“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.
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.