, they will act like the shining exit signs that show us the closest way out from whatever maze or task it is we are working on. Our brains are saying, “look, the exit is just here, take it. It is safe, and you’ll be out in no time!” The rest of the maze remains unexplored, but at least we survive.  

Get out of the box 

The first insight or idea is likely to be obvious one, not innovative nor original, as we learned in Katja Tschimmel’s master class course. To be able to truly innovate, it is necessary to step out to the un-known and out of the comfort zone with curious mind.  By Design Thinking processes, we become more aware of our assumptions and intentionally move them aside, becoming brave and curious explorers and resolvers of the latent needs of people, needs that even the people themselves struggle putting into words. 

Image text:
Design Thinking is like being balancing on a tightrope where on the other side is the chance of failure and on other side the chance for innovation. Our own assumptions and uncertainty of success will push us towards failure, while curiosity, trust and empathy will give us a good nudge towards innovation. 

Big emotions at stake 
 
Fear towards failure in the efforts to innovate is human. Failing just is uncomfortable. Emotions overall are an inseparable part of our humanity, and they strongly affect our actions. The possibility of feeling shame makes it less tempting to be vulnerable and represent our rough and preliminary ideas to the audience without carefully fine-tuning and polishing them first.  

As designers, it is a necessity to consciously train our ability to handle failure. Accepting failing as an essential, positive part of innovation process is something us as becoming designers will have to learn to do. Besides professional growth, becoming a service designer is therefore also a matter of personal growth.  

No fail, no gain 

In Design Thinking, there is no other way to innovation besides the try and error cycle. In fact, in Design Thinking failure is not seen as failure, but as an essential part of the process towards something innovative.  
 
Tom and David Kelley state in their book Creative Confidence (2013:41): “In fact, early failure can be crucial to success in innovation. Because the faster you find weaknesses during an innovation cycle, the faster you can improve what needs fixing.”  

The more failures we get, the more possible improvements become tangible, if we just are able to analyze them carefully. Every (mis)step is a step forward, even if it sometimes might feel like a step backward. 

It’s all about the people 

Design Thinking is human-centric by nature. The true needs, perspectives and feelings of other individuals and groups become concrete and tangible only when we address empathy. This requires us to take the leap out of our comfort zone and interact with people.  
 
According to Kelley brothers, Michael Schrage wrote in his famous book Serious play: “Innovation is always more social than personal”.  

Could we even argue that innovation is always something that will somehow serve others?  


Written by Taika Rantanen and Nora Rahnasto. 
 

References and links 

Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95. http://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/thoughts/IDEO_HBR_Design_Thinking.pdf 

Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. (2013) Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business. (http://www.creativeconfidence.com/)  

Kolko, J. (2015) Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture. Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71. (https://hbr.org/2015/09/design-thinking-comes-of-age

Tschimmel, Katja (2020). Design Thinking course lectures, September 4–5 2020. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.   

Tschimmel, Katja (2018). Evolution 6² Toolkit: An E-handbook for Practical Design Thinking for Innovation. Mindshake.   

Design Thinking for non-Design Thinkers

Today the world around us is continuously evolving and companies must be flexible and able to adapt to changes in society. Therefore, companies are testing new business logics and models to solve wicked social and business problems.  

This is where Design Thinking comes into play. This process is described by Tschimmel (based on Brown 2009) as “not only a cognitive process or a mindset, but […] an effective method with a toolkit for any innovation process, connecting the creative design approach to traditional business thinking”.  

The “Why and How” of Design Thinking 

Businesses are looking for solutions to provide services that are compelling and innovative by closely following latest trends. In other words, companies strive to give a better sense of customer fulfilment by bringing something new and useful to the world.  

Design Thinking puts people who use a service in the heart of the design process consisting of inspiration, ideation and implementation phases. Implementing Design Thinking requires getting whole organization involved in embracing its principles. It is crucial that firms discover unmet customer needs and create new products to gain competitive advantages. This process, a core of Design Thinking, might just be a pathway to truly successful innovations. 

The “Why Not” of Design Thinking  

If the benefits of Design Thinking are so remarkable, how come it is not yet a standard toolkit of every organization?  

Organizations consist of people and many of us may believe that creativity is just for Design Thinkers. Design Thinking forces us to face uncertainty and we might be unwilling to share incomplete, let alone extravagant ideas: we want to be seen as know-it-all-professionals. Creativity is a window to one’s soul which can’t be opened without psychological safety.  

As to companies, they are challenged with organizational silos and competing agendas as well as counterproductive cults such as short-term performance and efficiency, that may cause issues when implementing Design Thinking. Furthermore, the iterative nature of the process takes time and resources as ideas are put to life through rapid experimentation and prototyping, and return on investments of design may be hard to measure. 

Conclusions  

Based on our perceptions, we justify utilizing Design Thinking by the following:  

  1.  The world is changing – So should you and your business  
    Regardless of how successful your business is, you can’t stay still. Although becoming a proficient Design Thinking organization may be challenging, it can be THE success factor. Can you afford not to try?   
  1. Believe in yourself – Everybody has what it takes  
    As Tschimmel puts it, you don’t need to be gifted genius, we all have “the innate potential to think creatively and can improve creative thoughts by applying certain techniques and methods.”     
  1. Be persistent – You will learn by trial and error   
    Edison said: “it is 99% perspiration and 1% of inspiration.” Grasp how to fail fast and learn quickly.     
  1. Believe in group power – Embrace uncertainty  
    Go with the flow and allow yourself to be surprised by the power of collaboration.   

And the definition of non-Design Thinkers? They don’t exist; they just need to discover their inner Design Thinker. 

This blog post is written by two Service Design (MBA) students:
Sanna Antola and Thomas Djupsjö at Laurea University of Applied Sciences. 

For further inspiration

References

Brown, Tim (2008). Design Thinking
Harvard Business Review, p. 84-92

Fraser, Heather M.A.:  Designing Business: New Models for Success in Design Thinking: Integrating Innovation, Customer Experience, and Brand Value by Lockwood, Thomas in 2010. Allworth Press. New York.  

Jenkins, Julian: Creating the Right Environment for Design in Design Thinking: Integrating Innovation, Customer Experience, and Brand Value by Lockwood, Thomas in 2010. Allworth Press. New York. 

Løvlie, Lavrans,  Downs, Chris and Reason, Ben: Bottom-Line Experiences: Measuring the Value of Design in Service in Design Thinking: Integrating Innovation, Customer Experience, and Brand Value by Lockwood, Thomas in 2010. Allworth Press. New York. 

Kolko, Jon (2015). Design thinking comes of age.
Harvard Business Review, September 2015, p. 66-71

Tschimmel, Katja (2020 forthcoming). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centred ménage à trois 

Tschimmel, Katja (2020). Design Thinking course lectures, September 4–5th 2020. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland. 

 

Letting go of your prejudices (while staying inside that thinking box)

by Miia Lemola & Ekaterina Nikitina

Design Thinking workshop and concomitant readings have given us a lot of inspiration. However, it has also activated inner critics in us. We would like to share our thoughts about prejudices and limitations in creative thinking.

Creativity – a gift or a skill?  

In the workshop, we were thrown to the deep end to practice Design Thinking instead of analysing the term which might have confused us. For example, in the article “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking” (Buchanan, R. 1996) the focus is heavily on the philosophical question on what Design Thinking is. While the core idea of Design Thinking being about experimenting and understanding human experience is in the article, it does not bring it to concrete level. Buchanan’s work is also criticized by Lucy Kimbell (2011) for his generalisation of designers’ role in the world rather than studying individual designers’ approaches.

By throwing us in the deep end in the beginning we were forced to train what is the beginning of all thinking – ideas and creativity. We learned that creativity is not something a person has or not, but it is more like a muscle you can train. Many of us suffer from of our insecurities and prejudices such as “I’m not a creative person” and “I can’t come up with any ideas”. In the Social Distancing in Educational Institutions assignment we learned to create new ideas by making unlikely combinations of topics identified in mind maps. 

Letting go of your insecurities and prejudices help you in the process of becoming creative and designing new services. This happened also to highly introverted, technical and rule-oriented people such as Akshay Kotheri and Ankit Gupta who by attending a Design Thinking workshops in Stanford University eventually invented an app that was praised by Steve Jobs (Kelley, T. & Kelley, D. 2015).

Picture 1. Tschimmel, K. 2020. Workshop 4.-5.9.2020. 

What about the box?  

As an encouragement for training our creativity we often hear “Think outside of the box!”. Although, how far outside of the box are we expected to think? Do constrains make us more creative or do they block our ability for ideation?

We as designers are always limited, among other aspects, by the culture of the society. In the article “Creativity, Design and Design Thinking a ménage à trois” (2020) Katja suggested that the result of creativity is “changing a symbolic domain of culture”. If a product is too revolutionary, it might not be acknowledged as valuable by the community. It happened before to famous painters, writers, musicians, and scientists. 

The society constraints were also (accidentally) demonstrated in the class during Perception exercise (Picture 2). The task had only one “correct” answer, although fellow students suggested three other decent options. In this case the range of correct solutions was limited by the task creator. 

Picture 2. Tschimmel, K. 2020. Workshop 4.-5.9.2020. Edited by Ekaterina Nikitina 

Although limitations might be a brake in creating process, designers could also benefit from them. 

Famous Russian blogger and designer Artemiy Lebedev suggested that limitations, are “a real creative opportunity”. A designer receiving a clear assignment would do a good job, while a designer asked to do “the best something” would produce nothing (Lebedev, A. 2012.). Also, Kelley (2015) mentions that a few boundaries can not only spur more creativity but might also help to (re)frame the challenges. We felt this in class when workshop tasks had time limits. 

Combining the best of both worlds 

All in all, creativity is a doing process. Although studying history and a variety of theories of Design Thinking is vital, we found practicing creativity more efficient for understanding the ideas behind the subject. We also agreed that setting constraints – staying inside the thinking box – is a working solution for embracing creativity. However, when all the participants are in creative process with open heart and mind, not only innovative ideas are welcomed more likely by the community, but we grow as designers and realize that we can create. 

Picture 3. Source: Unsplash 

Miia Lemola & Ekaterina Nikitina. Course A9299-3004 Design Thinking. Laurea 2020

Ideas stolen from: 

Lebedev. A. 2012. The virtue of limitations
Buchanan, R. 1996. Wicked Problems in Design Thinking. 
Kelley, T. & Kelley, D. 2015: Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All 
Kimbell, L. 2011. Rethinking Design Thinking: Part I
Tschimmel, K. 2020. Lectures in Laurea University of Applied Sciences, 4.-5.9.2020 
Tschimmel, K. 2020. Creativity, Design and Design Thinking a ménage à trois.