Design Thinking – the challenge in daring to embrace the mess of non linear thinking.
Be empathetic, gather courage and nurture creativity to make Breakthroughs.
I would like to Thank our energetic lecturer Katja Tschimmel for sharing her knowledge and experiences on Design Thinking. Thank to Virpi Kaartti for providing great support during the Study and Thank to all my fellow students for such an amazing ongoing experience.
This blog is covering two parts. 1) My perspective and highlight on Design Thinking and Innovation 2) Learning during Laurea contact sessions.
My perspective and highlight on Design Thinking and Innovation
I have gained a little insight about the potential of Design Thinking and how design thinking approach can lead to create innovations to improve existing conditions and make impact.
I can already feel that Design Thinking is slowly transforming my approach towards solving problems and my realization that empathy is so much central towards design thinking.
Design Thinking is powerful, a great methodology which provides framework for understanding empathy, nurturing creativity and using early prototyping towards breakthrough innovations.
Also, keeping an open mindset to grow and learn at the same time paves the way to unleash our true unknown potential, including creativity hidden among all of us.
Here, I would like to emphasize and highlight on key aspects of Design Thinking.
“Here was a curious thing. My friend’s instinct told him the North End was a good place, and his social statistics confirmed it. But everything he had learned as a physical planner about what is good for people and good for cities neighbourhoods, everything that made him an expert, told him the North End had to be a bad place.” Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Change by Design 
In the very first masterclasses about Design Thinking running by Katja Tschimmel and Marina Valenca we, toddlers in the field and students in Service Innovation and Design Programme, went into renaissance era of the design which now is perceived and used as a perfectly crafted methodology by a wider audience including business itself. Big Bang of Design Thinking which – as we were assured – Comes of Age!  As lectures went fast with a short history of design and presented different approaches to the design process to smoothly show us their own – well equipped with a whole range of precisely picked tools ; like many others, I was waiting for practical part of the meeting. For doing stuff not learning about it, to experience it, to feel it in my heart and to answer fundamental questions: what is, what if, what wows and what works . After all, I took home some thoughts which I present below.
If you were asked to describe DT you probably would start drawing something, using Post-its notes, prototyping anything but not words themselves. Visualisation played a priority during our jam session. There is no way to disagree with Liedtka & Ogilvie that “Visualisation make ideas tangible and concrete. […] make them human and real.”  It also allows us to avoid misunderstanding and misinterpretation. After that few hours together it is hard to polemise with Katja while saying that “designers analyse and understand problems of the artificial world.” in the meaning that every tangible aspect of the performance was before the creation of intangible thoughts, ideas, notions, and intuition. From this perspective visualisation lets us grab our unrevealed ideas, bring them to the surface and make them enough concrete to evaluate. It also put individual and collective intuition before learning and maybe this is what I the most love about it.
A stream of consciousness.
If I were asked to show the greatest values of Design Thinking process, I would say that its collaborative, multidisciplinary and co – creative aspects are the most precious one. I enjoyed brain-writing part of our session vastly. But, we always put a human in the heart of all “doing”. In Virginia Woolf’s book the different aspects of Ms. Dalloway; her needs, feelings, context, and experiences are constantly subjected to individual and collective influence and turn from intentions into reality. In DT process it all above makes possible to arise great and innovative idea anchored in the essence of an end user of the service or offering.
Nevertheless to make it happen, I learned that we need to listen to others with engagement on every possible step. In my opinion, like visualisation is the tool of understanding and expressing all ideas and thoughts as listening is the value without which no meaningful idea can authentically bloom. I like how about listening speaks Otto Scharmer and I leave you with his short video to contemplate where innovation and tipping point in any sector starts. Enjoy!
1. “Change by design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation.” Tim Brown
2. “Design Thinking Comes to Age”, Jan Kolko Harvard Bussiness Review, https://hbr.org/2015/09/design-thinking-comes-of-age
3. “Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation.”, Katja Tschimmel http://www.academia.edu/1906407/Design_Thinking_as_an_effective_Toolkit_for_Innovation
4. “Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers.”, Liedtka & Ogilvie
As far as Design Thinking goes, I must confess to being quite the “newbie”. Having only recently been enlightened to the magical world of service design, innovation and co-creation, I was excited to learn of the many different models that the design thinking world has to offer.
Katja Tschimmel describes the similarities and differences of the models in both her article “Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation” as well as in the research report D-think. These include IDEO’s 3 I model (Inspiration, Ideation, Implementation), IDEO’s HCD model (human-centred design, Hearing, Creating, Delivering), the models of the d.school (Hasso-Plattner Institute and Stanford University), the Double-Diamond model of the British Council, and the DT toolkit for Educators. Mindshake’s E6 model was also introduced, and I got the opportunity to try it out myself during the course.
During the class sessions, I got a glimpse of how the design thinking process could be applied to solve student-related issues. There was no lack of empathy during this task, as we all dived into tackling issues concerning thesis stress, time-management issues and networking needs. We grouped ourselves into small multidisciplinary teams, and our team went through a the Design Thinking process to come up with our final conclusion; a service called “Matchup”. It was a service to tackle the issue of networking within our SID group. The idea actually won!
Business today is about emotions, wants and wishes. The traditional role of business management has been to ensure the efficiency of use of resources. The world has changed, and customers don’t settle to the cheapest and most practical products and services anymore. As we already have almost everything we actually need, we are now increasingly seeking to fulfil our wishes and wants. That’s just human.
The human essence of Design Thinking
To meet these new demands, we need tools that are human-centric, cultural and social, and which keep innovation at the cord. One way to answer these needs is by applying Design Thinking.
The essence of Design Thinking is human to human. It’s a holistic process that unpacks the whole process to human touch points and takes in consideration not only the service process but also the feelings that affect to our decisions through the whole process. Experiences are not just functional, but also social, cultural and personal. They are important in value creation, because experiences are meaningful to people.
Design thinking helps to understand customer needs and create new value
Design Thinking is a way to apply tools traditionally used by designers to a problem-solving-contexts in business, services and processes. A collaborative way of working helps designers to gain mutual and holistic understanding of the problem. In the process of idea creation, 1+1 equals more than 2. Since visual perception is dominant for us, visualisation and prototypes are crucial in communication of ideas and opportunities. Applying of Design Thinking tools and methods can help business managers to identify, visualise, and solve problems in systematic and creative way.
Design Thinking considers human needs, emotions and feelings just as important as functionality and rationality. It requires from a designer capability to consider human needs, available recourses and constrains, and opportunities at the same time. Designer has to be analytical and emphatic, rational and emotional, methodological and intuitive, oriented by plans and constraints, but spontaneous, and all at the same time (Pombo & Tschimmel 2005).
Herbert Simon’s ideas of design-centric mode of thinking are foundational to the practice. He considered design as “the transformation of existing conditions into preferred ones”, and described design-centric thinking as a process of “building up” ideas, in comparison to critical thinking and analytic process of “breaking down” ideas.
Design Thinking methods can help us appreciate and understand connections between people, places, objects, events and ideas. It drives innovation that is based on future opportunities rather than past events. It focuses on human behaviour, relationships, interactions and emotions. By combining business methods with Design Thinking, organisations can establish more sensitive and comprehensive knowledge, and better understand operational environment. Design Thinking methods like ethnographic research, customer journey mapping, storytelling and rapid prototypes are tools to create understanding through empathy and collaboration. They help to identify the needs and goals and emotions of customers. And because emotions greatly affect in our decision-making, it is possible to make services and products more desirable by adding emotional elements.
Although some amount of efficiency and standardisation will always have a place in business processes, it’s the human touch points which give the greater meaning to products, services and brands. And that is where the new value is being created.
* This post has been inspired by the book Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School by Idris Mootee, and Katja Tschimmels article Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation.
Service Design Hackathon -Day 3. (30.1.2016)
It is Saturday morning and everyone in our group seems to be in need of strong coffee. Last night we ended up asking “why”, today we will give an answer; who do we want our customer to become. In today´s agenda we have one more interview and by the end of the day we will give a presentation, we will pitch the business plan of our team.
Our last guest arrives for interview. He is 23 y.o student, lives by himself in the city centre of Helsinki. His life style is busy urban life. His dream is one day to own flat in city area. Our questions for him want to measure how keen he is to use services for housing and living by using Internet. We are also interested in how he sees himself in the future – does he like to use more time for his free time rather than spending time for domestic work. Our goal is still to make “tripadvisor of services”; to make ordering of services easier than it is now. (…Our quest didn’t see extra services too important as he could do most of the daily stuff by himself. Maybe it was too early for him to think of daily life with busy family with children etc…)
After interviewing the student our picture of our customer segmentation became very clear! We are focusing for parents, 40+, digital native people who can afford to spend some extra money for daily luxuries such as for cleaner or nanny, or who are in charge of their own aging parents for example.
Our group´s working stations for plan presentation divided naturally; visual person search pictures for power point, technical person played with power point itself, business person did the calculations of research and person who was called human, was the all over leader of our presentation and team work.
After working few hours we started pitching. Was amazing to hear fellow Hackathor´s presentations. So many interesting service models with great future thinking. Wasn’t easy to select the most interesting one to be best. Actual pitching last 10 minutes and we were proud of our own work. Did audience love it, this we will see on 21st of April, when Kiinteistömaailma announces their chosen project.
Written by Paula Nordfors – Laurea, Helsinki, Finland
Current State and Recent Challenges of the Concept
In autumn 2009 Tim Brown published his influential book ‘Change by Design’, an introduction to Design Thinking for business leaders. Shortly thereafter, in early 2010, I read it for the first time while studying in a post-graduate course at the HPI School of Design Thinking. Now, five years later, I am studying Design Thinking again as part of Laurea’s MBA programme, while Brown shares an update in HBR’s latest edition and — simultaneously — the HPI publishes a large study on the current state of the concept. Time for a review of the concept and its application.
The Many Meanings of Design Thinking
In 2009, Brown described Design Thinking as a set of principles, as an exploratory, human-centred process and systematic approach to innovation that can be applied for problem solving. He argued that it balances the perspectives of users, technology, and business. Throughout the book he named its ingredients, ideal organisational setup-up, its divergent and convergent phases. Eventually he pitched the idea that the presented techniques, originated in design studios, should spread inside of organisations and be integrated by other disciplines. Brown suggested to use Design Thinking within interdisciplinary teams to manage innovation portfolios and transform organisations.
The Practitioner’s Point of View
According to a recently published study Brown’s hopes became realities — at least partly. Yet, as diverse as Brown described the concept of Design Thinking (principles, techniques, process) in 2009 as much ambiguity did a group of HPI researchers find now when questioning international practitioners through a survey and qualitative interviews. While almost all survey respondents described it as an ‘iterative process’, only about 60% named it a ‘method or methodology’. Only a tenth of the participants referred to it as a ‘culture’.
In Brown’s vision the entire organisation would commit itself to this human-centred practise. What might start off in an innovation cell would then branch out and be applied to bigger projects. Eventually Design Thinking would become integrated into all of the organisation’s processes and be holistically embedded. The study findings, however, show that in practise such deep cultural integration is far from being the norm. For 3/4 of the organisations which apply Design Thinking it is located ‘somewhere in the organisation’, predominantly in a dedicated department. For about 1/6 Design Thinking is being used for strategic management and decision making. Only a little more than a quarter of the participants stated that it is intrinsic to the overall culture. Most likely Design Thinking is currently localised in a special function instead of being widely embraced, the researchers conclude. 10% of the respondents even stated that they abandoned the concept in the meantime.