Tag Archive | design thinking tools

The power of “playing with hands” in Design Thinking

Photo by Vlad Hilitanu on Unsplash

I have been thinking about writing this article for so long that I haven’t yet found a proper start. I guess my fear of failing has been always too high in my personality, too many expectations about myself and from others and my natural inclination for perfection hasn’t really helped me in the past. 

In this moment I recall in my head the words of professor Katja Tschimmel, who held a lecture in Design Thinking at the SID Master Program:

Perfection is the enemy of creativity

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

And also the words from the authors of the book “Designing for Growth”:

“Fail fast to succeed sooner is the essential paradox of design thinking”

Liedtka, J & Ogilvie, T. 2011. Designing for growth: A design thinking tool kit for managers. Columbia University Press. pag 150

Time is running and I want to succeed with my assignment so let’s get straight to the point.

What is Design Thinking for me

Design Thinking is a creative process that let you experience different phases, divergent and convergent alternatively, where you explore problems&needs of people and organisation, think about possible solutions and eventually solve problems by implementing a prototype. 

Design Thinking master class by Katja Tschimmel

All my understanding of Design Thinking was presented, during the master class, more in depth in the model Evolution 6², developed by Tschimmel. This model presents the DT process divided into six spaces inside one another.

Evolution 6² Model

The six spaces of the Evolution 6²Model:

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

Professor Tschimmel gave us a case (Studying at Laurea) where our Team needed to explore and identify an opportunity to innovate (Emergence and Empathy Phase), generating and testing ideas (Experimentation and Elaboration) and finally present the final solution to the other students (Exposition and Extension).

For each step, she guided us through the most appropriate tool to use till we finalised the Storyboard of our solution: specific facilities that support well being at Laurea University.

Storyboard – Well Laurea

LEGO – Playing with hands

My highlight for this post is how powerful was the choice of using LEGO when it came to prototype our solution.

When you think about LEGO I bet you think about playing, having fun and nothing related to work and being serious with a project.

Yet, LEGO is an excellent tool used in Design Thinking to visualise ideas, create 3D models to spark conversation with partners, users and test those models with them and eventually co-crete a better one together.

When my Team started to prototype for our challenge – Well being at Laurea – we worked in couples to implement three solutions: Health & Sports Facilities, Nutrition Lounge and Relaxing Space for Laurea students.

Lego Prototype – Well Laurea

During this time – as I was already familiar with this prototyping method –  I observed how my peers were enjoying their experience of constructing bricks and situation, learning by watching others and being in the flow to externalise and produce what we had in our minds and written post-it of course.

This reminded me of what I learnt and read about the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method, an approach to help organisation solve complex problems and/or define their strategy and their vision by asking specific question and make them represent and storytell their answer using only LEGO bricks.

When we “THINK THROUGH OUR FINGERS” we release creative energies, modes of thought and ways of seeing things that may otherwise never be tapped […] and that most adults have forgotten they even possessed.

The Science of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®

The LSP Method takes many ideas from the field of psychology and behavioural science, specifically from Constructivism, a theory of knowledge developed by Jean Piaget, his colleagues and his institute in
Geneva, Switzerland and Constructionism, a theory of learning developed by Seymour Papert and his colleagues at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Those theories could be roughly summarised in the phrase Building Knowledge by Building Things.

The LEGO elements work as a catalyst – and when used for building metaphors, they trigger processes that you probably were previously unaware of.

Who approaches Design Thinking and prototyping for the first time is probably not aware of these more scientific background and here I wanted to share it with a tangible example.

Author: Francesca A. Frisicale, October 2019

References & Links

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.

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.

The Science of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, executive discovery llc.
www.seriousplay.com

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

Mindshake, Portugal http://mindshake.pt/design_thinking

Unsplash, https://unsplash.com

Design Thinking and Business – the Yin and Yang !

In 1960, a MIT professor had found the fundamental mechanism of deterministic chaos, where one variable could have profound impact on the outcome of an entire system. This was the “butterfly effect”. This method was used in weather forecasting based on past and present data points. Similar, to what we are doing in business. Our society is rapidly changing, and we have a very dynamic, unpredictable and volatile value constellation. With our business leaders doing a linear fashion strategy creation based on past and present data – it can bring us to an edge of destruction. Business today, is disconnected from the global ripple. And I believe, this is why the importance of Design Thinking is growing.

Design Thinking powers strategic innovation and not strategic planning. Planning and vision statement does not re-invent business but only rejuvenates few top line management. It is the true beauty of Design thinking with it’s human-centered approach that can truly create value in a radically changing networks and in a world of disruptive technology.

The creative and qualitative world of Design Thinking perfectly marries quantitative realm of business world. It perfectly clicks !

For some time, strategic management leaders tried collaborating with scientists and studying behaviours in nature to replicate same models. Although they were successful in creating some compelling models for strategic management but these were not fail-proof. I believe that no strategic management measures can be full-proof at any given point – we are only devising the strategies based on past and present data. As Service Dominant Logic very well points out that every service is based on a galaxy of other services, which makes the mega-system very unpredictable and volatile. We can of course devise the best-hit strategies but always make room for unpredictability. And this where some organisation excels with their ability of intuition. Intuition has the subtle balance of quantitative and qualitative art which is often needed for all parts to click.

Design Thinking promotes such qualities which are rarely found in the business world. It is yin to yang. It is the perfect balance between the hard-coded world of business with the creative and intuitive part of Design.

Yin Yang – in Chinese Philosophy it is said that sometimes seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary and interconnected.

What are these qualities which makes Design Thinking so harmonious with Business – the yin to yang?

Firstly, Design Thinking supports going out in the field and talking to customers, uncovering needs, understanding the real value proposition which matters to customers, experimenting and prototyping. Design Thinking pertains to real doing whereas Business is more about talking – talking about great visions over powerpoints and pointing at numbers through Excel.

Secondly, Business makes prediction based on past and present datapoints. Moreover, they base their strategy based on stable world. But our world is hardly stable. This where Design plays a crucial role. Design Thinking thrives on uncertainty. Design allow us to experiment, fail and celebrate chaos.

Thirdly, the crucial and one of the most important factors why Design Thinking is an absolute necessary for Business for it’s obsession with understanding user, their needs and aspirations. Business does market segmentation based on demography which might not truly reflect a user’s actual experience and aspirations.

Insight Map which we used in classroom. It is a tool to develop a closer empathy for our user, understand their aspirations and empathise with their pain points.

Fourthly, Business Vision Statement and Strategy is a very top-down approach. Few leaders devise the strategy and the whole organization re-organizes and strives itself to achieve it. It is very far-off from the approach of Design Thinking, which is very collaborative in nature. It allows people from different background, stakeholder groups, expertise – join together and bring different perspective to table.

So how does Design Thinking works ?

Largely, Design Thinking through it’s different models evolved over years tries to answer these four fundamental questions

Design Thinking tries to understand the following questions :

What is

What if

What wows

What works

Largely, What is – starts with Discovery. In this phase we are trying to understand the user, their context, user needs, pain points and aspirations.

What if – coincides with the discovery phase where we are trying to understand what probable concept of Product or Service might work through Pain Point identification, Value Proposition, Brainstorming and Concept Development,.

The team at El Bulli doing rough sketches of their concept dishes. Picture available at : https://uxdesign.cc/how-elbulli-turned-dining-into-an-experience-38f1c015e9f6

In the third phase of what wows– we try to understand what can delight the user. We do so by rapid prototyping to learn what elevates the user experience of the product to WOW.

The team at El Bulli doing rapid prototyping of their concept dishes. Picture available at : https://uxdesign.cc/how-elbulli-turned-dining-into-an-experience-38f1c015e9f6

The final phase of what works– emphasise on going out in the filed with our prototype and testing with our real users. This step enhances us to get more real feedback, improve our concept and iterate back to actually build a wow experience.

Now, we might ask who is a Design Thinker? What makes a person – a Design Thinker?

The answer might lie in the ability to merge logic with creative intelligence, emotional quotient, ability to collaborate and celebrate chaos. Tim Brown in Harvard Business Review June edition (2008, 87) mentioned some characteristics of a successful Design Thinker. Design Thinkers have the ability to empathise, integrative thinking, optimism, experimentalism and collaboration. To me, the ability to empathise and collaborate stands out the most.

Wannabe Yogis 🙂 – my amazing team !

In our first Design Thinking Masterclass, our group had come with brilliant results because we were able to collaborate with each other drawing in our different backgrounds and experiences.

Ferran Adrià at El Bulli collaborating in the deep creative process with his team. Picture available at : https://uxdesign.cc/how-elbulli-turned-dining-into-an-experience-38f1c015e9f6

I find similar collaboration method was implemented by Ferran Adrià at El Bulli.

The world celebrated chef and food experience creator collaborated with all his colleagues and different stakeholders to strategies and create elaborative dining experience. His lab would go through several workshops, brainstorming and concept development phases before planning out experimentation. His team would welcome iteration and failure with enthusiasm as they believed nothing novel arises without chaos. Though, traditionally outside the realm of business world but he showed every attributes of a Design Thinker.

Posted by : Debarati Rakshit , 1st year SID student

References :

  • Brown, Tim 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95
  • The evolution of design thinking. Harvard Business Review. Sep 2015; Vol. 93 (9)
  • Liedtka, Jeanne & Ogilvie, Tim 2011. Designing for growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers, New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Mootee, Idris (2013) Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley

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

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

Design Thinking- an evolutionary process

I had the opportunity to attend the intensive masters class course ‘Practical Design Thinking’ offered by Laurea University of Applied Sciences. The course was taught by the energetic guest professor, Katja Tschimmel from Portugal. 

This blog provides insights about my learning during these days and my thoughts about the related material.

Design thinking is described “as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity” (Brown 2008, P86). 

Fig: The Cubists

During these two days, I learned how the creative mechanisms of design thinking work and how we can use design thinking approach for problem solving. Out of all the methods under the design thinking umbrella, we learned the “Evolution 6^2” model, the Innovation and Design Thinking Model by Katja Tschimmel, which elaborates on the different set of tools needed for design thinking approach. We were divided into different groups and worked together through the different phases of this model to come up with an innovative solution for Laurea. Our group, ‘The Cubists‘ worked on a solution to connect design talent.

Fig: Evolution 6^2” model by Katja Tschimmel

In the first step, Emergence, we identify the opportunity by creating an Opportunity Mind Map and Intent Statement. The key here is fluency. You should mark down all the possible opportunities you can think of, without caring how absurd they are. As a group, we visualised our ideas in mindmap and marked down the opportunity in the intent statement.

Fig: Opportunity Mind Map

Step 2 is Empathy. It focuses on the external factors affecting design thinking and getting to know your users and context. The tools we learnt include Stakeholder map, Field Observation, Interview and Insight Map. Since design thinking follows the human centred approach, empathy with the end users becomes the most essential step (Kelley & Kelley 2013).

The Experimentation phase focuses on generating ideas and concept with tools including brain writing, idea clustering and idea hit list.  In idea clustering, we cluster our ideas from the mind map together, where as, in the idea hit list, we filter out the top ones. In their book “Creative Confidence” Tom and David Kelley (2013) state, “ The best kinds of failures are quick, cheap, and early, leaving you plenty of time and resources to learn from the experiment and iterate your ideas”. During this phase, we refine our thoughts and ideas and give them a meaningful direction. Any possible failures and restrictions are also detected in this phase and can be worked upon.

The next step, Elaboration is in which we create rapid prototype. The idea here is to create a minimum viable product or MVP—representing the least amount of effort needed to run an experiment and get feedback (Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup). During our course, we used Legos to demonstrate our idea and jotted down important feedback from other groups during the concept test phase.

Exposition provides tools to communicate our idea/solution to the wider audience. Our group visualised the business model and created a story board. In the end, we gave the elevator pitch for our solution to resolve the issue of connecting design talents to co-create service innovation in Laurea. 

Fig: Story Board

In my opinion, design thinking is an iterative learning process where you learn from every opportunity, experience and failure. Like a muscle, your creative abilities will grow and strengthen with practice. However, a lot of people lacks the courage and confidence to experiment something new.

Written by Naufal Khalid

References:

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

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

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

Bug list – design thinker’s first tool

Petti Jännäri, SID 2019 student

I love lists. I have dozens on my phone: one for books I’ve red, the ones I’d like to read, places I’d like to visit, etc. And now I have a bug list, an idea that Ideo’s David and Tom Kelley presented in their book Creative Confidence (2013). It is a list of things that I have noticed in everyday life that have creative opportunities. Issues, big and small, that someway bug me – things that could be solved with design thinking and its methods. Bug list is a tool that would be one of the first steps and lay under category Emergence in Evolution 62, an innovation and design thinking model by Mindshake.

Since design thinking is all about empathy, early action and collaboration, instead of just reading about it, I challenged my family to tackle one of the items on my bug list. Since “the health system” is somewhat monumental subject, I started with “engaging the whole family to do something fun during weekend” also known as item one on my bug list: “Kids just want to play Fortnite.”

To my surprise, the method worked, and we ended up having a lovely weekend with forest walk, reading books and watching a classic from the 90’s, the Kindergarten cop – thanks to collaboration. Funnily that was the part I struggled with and which taught me the most during my first design thinking exercise in SID class. As a journalist, I consider ideation a team effort but also something that must be viewed with a critical eye and at the end, with every story there is a byline. During the exercise, we didn’t have time to be too critical and the design thinking process was less controllable, even messy and there for a bit scary, I must admit. But as Ideo’s Tim Brown has argued in Harvard Business Review (2008): good ideas don´t come from the brain of one genius but are achieved by collaborating in the creative design thinking process. What freed me finally is a new perspective to me, the co-ownership of ideas.

Writing with capitals letters is one way of emphasizing the co-ownership.

Tim Brown outlines a design thinker’s personality profile and before collaboration comes empathy: “Great design thinkers observe the world in minute detail. They notice things that others do not and use their insights to inspire innovation.”
And what better tool to keep score of these things that a bug list. Bug can be something positive too, right?

Since I got my less artistic, sporty family to draw, I believe the Kelley brothers who argue that creative confidence in everyone’s reach. Next, we tackle another subject on my bug list of family life: the mystery of how to find a movie that everyone is happy to watch from the endless supply of Netflix, HBO, Viaplay, etc. The board is up.

Mindmap, another design thinker’s go-to tool, helped me narrow down the multiple ideas I had for this blog post -assignment.

Design Thinking: how can visualization help companies innovate and develop

New time requires new ways to manage, and design thinking can provide managers human-centeric tools to participate all stakeholders in finding opportunities.

Visualizing divergent ideas for a holistic view

Creating innovative solutions to business challenges requires companies to see the big picture: what players affect the market or industry outside of it through technical possibilities or how the way people use and want to use products and services changes. Design thinking can be described as a way of combining rational, data-based thinking with intuitive knowledge to form insight into business opportunities. It is also a way of analyzing business models, networks, behavior, emotions and peoples’ interaction with each other and the product or service company provides. (Mootee. 2013, 39.) Design thinking tools can help think more broadly and come up with divergent ideas.

Example of opportunity mindmap to find opportunities and see connections.

Mindshake’s Evolution 6^2 method proposes tools like mindmap to detect opportunities (Tschimmel. 2019, 50.). In our classroom exercise at Design Thinking course we tried opportunity mindmap and it revealed that as the branches of mindmap grew longer, more novel possibilities started to emerge. Links between different aspects were easy to spot from the canvas.

Visual design thinking tools for testing and sharing concepts

Rapid prototype of collaboration tool to connect student, Laurea and companies made of legos.

Rapid prototyping is a tool to try the solution fast, with materials at hand (Tschimmel. 2019, 71, 76). The purpose of the prototype is to find out the pros and cons of the idea and see if there are new paths the new versions could take (Brown. 2008, 87.). In businesses, innovation teams should be encourage to create a prototype withing a week of starting the project (Brown. 2008, 90.). We used Lego to visualize the different stakeholders, processes and behaviors needed in the solution. Mootee (2013, 184) states that “Spreadsheets won’t provide users the ability to see the entire supply and demand relationship and it is the reason why so many new business models fail, even though they look robust on a spreadsheet and in PowerPoint.”

When prototyping we found many new aspects and problems in the model we had been designing: there were dots that needed connecting, stakeholders totally missing from where they obviously were needed. Prototype was then used for desktop walkthrough where we presented the solution to our fellow students: excellent way to use both storytelling and visualization to communicate complex system. This type of role play or storytelling makes it easier to understand how things are connected and what type of behavior and processes are needed to get from the challenge to the solution (Mootee. 2013, 90.).

Example of visual business model.

Visual business model includes the elements of traditional business model using only drawing and no text (Tschimmel. 2019, 76). In the beginning of creating business model it was apparent, that because our shared understanding of the concept was still too vague, it was also impossible to draw all resources and revenue streams. I think this is also the reason why it is sometimes hard for management to get whole organization to commit to new vision, plan or concept: strategies are often so intangible, that it is impossible to understand what one is supposed to do.

Example of visual storyboard used to present a concept.

Storytelling is one tool for communicating new strategy.(Mootee. 2013, 87.) Visual storyboarding tells the story of how the new concept works from visualizing customer’s current unmet need, the solution and end-result of this new concept from customer’s perspective (Tschimmel. 2019, 15.).

Visualizing new ideas helps to innovate

It is relevant to combine unexpected ideas and branch out to do big changes and create innovation that leads to innovation majorly impacting the bottom line as well as sales and profits. Brown (2008, 91) suggest that to succeed in innovation, businesses need to mix incremental innovation more typical to business units and disruptive innovations starting from top management initiative. Using design thinking tools to visualize new concepts provides a great opportunity for any type of business, and helps managers collaborate with all stakeholders in an interesting, tangible way. Mindshake’s Evolution 6^2 tools can be found online. I encourage you to try these!

Written by Eeva Honkala, Service Innovation and Design Master degree programme student.

References.: