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Design Thinking process activated!

I realized some time ago that service design is the key issue to improve and develop processes and customer satisfaction. After I found this definition and concept, it felt that different pieces found their places – I love developing customer experience and always try my best in understanding and identifying customer needs. I was thinking that SID program might help me to develop more.

The first course “Design thinking” was much more than I expected. After the lectures I have a huge passion to figure out more of the design thinking methods and I have now gathered a good set of tools for that.

Idris Mootee (2013, 33.) defines the design thinking as following:

Capture

Design thinking can help people from diverse backgrounds to find connections between people, places, objects, events and ideas. According to Mootee (2013, 69.) the empathy helps to approach the innovations with a human-centered perspective. Empathy enables us to communicate and understand:

  • Current and future needs
  • Behaviors
  • Expectations
  • Values
  • Motivations

Design thinking itself is a powerful driver for future opportunities and innovation management. I also really like that in design-thinking processes, ideas are usually evaluated democratically, and persons can freely express their viewpoints in order to practically develop the concepts.

During the lecture we learnt different cases of Service innovation by the lecturer Katja Tschimmel, who was really inspiring and also introduced the group the Mindshake’s Evolution 6^2 tools, which we also implemented during two intensive study days. I can warmly recommend you these tools!

I think this work was useful, as the group has professionals from diverse backgrounds and only it gave me many new ideas! My favorite tool was the insight map, which also supports the human-centered approach and empathy with the end users. For me, that seems to be essential tool to develop new or existing services.

I also liked the opportunity mind-map and storyboard. We also, got to try the Lego and Post-its. My classmates have written in this blog about other interesting tools, so I better not to repeat their words – as I agree with them about the usability of those tools.

Our version of Insight Map, following the guidelines of 6^2 Tools. It was also interesting to see the results by other groups – so different approaches to same opportunities!

According to Tim Brown (2008, 90-92.) the basis is deep understanding of the consumers’ lifestyle and value building. I think this check list will be useful for integrating the design thinking as part of the work flow.

1. Think outside the box; Involve design thinking in the very beginning – it can help exploring new idea!
2. Human-centricity; observe and consider human behavior, needs and preferences – what do your customers need and want? Reflect the results with the innovation models – do not forget the empathy!
3. Trial and error; have the courage to create and test prototypes
4. Co-creation; you can also expand the ecosystem and develop together with other stakeholders and customers to create new added value for all parties
5. Blend different projects; this might be revolutionary – projects can be of different size, disciplinary, units etc.
6. New funding approaches and opportunities; Well, money still runs the project world.
7. Hunt for talents!
8. Give the process some time; enable the design of the whole cycle, which might take a while.

Example on how Design Thinking can help to identify common goals and visions, picture available:
https://www.nngroup.com/articles/design-thinking-team-building/

So – let’s start the work and hope to have a learning journey full of inspiration, innovations and meaningful encounters. Right?

Posted by Suvi Ruippo – 1st year SID student

Sources

Can we save the world by unblocking our creativity?

When was the last time you tried something new and failed? Did you feel proud of yourself then? You probably should have, because chances are that your failure was a sign of you pushing your creativity to the limit. And it takes a lot of guts to do so.

As IDEO founders David and Thomas Kelley point out in their book Creative confidence creativity means that you can imagine the way the world should be, believe in your capacity to make positive changes and be brave enough to take action (2013, p. 64). Creative thinkers discover new opportunities, think in variety of possibilities and take multiple perspectives into account. They experiment and operate against well known solutions and stereotypes. The plot twist? We all have what it takes to be a creative thinker (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p.4-6).

Creativity, like any other skill, can be trained (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 5-6; 30). The training program for your mind muscles are processes that these days goes by the name design thinking (see for example Tschimmel, Santos, Loyens, Jacinto, Monteiro & Valença 2015, p. 69). These processes help to build empathic understanding, to find new perspectives and make sense of the world around us. Design thinking processes are human-centred, multidisciplinary, collaborative, optimistic and experimental (Tschimmel et al. 2015, p. 6; 72). Design thinking is also design doing: it always aims to produce something concrete and new to the world.

Stirring the status quo

Unfortunately many of us adults are too afraid of failure and the lost of appreciation of our peers to fully tap into our creative potential (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 6; 44; 53-55). We often see creativity as something that “the artistic” or “the innovative” types have. Because of these beliefs good ideas are left unshared and the unique solutions go undiscovered (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 62). 

In the future working life transversal skills such as creativity, collaboration skills and ability to take initiative are on high demand (Tschimmel, Santos, Loyens, Jacinto, Monteiro & Valença 2015, p. 6). But using design thinking to unleash the full power of our creative capacity is not only a matter of skilled workforce. As the over 7 million people marching in the global Climate Strikes in September 2019 reminded us: there are no jobs on a dead planet.

climate-strike

The young climate activists are expressing their creative confidence in several ways when attending Climate March in Helsinki in September 2019.

The biggest challenges of our times are summarized in UN Agenda 2030 goals that are interlaced and overlap each other. Like in design thinking the needs of people are in the center of these goals: for example the need for a livable environment is fundamental. As many of these challenges are described as wicked problems, it is becoming increasingly clear that we can’t tackle the problems created by the current ways of living by continuing “business as usual” (see also Tschimmel, Santos, Loyens, Jacinto, Monteiro & Valença 2015, p. 72). As the problems we are facing as humankind are getting more all-encompassing and complex, the need for human superpowers like empathy and creativity is ever increasing.

So where do I start?

Not all of us are educational leaders or politicians who have the power to disrupt systems teaching us how to think and behave. Luckily, as we have established, everyone can make a difference. Here are some of the tips from the experts that we can try in our everyday life to unblock the creative superpowers within us and the others around us:

  • Try until you fail and push others to try too. Learning cycles including failure are an essential part of unblocking creativity. You can think that if you haven’t failed yet, you weren’t reaching far enough. Try to create opportunities for those around you to fail as well in a supportive environment. Start by failing small and aim for massive failures as your creative confidence increases.
    (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 50-53; Tschimmel, Santos, Loyens, Jacinto, Monteiro & Valença 2015, p. 7; 72.)

  • Label your next great idea as an experiment and let everyone know that you’re just testing it out. Make sure that the people around you know that you only have reasonable hope for success and the whole point is what you can learn from the failure if and hopefully when it happens. (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 47; 50.)

  • Pay attention and intervene when someone around is feeling insecure or undervalued. Keep in mind that insecurity isn’t always a sign for lack of skills or experience. Perfectionism can be crippling if we think that being and expert means excelling without a flaw. Fight these feelings of insecurity by always giving credit when credit is due. Remember to give credit from trying and failing as well, not only succeeding. (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 57; 61-63.)

  • Start keeping an idea journal. It doesn’t matter whether you write, draw or dictate your ideas. Create a way to have a way to store you ideas right away no matter where you are, because even the greatest ideas might be fleeting.
    (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 216-218.)

  • Remember that creative processes are collaborative processes. Share your ideas, ask for help and take care of your social support system. (Kelley & Kelley 2013, p. 58; Tschimmel et al. 2015, p. 72.)

Enjoy creating, embrace failing!

 

The writer is a career counsellor venturing in the world of design thinking. She failed yesterday with a new veggie stew recipe, but is determined to try again (much to her family’s horror).

Sara Peltola
@Sara_Peltola

 

REFERENCES:

Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. 2013. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential within Us All. New York: Currency.

Tschimmel, K., Santos, J., Loyens, D., Jacinto, A., Monteiro, R. & Valença M. 2015. Research Report D-Think. Design Thinking Applied to Education and Training. ERASMUS+ KA2 Strategic Partnerships. Available online: http://www.d-think.eu/uploads/1/6/2/1/16214540/researchreport_d-think-dv.pdf [Accessed September 30th 2019].

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking [lecture]. Held on 6-7 September. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Recipe for successful design process

Modern design thinking does not replace the traditional approach to design but rather adds a new layer. Today we think broader: anyone can learn to apply design thinking to any innovation challenge (Carlgren, Elmquist & Rauth 2014, p. 30). The imagination is the only limit since design thinking can be utilised to the traditional products as well as to ecosystems (Brown, TED talk, 15:34). Therefore, it can be used for improving corporate management, cracking climate change challenge or enhancing healthcare services in developing countries, just to mention few examples.

Liedtka and Ogilvie (2011, p. 21) have taken a systematic approach towards modern design thinking and suggest a set of questions which give guidance through-out the design process: What is? What if? What wows? What works? According to them, by asking these questions we are able to have a systematic approach to wider variety of design challenges. The model (see Figure 1) takes Tim Brennan’s well known design-is-a-mystery drawing a bit further and gives a practical tool-set for each of the four stages. Visualisation is the common thread that runs through the entire process. 

Figure 1. Design process by Liedtka and Ogilvie (2011).

I would like to walk you through the four critical steps of this design process. In order to have a bit richer view over the process, additional remarks will be included from Katja Tschimmel and Tim Brown.

What is – Take a reality check!

To find viable future opportunities, we need to study the present and find “real” people’s needs and desires (Tschimmel 2019). Furthermore, we need to look at how customers currently frame their problems and the mental models. While studying this, we should understand the culture and the context in order to gain a comprehensive view (Brown, TED talk, 5:38). 

Part of the task is achieved by analysing existing data. In addition, tools like media analysis, journey mapping, value chain analysis and mind mapping are needed to gather qualitative information. 

What if – Vision the perfect world!

In order to be truly innovative, think variety, multiple perspectives and fight against stereotypes (Tschimmel 2019). Also, scout for new trends and uncertainties. Based on your study and the information gathered in the previous stage, we can now formulate hypotheses about the desirable future. Tools like brainstorming and concept development have been proven to be useful when envisioning the future.

Generating new ideas by brain writing and sketching.

What wows – Find the sweet spot!

Now we need to make some difficult choices in order to hit sweet spots that offer significant value for the customers in a profitable way. This requires testing the hypotheses carefully and studying the data available (Liedtka & Ogilvie 2011, p. 127). The ambitious goal is to test the future in the present – not an easy task. Assumption testing, business canvas, desktop walkthrough and rapid prototyping, for example, are valuable tools in this process.

Desktop walkthrough over the service concept with legos.

What works – Fail early to succeed sooner!

Learning by making is the key for the successful design process (Brown, TED talk, 7:03). Prototypes speed up the process and give us critical information on strengths and weakness of our solution. In this learning-in-action-process it is important to work in fast feedback cycles in order to minimise the experimenting costs and to maximise the information flow (Liedtka & Ogilvie 2011, p. 33). Remember, that without some failures nothing truly innovative will not merge (Tschimmel 2019). Consumer co-creation, prototype testing and learning launch are examples of usable methods in this stage.

Prototyping with social robot in elderly service center.

And what are my key learnings from this “spiced-up” version of the design process? Firstly, success does not come for free: it requires a large set of tools, systematic thinking, holistic perspective and willingness to fail. Secondly, active collaboration is the key for truly successful innovations and meaningful designs. Thirdly, people must be kept in mind every step of the way – or as Tim Brown puts it – “Design is too important to be left to designers!” (Brown, TED talk, 10:45).

References

Carlgren, L, Elmquist, M. & Rauth, I. 2014. Exploring the use of design thinking in large organisations: Towards a research agenda. Swedish Design Research Journal 1/14.

Liedtka, J & Ogilvie, T. 2011. Designing for growth: A design thinking tool kit for managers. Columbia University Press. 

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking lectures on 6–7 September 2019. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Tim Brown. 2009. Design Thinking: TED Talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=J0ZbVAQ8bWI

The Rules of Innovation and Design Thinking

by Tiina Salminen, SID19 student

After the contact lessons in Practical Design Thinking I started to wonder the rules in innovating. Maybe this was because I was a bit surprised about the fact, how much rules there are in design thinking and innovating. When thinking of innovating, you don’t first think, that it is something that is done with strict rules. You may be thinking of Gyro Gearloose, who is always coming up with new ideas from zero and brings them to life in no time. Or as Tim Brown (2008, 88) says: “We believe that great ideas pop fully formed out of brilliant minds.”

The first signal about these rules was, when our teacher Katja Tschimmel in the Practical Design Thinking contact lesson, asked me why I wanted to use red post-its when others were using blue. Well, I liked that there are more colors on the board. How wrong could I go! Katja pointed out, that it is important, that the colors have meanings, if you use them. Also, there is a difference when to use a black marker and when to go with different colors.

These were minor rules but as we continued, I realized there are also bigger rules when innovating. At the end of our contact lesson, Katja highlighted that innovation comes when you are in a closed room in a closed time and you don’t have too much time before the deadline. Tim Brown (2009, 21) confirms the idea, saying that clarity, direction, and limits are vital to sustaining a high level of creative energy.

Our projects Stakeholders Map (MINDSHAKE model Evoluton 62, 2012 – 2016). This is where I would have liked to go with the red post-its. You can maybe see, there is no space for red ones!

I was a bit scared. I am terrible at following strict rules and processes. I was relieved from this by Katja Tschimmel. As strict as they say that design thinking project should be, Katja pointed out, that it is very important that you use the design models in innovative way. If you stuck on doing things with the way that your model presents, you could go wrong. You need to be innovative when using your design model.

After this, questions aroused in my mind. For example, how do you know when to be bold and innovative and not follow the rules and models? And when to stay in strict command? I got help from Tim Brown (2008, 88-89). He outlines that the design process is best described as a system of spaces rather than a predefined series of orderly steps. And the project passes through three spaces; inspiration, ideation and implementation.

At the end I realized that everything depends on the project. You need to go with the flow of the project. See what the points are, where to amend your model and when to stay at course. I have a feeling that this comes when you are really listening and noticing how people are going forward with the project and what kind of questions are coming along the way that needs to be answered.

Design thinking as a discipline is here, because otherwise we would just be bouncing here and there with our ideas and innovations. And at the end would not get anything done. With rules and models, we can achieve something, that would otherwise be unreachable and unidentified. Also design thinking is here to help everyone be part of the innovation process. It is not just something for the Gyro Gearlooses.

When doing the opportunity mind map, you can be more flexible with the colours. But I still wonder, if we got carried away with them..

Choose your model. Be bold, be flexible and innovative. But use the right colors!

References

Brown, T. 2009. Change by Design. How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review. June 2008. Brighton: Harvard Business Publishing. 84 – 92.

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking contact lessons. 6.-7.10.2019. Laurea campus. Espoo.

Tschimmel, K. 2018. Evolution 6² Toolkit: An E-handbook for Practical Design Thinking for Innovation. Mindshake.



Sustainable future is based on design thinking

I experienced a small revolution in my mind when I participated the Design Thinking course held by Katja Tschimmel in Laurea 2019. It grew even bigger after reading the book Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley and the Design Thinking article by Tim Brown.

In the end, I realized that attempts to make this world a better place are not going to be sustainable, at least with full potential, without using design thinking approach and experimenting.

Design thinking as a methodology

Design thinking is a methodology (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 25; Brown, 2008, p. 86). This might sound a bit boring but I think viewing design thinking as a methodology makes it easier to apply in different contexts. After all, there are huge, complex problems to be tackled in our world, e.g. climate change and social inequality, and there is no single right answer to be found. Therefore, in order to find new innovative products and practices we need design thinking and human-centered approach (Brown, 2008, p. 92). I already have some research methodologies in my toolbox but design thinking really makes me excited because it involves an element that’s often lacking. And that’s concrete action and rapid testing in the real world!

I’m a researcher in my nature and I’m used to rely on data. But sometimes there’s not data available or it’s really difficult to analyse. Then design thinking and using empathy and prototyping might be the only key to move forward (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 25). This is what we also practiced together in Design Thinking course and, although it felt a bit difficult at some point, it came clear to me that without human-centered approach and prototyping the creative potential we have is not fulfilled and opportunity to truly be innovative is lost.

Together we produced lots of innovative ideas (some of them probably more innovative than others but that’s a different story)

Creativity equals natural

In front of daunting global challenges it’s understandable to feel discouraged. But everyone has the capability to be creative and improve everyday life by using design thinking approach. Creativity is not limited only to “official” designers ; it’s a natural feature of human species.

However, David and Tom point out that the real value of creativity doesn’t emerge until you are brave enough to act on new ideas (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 5). I especially enjoyed their example from Tibetan language where is no separate word for ”creativity” or ”being creative”. The closest translation is ”natural”; therefore, in order to be more creative you just have to be more natural, simple as that!

Or is it that simple in practice? Being creative and trying new ideas contain always a risk of failure (actually it’s guaranteed that failures happen). The catch is that lessons learned from failures make us smarter and stronger if we just keep taking the steps forward together with supporting people.

In addition of being natural human character, creativity is also coachable (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 63). I felt lucky to be surrounded and coached by supportive fellow students in Katja Tschimmel’s course and most importantly: it was inspiring to be creative together!

References:

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

Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, 84-92.

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking. Lectures. Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Espoo, Finland.

There’s a designer living within us all

As an opening to our degree program in Service innovation and design we had Design thinking -course. The blast-like opening of the studies got me really happy, as we got to start doing design tasks from day one. I have been a bit concerned how much creativity it takes to tackle all the design challenges we are going to face during the studies, but this course showed me that we all have a small designer living within us and that we can enhance our design skills by practicing.

According to our professor Tschimmel (2019), it is important to loosen up before starting to create in a new team. After some warm-up exercises, we started to learn in practice what design thinking is all about.

Design thinking in a nutshell

Tschimmel, Santos, Loyens, Jacinto, Monteiro & Valenca (2019) explain that design thinking (DT) could be described as methods and processes to solve problems, to innovate, and to find new solutions as well as viewpoints. This we got to experience already during our first lecture, when we started to solve the first design problem given to us. As I learned from our lecturer Tschimmel (2019), there are several process models and tools in design thinking, which designers can utilize in their attempt to create new solutions to existing and latent problems, and it does not matter that much which ones you use, as long as they are suitable for the design phase you are trying to solve. We got to try out the tools presented in Evolution 6’s model (Tschimmel 2018).

Design thinking enhances peoples’ skills to collaborate and think creatively, and therefore drives innovation in several types of organizations (Tschimmel et al. 2019). As we got to experience first-hand during the lectures, the core of design thinking lies in the ability to discover empathy towards people, which allows DT practioners to step in the shoes of end users, discover their hidden needs and create new solutions and insights to complex problems (Brown 2008; Kelley & Kelley 2015; Tschimmel 2019;Tschimmel et al.2019). Our class got to train our empathy skills during the field-study, where the aim was to find out the latent needs of Laurea students towards their studying facilities.

As Tschimmel (2018) explains, design thinking can be understood as making inventions in processes that involve cross-disciplinary stakeholders. Our class consists of people from different backgrounds, such as engineers, marketing professionals, and journalists. As Kelley & Kelley (2015) explain, the variation in the backgrounds of team members is a great advantage to a team. It was nice to discover how different viewpoints of our team members all brought new ideas and lots of discussion in the team. 

Why do we need design thinking?

As I learned during the lectures (Tschimmel 2019), we need design thinking to solve complex problems of today’s societies. There are several issues that have risen due to overpopulation, hunger, climate change, etc., that all wait to be solved. As Tschimmel et al. (2019) explain, today’s societies, organizations, and communities have become increasingly complex also due to rapid changes in technologies. The change has forced organizations to deal with more complex surroundings and also changed the learners’ profile in education field, as digital tools and internet have changed the learning environment (Tschimmel et al. 2019). It seems that there is a real need within organizations to gain competitive advantage through innovation, which can be reached with the help of service design (Kelley & Kelley 2015).

Design thinking includes skills, such as an ability to initiate things, collaborate with others, think creatively and innovate (Tschimmel et al. 2019). For me, these skills sound like something that would be good for everyone to possess in order to make any community, society, and organization to be able to succeed.

Release your inner designer

In their book, David and Tom Kelley describe how we all have inner creativity that is just waiting to be released. We all had it as a child, but when growing up, the learned habits and skills, as well as the surrounding world, might have diminished it. We may consider ourselves as non-creative- individuals, but the Kelley brothers explain that this is not the case: Creativity is something we all possess as human beings, we only need to rediscover the skill.

Kelley D. & T. (2015) suggest in their book an eight phase -program to boost creative confidence. With real-life examples of successful people (such as Steve Jobs) as well as everyday John Does, they manage to give convincing evidence that anyone can build their creativity by starting with small steps and not being afraid to fail. Instead, it is important to prototype in an early phase and go fast forward to receive results. (Kelley & Kelley 2015). I agree with their viewpoint that if you don’t do anything, you cannot evolve in your life. It was great to try out the fast prototyping in the course to see, how you can make prototypes to visualize the possible end results and to develop them further.

For me, the Design thinking -course was an excellent starting point on the way of discovering and enhancing my own designer skills. The course taught me how to proceed with my learning – step by step, not being afraid to try and fail. If you are interested to learn more about releasing your inner creativity, I would suggest you start from the Kelley & Kelley (2015) book and discover the eight phases to creativity.

Author: Mari Vuoti, Service Innovation and Design Master degree programme

REFERENCES:

Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harward Business Review, June. Accessed 29 September 2019. https://churchill.imgix.net/files/pdfs/IDEO_HBR_DT_08.pdf

Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. 2015. Creative confidence: Unleashing the creative potential within us all. London: William Collins.

Tschimmel,K. 2018. Evolution 6 toolkit: An e-handbook for practical design thinking for innovation [online lecture notes], in Mindshake (ed.). From Laurea Optima workspace Finnish society. Accessed 25 September 2019. https://optima.discendum.com

Tschimmel, K. 2019a. Design Thinking [lecture]. Held on 6-7 September. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. 

Tschimmel,K., Santos, J., Loyens, D., Jacinto, A., Monteiro, R. & Valenca, M. 2019. Research report D-think [online lecture notes]. From Laurea Optima workspace Finnish society. Accessed 25 September 2019. https:// optima.discendum.com 

Can Design Thinking help you write better course assignments and finish them quicker?

The looming sense of anxiety passes through me when I think of a course assignment that needs to be written. I have never seen myself as much of a writer and have always struggled to match the needed quota of words. Could Design Thinking help in finding a better way to approach course assignments so that they would not be as stressful and onerous?

The focus of a course assignment is to understand the studied topic better, to learn new things and familiarise oneself with the topic at hand. Also, one consistent characteristic of an assignment is they have a deadline the writer should honor. Since Design Thinking projects are time-constrained and it is specifically that restriction that enables the ideas to flourish in actual world and the project member to sustain a high level of creative energy (Brown 2009: 21), could one adapt the process of design thinking to a writing task to make it more constructed and not prone to its usual pitfalls, such as delays and procrastinating?

Mindshake’s Evolution 6²

Mindshake’s Innovation and Design Thinking Model Evolution.6² is a model developed by Katja Tschimmel (2018). The model introduces Design Thinking process in a practical way by combining it with a selection of DT tools. The tools encompass the diverging (<—>) and converging (>—<) nature of a DT process and aid the design thinker to keep their course throughout the process.

Evolution 6² Design Thinking Model

Are Evolution 6² tools helpful when writing course assignments?

Generally, Design Thinking projects can be divided into three overlapping phases of inspiration, ideation and implementation (Brown 2009: 16). In Evolution 6², the DT process is divided into six phases:

  1. Emergence (E1)
  2. Empathy (E2)
  3. Experimentation (E3)
  4. Elaboration (E4)
  5. Exposition (E5)
  6. Extension (E6)

For a short writing assignment, such as this blog post, going through all the parts of the E.6² might be rather excessive. For a more complex piece of work, like a Master’s thesis, the method would be more suitable, since thesis writing process in itself requires the writer to validate a certain research question and the process through which it will be examined.

Out of the tools found in E.6², the easiest choices for the inspiration phase (equivalent to E1 and E2) that provides for the topic of the assignment would be opportunity mind map (<—>) and intent statement (>—<). Even though E.6² provides printable templates for the tools, often one can substitute a larger A3 template for a simple postcard-sized sticky note that outlines for example the intent statement for a short assignment.

For a writing assignment, the ideation phase (equivalent to E3 and E4) presents as a rather straightforward one: in order to finish the first version, one must write. Of course depending on the time available for completing the assignment, one could write short pieces of text (<—>) and then choose out of those the one that seems to work out the best (>—<). However, if faced with time-constraints, it is unlikely that writer produced multiple different pieces and instead, would focus on iterating versions of the text at hand.

To jumpstart the, at least for me dreadful, writing process, I chose to try out a tool called The Most Dangerous Writing App that I found out about after reading a blog post by writing teacher Kimmo Svinhufvud (in Finnish). The idea of the app is to force the user to write at least something for a set amount of time, since the moment the user stops typing, the text starts to blur, and after 5 seconds completely disappear. For the purpose of testing the tool in writing of this blog post, I chose a 5-minute timer. While the moments of fumbling with words that caused the text to start to blur induced some moderate feelings of panic and strings of lkjsdhfglksdjfhlgkj in between more understandable sentences, I was able to produce text worth of 169 words in the set time of 5 minutes. Although not usable without editing, the amount of text produced in such a short time accompanied by the easiness of continuing to write after the first words spelled out was eye-opening.

For short written assignments, the implementation phase (equivalent to E5 and E6) seems a little bit out of place: oftentimes the only audience of a written assignment, besides the writer, is the instructor or lecturer reviewing the said work. Should the assignment be presented in a presentation format, the visualisation tools (>—<) in E5 can be helpful. If the course implemented feedback from other students through a peer-review, one could fill out the feedback map (>—<) with the received comments and improve the work further. This could be especially helpful in a longer project, such as in thesis work.

But design thinking is a collaborative process!

Since written course assignments are often a fundamentally personal endeavour and, unlike standard design thinking projects, not produced in teams, one can question whether it is feasible to apply a design thinking model to course assignments that do not include group work. Still, the course assignment process could be started in class by first brainstorming in private and then discussing ideas with one’s classmates to provide feedback. After that, the assignment itself could be finished at home so that it would accurately demonstrate each student’s personal and unique understanding of the topic and author’s academic capabilities.

Written by Suvi Valsta

References:

Brown, T. 2009. Change by Design. Harper Business.
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.
Tschimmel, K. 2018. Evolution 6² Toolkit: An E-handbook for Practical Design Thinking for Innovation. Mindshake.
Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking course lectures, September 6–7 2019. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.

Links:

Mindshake: Evolution 6² Official Website