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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. 

My first touch with design thinking and why it was so difficult to write about it

Design Thinking workshop on September 7th 2019 at Laurea Leppävaara campus
Photo credits: Bento Haridas

The journey of writing this blog post

I have written this blog post so many times and felt so insecure and confused what to write about. The assignment for the Design Thinking course was to read couple of articles and books and reflect on your own learnings.

Over and over again, I have read my notes from our workshop days from September 2019, facilitated and lectured by Katja Tschimmel. I have also read her article “Design Thinking as an effective toolkit for innovation” and a book “Design Thinking for strategic innovation – What they can’t teach you at business or design school”. I have had good discussions with my colleagues, at work (you know who you are) and in the SID program.

I have familiarized myself with the different Design Thinking models and in general why and how design methods can be used creatively in solving any problems, regardless of the context. I have learned that it is a great tool to frame the problem and find the right problem to be solved. The variety of Design Thinking tools can be used by anyone, you don’t have to be a designer or creative person to use those tools.

In organizations, Design Thinking approach and tools work well in gathering people together across the organizational silos. Bringing people together regardless of the background and helping people to discuss and share thoughts in supporting and safe environment was one of the important things I noted down. I also learned that Design Thinking allows people to try different solutions, even if they do not know if this is the right one or right direction. Design Thinking accepts and encourages people to learn through making failures. The well known benefit of that in business world is that making failures quickly actually makes the development timeline shorter and that way cheaper.

Photo source: Design Thinking for strategic innovation – What they can’t teach you at business or design school, page 37.

Getting in touch with feelings is hard

Before the workshop, I knew some theory and benefits of Design Thinking. But only through the personal experience and quite many months of mental processing I have started to understand why it has been so difficult to write about Design Thinking. The playful methods and way of working together co-creatively was just so much fun. I actually felt something.

For many reasons, I have been used to just rely on my rational, logical and analytical thinking at work, working in a big corporate with big corporates in solving their challenges as a management consultant. But this approach touched and opened something in my heart and I could also use my ability to feel to solve the problem we worked with in the workshop.

People have natural need to be in connection with people, to work with people, feel that they are part of something. Especially in large organizations people can feel very lonely. Design Thinking brings people together and makes you feel you are part of something.

When organizations and people face changes, very often people feel fear of the coming change. Fear again makes people to fight or run away, or in a very difficult situation, paralyze. Organizations are in a constant change, and change happens fast. I feel that Design Thinking is powerful tool to address the change, to plan the changes together and go through the journey together. You will still need to make your research to understand the needs of your customers, make a business case for the change, you need to get people onboard to the change, you will need to find technological solutions, you need to figure out the operating model and design efficient processes. Design Thinking is a new perspective to add on. That’s why it makes so much sense in organizations to use design methods.

The power of of Design Thinking is definitely in the psychological side, among the many others such as giving tools for ordinary people in organizations to be creative and innovative and making organizations more human places to work in.

I will end this post by sending lots of hugs and kisses to everyone who reads this post! Let’s be brave and make organizations good places to work in ❤

23.1.2020 by Katriina Granlund

This adorable panda bear is not in any way related to the design thinking workshop. I was having lunch at Roots kitchen in the charming old Turku market hall one day, and they use these animal figures instead of regular numbers to bring the food to the correct table after order. Such a nice idea!

Can we save the world by unblocking our creativity?

When was the last time you tried something new and failed? Did you feel proud of yourself then? You probably should have, because chances are that your failure was a sign of you pushing your creativity to the limit. And it takes a lot of guts to do so.

As IDEO founders David and Thomas Kelley point out in their book Creative confidence creativity means that you can imagine the way the world should be, believe in your capacity to make positive changes and be brave enough to take action (2013, p. 64). Creative thinkers discover new opportunities, think in variety of possibilities and take multiple perspectives into account. They experiment and operate against well known solutions and stereotypes. The plot twist? We all have what it takes to be a creative thinker (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p.4-6).

Creativity, like any other skill, can be trained (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 5-6; 30). The training program for your mind muscles are processes that these days goes by the name design thinking (see for example Tschimmel, Santos, Loyens, Jacinto, Monteiro & Valença 2015, p. 69). These processes help to build empathic understanding, to find new perspectives and make sense of the world around us. Design thinking processes are human-centred, multidisciplinary, collaborative, optimistic and experimental (Tschimmel et al. 2015, p. 6; 72). Design thinking is also design doing: it always aims to produce something concrete and new to the world.

Stirring the status quo

Unfortunately many of us adults are too afraid of failure and the lost of appreciation of our peers to fully tap into our creative potential (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 6; 44; 53-55). We often see creativity as something that “the artistic” or “the innovative” types have. Because of these beliefs good ideas are left unshared and the unique solutions go undiscovered (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 62). 

In the future working life transversal skills such as creativity, collaboration skills and ability to take initiative are on high demand (Tschimmel, Santos, Loyens, Jacinto, Monteiro & Valença 2015, p. 6). But using design thinking to unleash the full power of our creative capacity is not only a matter of skilled workforce. As the over 7 million people marching in the global Climate Strikes in September 2019 reminded us: there are no jobs on a dead planet.

climate-strike

The young climate activists are expressing their creative confidence in several ways when attending Climate March in Helsinki in September 2019.

The biggest challenges of our times are summarized in UN Agenda 2030 goals that are interlaced and overlap each other. Like in design thinking the needs of people are in the center of these goals: for example the need for a livable environment is fundamental. As many of these challenges are described as wicked problems, it is becoming increasingly clear that we can’t tackle the problems created by the current ways of living by continuing “business as usual” (see also Tschimmel, Santos, Loyens, Jacinto, Monteiro & Valença 2015, p. 72). As the problems we are facing as humankind are getting more all-encompassing and complex, the need for human superpowers like empathy and creativity is ever increasing.

So where do I start?

Not all of us are educational leaders or politicians who have the power to disrupt systems teaching us how to think and behave. Luckily, as we have established, everyone can make a difference. Here are some of the tips from the experts that we can try in our everyday life to unblock the creative superpowers within us and the others around us:

  • Try until you fail and push others to try too. Learning cycles including failure are an essential part of unblocking creativity. You can think that if you haven’t failed yet, you weren’t reaching far enough. Try to create opportunities for those around you to fail as well in a supportive environment. Start by failing small and aim for massive failures as your creative confidence increases.
    (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 50-53; Tschimmel, Santos, Loyens, Jacinto, Monteiro & Valença 2015, p. 7; 72.)

  • Label your next great idea as an experiment and let everyone know that you’re just testing it out. Make sure that the people around you know that you only have reasonable hope for success and the whole point is what you can learn from the failure if and hopefully when it happens. (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 47; 50.)

  • Pay attention and intervene when someone around is feeling insecure or undervalued. Keep in mind that insecurity isn’t always a sign for lack of skills or experience. Perfectionism can be crippling if we think that being and expert means excelling without a flaw. Fight these feelings of insecurity by always giving credit when credit is due. Remember to give credit from trying and failing as well, not only succeeding. (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 57; 61-63.)

  • Start keeping an idea journal. It doesn’t matter whether you write, draw or dictate your ideas. Create a way to have a way to store you ideas right away no matter where you are, because even the greatest ideas might be fleeting.
    (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 216-218.)

  • Remember that creative processes are collaborative processes. Share your ideas, ask for help and take care of your social support system. (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 58; Tschimmel et al. 2015, p. 72.)

Enjoy creating, embrace failing!

 

The writer is a career counsellor venturing in the world of design thinking. She failed yesterday with a new veggie stew recipe, but is determined to try again (much to her family’s horror).

Sara Peltola
@Sara_Peltola

 

REFERENCES:

Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. 2013. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential within Us All. New York: Currency.

Tschimmel, K., Santos, J., Loyens, D., Jacinto, A., Monteiro, R. & Valença M. 2015. Research Report D-Think. Design Thinking Applied to Education and Training. ERASMUS+ KA2 Strategic Partnerships. Available online: http://www.d-think.eu/uploads/1/6/2/1/16214540/researchreport_d-think-dv.pdf [Accessed September 30th 2019].

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

Sustainable future is based on design thinking

I experienced a small revolution in my mind when I participated the Design Thinking course held by Katja Tschimmel in Laurea 2019. It grew even bigger after reading the book Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley and the Design Thinking article by Tim Brown.

In the end, I realized that attempts to make this world a better place are not going to be sustainable, at least with full potential, without using design thinking approach and experimenting.

Design thinking as a methodology

Design thinking is a methodology (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 25; Brown, 2008, p. 86). This might sound a bit boring but I think viewing design thinking as a methodology makes it easier to apply in different contexts. After all, there are huge, complex problems to be tackled in our world, e.g. climate change and social inequality, and there is no single right answer to be found. Therefore, in order to find new innovative products and practices we need design thinking and human-centered approach (Brown, 2008, p. 92). I already have some research methodologies in my toolbox but design thinking really makes me excited because it involves an element that’s often lacking. And that’s concrete action and rapid testing in the real world!

I’m a researcher in my nature and I’m used to rely on data. But sometimes there’s not data available or it’s really difficult to analyse. Then design thinking and using empathy and prototyping might be the only key to move forward (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 25). This is what we also practiced together in Design Thinking course and, although it felt a bit difficult at some point, it came clear to me that without human-centered approach and prototyping the creative potential we have is not fulfilled and opportunity to truly be innovative is lost.

Together we produced lots of innovative ideas (some of them probably more innovative than others but that’s a different story)

Creativity equals natural

In front of daunting global challenges it’s understandable to feel discouraged. But everyone has the capability to be creative and improve everyday life by using design thinking approach. Creativity is not limited only to “official” designers ; it’s a natural feature of human species.

However, David and Tom point out that the real value of creativity doesn’t emerge until you are brave enough to act on new ideas (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 5). I especially enjoyed their example from Tibetan language where is no separate word for ”creativity” or ”being creative”. The closest translation is ”natural”; therefore, in order to be more creative you just have to be more natural, simple as that!

Or is it that simple in practice? Being creative and trying new ideas contain always a risk of failure (actually it’s guaranteed that failures happen). The catch is that lessons learned from failures make us smarter and stronger if we just keep taking the steps forward together with supporting people.

In addition of being natural human character, creativity is also coachable (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 63). I felt lucky to be surrounded and coached by supportive fellow students in Katja Tschimmel’s course and most importantly: it was inspiring to be creative together!

References:

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

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

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking. Lectures. Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Espoo, Finland.

Is Design Thinking the right approach for every development project?

Heljä Franssila
First-year SID student and comms professional


The first three-day study phase focusing on the basics of Design Thinking left me inspired, yet somewhat confused. When going back home after our last day together, I could not help wondering if design thinking really is a method we can use for every development project.

Under the guidance of Katja Tschimmel, our group had set out to find a solution for establishing an agenda for an ecologically sustainable Laurea University, starting from the Leppävaara campus.

In our task, we quickly ran through the phases of a design process from understanding to testing, following the Design Thinking Model of the Hasso-Plattner Institute (Tschimmel 2012, 9), or from discovery to delivery, as in the model of the Design Council (2012, 9) – or from emergence to exposition, as in the E.6² model by Tschimmel’s company Mindshake. Our case was solid in the sense that the challenge we were facing is a real one – how to create a sustainable campus in the times of an ecological crisis – but instead of creating a holistic action plan for the university, the design thinking method basically lead us to developing a mobile app for students. It was obvious that in real life, this kind of solution alone would not help Laurea to a more sustainable future in the large scale.

As an answer to my doubts, Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie assure me in their book Designing for Growth (2011) that we still need business thinking in addition to design thinking tools (Liedtka and Ogilvie 2011, 29). They enlist three reasons why combining business thinking models with design thinking tools leads to success. Here, in the context of our campus project, I understand the concept of ‘business thinking’ as a synonym to strategic thinking or other more traditional management models. Liedtka and Ogilvie argue that business thinking is needed because novelty, which is sought after in design innovation processes, does not necessarily create value, and sometimes even value creation is not enough. There are many other elements which must be taken into account, too, when managing a business, or, in our case, running a university (2011, 29).

Finally, according to Liedtka and Ogilvie, we must always consider whether the world really needs our innovation (2011, 29). This is probably the most crucial factor why our group’s innovation would not have survived the testing phase in the design process, as it simply would not deliver a viable solution to the challenge of a sustainable university.

Drawing portraits was a clever way of getting to know each member of our group. It also simply helped us to remember who is who. Yet it felt difficult to sketch a face of a class mate who you didn’t know at all, as the results of one-minute drawings weren’t most flattering! Image: Heljä Franssila


Victory with visuals

What are the strengths of design process, then? For me, the biggest revelation from Tschimmel’s masterclass and the study materials was the power of communicating ideas with visualisations, such as sketches, drawings and prototypes. As communications professional, I have thought to have understood the high value of photographs, videos and illustrations, but now I realise how strongly my thinking is dominated by words and text.

Tschimmel, as well as Liedtka and Ogilvie, encourage us to test and improve our hypothesis by experimentation (Liedtka and Ogilvie, 2011, 39), which can be easily done by rapid sketches and unpolished prototypes (Tschimmel 2012, 16). Using visualisation instead of text decreases the project risk remarkably, as text is much more open to interpretation than pictures and illustrated stories. The text easily leads each participant to imagine their own mental schema about the topic, which can lead to arguments when differing ideas are found out (Lietdka and Ogilvie 2011, 51). It is also recommended to do rapid prototyping as soon as possible, as it is cost-effective to fail at the early stage than in later development (Tschimmel 2012, 16).

In our study project, it first felt impossible to me to visualise my ideas either by drawing or by building legos (“why can’t I just write it!”)  but I see it now very clearly why developing visualisation skills is absolutely necessary for an aspiring service designer such as me. I am looking forward to my future as the first-rate lego builder.



References:

Liedtka, J & Ogilvie, T. (2011). Designing for Growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers. Columbia University Press. 

Tschimmel, K. 2012. Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation. In: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona.

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

Customer experience success with design thinking

In our Laurea master study of Design thinking led by Professor Katja Tschimmel, we “Learnt by doing” basic principles of design thinking concept and used Mindshake Innovation Design Thinking Model called Evolution 6. Study of Design thinking model helped me to understand the importance of concepts like fluidity in idea generation and idea hitlist, prototyping and storyboarding which felt quite natural and simple but highly effective.

We are living in a world which is changing quite rapidly and there is “no more Business as usual”. Business paradigm is changing and there are a lot of disruptions and transformation happening in every sector. Traditional companies are losing their advantage and also market share. Here, in such situations, “Design thinking” can help companies to evolve and grow. Mr. Idris Mootee in his book “Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation” described basic business challenges and along with that also shared solution for these challenges based on design thinking. Here Idris mentioned “Extreme competition” as one of the business challenges and experience design as approach to tackle it.

Importance of experience design is very well emphasized by the fact that nowadays customers are buying the experience, not just the product. Also customer retention becomes increasingly difficult if they don’t get good experience with their first purchase. Now the question is how a company can give the customer an experience with wow factor. It’s not easy! A company would invest a lot in the development of new system but still fail to manage customer expectation and loose customer base. How to deal with such a situation? Here we need to understand that business is no more as usual. While building any new solution, companies are mainly investing in upper layers of customer experience and not including the core aspects. Solution should be able to address the need of customer without asking and should make customer experience better, safer and more powerful (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Customer experience layers

Steve Jobs once said “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new”. In today’s world, market is changing so fast. What seems like an innovation today might become obsolete tomorrow. So solution should be human centric with a futuristic vision. According to Mr. Idris Mootee companies can build strategic foresight by identifying the weak signals. Weak signals can be emergence of new technology, new patents, new policy or compliance etc. Organisations need to identify, analyse, study and be ready with a range of strategic options for dealing with possible future. In this way organisations can be more prepared for any new opportunity, threat or potential blind spots.

10 years back weak signal scanning and context mapping might have been relatively less complex but in today’s world it might be mind boggling exercise. Also one solution might not fit all problems. In case an organization wants to provide a service which does not exist then it might be very difficult to identify weak signals related to it. For example 

  • To know if service would meet targeted customer expectations
  • To know if they would be willing to pay for it
  • To know the price potential customer would be willing to pay

Sometimes disruption can come from a sector or industry which is not related at all with impacted industry. For example music industry was revolutionised by the arrival of iPod or how TomTom was impacted by the popularity of smartphones coupled with inexpensive data. 

At the end I would like to share with you an interesting “Marshmallow challenge” which explained essense of prototyping and fail early very well. Try it and enjoy 🙂

Written by Abhishek Gupta (https://www.linkedin.com/in/abhishek-gupta-fi/)

References:

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

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

Tom Wujec. Marshmallow problem. http://www.ted.com