A two-day course in design thinking taught me that a team is more than a group of people and that in our aim to reach our goals, failure can be a positive thing.
I started my studies in Service Design this autumn 2017 and Design Thinking was the very first course I took part in. As there was the word “design” in the course title I was a bit worried about my capabilities to succeed in this. These worries became a reality soon as the course started and I found myself with a pencil in one hand and a Lego dude in the other. Do I really have to draw something? What is this thing with post it –notes? Are we seriously going to play with legos?
Our lecturer Katja Tschimmel gave us a brief introduction to the world of design thinking and how it has evolved during recent years. She also introduced us few models, including her own tool kit Mindshake E.6² that are used in innovative, problem solving processes. According to Tschimmel, even though we are not professional designers, we can adopt certain methods from traditional design processes that can help us solve problems in a creative and innovative way. (And we don’t necessarily need to wear black turtleneck pullover and designer classes.)
As the very first course at Laurea, Katja Tschimmel and Sanna Marttila introduced both the Finnish Service Design and English Service Innovation and Design groups into the secrets of design thinking. My expectation for the course was nothing less than to be able to switch myself into some sort of design thinking mode. That turned out to be more complicated than I expected but the two days and Tim Brown’s article Design Thinking made me conscious of what design thinking and service design might be. I have to admit I was a bit surprised how much academic research has been created around design thinking and service design. I somehow thought that service design is something very practical. Which I guess it can be too. Also the number of tools and methods developed for service design was new to me.
The world we are facing appears more and more complex to us every day. Many of us, including myself wonder how to keep up with the information flow. One thing is for sure. The concept of expertise is being challenged in a profound way. In order to tackle complex phenomena in the fast changing world people need general competencies that can be applicable to various fields. Design thinking is certainly one of these. Design thinking has potential to change the world if more and more professionals understood the value of it. But what does it take to become a design thinker?
Getting back to studies after a decade was like, having butterfly effect and feeling equally anxious and excited! Moving ahead with hopes and believes, that this course in Service Design and Innovation will be a serious learning curve for current and future growth in my career path. We jumped into the course of Design Thinking with Katja Tschimmel at Laurea University on 8-9 September, along with many new faces around and hundreds of new thoughts churning in my head.
A course stimulating, creative, full of learning and findings using Design Thinking methodologies – Evolution E6 introduced to us by Katja Tschimmel. We explored this highly complex tool, which usually takes months when practiced professionally, in just two days. It was an intensive experience of learning with creativity and building confidence among group. Started off with pre preparation to build group spirit and gain understanding of group members by sketching and writing on post-it about each other, soon we realised our group was – ‘Vegabond Yogi’s’
The first question arises in the group work was; So what is Design Thinking?
In design thinking human is always in the center. Having that in the focus of your goals you have a good start as a design thinker. The service innovations meet the needs of people as the result of a cross-discipline approach by co-creating minds. Technology and other resources are enablers to increase people living good life being parts of designed product or service.
Tim Brown points out that integrative thinking leads to going beyond existing models. Fast and rough prototyping leaves room for thought and increases ability to create novelties. Tangible prototype helps the designers and end-users to identify the improvement areas. Or if the model does not serve the purpose at all.
Our two-day design process simulation proved that a heterogenous group of people can create something new. What occurred to me that to be successful you must step out of your biases and try new ideas without self-criticism. Analyzing skills are essential, but during the ideation phase and while constructing the prototype you must find your inner child to be playful and spontaneous. Continue reading
Design thinking is one of the biggest trends on service business industry and Katja Tschimmel (2012) defines it as a game changer to different industries. Tschimmel sees it as a new way of thinking which can lead to innovative new ideas. I didn’t have any huge expectations for this course, because I wasn’t that sure how I think and feel about design thinking. After the first day, I was sure that I certainly love this! We had amazing two days led by Katja Tschimmel and Sanna Marttila. During these two days, we learnt some history and theory of design thinking but the focus was to work with Evolution 6² model invented by MINDSHAKE company. Evolution 6² model can be for example used to different kind of project and workshop development. It consist six different phases to work with new ideas and improve them. Two days went over quite fast and left behind a mind full of creativeness and a bunch of new tools to work with design thinking.
I search more information about design thinking by reading the Harward Business Review article of Design thinking by Tim Brown (2008). The idea is to create something new rather than try to develop existing services or products. Also, it doesn’t have to be expensive and difficult. Focus is to find your inner creative designer and use the tools or toys companies already have. In this review, a design thinker´s persona was defined not to a weirdo hippie but to any one of us. Design thinker needs to have empathy and think people first. Optimism helps design thinkers to stay positive and see beyond the possible problem. Then add some experimentalism to have excitement towards new things and directions. Finally, collaboration completes a design thinker by mixing and matching different levels and backgrounds. On my opinion, you can be a design thinker if you want and at least teach yourself to be creative and out of the box thinker.
Let’s start with a thought experiment. You have been working in the same job for years and now you are tasked with creating a new service for your customers. Where do you start?
Probably where you already are. Your first ideas are what have always been done and how to improve them, but only slightly.
To innovate, you need an open mind. To facilitate the innovation process you can use Design Thinking. Katja Tschimmel writes in her article Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation that Design Thinking offers new models of processes and toolkits for every creative process. It can be used in any business or organization. When you open your mind, and let the crazy ideas out, you can find something new.
The Service Design students at Laurea got a crash course on Design Thinking with Dr Tschimmel in the beginning of September. The students were tasked to create a new service around the theme Studying at Laurea. Every group could do whatever they thought might be useful, but in the end most new service ideas focused on solving everyday problems with quite traditional approaches. Why was it so difficult for us to let our imaginations fly and go for something completely different?
My suspicion is that it is the Inner Critic who is to blame. Often innovation processes suffer from the innovators’ fear of failure. In companies, upper management controls the time and resources available for trial and error. In universities, the students’ grade depends on the teachers’ understanding of their brave new idea.
Ever thought about this? Is service design just one ism, which comes like a wave: First small, getting strong and then fading away. When reaching the end of its existing curve, the ism is so worn out that no-one even wants to hear the words “service design”.
Aalto University Executive Education arranged on the 1st of June 2017, on International Service Design Day, networking event around this very interesting theme. Speakers and panelists who game from different backgrounds looked at the topic in a versatile and detailed way. They represented front line service design expertise: Peter Barkman, Managing Director from Palmu Helsinki, Laura Franck, Client Service Director from Hellon, Ulla Jones, Business Designer from OP Financial Group and Pekka Toivonen, CEO of Muotohiomo. Next I will raise some points from the discussion to give some thoughts to this important heading.
Transformation is the point
Service design have to grow from project oriented way of doing to be way of thinking that leads to cultural change and transformation in organization. “Human” and “experience” should be taken as a part of business plan in the organization. The experts see that service design as a concepts and the term might disappear. The content itself becomes an everyday part of organizational approaches and practices. Whatever the term that is used, important is to make measurable changes with goal of creating better experiences and focus on customer. Continue reading
Design Thinking offers a variety of new ways to accelerate the creative process. During the first contact session at the SID program we were immersed in the world of Design Thinking with an intense two-day workshop held by guest lecturers Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valença.
BRAINSTORMING is a widely spread idea generation tool that can be extremely effective when conducted appropriately. As explained in Katja’s article Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation, brainstorming is a participatory idea generation session, which is done without discussing the ideas or thinking them through to the end. The main goal is to generate a myriad of ideas in a short period of time, being emotions and intuition more important that rational thinking.
Team members start generating new ideas in complete SILENCE. Each of the members write down their ideas on post-it notes and sticks them on the wall (see Fig. 1). After a while, participants start elaborating on the other ideas. The goal is that an idea of one participant can be a source of inspiration for another. Brainstorming is a good technique to generate ideas that the whole group feels ownership of.
Fig. 1 Brainstorming session during the DT workshop
While reading the book The Innovation Expedition I was introduced to the spiritual father of the brainstorming technique, the American Alex Osborn. From him I learned two essential rules when brainstorming – ‘Defer your judgment’ and ‘go for quantity’. The underlying assumption of brainstorming is that people are scared of saying something wrong.