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Design Process Three Ways

By Salla Kuuluvainen

I participated in Dash Design – an event that was preparation for Europe’s largest hackathon DASH.
In Dash Design we heard from three companies and their take on design process: Smartly.io, Pentagon Design and Iittala.

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What became quite clear at the event was that the design process can look very different and still be creative, effective and produce great results. At Smartly.io, the process is very well defined and clear structures exist. Same could be said about Pentagon Design, who brought an example of rebranding licorice for Fazer. At Iittala, there was no structured process, instead the new designs were created with a much looser approach of experimentation.

Designing with Clear Roadmaps at Smartly

Smartly.io helps companies with automatized online marketing solutions. It’s a fast paced tech company that prides in innovating fast. Smartly has a very clearly defined roadmap for product development, with a clever side process for more experimental innovation. All solutions are created close to the customer and tested internally and externally.

3 takeaways from Smartly

• Everyone at the company is involved in the design process, not just designers.
• Rapid prototyping and early release of new features is crucial.
• It’s important to work very close to the customer.

Deep Diving with Pentagon Design

Pentagon Design is a consultancy that helped a very well known, old Finnish company Fazer in rebranding some of their most classic licorice products very successfully towards a more premium category product. Pentagon Design used a very thought through approach that was based on the Double Diamond and included lots of testing with customers and feedback, and for example a process called Deep Dive that investigated the environments and user and even employee perspectives of the products in thorough manner.

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An example of Pentagon Design’s analytical approach to design process

3 takeaways from Pentagon Design

• For a design agency, it’s good to have a strong, tried out framework for the design process, which can even be adapted to the client company’s own processes.
• It’s important to let the customers in the design process from early phases to get the right feedback.
• The design team should have the right mixture of competences.

Experimenting at Iittala

Iittala is known for every Finn, it is a very traditional interior design brand. Jeremiah Teslin from Iittala talked about the different approaches he had used when rebranding and redesigning some of Iittala’s established product categories.

Personally for me it was interesting how much Teslin talked about needing to convince the organization to support the new designs, and how he used visual rebranding, creation of attractive images of the new products and setting up spaces to showcase the products as well as organized different kinds of internal innovation events to create engagement in the company for the new products. So in a way the design process for him was much more about change management than just about coming up with new products.

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An example of visualization of products

3 takeaways from Iittala

• Work with the right people.
• Make the ideas visible and tangible for the whole company.
• Facilitate behavior change with design: We don’t need new mugs, instead we need better coffee moments.

Generally what all of these three companies had was passion and awareness for the process of design, even if they worked in quite different areas and with different kinds of tools and methods. That enthusiasm is also my main takeaway from the event!

A beginner’s guide to Design Thinking

by Jenny Kurjenniemi

Simply put, Design Thinking is a process for creative problem-solving.

This means solving any kind of problem, from how to secure clean water supply in developing countries, to how to create the kind of service that people will be interested in and gain financial value for the innovation.

It’s good to understand from the beginning that there is no design thinking without design doing. Super artistic skills are not required but sketching, visualizing, and prototyping are an integral part of it. We all need creative problem-solving and yes – we can all do the creative hands on part with some practice.

 

I will take you through the design thinking process and the text is divided into four chapters.

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Utopia or Dystopia? How is the Future Looking like in Service Design?

By Salla Kuuluvainen
I recently attended two events which made me think about futures thinking and it’s relation to service design and innovation. Innovation, by definition, is an act that reaches towards the future, and and engages the innovator in creating a future that may be something they wish for.. or not. How can we as innovators and service designers engage in creating those desirable futures?

50 years from 1968

I attended an event in Tiedekulma where the year 1968 was discussed. I went there, not because my studies of service design, but because I’m interested in changing the world, and when younger, also identified as an activist. One of the speakers, Johanna Vuorelma, a historian, claimed that politics in today’s world no longer are utopistic. In 1968 there was a real sense of trying to build a better, different world from previous’ generations’ with a World War and its horrors.

I could agree on that. The revolutionaries and activists of today no longer reach for a desirable future, instead they try to preserve something of old: a somewhat habitable planet or a shred of human rights, or a homeland that looks like in 1950`s if they are active in the conservative movements. So activism today may look like the same thing as
in the crazy year of 1968, but actually the drivers and motivators behind the actions may be very different.

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Futurist as Designer

Another event I attended during Helsinki Design Week was Futures Talks, organized by Futures Specialists Helsinki. In the event we heard many different ideas and scenarios for future, some more positive than others. The idea that impacted me the most had to do with design thinking. The organizers discussed the idea of designing our futures, meaning that studies of the futures thinking is not just a passive act of trying predict what will happen – instead a we should see how each of our actions and choices creates the future in this very moment.
In conclusion of these two events I thought that maybe utopistic thinking does not happen in the realm of activism and politics anymore, but that sometimes more optimism and positive energy for change can be found around events that discuss design and innovation. Our final task at the event by FSH was to create a future wall with post-it notes about our personal utopias, dystopias or protopias – protopia meaning a world that is better by a small, achievable change. Maybe Service Design is actually just about that – creating a protopia for our everyday lives.

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What makes design thinking so appealing?

by Piia Hanhirova

Inspiration, encouragement and empowerment. In my opinion, those are the most important values and aspects, which design thinking offers, and the reason why it appeals to so many people regardless the field they work in or are busy with. Design thinking underlines the deep understanding of people – their needs, wishes and motivation – and gives voice to users and customers.

This year’s Service Innovation and Design (SID) studies started with Katja Tschimmel from Mindshake. She guided us through the past and the present of design thinking as well as introduced us the various design tools based on the Evolution 6² model.

Evolution 6² model

But most importantly, she simply made us do it, that is, work in multidisciplinary teams and use the design tools in practice. So, our team, coming from different backgrounds with multifaceted experience, moved from divergent to convergent along the way of design thinking process, and worked on tools such as the opportunity mind map, idea hitlist, vision statement, user groups, intent statement, prototype, visual business model etc.

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Show, don’t tell! – How prototyping influences the design process

Post-its, Legos, markers and posters in the hands of over 20 overly-excited students can be the makings of a chaos. But with an experienced teacher or a facilitator it can actually turn into many nice service ideas or concepts. As part of the study unit of ‘Design Thinking’ we got to learn that a lot of this thinking is actually doing.

The power of making it visual

Being it a quick sketch of your new classmate with even more quickly scribbled words on post-its describing the person or a marker taped to a 35mm film canister as a prototype of an apparatus for nasal tissue operations – sketching and especially prototyping makes you work faster. As stated by Tim Brown in his renowned book Change by Design (HarperCollinsPublishers, 2009) most problems worth worrying about are complex, and a series of early experiments is often the best way forward. “Fail fast” is a well-known notion and that’s where sketches and prototypes come into play.

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Left: Prototype of an apparatus used in nasal tissue operations, right: The final product (http://www.lm-services.ch/design-thinking-in-healthcare/)

During the two-day session with Katja Tschimmel (founder of Mindshake, http://www.mindshake.pt/) we experienced the divergent and convergent process of design thinking. It’s not the easiest start for your Saturday morning when you’re put to the task of spilling out as many ideas as possible from your coffee-thirsty brain, just to next visualise them and later on create a quick prototype of your most promising idea. But with prototyping you can really make your ideas concrete, and as our group in session realized, really open your idea for discussion within the small group, but also with others. With only one round of feedback, our group collected many good suggestions to our original idea.

So what exactly is a prototype?

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Using Design Thinking to Build a VR Study Experience

What do you get when you put together a group of Laurea MBA in Service Innovation and Design students and Mindshake’s Katja Tschimmel and task the group to innovate a service for international students as part of the Design Thinking course? A crazy lot of innovation, creativity, collaboration, and learnings. In this blog post, I will go through how one group utilised Design Thinking to create a service offering a full in-class VR experience to anyone not physically present.

Everyone has creativity in them – uncovering our creative confidence

First, we learned the theory and about the toolkit for practical Design Thinking, including opportunity mind mapping, intent statement and insight and stakeholder maps.

As innovation starts with idea generation, these tools were great for uncovering creativity and helped narrow down our focus. IDEO’s Tom and David Kelley discuss in their book Creative confidence: unleashing the creative potential within us all (Crown Publishing Group, 2013) how everyone has creativity in them and these tools are a testament to that. For our team, the creative confidence was really built up by brainwriting which brought us the collective brainchild of creating a VR in-class experience from anywhere.

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Fluency and flexibility demonstrated during the brainwriting exercise which finally lead us to cluster the ideas that had to do with VR

Presenting the prototype

Then it was the time to create a prototype to visually present the concept. This concept test gave us invaluable feedback from the other team which we then incorporated in the service (it was great that we had to listen to the feedback in silence as there was only the feedback, no defending of what we thought – making us concentrate on just what people want and need in their lives, also highlighted of importance by IDEO’s CEO Tim Brown in HBR back in 2008).

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A prototype of the VR in-class experience

 

The real test and the permission to fail

Then we moved on to the service blueprint which proved to be a bit more difficult than our team had thought. Now was the time we actually had to answer some tough questions and we realised that we may not have actually gathered all the information we thought we did.

In real life, we would have taken a few steps back and interviewed international students (and other stakeholders), and possibly decided that this service was not viable. Failure was an option, but for the sake of the learning experience, we decided to come up with some of the answers. Tom and David Kelley also discuss in their book Creative confidence: unleashing the creative potential within us all about the “permission to fail” which essentially means that you have to learn to embrace failure to come up with better innovations. For us, the service blueprint demonstrated well that failure is part of the innovation process and not something to be afraid of.

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Pitch perfect innovation and collaboration

We were then ready to pitch our innovation using storytelling. Overall, the tools really gave the framework for innovation, directing us to the goal of being able to pitch a concept.

What was also remarkable was how well we collaborated, even though we barely knew each other. Tim Brown also states in his HBR article from 2008 that the best Design Thinkers are not just experts in their own discipline but have experience from others. After working in a truly multidisciplinary team, I can fully see how much innovation benefits.

What do you think, how has your experience with practical Design Thinking been?

Can you learn to be creative?

by Kati Kaarlehto

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This question was asked from our lecturer Katja Tschimmel at the very beginning of our contact days of the Design Thinking study module. This question in my mind I chose to read  Creative Confidence – Unleashing the Creative potential With Us All by David and Tom Kelley as my very first book in my Service Innovation and Design MBA-studies at Laurea. I was soon to find out that the question of creativity is definitely one of the profound questions in the “Design Thinking Universe”.

Why and how to be creative is the core of the Kelleys’ book. We often perceive that only artists, and designers are the privileged ones to be creative. Too often parents, teachers or study counselors categorize us into the “uncreative” and blog our creativity. However, being creative is something more than just drawing or writing a poem and can be unbloged in all of us. What we really need are creatively thinking engineers, doctors and government officers who are creative in the way that they face their everyday life problems and challenges, in the way that they design new solutions and develop their services in their own work environment.

The Kelleys have a very simple solution to the question in the caption. At some point, you just make the decision to be creative. Then act according to your decision. And how is that done? Design Thinking methodology and tools are designed and develop to assist in that.

You should ask questions, especially Why-questions. You should leave your desk and office to observe your customers or end-users and thus learn true customer empathy. You should get surrounded with same-minded creatively thinking people and to keep up with all the possible trends and phenomena around you – a not just related to your own field of business but beyond.

In her article Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation Katja Tschimmel also concludes that Design Thinking is not merely the designer’s mental ability, but can be developed and trained by anybody who wants to solve problems in a creative way, who wants to conceive new realities and who wants to communicate new ideas.

The Kelleys emphasis open mindedness and liberation from your preconceived ideas and assumptions. They quote Mark Twain who once said “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t so”.

I recognized that too well during the work shop sessions led by Katja and where the Design Thinking tools of the Mindshake Design Thinking Model were applied. Our task was to perceive the Laurea world through an International student´s eyes with some chosen Design Thinking tools. As I have worked with international university students, way too often in the group I captured myself thinking or even saying “this would not work or this has already been tried out or this Laurea would not support”.

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If I felt a slight shame about my narrow-minded, not-so-creative thoughts during our work shop, I also felt that something truly different could take place in this class with these tools, some familiar and some new to me, and with these mates representing so different professional backgrounds and experiences.

While reading “Creative Confidence” I also felt splashes of joy and confidence – by applying and starting these studies I have definitely taken right steps to unleash my creative potential. I have definitely made the decision: I am creative (always been!) and want to shake my ways of thinking and perceiving this world and my work – with the help of Design Thinking tools but also of all my lecturers and wonderful class mates.

Let the journey begin!