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Unleash Your Inner Beast

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.

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Getting in the mood for Design Thinking

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.file-25-09-16-17-59-47-1

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!

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Design Thinking : Creating New Value by Humanization

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.

fullsizerender-1Design 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.

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Creating deeper understanding about the prosess with service prototype.

* 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.

Design Thinking, the secret of business innovation

Remember that feeling of inadequacy in art class at school for ‘not being creative enough’? I do. To this day I’ve thought that I’m simply not cut out for being creative. And then, about a month ago while attending Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valenca’s course, I finally realised I too can be creative. That’s when I became properly acquainted with Design Thinking.

As Brown (2009), Tschimmel (2012) and Liedtka and Ogilvie (2011) have asserted, we all have creative capabilities. We just need to have the right tools to dig them out and open our minds to see the world differently.

Human in the centre of business innovation

Among being useful for many things, Design Thinking (DT) provides essential tools for businesses to ‘get ahead of the game’. By combining the creative approach of design disciplines with rational, analytic problem-solving, DT helps to think divergently and expand options, which is unarguably beneficial when trying to come up with new business innovation.

What DT draws from design disciplines in particular is the emphatic human-centric view which starts with observing people in their natural surroundings. Starting a business innovation process this way is very important because it helps to understand customers’ true needs and create business that taps into their existing behaviour. This way customers are much more likely to relate to the new business.

Visualisation and iteration lead to better results

The DT process has been explained and visualised with several different kind of models over the years. There are also hundreds of existing DT tools. Yet, regardless of the model and tools used, the DT process always includes certain common aspects.

Design thinking process has been modelled in many different ways.

Design thinking process has been modelled in many different ways.

To start with, customer observation helps to identify different patterns and insights, which highlight the problem at hand. As DT theory stresses, patterns and understanding are often best formed by visualising learnings. Visualisation makes problems literally visible and thereby tangible and concrete.

Mind mapping is one visual DT technique. Photo: Katja Tschimmel

Mind mapping is one visual DT technique. Photo: Katja Tschimmel

There are numerous visualisation methods, but one effective method that no DT process should disregard is prototyping. Building a prototype is relatively inexpensive and easy – any material will do. A prototype helps to highlight possible future pitfalls of an idea that can become costly if not dealt with early enough. It’s always easy to take one step back in the development phase and try to improve the idea but it can be difficult to fix once it’s moulded into its final form. According to DT theory, working this way – iteratively – often leads to better results.

Cardboard boxes and Legos worked well as materials for our prototype. Photo: Katja Tschimmel

Cardboard boxes and Legos worked well as materials for our prototype. Photo: Katja Tschimmel

Storytelling engages

Now, working hard on an idea is all very well but even a great idea can die if it can’t be communicated effectively. Hence, storytelling is also in the core of a DT process. Every design thinker should aim to be a master storyteller with an ability to engage their audience on an emotional level. This is particularly important in a business innovation process because success is often tied to the whole company being engaged with the process and truly understanding what is being done.

A visual storyboard is an effective technique of storytelling, which we used in class. Photo: Katja Tschimmel

A visual storyboard is an effective technique of storytelling, which we used in class. Photo: Katja Tschimmel

Practice makes (a group) perfect

Naturally no one is born perfect and truly mastering the DT approach takes practice. What is beautiful about DT, though, is that it’s always a group effort. A DT process involves interdisciplinary teams where each team member builds on each others’ ideas and brings their personal strengths to the group. Little by little and as a group, with the help of creative Design Thinking, a great many things can be achieved.

 

Written by Henrietta Hautala

 

Sources:

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

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

Tschimmel, K. (2012) ‘Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation’ in Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation from Experience.

How might we design for change?

“Reading aloud is an important tool to plant the love of reading in children”, said Rana Dajani explainng her idea of We Love Reading in the innovation platform: Open IDEO.

We Love Reading is an initiative to hold read-aloud sessions in refugee camps that encourages women, men and youth to be leaders in their communities by setting up read aloud sessions. These sessions are done by the people of the camp themselves within the vicinity of the tents. Children not only enjoy the storytelling experience in their own language and culture but, it is also a capacity building tool for adults in the camp that give them a sense of purpose there.

You might hear about this initiative because it has been elected by UNESCO as an effective education program and they also participated in WISE Congress last year.

The initiative already has a pilot in the Zaatai refugee camp of Jordan, where thousands of Syrian refugees live and it is one of the top ideas of the Openideo challenge: How might we improve education and expand learning opportunities for refugees around the world?

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What is OpenIDEO?

Along with the challenge of refugee education, on OpenIDEO you can find many others calls, all of them starting with How might we…? OpenIDEO is a design thinking methodology platform where “people from all corners of the world, no matter who they are, collaboratively tackle some of the toughest global issues bringing their experience and unique perspective to the conversation and development of ideas.”

What is Design Thinking?

In Tim Brown’s words it is “a methodology that imbues the full spectrum of innovation activities with a human-centered design ethos”. The mission of design thinking is to translate observations into insights and insights into products, services or experiences that will improve lives.

Design thinking tools are such as empathy and getting out into the world to be inspired by people, diverged and converged thinking, synthesis as a capacity to frame insight, using prototyping to learn with your hands, creating stories to share ideas, visual thinking, joining forces with people from other disciplines.

Some of its principles include working by building on the ideas of others, collaboration, bridging the knowing-doing gap, interdisciplinary teams and a systematic approach to take challenges through inspiration, to ideation, implementation of the idea and iterating along the process.

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Wrapping the story

OpenIDEO is a tangible opportunity to apply the design thinking framework to global problems at this critical point where rapid change is forcing us to look not only to new ways of solving problems but to new problems to solve. All local communities around the world are facing these global challenges in their own places.

Along with the We Love Reading idea, on OpenIDEO you can find 400 research contributions to the challenge of improving refugee education, 376 ideas were developed collaboratively and 7 top ideas will eventually be funded. The impact of these ideas will take place in refugee communities and it also has an inspirational impact on the ideas of others that we are not yet able to measure but we should not underestimate.

 

Carmen Moles
Service Innovation and Design MBA Student

 

Research and sources:

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

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

http://www.academia.edu/1906407/Design_Thinking_as_an_effective_Toolkit_for_Innovation

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

http://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/thoughts/IDEO_HBR_Design_Thinking.pdf

OpenIDEO challenges.openideo.com

We Love Reading Project www.welovereading.org

Photo credit 

 

We Are the New Design Thinkers!

“How many of you consider yourselves as design thinkers?” asked our guest lecturer Gijs van Wulfen (Innovation Consultant and founder of FORTH Innovation method) when our SID 2014 group started the Design Thinking course. Not so many hands rose at that point, I was certainly hesitating. However, we were soon about to learn what Design Thinking is, what kind of challenges we face in innovation processes, and what kind of methods and tools we could use to improve our skills as design thinkers. In addition to Gijs, we had the pleasure of having another great guest lecturer, Design Professor Katja Tschimmel from ESAD Portugal, to teach us more about Design Thinking.

The course started with simple visual Design Thinking exercises. Katja and Gijs then teached us about Design Thinking in general, innovation processes and methodology, as well as Design Thinking tools. After the theoretical part it was time to put our design thinking abilities to test! Once we were divided into teams our assignment was to come up with a new service for better learning. We learned how to use Design Thinking tools such as mind mapping, foto safari, image interview, visual research, moodboard, brainwriting, and desktop walkthrough. In the end we communicated our new concept business models to the audience and got feedback.

Katja hanging up our beautiful group picture.

Katja hanging up our beautiful group picture.

 

So, what does Design Thinking mean exactly? Katja Tschimmel’s research paper Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation (2012) states that Design Thinking is nowadays understood as a complex thinking process that leads to transformation, evolution and innovation, to new forms of living as well as to new ways of managing business. Liedtka & Ogilvie (2011) define Design Thinking as a systematic approach to problem solving. I especially like how they state; “You’ve already got the power. You just need to figure out how to use it“. No supernatural power or magic is required and you can safely try it at home!

During our two-day Design Thinking course we had Gijs’ FORTH Innovation method as a basis for our learning activities. In real situations this method would take several weeks, or months to be exact. Check out this short introduction video to FORTH Innovation method by Gijs.

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Attitude matters in lean thinking: learn to fail fast for success!

“Focus on the problem, not solution. You cannot quantify your way to the big max.” – Ola Sundell

I still remember when ‘lean’ was a buzzword in manufacturing industry years and years ago. Lean concept was originally based on production process optimisation principles invented in Toyota for automotive industry back in early seventies. Now the idea of lean has been turned into a workable philosophy in general management and other business arenas. Some time ago I was listening Ola Sundell, the CEO of Hub Helsinki, telling about the logic behind the lean market strategy. He gave a presentation in Laurea University of Applied Science based on the ideas of lean startup as an innovation method developed by Steve Blank and Eric Ries and his own experiences as lean entrepreneur.

Ola Sundell is explaining the essence of lean start-up methodology.

Ola Sundell is explaining the essence of lean philosophy.

‘Lean’ is  maximising value and minimising waste

The lean business culture have been evolving since view years aiming at solving business problems in the early phase of business set-up by using a service design approach. According to Sundell the startups mostly fail due lack of market and customers or because of a wrong mindset. Now lean thinking is challenging the old ways of thinking and doing. Lean startup methodology has evolved from customer development method highlighting the lean aspects of both product/service design and customer development. It focuses on customer value creation: everything that does not provide value for customer is considered as waste. By using lean startup methodology it is possible to maximise value and minimise waste.

As startups are considered being temporary project organisations creating new products and services under extreme uncertainty, it is learning that matters – and learning fast.

The process applied in lean startup methodology is based on a build-measure-learn cycle with six steps: What is built it based on a problem or solution hypothesis. Testing the idea is the intended learning step requiring the testing metrics to be defined. For generating metrics and testing hypothesis, the experiment has to be built.

The six step cycle of lean development process.

What does it mean to go for lean?

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