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Two different solution spaces

 

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As a part of School of Startups, Toni Perämäki from Valohai wanted to show us a structured way of finding customers via Lean Startup method. The one way of ideating is to build, measure and learn in a cycle. The key question in Lean Startup is: Do I have a problem worth solving? One idea is to make a list of problems (3-5) that your idea would be solving. You need to think many sectors in the beginning of the process. These include reviewing the customer pain, considering the size of the market and is it reachable. Also you need to think technical feasibility: are you able to build your product/service?

Even though Toni was telling about customer discovery through Lean Startup methology, I was able to find a lot of similarity to Design Thinking. First of all, they both are used in innovation processes to create something new. Iteration is a key action in both methods. Design process is always about iteration when building products or services. The Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop in Learn Startup is operating solemnly in the solution space in order to create Minimum Viable Products. That loop is very similar to Design Thinking prototypes and testing. They both collect feedback.

Understanding customers is crucial in both points of views. Who are the customers that the idea would help? In this part Toni urged us used user personas and value proposition canvas to help you understand the motivation and also the gain and pain of customers. These both are methods used in Design Thinking. User personas are based on fictional characters whose profile gathers up the features of an existing social group. In this way the personas assume the attributes of the groups they represent: from their social and demographic characteristics, to their own goals, challenges, behaviour and backgrounds. Value Proposition Canvas is a simple way to understand your customers needs, and design products and services they want. It works in conjunction with the Business Model Canvas and other strategic management and execution tools and processes.

 

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Value Proposition Canvas

 

In order of validating your concept Toni adviced us to think of ways of testing idea before prototyping or having a ready product. Good ways are storytelling and demos. Also used in Design Thinking.

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About customer understanding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toni introduced us to few (many) rules that I find useful when trying to understand customers. When gathering information, don’t use surveys. Surveys are too structured and it’s not a dialog. Also don’t use focus groups. People tend to change their opinion due to external influence. You don’t want people to follow some strongheahed persons ideas under group pressure.

Don’t ask what they want. The idea is to experience and understand the problem. Don’t go in alone. You get more insight of the problem at hand when comparing gathered information. Select neutral location. People need to feel comfortable. Use pen and paper to make notes. It it important to document results but having a lapotop between you and customer is not a good idea.

 

More info and ideas:

https://valohai.com

http://www.servicedesigntools.org

https://strategyzer.com/canvas/value-proposition-canvas

https://www.boardofinnovation.com/blog/2017/07/18/lean-startup-versus-design-thinking/

 

The author Siru Sirén is MBA student in Futures Studies and Customer-Oriented Services in Laurea UAS// Licenced social service professional

Design thinking – an influential combination of tools, methods and a mindset

by Jenni Leppänen

Design thinking has gained worldwide hype over the past decade. Its tools and methods are being discussed and implemented also in many fields not traditionally seen as designing fields, e.g. services. Design thinking is defined as a “process of continuously redesigning a business using insight derived from customer intimacy” (Jeanne Liedtka 2014). There’s nothing new in focusing on the customer’s needs and adapting one’s offering accordingly, so what’s all the hype about?

Gathering in-depth insight

Design thinking makes its mission to truly understand the customer and his world. Doing a round of customer satisfaction surveys online once a year is not sufficient – in the design thinking approach you put a lot of effort in gathering in-depth information from your customers on an ongoing basis. In other words, you need to procure and maintain a holistic understanding of your customer’s context, activities, practices and experiences. To truly understand how the business’s current and possible future offering appear in the customers’ context, you invite them to co-create the services with you. There are dozens of tools available – a great summary is the practical “Evolution 6^2” model, the Innovation & Design Thinking Model by Katja Tschimmel.

Evolution 6-2

E6^2 introduces altogether 36 tools in each phase of the whole design process:

  • Emergence (of a challenge and an opportunity),
  • Empathy (towards the customer in his context),
  • Experimentation (for generating ideas and concepts),
  • Elaboration (on solutions),
  • Exposition (visually presenting the new solution) and
  • Extension (implementing the solutions).

The list includes many wide-spread tools, such as interviewing, user journey maps and questionnaires, and also innovative tools, such as intent statement, insight map and evaluation matrix. The templates are available on Pinterest of Mindshake Portugal.

More focused collaboration

However, knowing the tools is not enough to alone explain the success of design thinking. A successful designer has a mindset that supports the design process and implementation of tools. As an example, in the beginning of the development phase, you are expected to be optimistic, curious and playful – to throw in ideas on the ideal world, with no rules or limitations for imagination. Traditionally, the so-called “engineering mind” would jump quickly into assessing the feasibility of the idea, but a “designer mind” would explore future possibilities in different directions, against stereotypes.

Design thinking is all about collaboration. According to Liedtka, “the highest payoff from adopting a design-thinking approach was not necessarily in identifying a solution, but rather in innovating how people worked together to envision and implement the new possibilities they discovered”. In the organizations Liedtka studied, team members stayed longer with the problem, and examined the topic through various design tools and methods. Having thorough research findings as a foundation made positive behavioral changes in the way teams worked together: team members listened to each other to truly understand their colleague’s perspectives, and to build on them – there was no need to guess and argue over your personal perception on the customer’s preferences. The focus therefore was on envisioning new possibilities together, instead of searching for weaknesses in others’ ideas and strengths in their favorite suggestions. Empathy towards the customer also helped gain focus and speed.

Learning opportunities

Another key word in design thinking is iteration. Instead of spending time on perfecting an action plan with your colleagues, you start small and experiment early on with various concepts and prototypes. It is quicker and cheaper to fail early, although failing in front of actual customers might seem discouraging. In the book “Creative Confidence” Tom and David Kelley (2013) argue that we all are creative, but many people don’t have the confidence to even try experimenting something new, as the prospect of failure is too paralyzing. In the iterative design thinking every experience is an opportunity you can learn from. Failures are crucial for innovation, and it is the only way to create something very new. Tolerance of mistakes is increased, and confidence in being creative boosted, when practicing and experimenting becomes a part of your daily life. You also gain small successful experiences. “Like a muscle, your creative abilities will grow and strengthen with practice. Continuing to exercise them will keep them in shape.”

 

References:

Tschimmel, Katja. 2018. E.62 Mindshake – Innovation & Design Thinking Model

Liedtka, Jeanne. 2014. Innovative ways companies are using design thinking. Strategy & Leadership. Vol. 42 No. 2 2014, pp. 40-45, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Kelley, David and Kelley, Tom. 2013. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business.

(Lights, camera,) ACTION!

 

On a rainy Tuesday I attended School of Startup hosted by The Shortcut. This weeks theme was Design and there was a lot of workhops related. Idea of the track is to wake up design mind and skills through design methods. There will be other post(s) coming about the design week. This workshops topic was Behaviour Design by Ashwin Rajan. In the beginning Rajan started with reminding us that design thinking process isn’t linear.

 

The spirit of design thinking consist of many things.

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Design process

 

Curiosity is one of the key factors. You need to want to learn and create new things and understand the underlining things in designing process. You also need to endure discomfort because moving in new territory means that there is not much to rely on. Some times your ideas are not welcomed so you need to accept rejection. That is also why you need to fail-forward.

When synthesising I believe you get better results because the issue/task is reviewed from many points of viewes. Finding answers while being inclusive gives better knowledge. Continuing topics ”Yes, and..” gives you more information. Learning with your hands is essential, thats why many of the design prosesses include sketching and prototyping as tools. You need to be action-driven and do things to go forward.

”Experience cannot be measured. Behaviour can.”

– Ashwin Rajan

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Ashwin Rajan (photo from LinkedIn profile).

 

According to Rajan, “behaviour is action on digital technology”. There are different types of action, some are seeking information (serve information) and other actions are doing tasks (give tools). When you are hungry, you search for food. If for example Wolt advertises ”Hungry? Wolt” it straightforwadly implifies you that in order to satisfy you need you need to take action. An action towards them. In the future it will be easier to do the same thing because it is already familiar to you. That makes sense when you think of learning by doing and how doing things changes the way you think.

The core consepts of behaviour design are important to understand because those factors determine how well you can design a product or service. Behaviour design explains customers and users as psychologal and social beings. It is interesting how everything is sort of linked together as long as it is humans that are using the service. Even though behavioral design consists more than three core consept, Rajan decided to introduce us to the following ones:

Positive Self-Concept helps us to build identity and contuinity in our lives. We want to feel good so we seek for experiences that gives us that feeling. And also we avoid decicions that make us feel bad. Bounded rationality in decicion making process creates many suboptimal desicions simply because we use shortcuts and are biased when it comes to what we want.

Cognitive dissonance happens when situation conflicts with our attitude, perception or belief. I wonder, if information bubble is partially about cognitive dissonance? We generelly don’t accept information that is in conflict with your worldview. Or is it more about keeping positive self-concepts in order not to challenge our identity? Creating action is a way of solving cognitive dissonance. Either you change the way you think or believe or you change your behavior.

Motivation always has a direction. You go towards something or seek for avoidance. The source for motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic. This reminded me of my other course in which I’m studying about inner motivation. Same principles work in different contexts. Understanding motivation truly helps you affect things. Either way, there is two ways to change behavior when motivating people. You align action with existing motivation or you carefully create dissonance while restoring positive self-consept.

 

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Ashwin Rajan has a great way of explaining things and concepts. I truly enjoyed while he was explaining how people react to different types of actions and how behavioral design provides tools to extend or change human behaviour. In a way, it seems relatable to psychoterapy prosess. You understand and create a behavioral intervention. After the workshop I felt inspired, motivated and hungry for more information. The key learning for me was how important is to understand the psychology of users or customers in order to learn and make better processes.

 

The author Siru Sirén is MBA student in Futures Studies and Customer-Oriented Services in Laurea UAS// Licenced social service professional

 

More info and ideas:

https://theshortcut.org/school-of-startups/

https://www.fabricbd.com

What about brick and mortar?

We are living in a world where change is present, and it is forcing many industries to redefine or reshape themselves in the near future. Of all industries retailing as we know it today is for sure facing one of the biggest challenges through its existence. People´s buying behaviour and preferences are rapidly changing and, one of the biggest questions up in the air is what will be the future of brick and mortar stores?

In the Laurea´s Masterclass study unit called Design Thinking facilitated by a quest Professor Katja Tschimmel we familiarised ourselves with the design thinking concept and the Mindshake Innovation and Design Thinking Model called Evolution 62 (E.62). Practical exercises done during the 2 contact session days in September 2018 deepened participants´ understanding of the process and different tools, and it all also expanded my thinking beyond classroom walls. Since the E.62 model and related toolkit were developed in organisational context to promote Design Thinking and to show how Design Thinking tools can be applied in practice, could Design Thinking and its tool pack in general also be used for reshaping retail, more precisely brick and mortar stores?

 

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Mindshake Innovation and Design Thinking Model (Katja Tschimmel, 2018)

 

In his book called Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation (2013), Idris Mootee offers Design Thinking lens as an approach to various business challenges. He does not stop there but presents a reader a concrete list of design thinking solutions that are matched to specific business challenges. I must say that I am usually little sceptic about these kinds of lists since they tend to oversimplify matters, but in this particular case, I think he managed to make his point clear: business problems can be approached with empathy, creativity, foresight, and last but not least consumer-centricity.

 

The list

Business challenges with matching Desing Thinking Solutions (Idris Mootee 2013)

As I see it, disruption in retail business is mostly due to the fast and dramatic changes in the way individuals nowadays prefer to shop and retail´s inability to adapt to these needs (quick enough). Consumers of today like to play the game with their own rules and they want to decide how, when and where they shop. From retailers´ perspective constantly developing new technologies and all the possibilities they offer to business make everything even more complex and the future is anything but easily predicted. Essentially, it is all about the many individuals with individualistic needs and wants and retailers´ inability to predict the future.

The name of Mindshake E.62 model refers to six Es, six phases, one of which is called Empathy. As mentioned before consumers of today are more individualistic than ever and they like to set the rules, so we should study them and their rules. Empathy phase is all about deep and thorough customer (user) understanding. The E.62 tools that can be used in this phase for gaining the understanding are for example Empathy Map, User Journey Map, Persona Map and Cards (Personas), Field Observation and last but not least Interview. The idea is to be able to step into the customers´ shoes and understanding the wider context. Interview on the other hand, is an efficient tool to discover what people really need and desire. In general, the importance of this phase cannot be overly emphasized: in today´s world it is all about knowing your customer.

Predictability is also one of the business challenges Idris Mootee (2013) describes in his book. He states: “By studying, developing, and visualizing forward-looking scenarios, an organization can equip and prepare itself for tomorrow”. He continues: “Foresight is an iterative and cumulative learning process that employs design thinking tool kit.” In this case, according to him, the tool kit includes Weak Signal Scanning, Weak Signal Processing, Weak Signal Amplification, Context Mapping and Scenario Development.

Earlier in my blog post I criticised Mootee of oversimplifying things, and now I have to admit that I have committed the same crime when categorising all retail under one umbrella. Retailing, of course, encases a huge number of different sectors – grocery, electronics, clothing, home decoration and home furnishing just to mention few – with sector-specific challenges, segmentations, buying preferences and so on, and cannot or should not be treated as one entity. Personally, my passion lies within home furnishing and physical customer experience i.e. in brick and mortar, and I am itching to dig deeper into this topic when I proceed in my Service Innovation and Design studies. Please, stay tuned.

Further reading:
Liedtka, Jeanne. 2018. Why Design Thinking works. Harvard Business Review.
Mootee, Idris. 2013. Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation
Tschimmel, Katja. 2018. E.62 Mindshake – Innovation & Design Thinking Model
Tschimmel, Katja. 2015. Evolution 62 Design Thinking Cards

Designing together

Everyone can – and does – design . — Nigel Cross

Design thinking is a key part of what makes us human. This is how Nigel Cross described human ability and tendency for design back in 2011. The bold statement above is best explained by a few simple examples; design appears in everyday-like situations, by people from any nationality and age, whether that is finetuning a recipe for homemade pizza into a culinary experience that seems to pause time itself (yes, I like pizza) or simply changing the arrangement of your living room furniture.

When it comes to food there are endless ways of innovating and using design thinking, as our instructor for Design Thinking module, Katja Tschimmel, would tell us during our first days in the SID program. Katja used the world-renowned restaurant elBulli as an example and walked us through how elBulli’s head chef Ferran Adriá used design thinking in their creative process which actually lasted almost six months every year, the restaurant being closed during winter.

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image 1. elBulli’s head chef Ferran Adriá in front of design sketches

Teamwork is the main ingredient

ElBulli’s success and groundbreaking dishes weren’t the end results of a “lone genius inventor” as chef Adriá relied on surrounding himself with a team of experts even from outside the culinary world and worked together with industrial designers, artists and computer engineers, besides other chefs of course. They made 5000 experiments to create 125 new dishes a year which indicates failing often and fast would be a routine part of the daily design process. The story of elBulli is quite similar to the one of Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, who is considered as the creator of team-based approach in innovation. According to Tim Brown (in his 2008 HBR article “Design Thinking”), Edison’s approach was an early example of what is now called “design thinking” – a methodology that imbues the full spectrum of innovation activities with a human-centered design ethos.

Roles and relationships

Working as a member of a team introduces different problems such as conflicts but also opens a lot of possibilities in comparison with working alone. An obvious practical difference is that team members have roles and relationships within the team, some of which can be formally established, such as seniorities in the company hierarchy. Team leaders like Adriá and Edison would appoint team members in particular job roles in the design process. But as Nigel Cross points out, if there are no formal roles appointed, usually informal role-adoption is evident through repeated patterns of behavior. For example, a person that is good at drawing might usually end up using that skillset during the sketching and visualization part of a design process.

Hitting a dead-end

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image 2. Hitting a dead-end. Check out this video about shifting the conversation focus

One clear benefit of designing in a team is that a few bright minds put together usually produce more ideas, and more ideas develop versatility in design concepts which ultimately narrows down to the best solutions for problem-solving. But sometimes during the design process, even a team can hit a dead-end. This is what we, the fresh batch of Laurea SID students, faced during our first sessions in the Design thinking module, fall of 2018. We had proceeded with a design concept and felt it was going in the right direction but suddenly the team ran out of ideas. After a brief moment of silence the conversation shifted off-topic for a while and suddenly a new perspective arose to the entire problem at hand. Finding this detour might have been more difficult when working solo.

Brown suggests design thinkers pose questions and explore constraints in creative ways that proceed in entirely new directions. Our instructor Katja Tschimmel also reminded us that using any design thinking toolset is hardly ever linear. Some steps during the way need more attention by the designers and as Cross concluded, everything about the process can’t be planned. It’s necessary in design also for unplanned, ad hoc exploratory activities when they seem necessary for the design team.

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image 3. Prototype ready for testing

Design thinking and the methodology around it gives us a variety of useful tools for innovation and problem-solving. Whether you’re designing alone or in a team, it seems that the rules (if there are any) can be bent when keeping an eye on the big picture. The big picture at the moment being a good Sunday pizza with paper-thin crust, a homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan, pepperoni, red onion, strawberries and rocket, designed by our family design team. This time around the design process was quite straightforward and pleasant as it seems difficult to fail when designing a pizza.
References:

Brown, Tim. 2008. Design Thinking. Harward Business Review.

Cross, Nigel. 2011. Design Thinking – Understanding how designers think and work.

Where is the Groan Zone in Design Thinking?

By Salla Kuuluvainen

Abductive thinking is a skill crucial for Design thinkers. It refers to being able to stay analytical and emphatic, rational and emotional, methodical and intuitive, oriented by plans and constraints, but spontaneous at the same time (Tschimmel 2012,3). We practiced our best capability in abductive thinking in a two-day workshop with Katja Tschimmel, learning a process for Design Thinking called E6 developed in her company Mindshake.

Trust the Process – There Will Be One Solution at the End!

As facilitator I have worked quite a while with enabling better collaboration in teams. In the workshop I paid special attention to the process of divergent and convergent thinking, which is very important in creating new ideas – divergent meaning the space where we create new ideas and convergent the space where we make decisions and prioritize on the ideas. Tim Brown (2009, 68), explains that as design thinker it is important to have the rhythm of divergent and convergent spaces, and with each iteration arrive at a result that is less broad and more detailed than the previous iterations.

I have worked with the Double Diamond process for quite a while, and I was fascinated about the level nuance in the E6 process in regards of convergence and divergence, which in this process were simply not only seen as phases in the process but as qualities of the different tools. I found this approach allowed for a very in-depth process.

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The Classical Double Diamond model – only two iterations with divergence/convergence.

I liked how different forms of prototyping were present in different phases of the process, not only at the end, and how prototyping could also be a generative, divergent tool for expanding on the idea. In our group I noticed very clearly the value of our prototype in not only showcasing the consept, but also in expanding the idea, by working with our hands and thinking at the same time.

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Our first prototype allowed for lots of discussion and expanding on the idea.

Better brainstorming is what every creative team needs

Some more detailed observations in regards to creativity were Katja Tschimmel’s instructions to brainstorming, which I found great. Often the problem with brainstorming is that ideas have a very different level of detail: some are on very high level and vague, others very specific and almost ready concepts.

Often the problem in the Double Diamond method is that we tend to loose the more detailed ideas in the process of clustering ideas under bigger headlines. But in the Mindshake process the vague ideas were developed further and semantically confronted with other ideas to have more detail.

I noticed that we did not end up in the famous Groan Zone, which lies somewhere between the convergent and divergent zones of process, where the group experiences feelings close to despair and has a very hard time finding their way forwards in the process. Even if some facilitators claim that Groan Zone is natural appearance in every process and can indeed produce some of the best solutions, I as facilitator try to minimize it in the processes I facilitate, since I feel that with the right tools the groups can often avoid it.

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I think that the reason why the process felt easy was the fluctuation between divergent and convergent – in most cases people feel at ease on one area of the process but not the other, and now they were allowed to find their comfort zone in many phases of the process.

I still think I have some personal journey ahead to become a full Abductive Design Thinker, but this workshop was a great start on the path of creativity and collaboration.

References:

Brown, T. 2009. Change by Design. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

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.

(Service) Designers, what for?

by Kaisa Hölttä

On the very first day of the Design Thinking course by Professor Katja Tschimmel, two existential questions rose in my mind: What is the role of a (service) designer in the innovation process? In the world where customers´role is more and more emphasizes, can customers even take a full responsibility of design processes themselves?

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Designer? Photo: Pexels.com

In Change by Design, Tim Brown refers to his colleague Jane Fulton Suri who explores if the next step in design evolution is moving from designing for people to with people, to designing by customers themselves (Brown 2009, 58). This approach suggests that even a customer can be a designer. So can we move from earlier producer-generated ideology all the way to the user-generated one? What makes us future designers then?

City of Helsinki has recently introduced a participatory budgeting, where 4,4 million euros will be allocated annually to city development proposals made by the residents. The Participatory model utilizes know-how and expertise of individuals and communities and gives people an opportunity to design urban initiatives themselves. One could think that there is a torrent of proposals on line. However, just few weeks ago, a friend who works in engaging local communities to urban development, wondered, why only a small number of people seem to be interested in the participatory budgeting.

I would claim that there is lot of latent potential out there but people find it hard to conceptualize their thoughts and ideas, and turn them into concrete suggestions – or even imagine beyond the usual. As Brown puts it, analytical and convergent thinking are so dominant in education it makes us think that creativity is something that belongs only to a few talented ones (Brown 2009, 222-223).

This is where the role of designers step in. We need Design Thinking methods to articulate people´s latent needs and to convert them into concrete suggestions and protypes, in co-creation with the people. Creativity needs practice, and support. Designer´s role is to encourage people to give up their mental constrains and help them to “braindump” their thoughts. Quantity over quality. Without new approach and Design Thinking tools, it is hard to gain “rule-breaking, game-changing, paradigm-shifting breakthroughs”, Brown stresses (2009, 40).

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Practicing Design Thinking tools. Photo: Kaisa Hölttä

Therefore, new initiatives should not be designed only by customers themselves but together with them. According to Tschimmel, in the participatory approach product users should been seen as experts and partners in the whole creative process, from data research on to prototyping the new ideas and design solutions (Tschimmel 2012, 4).

In case of the participatory budgeting, people should be included in the design processes already in the inspiration (Brown 2009) or emergence (Tschimmel 2012) phase, and not left alone with their unclarified needs. Helsinki residents are experts in their own urban experiences. In order to convert these experiences into concrete proposals, we need Design Thinking methods, and educated designers to facilitate the co-creation process.

References:
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.