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The human-centered concepts of creativity and design thinking

These two concepts have been used when creating the products and services that we use, which have resulted in simplicity and ease of use. But, what are these concepts? And how are they human-centered? Let’s find out.

What is creativity and how is creativity human-centered: Divine comedy or everyman’s labor

How wonderful it is to feel being creative. Having that short-lived touch of magic when a new idea or solution presents itself. A deux a machina – moment as if some divine spark accidentally lands in one’s way and lights up the road. For long we were convinced that this is how creativity is manifested. We also thought that it belonged exclusively to some extraordinary persons and rest of us were to be content with occasional leftovers. That was before we started to study innovation and design thinking. 

Our inspiring SID lecturer Katja Tschimmel argues unequivocally how “creativity is not a trait of supernaturally gifted persons with innate ability to think and act creatively”. Instead she points out that creativity is multidimensional and non-situational BUT it requires a social and economic environment to nurture it. And the more interactions and mental connections our cognitive system is facing the more potential we have to accelerate our creative thinking and thus creativity. To put it another way – innovation is more social than personal.

What is design and how is design human-centered: User, User, User.

Figure 1: Design Thinking Definition (Brownn)

Design Thinking is based on 5 principles: 1. Human-centred approach, 2. Collaboration, 3. Experimentation, 4. Visualisation, and 5. Holistic approach. To get a better grasp of Design thinking, we can look at it as a process (see figure 2).

Figure 2: What is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular? (Dam & Siang, 2020)

Design thinking is used as an innovation method where people work together from different departments without necessarily having a designer in the team. This is the beauty of Design Thinking as it is not limited to gifted people. Design Thinking is also used as a tool for simplifying and humanizing services and products, making even complex technologies simple to use.

How does design and creativity co-exist

According to George Kembels the co-founder and executive director of Stanford d.school, creativity is the adventurous spirit to try something new, to be open to the unexpected. Design is the act of creation, bringing something new to the world. Design thinking is the approach and mindset that explains how to make creative design happen.

Figure 3: D.confestival in Potsdam (Kembels, 2012)

Experiences from masterclass and Conclusion

Based on our experiences at DTmasterclass it is easy to agree that creativity, design and design thinking are inclusive abilities that don’t belong to any particular or exclusive group of geniuses but rather are innate human capabilities that can be trained and developed. 

In the masterclass we were also pushed to our limits in being creative and trying to come up with ideas and solutions to enhance being included at a workplace. Here we were really thinking of the end-user of our solution, and every idea revolved on making the end-user’s experience to be better. The human-centered approach was shining here.

Written by Toni Ekroos & Wasim Al-Nasser

References

Brown, Tim 2019. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Dam, R. & Siang, T. (2020). What is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular? https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-design-thinking-and-why-is-it-so-popular

Kelley, D. & T. (2013). Creative Confidence. New York: Crown Business.

Kembels, George (2012). Discussion between Oliviero Toscani and George Kembels at the d.confestival in Potsdam 2012 https://www.tele-task.de/de/archive/lecture/overview/6606/ 

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.Tschimmel, K. (2021). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”.

Diving into Design Thinking – First Taste

Our service innovation and design studies started with an interesting Design Thinking course held remotely by Katja Tschimmel. During the two instruction days we learned the basics of Design Thinking, went through a Design Thinking process in small groups using Miro and did also some creative thinking as well as thinking outside the box exercises. We liked the execution of the course very much. It was two very intensive but fun days. Below you can read part of our learnings from the course

What is Design Thinking

During the last decade Design Thinking has become a popular approach for innovation. Design and Design Thinking are closely connected as Design Thinking is based on design methodology, the designer’s culture and way of thinking (Tschimmel, K. 2022a, 47). However, design never achieved the same position in the corporate world as Design Thinking has now achieved.

Design Thinking is a cross-disciplinary method which combines innovation with a human-centered approach. It investigates thoroughly the needs and wants of people and turns then into customer benefits and business value. (Brown, T. 2008, 86) Design Thinking is being used in fields such as service, business, organizational, social and educational innovation (Tschimmel, K. 2022b, 13).

Design Thinking Principles

Design Thinking is based on the following principles:

  • Collaboration means that as many stakeholders as possible should be included in the process.
  • Human-centered approach underlines the importance of user’s perspective.
  • Experimentation means that mistakes and failure belong to creative processes.
  • Divergence highlights the importance of thinking in different perspectives and looking for future possibilities.
  • Visualization helps to simplify complicated things.
  • Holistic perspective takes into account the system of interactions around products, services etc.
  • Prototyping makes ideas tangible through early simulation and testing.

Another way to describe the principles of Design Thinking is by dividing them into three main categories with sixteen subcategories (picture 1). The main categories are thinking, actions and mindset. (Tschimmel 2021)

Picture 1: Principles of Design Thinking by Mindshake

Process of Design Thinking  

The way we see this, is that the process of design thinking is out there with an ultimate purpose – to make the world a better place. Designers, innovators and anyone in between strive towards solving challenges of various multitudes by using innovative and creative approaches while getting inspired, ideating and, finally, implementing ideas into real-life environments. The most successful way of utilizing a Design Thinking approach is often a collective process, involving mind work of a number of individuals, who have a common goal to reach, an issue to solve or a process or service to improve. 

Picture 2 and 3 on Team-based Approach to Innovation & Dramatic New Forms of Value: Brown (2008)

Design Thinking’s Areas of Application  

Design Thinking, or human-centered problem solving is traditionally used in business and strategy, as Mootee is describing in his book, however, the application areas of Design Thinking are increasing diverse, versatile and can often be seen utilized in unexpected scenarios within industries that slowly only begin to realize the potential that Design Thinking methods can bring to the table. 

Moreover, Design Thinking in a modern society is seen as far more than simply a product design tool; it is used for creating something that is not only technologically possible, but also financially viable, as well as valuable for a target consumer, with the customer being at a centerpiece of the process. 

Written by Katja Kotilainen & Yulia Lobanova

References:

Brown, T (2008). Design Thinking: How to deliver on a Great Plan. Harvard Business Review June 2008, 84-95.

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.

Mootee, I. (2013).Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation : What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Tschimmel, K. (2021). Design Thinking Master Class 3.-4.9.2021 material. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Tschimmel, K. (2022a). Design vs Design Thinking. In creativity and Innovation Affairs. (in process) Available only for SID students at Laurea University.

Tschimmel, K. (2022b). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centered ménage à trois for Innovation. In perspectives on Design II: Research, Education and Practice II. “Serie in Design and Innovation”. Springer International Publishing. (in print)

Empathy in focus: Design Thinking during disruption

Today, the uncertainty around us is overwhelming. The world is saturated with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA). However, we need to manage our daily lives, improve, create, and deliver. Design Thinking (DT) methods provide us with a chain of systematic approaches to tackle the novel beast head-on and conquer. The DT process takes us from identifying the customer problem, analyzing it, coming up with ideas, validating solutions via prototypes, introducing them to others to receiving customer feedback. Yet, under the disruptive global pandemic, customer empathy is the key. But why?

Customer empathy research creates a deep understanding of the issue at hand, especially when what we earlier knew is no longer valid in the VUCA environment. The new norm and related changes in customer’s pains and needs must be thoroughly understood. According to DT principles, emphasizing requires that the customers’ issues be approached both from the favourable and endorsing position and from the more constructive aspects – challenge the existing! There must be a dialogue and an interaction between the Service Designer and the customer. The empathic insights in design are derived from three types of knowledge, that of

  1. Customer needs. Deliver Design Thinking course remotely for the first time.
  2. Delivery language (culture, information media). English with international participants.
  3. Technological. Zoom and Miro. Which together provide a complete frame for knowledge construction and therefore enables empathy.
Design Thinking with Leonardo DiCaprio.

How did we manage in reality?

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Laurea Design Thinking Masterclass 2021 was organized fully online. Instead of chit-chatting with fellow students in the classroom with post-its and whiteboards, most of us sipped our coffees alone in front of the laptop screen – at home.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all methodology for bringing new ideas to life, empathy is a key feature in the human-centred design thinking processes. Several tools have been developed to support an empathic design process. We were able to grasp some of them during the two intensive sprint days.

Empathy in design means leaving the office and becoming immersed in the lives, environments, attitudes, experiences and dreams of the future users. According to Katja Schimmel, design students should become process experts with context-sensitivity and a human-centred systemic view.

Digital tools are not ideal for expressing emotions and for capturing various human traits such as empathy. In digital communications, empathy requires special attention.

We listed our key takeaways from the Masterclass, which can be useful when deepening empathy in remote Design Thinking processes.

Four takeaways

  1. Design Thinking online requires excellent planning and preparations. For example, ready-made Miro templates can make the process smoother if there are many first-time users.
  2. Use creative tools to enhance empathy. For example, we practised our listening skills by introducing each other to the group and did most of the exercises in groups of five persons to build closer connections.
  3. Keep the team motivated with digestible content and “learning by doing”. When one has a passion to learn, small technological challenges cannot stop them.
  4. Patience, humour and mutual support – oh no, a gigantic photo of Leonardo DiCaprio just invaded our Miro board! A good laugh (and solid technological skills) help to overcome most of the challenges.

Written by Anna-Sofia Joro and Jukka Kuusela

SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Inspiration, sources and references

Baird, Nathan (2020): MarketingMag.com: Why ‘Design Thinking’ is as relevant during COVID-19 as ever

Cankurtaran, Pinar and Michael B. Beverland, Industrial Marketing Management: Using design thinking to respond to crises: B2B lessons from the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic

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

Kouprie, M & Seeswijk Visser, F. (2009): A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of user’s life in Journal of Engineering Fesign, Vol. 20, No.5, October 2009, 437-448

Köppen, E., & Meinel, C. (2014): Empathy via Design Thinking: Creation of Sense and Knowledge. Design Thinking Research, 15–28. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-06823-7_2

Smith, Laura (2021): Tampere University of Applied Sciences: Empathy in remote work communication : a qualitative case study

Thakur, Anupam MD, MBBS; Soklaridis, Sophie PhD; Crawford, Allison MD, PhD; Mulsant, Benoit MD; Sockalingam, Sanjeev MD, MHPE (2021): Using Rapid Design Thinking to Overcome COVID-19 Challenges in Medical Education

Tschimmel, Katja (2022): Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centred ménage à trois 

Tschimmel, Katja: Design Thinking (remote) Masterclass, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Design Thinking For Management Education

“What’s in for me?”, the manager asks.

“Anything”, we answered. “It depends on how we find it”.

Figure 1: Photo by Gabriel Sollmann / Unsplash

In terms of developing or dealing with the new in increasingly complex interdependencies and the capability to integrate various perspectives in the decision-making process, Design Thinking (DT) implies the potential to become a great asset for any organization. With its universal usability, DT has the power to become a key innovation driver. Katja Tschimmel (2021) concludes “that organizations should concentrate their innovation strategies and practices on creativity and design-based methods and their mindset.”

Changing awareness

However, this requires a mindset accordingly to resonate within the yet established traditional business development concepts, which are, according to Tschimmel (2021), based on rational problem-solving techniques. Not only that thinking besides the beaten path is simply difficult for anyone, Mauro Porcini in Kelley & Kelly (2013) goes even further and defines the very beginning of the journey as “pure denial”, culminating in the proposition that “we’re not creative”.

Relocating mindset

To push this thinking laterally, as De Bono (1994) describes it 30 years ago, a new way of management education is being in the need. Educators within this field, like Martin Parker (2018) question the traditional business education agenda and demand a critical view on how the ethos is being conveyed. Referring to his thoughts, educational research projects like the D-think project of Tschimmel & Santos (2018) can be observed already. It is on the design thinking approaches to relocate positions on how management could act alternatively in order to conduct change.

Figure 2: Photo by Maria Thalassinou on Unsplash

Within this context, project-based teaching & learning is the most effective pedagogical framework for both teachers and students to develop new perceptions and values in a collaborative approach in DT institutes (Tschimmel, Katja. (2011)).

Educating creative confidence

One such session was held online in DT course as part of Service Innovation & Design program at Laurea, where, lecturer Katja Tschimmel took us through the DT process with 7 key principles; a communal methodology involving many stakeholders (Collaboration), leading to build-up a user’s prospective (Human Centeredness/Empathy), which is iteratively investigated (Experimentation) to find out all possible outcomes (Divergence) and shaping to form/images  (Visualization/Prototyping) considering wider context and environment (Holistic Approach) in a creative process.  We were introduced with a practical exercise to the more elaborative Design Thinking model from Mindshake (as below).

Figure 3: E.62 Design Thinking Model by Mindshake

In search for answer that how design experts assist their students to evolve the capacity of design thinking, researchers discovered multiple levels of creative knowledge, which can be attained by design thinking education, evolving to a potential, termed as “Creative Confidence” (Rauth et al. 2010). Kelley & Kelley (2013) advocate to consider the social ecology in a group setting in reference to foster this creative confidence. Deferring judgement for example, among other guidelines, is vital.

Further thoughts

In summary and in reviewing the masterclass, the management education of future “innovation agents” (Tschimmel 2021) needs more than knowledge about the tools. By adding and exploring components of group psychology, facilitating dynamics or such, can leverage the full potential.

Figure 4: Photo by Stefan C. Asafti on Unsplash

Written by Ahmad Arslan & Manuel Schaumann, SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

References

  • De Bono, E. (1994). De Bono’s Thinking Course
  • Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. (2013). Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All
  • Parker, M. (2018). Why we should bulldoze the business school. The Guardian, [Online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/apr/27/bulldoze-the-business-school [Accessed September 2021]
  • Rauth, I., Köppen, E., Jobst, B., Meinel, C. (2010). Design Thinking: An Educational Model towards Creative Confidence.
  • Tschimmel, K. (2021). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation.
  • Tschimmel, K., Santos, J. (2018). Design Thinking applied to the Redesign of Business Education. In Proceedings of the XXIX ISPIM Innovation Conference, The Name of the Game. Stockholm.
  • Tschimmel, K. (2011). Design as a Perception-in-Action Process. 10.1007/978-0-85729-224-7_29.

Becoming a Design Thinking Organization: Sense Making through Empathy

Co-authored by Airine Kariuki and Saper Sahbaz

“There is only one valid purpose of a corporation: to create a customer” (Drucker, 2006). As called by some “the father of modern management”, Peter Drucker drew attention to customer-centricity 67 years ago, dividing the management practice into two camps: those who strive for customer value creation vs. value extraction. But today, it is clear who the winners are.

Figure 1: Market capitalization of value creators (Amazon, Apple) vs. value extractors (GE, and IBM) (Denning, 2021)

However, firms that strive for customer value creation face newer and newer challenges today. As Daniel Pink writes (in Brown, 2008): “Abundance has […] over-satisfied, the material needs of millions—boosting the significance of beauty and emotion and accelerating individuals’ search for meaning”. In response, truly customer-centric firms need to deliver not only products but experiences wrapped with both tangible and intangible value propositions (Brown, 2008). More, contemporary customers demand more and more complex experiences.

Building more complex experiences and delivering intangible value requires a deep understanding of users’ emotions, desires, aspirations, wants, needs, expectations, and experience (Kolko, 2015). What’s more, it requires interpreting the complexity of the context in which the users exist and interact. This is where Design Thinking comes to the rescue by providing the approach and the tools for “sense making” through “empathy” (Tschimmel, 2022; Kolko, 2015; Mootee, 2013; Kouprie & Sleeswijk Visser, 2009).

In the real world, user problems don’t exist as problems but present themselves through problematic situations (Mootee, 2013). The task for the organization is then interpreting these problematic situations. Empathy provides us a way to relate to the user, understand the situation, and understand why certain experiences are meaningful to people (Kouprie & Sleeswijk Visser, 2009). It enables us to capture information that can’t be transcribed in quantitative means but in the form of stories—or as Koupre and Sleeswijk put it (ibid.): “[an] understanding that goes beyond knowledge”. It provides us the perspective to “frame” the users’ reality to define the problems in a way that users face them instead of what it “seems to be” for the firm (Dorst, 2011).

Figure 2: Researchers using gamification to create empathy with and between users (Kaario et al., 2009) – Image: Niemi (2017)

Only by such deep understanding of the user, the firms can exercise “thoughtful restraint” (Kolko, 2015) providing a simpler, streamlined, and authentic experience that goes beyond mere functionality, appealing also to emotions such as pleasure and satisfaction; eventually capturing a sustainable competitive edge in today’s market and business landscape.

Figure 3: Through “thoughtful restrain”, an Apple Macbook Air’s touchpad provides users a clear, simple, yet very effective way to interact with the computer whereas and HP notebook just throws in multiple features that do not relate to each other—resulting in a confusing and inefficient user experience.

Sense making through framing goes also beyond experience design. It enables organizations to make sense of complexity of any sort. It can be, for example, used to learn about a sudden shift in markets, value migration between industries, emerging behaviors associated with disruptive technologies, or the reason why a previously successful business model expired and needs a redesign (Mootee, 2013).

While Design Thinking provides the means to compete in a brand-new age, it requires a change in attitudes, world views, ways of working, and interacting. Being more than just mere tools and prescribed frameworks, the question for the future-looking organizations is whether or not they can achieve the cultural transformation that is required to become a Design Thinking organization (Mootee, 2013). But perhaps, the key to success probably lies in Design Thinking itself to achieve this cultural transformation.


Works Cited

Brown, T. (2008). Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review.

Denning, S. (2021, May 2). Why Peter Drucker is the Albert Einstein of Management. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2021/05/02/why-peter-drucker-is-the-albert-einstein-of-management/?sh=7ffe1b145f8d

Dorst, K. (2011). The core of ‘design thinking’ and its application. Design Studies.

Drucker, P. (2006). The Practice of Management. Harper Business.

Kaario, P., Vaajakallio, K., Lehtinen, V., Kantola, V., & Kuikkaniemi, K. (2009). Someone Else’s Shoes – Using Role Playing Games in User-Centered Service Design. DeThinkingService ReThinking Design. Oslo.

Kolko, J. (2015). Design Thinking Comes of Age. Harvard Business Review.

Kouprie, M., & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009). A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life. Journal of Engineering Design.

Mootee, I. (2013). Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Niemi, R. (2017, July 3). Pöytäroolipelit ja hbtq-asiat ovat lähellä Sonja Kutinlahden sydäntä. Retrieved from Sveriges Radio: https://sverigesradio.se/artikel/6728579

Tschimmel, K. (2022). Creativity, Design adn Design Thinking – a human-centred ménage à trois for Innovation.

Why do we need empathy in the design process and how to gain it?

Introduction to empathy

Most of us can probably recall products or services where it is clear that usability has been so far off from the priority list that the product/service is unreasonably difficult or even impossible to use.

Photo: A real life example of an ATM machine in a town of Räpina, Estonia. Photo source: https://www.delfi.ee/artikkel/84142766/foto-rapina-pangaautomaat-endiselt-liiga-korgel-tadi-peab-seisma-pangel-et-rahamasinani-ulatuda

What is needed that these above-mentioned mishaps can be avoided and services and products designed are actually usable and desirable for their users? We believe the answer lies greatly in empathy.

Empathy helps designers to understand users better

With the spread of design thinking and service design over the past years, the role of a user and user experience has gained central prominence. For instance, Katja Tchimmel (2022) names design thinking as “the design of an alive and dynamic system of user experiences” and elaborates further by stating human-centered approach to be one of the five main principles of it.

The role of empathy is further addressed by Iris Motee (2013), who states that design thinking promotes empathy as it locates users at the core of everything and it encourages using tools that help better understand behaviours, expectations, values, motivations and needs. Brown (2008) describes the designer mindset with empathy as a personal characteristic to be able to observe the world from multiple perspectives.

But what is empathy in design and how can a designer use it in the design process?

Kouprie and Sleeswijk (2009) draw that despite the somewhat hazy common concept of empathy, it nevertheless is “related to deep understanding of the user’s circumstances and experiences, which involves relating to, more than just knowing about the user”. Kouprie and Sleeswijk have further presented their own framework for applying empathy in design, consisting of four phases: Discovery (designer enters the user’s world), Immersion (designer wanders around in the user’s world), Connection (designer resonates with the user to understand the feelings and the meanings) and Detachment (designer reflects to deploy new insights for ideation). They claim that in addition to that the fundamentals of empathy helps designers better to choose the techniques and tools and their order, this framework can help designers to plan their time accordingly as a process of empathy in design practice requires time and not spending unreasonably long time in only one or two phase and actually going though all the phases explicitly can enhance designer’s empathy. (Kouprie & Sleeswijk Visser 2009.)

Tools and methods to gain empathy

In the SID Design Thinking Masterclass we were introduced to Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6², developed by Katja Tschimmel (2021), one of the several models in Design Thinking. The “E.62” model offers tools and methods to support divergent and convergent thinking during the design process. Empathy (E2) is the second step in the model and aims to better understand the context, users and their latent needs. The exploration phase introduces methods such as stakeholder map, field observation and interview. Personas, user journey map and insight map are used for visualizing users and their needs for all in the design process in the evaluation phase.

It is nice to realize that despite not using all the tools of the model we went through all of the four stages of the Kouprie and Sleeswijk Visser’s framework on the process of empathy. In the Discovery phase we approached the design challenge and the users’ problems with How might we? questions on Opportunity map and formulated Intent statement for selected opportunity, followed by User Interviews on selected design opportunity in the Immersion phase. We seeked to achieve emotional understanding of their feelings and meanings while collecting the findings on the Insight map and formulating the Intent statement in the Connection phase, and finally, ideated and Prototyped the solutions in the Detachment phase.

Conclusion

Empathy in the design process is not only a set of different tools and methods but also a designer state of mind and characteristics. Understanding the users’ latent needs is essential for developing products and services.

Written by Peegi Kaibald & Tiina Auer SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E1: Opportunity Map and Intent Statement (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E2: Interviews and Insight Map (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E3: Brainwriting and Clustering (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E4: Rapid Prototyping (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E5: Storyboarding and Concept Visualisation (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

References

Brown, T. (2008). Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June 2008: 84-95.

Kouprie, M & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009). A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life (Links to an external site) in Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2009, 437–448.

Mootee, I. (2013). Design thinking for strategic innovation: What they can’t teach you at business or design school. Wiley.

Tschimmel, K. (2021). Design Thinking Master Class 3.-4.9.2021 material. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.

Tschimmel, Katja (2021): Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.

Tschimmel, K. (2022). Design vs. Design Thinking. In Creativity and Innovation Affairs. (in process) Available only for SID students at Laurea University.

Diving Into the World of Design Thinking

“Now I want you all to introduce yourselves, but this time you will do it differently.” – this is how our Design Thinking course started and little did we know what will follow afterwards. To present ourselves we were divided into groups, where each of us had to first, speak about her/himself, second, count one minute, third, draw the speaker and fourth, listen. What a mindshake on a Friday morning! 

In this blog we will tell you what else we did during our workshop. But first, let’s focus on the definition and purpose of Design Thinking.

Our Portraits Created by Our Teammates in Miro

What is Design Thinking?

Historically design has not been a key step in the developing process. Designers came along at the very end of the process to make the product look aesthetically desirable or have a nice package. Due to the shift from industrial manufacturing to knowledge work and service delivery, the objectives of innovation are no longer physical products, but they can be services, processes or applications.  (Brown 2008)

Design Thinking today is understood as an effective method with a toolkit for innovation processes in multidisciplinary teams in any kind of organization (Tschimmel 2021). User-centric perspective and empathy for gaining a deeper understanding of the user’s needs is essential in the design thinking process (Kouprie & Sleeswijk 2009). 

Motee (2013) emphasizes the role of business leaders in creating a design thinking culture within a company. In his opinion, future business leaders should practice disciplined imagination to formulate problems and generate alternative outcomes, look beyond the limits and enable collaboration in the company.

Mindshake E6² Model in Practice

Professor Katja Tschimmel introduced us to the Mindshake Evolution 6² model, which we will describe below and explain how we used it in the workshop.

To begin with, we were given a topic of “Inclusion at work”. We started by identifying challenges and opportunities of the issue. At this stage, we created an Opportunity map and formulated an Intent statement (Emergence). 

We planned and conducted short Interviews in order to gain Empathy with the target group and filled the results into the Insight map.  

In the Experimentation stage, we used Brainwriting for ideation and learned to come up with as many ideas as possible since the first ideas are always the obvious ones. 

The purpose of the Elaboration is to figure out how to transform an idea into a tangible concept. We utilized Rapid Prototyping to visualize our concept. 

Collaborating in Miro / SID Design Thinking Master Class Autumn 2021. 

In the Exposition stage, we created a Storyboard of our concept for presenting the key results of our innovation process and the benefits of the new vision.

At the Extension stage, we collected feedback from our classmates to potentially develop our idea-solution. Normally, at this stage, the team has to think how to implement the solution in practice. Because of the time and resources frames we couldn’t fully experience the Extension stage, however, we went through the whole cycle of the Innovation process and understood the main principles. 

The Key Points Learned of the DT Process

  • Human-Centeredness and Empathy  – We need to step into the user’s shoes.
  • Co-creation and Collaboration – Include as many stakeholders as possible throughout the process.
  • Creativity – Every idea is welcome.
  • Creativity can be developed through practice.
  • Visualizations help to communicate ideas with others.
  • Experimentation – Playful thinking and making mistakes are an important part of every creative process.

Written by Sari Eskelinen & Lada Stukolkina SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Literature:
Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95. 

Courtney, Jonathan (2020). What Is Design Thinking? An Overview. YouTube Video.

Kouprie, M & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009) A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life (Links to an external site.) in Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2009, 437–448 

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

Tschimmel, Katja (2021): Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.

Tschimmel, Katja (2021). Design Thinking course lectures, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

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Once upon a time, there was a design thinker…

The first course in our exciting journey of Service Innovation and Design learning started with a deep dive into the world of Design Thinking. Our class has an interesting mix of different professional domains and backgrounds, which, as we learned from professor Katja Tschimmel, is a great foundation for a creative team. 

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on unsplash.com

…who believed in the power of collaboration

The two intense sprint days gave us an overview of what design thinking is and can be. During those days most of the learning was done in the form of practical teamwork. We were put into teams to find solutions to inclusion-related problems in workplaces. This is where we discovered what it was like to work intensively with other people, using Creative Thinking methods to find new ideas, doing mind mapping, brainstorming, and collecting data from real interviews. As teams, we first worked out solutions and chose one that we pitched to the others using storyboarding. During the class, we also saw the importance of warmups and wakeups and how they impact the atmosphere and create a safe, innovative space to work in.  

…who stepped into the life of others

Design Thinking is a framework embracing empathy in design thoughts. Design serves people best when based on real needs. The way to get optimal results is to have end-users be part of the process, from start to finish. To gain a deeper understanding of the users, the designer needs to step into their life, feel their emotional state and get to know their circumstances and experiences. On our intense sprint days, we had the possibility to try this in practice as we planned and conducted interviews with our potential end-users and collected good insights on how to proceed with ideating.   

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Photo by Javier Esteban on unsplash.com

…who found creativity all around

Professor Katja Tschimmel presented us with several ways to open our minds to creativity and think outside the box. We learned creativity is for all and can be found everywhere. It is a very comforting idea, that it is not just some supernatural gift, but a skill that can be practiced and improved. The Kelley brothers highlight the fact that the creative potential is a natural human ability that exists within us all, and if blocked, it can be released. They also point out that in order to gain your own creative confidence you have to believe in the ability to create change around you.  

…who wasn’t afraid to try, as there’s a lesson in every failure

Working in an iterative way gives the best results. One of the most significant learning out-come for us has been the “fail fast, improve faster” -approach. The earlier you fail, the earlier you can learn from the failures and improve what needs fixing. The key-idea is not to give up, but to keep trying and let the failures guide you towards the right direction. Both Tim Brown and the Kelley brothers have brought up Edison’s invention of the lightbulb as a great example of the Design Thinking process. Edison understood the importance of teamwork, the needs of people, and saw the possibilities to learn from each iterative step, and then managed to combine this with a market opportunity and a viable business strategy.  

The Design Thinking method and approach is for everybody, and it might just be the thing needed to find the right solution.  

And this is not the end, the story has just begun. 

Photo by Carmen Martinez on unsplash.com

Written by: Venla Knuutila & Marja Gorbinet 

Inspired by:  

Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95.  http://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/thoughts/IDEO_HBR_Design_Thinking.pdf (Links to an external site.)    

Kelley, David. & Kelley, Tom. (2013) Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business. (http://www.creativeconfidence.com/ (Links to an external site.))  

Kouprie, Merlijn & Visser, Froukje Sleeswijk. (2009) A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life (Links to an external site.) in Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2009, 437–448  

Tschimmel, Katja. (2022). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking - a human-centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II: Research, Education and Practice II. “Serie in Design and Innovation”. Springer International Publishing. (in print)  

Tschimmel, Katja (2021). Design Thinking course lectures, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences (online)  

Design Thinking at first touch

DT is becoming extensively popular in modern era as more and more organizations are striving to provide compelling and innovative solutions to their customers. Design thinking helps to expand one’s creativity as well as enables one to utilize a broader range of tools and approaches for innovative solutions.

What is it exactly?

Design thinking has no single, unifying, common definition and if you ask a bunch of people to describe it, their answers will vary. Creative professional Idris Mootee (2013,29) states that: “If we take into consideration the concept’s predilection for dealing with ambiguity, perhaps there should not be only one definition.” In Mootee’s own practice, design thinking is a framework for a human-centered approach to strategic innovation, and a new management paradigm for value creation in a world of disruptive technology and radically changing networks. According to an experienced designer Jon Kolko (2015), that is exactly what Design thinking as an approach is for the most part, a response to our rapidly evolving and ever changing modern technology and business.

But we need to try and keep up somehow, right?

Keeping up with design thinking

People need help making sense of all the modern advances. To be exact people need their interactions with complex systems such as technology to be amiable, simple and intuitive and it seems that design thinking might be the best tool we got to achieving this goal. (Kolko, 2015.) Design thinking as a framework includes a lot of different tools and/or processes but according to Mootee (2013, 32), it is the framework itself where the magical balance resides.

This might be true hence design thinking is all about cognitive flexibility and how we are able to adapt the process to the challenges. The process of design thinking entails trying to think outside of the box and searching for solutions through trial and error. This method of trial and error, and the fact that design thinking is an approach to collective problem solving aimed to take on design challenges by applying empathy, makes it actually a very humane process.    

Storyboard- The result of a two-day design sprint

All in all the tolerance for failure, the empathy with users, and a discipline of prototyping, is the best tool we have for creating responsive flexible organizational culture and those amiable interactions (Kolko, 2015). 

 Our first masterclass was a mindshaker

Our first Design Thinking masterclass however showed us also, in addition to the framework, the value of tools and co-creation. We had a two-day workshop that focused on understanding the fundamentals of design thinking in the beginning of our Service Innovation and design studies. The two days were interactive and very inspiring. During these two days we learnt about Katja Tschimmel’s Innovation & Design Thinking Mindshake model.

Katja Tschimmel’s Mindshake model

Learning by doing

This design Thinking masterclass was not just another rough and boring two-day lecture. Instead, we did various fun activities to understand the concepts of design thinking. These activities included teambuilding exercises and a symbolic representation of ourselves and our teamwork.

We discussed each step of the Mindshake model with six stages and applied these steps to solve suggested problems. From all the tools, we found the insight map the most fascinating to learn. One interesting aspect in our sessions was the way we used Miro board to imitate a real-life classroom situation. The digital whiteboard enabled us to work together side by side in a way similar with actual interaction.

Team building time- DT masterclass

Learning by studying

This interactive session motivated us to learn more about design thinking, so we read Tim Brown’s (2009) seminal paper on the same topic. The seminal paper depicts various approaches of the firm IDEO. These approaches have made the firm one of the leading organizations in the field of design consultations. Tim Brown for example advocates that empathy is a fundamental tool to understand the perspective of the end user and the problems they are dealing with. This research paper further enhanced our understanding about the concept of Design thinking.

Afterthoughts

Overall, our first touch with the world of design thinking has been a tremendous experience, not only because of the interactive session where we got a chance to work together with new people, practice design thinking concepts, share ideas and learn various new things by practicing and developing, but also because of the learning that happened afterwards through recommended literature. We especially enjoyed Katja’s Mindshake model. We feel now highly motivated to implement the concept of design thinking in our professional lives and hope to expand known boundaries in the future.

Written by Henna Helminen & Nida Iram

SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

References:

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

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.

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

Tschimmel, Katja (2020 forthcoming). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centred ménage à trois 

Tschimmel, Katja (2020). Design Thinking course lectures, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.   

Embracing change at the Service Design Global Conference 2020

The international community, Service Design Network (SDN), founded in 2004, arranged an online conference focusing on service design in October of 2020. The conference was planned to be held physically in Copenhagen, but due to the global pandemic, all keynotes, workshops, and other events were held online utilizing convenient tools for collaboration.

This year’s theme was embracing change, a topic strongly reflected in all presentations. Keynote speakers this year were employees of big corporations and experts in service design from different cultures, countries and time zones.

In this blog post I summarize two intriguing presentations and ponder service design trends and opportunities for value creation in companies.

Embracing change and service design today

Birgit Mager, one of the founders of the SDN community and the first Professor in Service Design globally, has attended every SDGC conference since the beginning. In a short introductory presentation, Status of Service Design Today, Mager explains current transformation in operations of companies and how the roles of service designers have changed over time. Although service designers by default are optimistic, the “new normal” (due to Covid) has largely impacted ways of work, she says.

Mager emphasizes that the important of technology substantially has grown, but the future lies in utilizing both new technology and data to create services. Currently, we already are using a lot of technology and conduct research online, but a change has happened in agencies, where e.g. data scientists are involved as new roles in service design, Mager explains.

In addition to these, ethics has been put as a focus when creating services. Other equally relevant areas are sustainability, accessibility, and participation, Mager mentions.

Designing aviation future through design

The Dutch aviation company, KLM, founded over a hundred years ago, has recently been facing challenges due to the global pandemic and how it has changed the aviation industry. The complex industry is naturally very regulated and evolves rapidly as consumers are becoming extensively environmentally aware.

In a jointed keynote, Ryanne Van De Streek, project manager at KLM, and Anouk Randag, service design consultant at Livework, presented a sample of methods through which KLM has introduced new ways to innovate and develop services.

As a company, KLM has already for some time put efforts on design and has also started design initiatives that currently are in use. KLM, however, wanted to continue developing these new methods with a goal to activate ~1500 employees, to develop competences and to involve innovation in a system by the end of 2023.

According to Randag, high impact can be created by utilizing, developing and scaling current initiatives. In her presentation and new model was presented that had been co-created iteratively within KLM as an organization.

Although KLM drastically have had to cut budgets due to Covid, Van De Streek explains that certain areas still are being put in action. For example, are their new service design principles and process (”KLM X way of working”) shared with new employees to foster agility, as this continuously is needed in their industry.

To summarize, we can conclude that although service design is quite a broad principle, it can work as a great way to develop internal working methods and sustainable business in organizations. By being open to new ideas, utilizing current competences and starting initiatives, with a focus on building custom ways to work, organizations can achieve innovation and test new business models.

Written by Thomas Djupsjö
MBA Student at Laurea, University of Applied Sciences