Tag Archive | design thinking process

Failing fast can get your idea to fly

Swimming noodles, bubble wrap, hula hoops, playmobil toys and lego blocks – yes, this definitely is the Design Thinking master class of the Service Innovation and Design Master Degree Programme.

During the two-day workshops we ran through Mindshake’s model Evolution 6², guided by professor Katja Tschimmel from Mindshake. The model has six phases: emergence, empathy, experimentation, elaboration, exposition and extension accompanied by a set of methods for each phase.

The E.6² builds on previous models of Design Thinking, such as IDEO’s first model in 2008 (inspiration, ideation and implementation) or Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (2010) which defines the steps as emphatize, define, ideate, protype and test. Kelley & Kelley (2013) describe the phases of design-driven innovation to be inspiration, synthesis, ideation and experimentation and implementation. It came evident that it is not the exact methods or practices that count but the overall process that triggers new ideas and innovations.

During the lessons, we learned about for example the importance of reframing the problem and generating many different ideas. Not to be satisfied with first idea, but to push our minds further. (Tscimmel, 2020)

We had the opportunity to find new solutions to educational institutes and students affected by Covid-19 pandemic through the exercises.

What were the swimming noodles for then? The visualization and experimentation phase!

Prototype of the storytelling app using Playmobils. Photo: Minna Elo.

In the Mindshake model this part of the process is called the elaboration phase. At first, we might have been a little skeptical about the simple Playmobil and Lego prototypes. However, the feedback received based on them from other groups was very useful; they had so many questions about the services and users regarding our 1) storytelling app for informal familiarisation with fellow students and 2) the concept to raise funds for educational institutes. The feedback brought up some questions we had not thought of in our groups. This fast exercise showed that even with limited time and rough prototypes, testing your idea early can help it evolve a lot.

Legos in action. Photo: Kimmo Kemppaala.

As Brown (2008) states, the goal of prototyping isn’t to finish the product or service, it is to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the idea and to identify new directions.

Posters to support our elevator speech pitches. Photo Minna Elo & Kimmo Kemppaala.

What really struck us, was a fellow student’s comment about being relieved by the fact that we didn’t need to work on this concept after the workshop, as these solutions were not intended to be real services, like those in our workplaces. We are not sure what the student really meant with that, but it got us thinking about fears that we have. Are we afraid that our ideas are not right or not clever enough to be considered as new innovations?

Kelley & Kelley (2013) discuss this fear that blocks us from being creative and provide new innovative approaches or solutions. Even though Design Thinking embraces failure as a part of the process, many times we might feel that our ideas or solutions are not good enough and we stay silent. That was also evident during first day as many of us found it hard to come with ideas or at least say them aloud.

Carlgren et al. (2016) also suggest that idea is to “fail often and fail soon”. That is why we need to lose our fear to fail and have courage to try our ideas early and get feedback from customers that can guide us to right direction.

During second day of our workshop it became more natural to speak up and everyone of us was coming up with new ideas. That is the magic of Design Thinking methods.

At home, the kids are growing but we might not get rid of the Legos just yet…

Text: Minna Elo and Kimmo Kemppaala

References

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

Carlgren, L., Rauth, I. & Elmquist., M. (2016). Framing Design Thinking: The Concept in Idea and Enactment. Creativity and Innovation Management, Vol. 25, Nr. 1. 38-57.

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

Tschimmel, Katja (2020). Design Thinking course lectures, September 4–5th 2020. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.

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

The art of design research

Photo by Unsplash

I participated on 20.8.2020 in an online event focusing on design research. The event was hosted by Reach Network‘s Bas Raijmakers and featured a panel discussion with two experienced service design professionals Geke van Dijk from STBY and Babitha George from Quicksand, both part of the Reach Network organization.

Both Van Dijk and George discussed their projects, the craft of design research and what it takes to succeed in their field, with an active participation from other participants.

Iterative process instead linear

The design research process of Reach Network is described as more iterative than linear. New ideas often come up during fieldwork, so quick adaptation is key. The process starts with immersion phase where they usually study people in their own environments. Afterwards in insight creation the design researchers identify problem spots and opportunity areas. Last phase of idea generation includes workshops, brainstorming and modeling of strongest ideas.

Photo by Unsplash

George started the discussion by explaining a project she had been working with which dealt with public healthcare in India. She discussed the difficulties of when dealing with an intimate, hard topic and how to overcome these obstacles. She mentioned that the ability to adapt your methods and getting people comfortable were vital, for instance using hypothetical scenarios instead of asking direct, intimate questions for a softer approach. She listed building trust and offering a judgement-free-zone as key to the success in her project.

Both George and van Dijk discussed the importance of design research. They were asked during the panel discussion on how to get clients to understand the importance of design research and pay for design research. They emphasized that when design research is done right, it is very informative and helps with implementation longevity. Engaging with stakeholders and having a thorough, mutual understanding and clear communication is vital.

Qualitative research vs. design research

The panelists briefly talked about differences of qualitative research and design research. With design research, you have creativity included and you’re always looking for opportunities. It’s rich in storytelling and bringing a design aspect via persona posters and images from field, for example.

A participant in the event asked for tips on how to transfer complex data to a more understandable, audience friendly format. George and van Dijk mentioned that having key insights, summaries and lots of illustrations is a good starting point. They emphasized finding a balance with complexity and clear storytelling because you also don’t want to lose the richness of your findings.

Photo by Unsplash

The art of the craft

The panelists discussed the craft of design research and what it takes to succeed in their field. Design research is about constantly reiterating and customizing your methods. It requires a lot of experience and openness to learn new. It’s about learning of complexities but also keeping things simple. “It’s about constantly zooming in and out”, one panelist explained.

The needed skills include observation, conversation, creative listening, ability to adapt, motivation to always learn new things, but also being reflective and self critical of own biases. It’s not just about learning tricks of different tools but learning the craft and adapting those tools to own projects.

During the panel discussion, it was mentioned that design research is much like the Netflix documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, which featured Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old sushi master in Tokyo and his relentless pursuit of perfection, who even after three Michelin stars was always striving to be better.

In a way, a design researcher is never finished with learning their craft but instead always reiterating and customizing their approach.

For more inspiration:

Trailer for Netflix documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

Innovation & Design Thinking Start with the Assessment of Now

“Innovation and design thinking are considered as the principal source of differentiation and competitive advantage in the business world today. Thinking like a designer can transform the way you develop products, services, processes, and even strategy” Tim Brown (2008). 

Ironically, I never considered myself an innovative or creative person. Instead, my organized and systematic way of working sometimes seems to be even conflicting with the idea of being innovative. However, I like challenging myself. That’s why I enrolled to the “Service Innovation and Design” program at Laurea University of Applied Sciences, to build my confidence and skills towards being a more innovative person. 

My Service Innovation and Design journey started with the course of “Design Thinking” from Katja Tschimmel in September. Katja herself is a Professor, Researcher and Consultant with the strong focus on creative thinking and design. The 2-days intensive course emphasised the fact that “design thinking (aka. Design doing) is a systematic approach to problem solving.” 

By deep dive into the Figure 1 – Evolution 62(E6) model, we can see it has been divided into 6 phases, which starts with Emergence – identification of an opportunity in the centre. Then under each phase, there are various tools as recommendations or proposals to choose from. However, due the iterative nature of design thinking, tools can be freely selected based on the needs and context. 

Figure 1: Evolution 6Mindshake Design Thinking Model by Katja Tschimmel (2018)

From the well instructed group exercises, we were able to familiarize ourselves with different design thinking tools. Also, from Katja’s concrete consulting case example, we were able hear how design thinking applied into real-life examples and best practices.  

To enhance the design thinking understanding, I further on read the Harvard Business Review article by Tim Brown called Design Thinking (2008). In the article, Tim stressed that for any design projects, Design thinking ultimately goes through 3 stages: 1) Inspiration, 2) ideation, and 3) Implementation.

In more details (Brown, 2008, P88-P89): 
– inspiration is about understanding current circumstances and using the findings to search identify problems or opportunities.
– ideation is about generating, developing and testing ideas that may lead to solutions.
– implementation is about charting a path to market

In the end, Tim highlighted that innovation is the result of hard work, which starts with an idea that based on deep understanding of consumers’ live, then followed by iterative cycles of design thinking practices, such as porotypes, testing and refinement, to innovate and build value (2008, P90).

Similarly, in the book of “Designing for Growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers”, Liedtka and Ogilvie (2011) introduced the design model with 4 basic questions (Figure 2).  The “what is” stage explores current reality. “What if” envisions a new future. “What wows” makes some choices, and “what works” takes us to the marketplace (Liedtka & Ogilvie, 2011, P36). 

Figure 2:Design Process by Liedtka and Ogilvie (2011)

By comparing 3 different design thinking models mentioned above, we can quickly come to the realization that, despite all the differences, all design thinking starts with the current reality and circumstance understanding. You might be wondering, isn’t design thinking is about creating something new for the future, but why starts with now? 

The answer is simply. Because successful innovation always goes back to the basics of “what is the job to be done” and how can we improve it? To answer that question, we need to pay close attention to what is going on today to identify the real problem or opportunity that we want to tackle.

Without an accurate reality assessment, the innovation outcome loses the meaning and values. Also, in most cases, we tend to find innovation clues right lies in the dissatisfaction of the presence. By taking a closer look at users’ frustrations today, we will be able identify opportunities for improvements. Therefore, we can all agree that reality assessment is the foundation of innovation, and starting point of any design thinking process. (Liedtka & Ogilvie, 2011, P38-P39)

So now you might be thinking that “Okay, now I get the point, but how to conduct the reality assessment in practice, and which tools I should be using?” There are many available tools to choose from based on the needs and situation. However, here are a few that I personally find useful to try (Tschimmel, 2018; Liedtka & Ogilvie, 2011). 

Media, Market and Customer Analysis to obtain the understanding of what is happening or emerging currently to produce Trend Matrix. 
Intent Statement to collaboratively define “what do we want to innovate”? 
Stakeholder Map to identify various individuals or groups involved in the project, foresee possibility challenges, and develop strategies to engage them. 
Persona to define who are the users in the project. 
Customer Journey Mapping to provide a visual representation of the touchpoints where users interact with company services or solutions. 
Value Chain Analysis to study an organization’s interaction with partners to produce, market, distribute and support its offering. It is the business-side equivalent of customer journey mapping, to highlight pain points and opportunities when working with partners.
Mind Mapping to extract meaning from vast amount of collected information to look for patterns and identify innovation opportunities.

Have fun with trying different design thinking tools! Enjoy! 


Written by Xiaoying Wang on 22nd September 2019.
Service Innovation and Design student at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Reference: 

Tschimmel, K. (2018). Evolution 62: An E-handbook for Practial Design Thinking for Innovation. MindShake. 
Brown, T (2008). Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review P85-P95. 
Liedtka, J & Ogilvie, T. (2011). Designing for Growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers. Columbia University Press. 

Design Thinking for Uncertainty

The greatest learning that I got from the Design Thinking course was about uncertainty. Design Thinking as a concept and process was not new to me, but what really struck me during the course, was how Design Thinking can be used in a business context to manage uncertainty.

The future is getting less and less predictable by past data. For many in the traditional business environment the way to create new has been by careful analysis and research of the past and currents markets. In the modern ever so competitive business environment to really succeed this is not enough. New innovative solutions must be created. When you cannot trust the previous data and development methods you need something else to rely on. This uncertainty and need for innovation has given the rise of Design Thinking in the business world. It has brought the design process and mentality to the business context.

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Swimming in a Sea of Possibilities – Design Thinking and the Beauty of Teamwork

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.

Katja Tschimmel

Katja Tschimmel introducing Laurea students to the fascinating world of design thinking.
Image: Suvi Seikkula.

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Learning the essence of Design Thinking process

“There is no universal best DT process model, the choice innovation managers make depends on their disciplinary background and their personal taste.” says Katja Tschimmel in her article about Design Thinking process models and tools (Tschimmel 2012, 11). And this is also what she tells us listeners during our first hours of Design Thinking course (Design Thinking 2017). The decision of choosing of an appropriate Design Thinking model is influenced, among others, the characteristics of the task in question, its context, the composition of the team and its dynamics, the number of designers involved, and the time available for the process (Tschimmel 2012).

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Design thinking as a magic wand for trainers and innovators. Role of facilitation.

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by Katarzyna Młynarczyk

 

Don’t oversimplify design thinking

What a challenge! – that was the strongest, eye-opener thought during my first Jam (over 3 years ago). I found myself as a trainer (future facilitator) and member of a team. In that moment I understood design thinking as process divided into couple of basic stages fulfilled by a toolkit. Since then I was trying to implement some of them and met a thousand moments of feeling like: I’m not so sure is it a good direction whe’re going (thinking about work of my teams), It’s not easy at all…, Maybe another tool…?, How to trigger my team, how to stimulate the process? 


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I’ve even reached for the popular book:  This is Service Design Thinking. Basics – Tools – Cases (Stickdorn & Schneider, 2010), but as Katja said it is not detailed enough to enable non-designers to work with these tools in creative processes without a professional facilitator. That reminds me about my role in the future. Role as a facilitator in the whole process.

New insights. Booms and wows

What I was thinking about our first classes in DT on Laurea was that I will somehow acknowledge my attitude that companies should apply the principles of design to the way people work, the way they create new concepts of services. Apart from many booms and wows moments during the workshops (again both in a facilitator and team member role) 
I gained valuable knowledge about origins of design thinking (my very basic, beginner sketches and souvenir from the first day attached below).

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