Tag Archive | design thinking

Design for Humans

Design is the transformation of existing conditions into preferred ones. – The Science of the Artificial, Herbert Simon

We, humans, are surrounded by an endless number of obstacles. From our evolution, we are designing new tools to deal with such obstacles. We keep on designing and optimizing such tools. We design, test, and iterate every time to create an improved version of the tool in each iteration. Not only the tools(engineering) but similar patterns can be seen in different fields such as art, literature, music, and so on. The iterative approach of creating a solution to the problem by understanding both human (users’) needs and problems by prototyping and testing is known as design thinking[1]. Carlgren et al. in their studies on companies have found design thinking could be themed as user focus, problem framing, visualization, experimentation, and diversity[2]. User focus is a key theme found in all companies.

A design is successful only if it has a human as a central element by balancing other elements.

© 2022 by Katja Tschimmel / MINDSHAKE for SID / Laurea University

As mentioned above and pictured in the image, human-centered design can be a way to reach successful results in design processes. In his study, Lockwood (2010: 134) highlights empathy for the customer as the most important principle to focus on in design [3]. It is important to understand customers’ articulated and unarticulated needs. Without deep empathy for and understanding of the customer, design thinking process is likely to lead to unfunctional or otherwise weaker results.

Understanding the customer puts human at the center of the design process. Another point of view is to see the design thinking practice and designers themselves playing a role that enhances human-centricity. The practice of design thinking tolerates failure, trial, and error in order to get results. (Kolko 2015) [4] It is, in a way, a more human and open-minded way of design. Human-centered design thinking is not only for humans but also from humans.

Anyone who wants to solve any human problem could be a design thinker. Design thinking is a cognitive process that forces a designer to answer four questions for a problem:

What is? What if? What wows? What works?

Source: Liedtka & Ogilvie 2011 [5]

What is?

What is the initial step of the design thinking process. In this step, designer (or team) begins with design brief, scope of the project and intent. In this phase, we can use different tools such as visualization, journey mapping, value chain analysis and mind mapping. Diagram shows intent map created in class to make the act of wasting more visible to make University more sustainable. This phase will help us to frame the problem and create insight of the problem by placing user in center. It will help to know the constraints that shape the solutions and criteria to define success.

What if?

In what if, team will ask all the possible questions to unlock all the possible doors for the solutions. The diverse team will help to analyze and glance problem for all possible angles and lens. It is divergent process where is no limitation on the possible solutions. This process is followed by the convergent process in which all the list possible solutions are ranked and evaluated. For an example, in intent described above we used evaluation matrix to arrange collected ideas in feasibility and impact axis as shown in figure.

What wows?

To find out what wows, it is needed to test the idea in question, which can be done via assumption testing and prototyping. The team must come up with the most central assumptions and test them. Initial stages of testing can involve only thinking and be done as thought experiments, after which there can be also physical experiments. In prototyping, the team builds a visual or experimental prototype of the concept to test. As an example, in the project described above, we prototyped the idea with legos to materialize and test our idea in an experimental way.

What works?

This is the final stage of a design thinking process, which aims to differentiate inventions from innovations. Customer co-creations are one tool to find out what works. It means collaboration with potential customers, having them try out the prototypes, and observing their reactions. Finally, a product or service can be beta tested in the marketplace. As a practical example, we asked other students to test the lego prototype, observed their reactions, and asked for their feedback all to develop the idea.

“Design thinking is an essential tool for simplifying and humanizing. It can’t be extra; it needs to be a core competence.” – Jon Kolko [4]

Written by Service Innovation and Design MBA students Shishir Bhattarai and A.H.

References:

  1. Rikke Friis Dam & Teo Yu Siang (2022). What is design thinking and why is it so popular. https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-design-thinking-and-why-is-it-so-popular
  2. 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.
  3. Lockwood, Thomas (ed. by) (2010). Design thinking: integrating innovation, customer experience and brand value. New York: Allworth Press.
  4. Kolko, J. (2015). Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture. Harvard Business Review, September 2015, 66-71.
  5. Liedtka, Jeanne & Ogilvie, Tim (2011). Designing for growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers. New York: Columbia University Press. 

Gallery: Images from university workshop

Who are you designing for?

For yourself? For the leadership who asked you to drive a new project? Think again. One of the first phases of applying Design Thinking is understanding who your audience is by building a deeper understanding of who you are designing for. Steven Portigal shares a great reminder by saying; “You may be a user but be careful of being seduced into designing for yourself.” 

Once you are familiar with who you are designing for, it is essential to remember that products and services should be always experienced from the user’s perspective via empathy

Empathy 

In Design Thinking, empathy means understanding what the user needs, wants, feels and thinks. It is also a key part understanding why they demonstrate certain behaviors and thoughts. This leads to a question; How can one empathize with the user? To gain empathy with the users we should imagine being in their shoes. Ideally, as a designer it is extremely helpful to observe them in their natural environment, whether that is an office, a factory, a shop or home. Furthermore, if we want to empathize with the users it helps to try to adopt a mindset of a beginner. This means to drop our own assumptions and biases while making those observations. 

The above picture illustrates the importance of empathy in Design Thinking process

Design Thinking is seen as a human-centred approach to solve problems, and in Design Thinking there is also an effective toolkit for innovations (Katja Tschimmel 2012). In the beginning of Service Design process, the importance of collaboration with the users is obvious. According to Kouprie and Visser there are three techniques for empathic research: direct contact, communication and stimulating ideation. Observation is one of the most effective techniques to have direct contact with a user. Beside observation, there are two other base elements of a successful design thinking process: insight and empathy, states Tim Brown. 

Role of Storytelling 

After observation, designer’s next goal is to translate observations to insight and try to represent the user’s experience somehow for example by storytelling.  A good story well told delivers a powerful emotional and perhaps an intimate experience. Storytelling also helps in a biggest challenge of Design Thinking, which is to help people to articulate the latent needs they may not even know they have. Satiro and Tschimmel (2020) have highlighted, that a story makes the message more accessible, and it engage the audience to the innovation. Stories can be formed in multiple ways, such as digital storytelling, visual storytelling, storyboards, scenario generation, storytelling through videos, plays and such.  Based on the storytelling method, we can generate questions and those questions can lead to more innovative ideas and concepts.  

In the picture above, storytelling is represented as a part of the Double Diamond design process model

“You need to turn ideas into stories that matter to people” – Jennifer Greenwood, Storytelling and Design Thinking expert 

A good story has a beginning, a middle and an end, just like all innovations processes should have. The one reason why storytelling needs to be part of the design thinker tool kit, is that it organizes information in a temporal and sequential way.  

Written by SID 2022 students Heidi Gustafsson & Minna Vainio

References:

Portigal, S. (2013). Interviewing users. 

Knowledge without borders. 2020. Design Thinking and storytelling. Accessed 23 August 2022.   

Brown, Tim (2019). Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers 

Kouprie, M & Sleeswijk Visser, F. 2009. A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life. In Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5.  

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). Toolkit Evolution 62. An E-handbook for practical Design Thinking for Innovation. Porto: Ed.Mindshake. 

Tschimmel, K. (2021). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”.  

Unleashing your creativity – find your inner child

The myth about creativity

The common misconception about creativity is that only some people are (or can be) creative. This is a myth and simply not true; everybody can be creative. Look at children! They have endless creativity and fun, why don’t we as adults? So, the question is, how do we get it back? As Ursula Le Guin has put it: “The creative adult is the child who survived.” How do we unlearn the things we have learned on our way to adulthood? It is all about allowing your mind to be free and look at the world with wonder, without judgment, just like when we were children.

Image from Pexels.

How to be more creative? 

Design thinking is one approach that can be used to unleash creativity, helping those who are not designers to think more like designers. Design thinking is an approach to collective problem solving, giving the best results in teams with a diverse set of participants from multiple disciplines. It is a mind-set for inquiry and problem solving as well as a culture that fosters exploration. Creativity is all about openness and willingness to learn and improve. Watch this video to learn more.

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” – Mary Lou Cook

Judgment and evaluation are an important part of creative progress, but one must first get started by creating ideas and having something to evaluate. The best ideas come from trial and error, as well as thinking of things in ways no one else has thought of before.

Tools for creativity

In order to reach to the core of creative self, one can try different types of tools, exercises and facilitators to help. To unleash creativity, having too much room does not make it easy to explore the best options efficiently; it is good to have a frame of user-centricity by studying a situation and people in it. One needs to free themselves from judgment to create a variety of ideas, by research, inspiration and wonder. The best ideas are selected and in a fast manner explored by visuals, drawings and prototypes, failures learned from and multiple ideas evaluated. The reached solution suggestions are then improved on and optimized for maximum impact. More information about tools for unleashing your creativity from Mindshake and Interaction design websites. 

Design thinking process allows for reaching your creative core. Modified after Mootee.

Creative confidence

Tom & David Kelley have introduced a concept of Creative Confidence; the notion that you have big ideas and the ability to act on them. It is about believing in yourself and being brave enough to think, try and innovate. It is important that the environment supports creative efforts by providing time, tools, space and other resources. Everyone can create with others, if they are willing and open to believe in themselves.

“There is no innovation and creativity without failure.” – Brené Brown

Tom & David Kelley emphasize choosing creativity and believing that we can create and engage relaxed attention. It is an important part of the process to ask – like we did as children – “why”? and “Why not”? Read more about creative confidence from Design kit by IDEO.

Supporting creativity in organizations

Management has a very specific role in nurturing creativity within their teams. Allowing for failure and encouraging to try things out are fundamental to finding the best solutions for problems and possibilities. Creative culture is about living with uncertainty and ambiguity, leveraging new opportunities from it. It is about curiosity; it is a way of thinking and working, occasional workshops won’t cut it.

“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” – Edward De Bono

Teach employees to be creativity ambassadors to others, facilitators and encourage them to unleash their creativity. As an educator, teach students to not give up but push forward when failing. As people, be brave, look at the world with wonder and excitement and don’t be afraid to fail and learn. Many unforeseen elements can be used creatively, as long as you keep your mind open and look at the world with wonder, through the eyes of your inner child.

Image is from Pexels.

Written by Service Innovation and Design MBA students Niina Luostarinen and ES.

Sources:

Barnhart, B. (2021). 22 Insightful creativity quotes. Vectornator. https://www.vectornator.io/blog/creativity-quotes/.

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

Buchanan, R. (1996). Wicked problems in Design Thinking. In Margolin, V. & Buchanan, R. The Idea of Design. A Design Issues Reader. Cambridge: The MIT Press. 

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

Kolko, J. (2015). Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture. Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.

Mootee, I. (2013). Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley.

WELL DESIGNED BUSINESS

How well your business adapts to changes?

The world is in constant change. Design knowledge is a vital competence in making companies ready to face changes in their environment. Design`s starting point should always be customers and their needs. Design thinking helps forecast the future and develop organization`s operations to be more flexible, resilient and adaptable.

The importance of design capabilities in safeguarding strong and sustainable business was the topic of Design Forum Finland`s panel discussion in October 2021. The panelists included Satu Heikinheimo (Fraktio), Aino Vepsäläinen (DFF), Minna Koskelo (11Helsinki), Jenni Tuomisto (Schibstedt), Juha Salmela (Spinnova) and Nora Haatainen (Fiskars Group).

Design as part of the business strategy

Senior service designer Satu Heikinheimo underlined that design belongs to all of us, and should not be isolated from the everyday life. Everything around us has been designed: every artefact, service and space is result of a design process. Whether you buy a bus ticket with the HSL app, reserve a medical appointment, or visit a library, all these have been designed by someone.

Employee experience is something that many organizations have recently started to design in order to make employees feel well at the workplace and at the same time increase the productivity and innovation. The physical working space, small services and well-thought details can make a huge difference in improving the commitment, cohesion and work ethic of the employees. Free breakfast in the morning, inspiring artwork at the office lobby or a joint Christmas tree decoration event among the employees may not be huge financial investments for the employer but can improve remarkably the employee experience.

Picture Colin Tessevich. https://www.shinehomepv.com/how-a-green-office-design-can-transform-your-business.html

Business models are also under enormous change and re-design process. In a relatively short time frame, new services and new ways of providing them have emerged. At the moment, world`s largest accommodation service is AirBnB which does not own one single hotel or apartment, world`s largest taxi service is Uber which does not own one single car, and world largest online shop is Alibaba which does not own any of the items it sells. Also, the covid pandemic forced organizations to impose remote work in a large scale which has enormously changed the ways people work and organizations operate.  

Platform economy has created totally new business models and all organizations are under pressure to revise the current models and adapt to the new expectations of the customers. The re-designing of business model forces the organization to conduct an in-depth inventory: who are our customers, what is our focus, how do we best serve our customers, and how do we differentiate from our competitors?

Design`s main objective is to bring clarity into unclarity and obscurity, and to make products and services as desirable as possible so that they fulfill the multiple needs and motivations of the customer. In design, people are put in the center. The starting point is to explore the real problems and then design a solution to them, versus having a solution and trying to sell that to customers. Without conscious design, services are often burdensome to implement and don`t solve the real problems people have. Hence, design saves money, reduces risks and improves the customer experience.

The best take-away from the panel discussion was the note that a designer should always find out the challenges and problems first, and not start with designing a solution. Design is not about innovating and creating, but rather about diving deep into the life of the customers and asking questions.

Where does the design process end, and when can a service designer consider the service as being ready? According to the panelists, service design is a constant learning process and effectively a service is never completely ready. A permanent learning mind-set is an important capability that a designer should acquire.  

Designing the future

According to Minna Koskelo the evolution of design starts with the product design, develops through service design and business model design up to the future design. Organizations that are resilient and have invested in designing their future are 33 % more profitable and grow 200 % faster than their competitors. Still, many organizations don`t actively and systematically forecast the future and prepare for it because they focus on short-term wins and profit. Investing in long-term future forecasts does not fit well in the quarter economy.

Future forecasting is not only about recognizing the signals, but also how to interpret them from the organization`s point of view. Most importantly, organizations and private persons should understand their role as active architects of the future, and stop being passive victims or spectators. Future is something we all create every moment.

Future cannot be discussed without mentioning circular economy and sustainability. Three companies presented their businesses that strongly lean on sustainability: Tori.fi (Schipsted), Finnova and Fiskars. Tori.fi platform facilitates the selling and buying of second-hand items. Every single day a stunning number of 20,000 deals are being agreed in Tori.fi, meaning that all those items find a new life and virgin resources are not exploited to fabricate new products. Someone`s trash can be a treasure for someone else.

Finnova produces environmentally friendly textile fabrics from wood and waste using zero harmful chemicals. Finnova already has created partnerships with renowned brands. Fiskars aims at gaining 50% of the revenue from circular economy products and services by 2030. Renting and sharing are gaining ground also in the sector of small products and kitchen utensils. Tableware can be rented instead of buying, and old frying pans can be renovated instead of throwing them away.

Crisis and frustration contribute to change

Human beings inherently feel fear towards new things. In abnormal circumstances, such as the current pandemic, the need for social cohesion and forgiveness increases. The constantly changing world does not allow any organization to stay static.

On the other hand, not all innovations become shooting stars and not all can be scaled up. This is something that needs to be accepted as being part of the game. If an innovation does not work, it is better to let it go and start looking for new solutions. We can learn from our successes and failures but also from others`. As Minna Koskelo put it: frustration is an important resource. The annoyance contains the seeds for change. If everything goes too smoothly and nicely, it is difficult to find motivation to develop things.

Already now practically all sectors have adopted business models that are based on streaming and platforms. What will be the next step? How could we solve the challenges these new ways of delivering services have created? For example, a family may have five different subscriptions of program streaming, a Wolt driver has no right to benefits and sick leave, and not all Tori.fi sellers are trustworthy and can steal your money. While these services are here to stay, we must find solutions to the current problems and design them better.

Organizations should take a longer and wider perspective when forecasting and planning the future. It is worth looking across different sectors and analyzing drivers that are not directly linked to one`s own business: political, social, technological, legislative etc.

We cannot control the entire future, but we can control how it is being designed. It is important to pay attention to who is using the power when we talk about future. Who`s vision of future is it?

– Laura Ekholm

What good is Design Thinking?

Everyone is talking about Design Thinking. Consultants at least, when they are selling something. But does Design Thinking bring any practical benefits? Idris Mootee makes a strong argument that Design Thinking can help organizations in many ways. We will briefly introduce two concepts Mootee talks about, creative culture and importance of predictability that we think are important for organizations to know about.

Creative Culture

Creative culture is about accepting and endorsing two key elements of innovation: uncertainty and ambiguity. And innovation is what organizations should strive for. There are many ways to innovate but one of them is experimentation, where organizations try something, inevitably fail and in the process learn. Through learning organizations are more likely to succeed on the next try. This iterative cycle is an important part of a creative culture and helps to reduce uncertainty and ambiguity. One way to do experimentation in practice is by employing rapid prototyping, as suggested by Mootee.

Innovative cultures are creative cultures.

Idris Mootee

Rapid prototyping is the practice of building some tangible representation of a service concept and its most relevant functions. This representation is called a prototype. For a business person the idea can sound peculiar, but prototyping really helps to bring ideas live in a more concrete manner. Using a prototype to test the service concept with real people will help organization collect feedback and learn what works and what doesn’t. A lot cheaper than actually building a real service. And quite rapid too.

If a picture is worth 1000 words, a prototype is worth 1000 meetings

Tom & David Kelley, IDEO

Service prototypes don’t have to be complex or expensive but they do need to be tangible enough for people to give useful feedback. Since the idea of a prototype is to communicate an idea, prototypes can vary from simple paper sketches to complex physical set-ups that mimic real life service accurately. Whatever works to get useful feedback.

Predictability

Decision makers spend a lot of time thinking about what the future holds and how to make right decisions. That is because making strategic decisions about the future is hard – we simply never have all the necessary information to weigh all options equally. What would help us make better decisions is if we could identify and understand what trends, smaller and bigger, are happening around us. For identifying trends, Mootee suggests to look for weak signals and creating scenarios to help weigh options.

Weak signals are clues about what is going to happen and what trends are relevant. Identifying and processing weak signals is not exact science, though. It takes time and experience to identify which event or information is significant and reliable enough to be considered a weak signal. Even more experience is needed to process and combine weak signals into something useful. Organizations should be looking for weak signals in academic research, media, trends in politics, what innovations start-ups are coming up with and what their competitors are doing, among other things. Processing weak signals and using the insights gained to identify trends and create scenarios is what helps understand what future might hold.

Scenarios are possible futures, in a nutshell. Organizations try to predict what the world looks like in, say, five years from now. Like weak signals, scenario building is not exact science – we are essentially making assumptions based on our assumptions about which trends are relevant. That is why it is important to be honest and validate underlying assumptions as much as possible. In the end, though, scenarios are simply tools that help organizations focus their efforts and give more information to base decisions on. Assumptions based on solid background work are still better than pure speculation.

Written by Kati Lehto & Kimmo Holm, SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

References:

Brown, Tim (2008). Design Thinking: How to deliver on a Great Plan. Harvard Business Review June 2008, 84-95.

Mootee, Idris (2013). Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley.

Tschimmel, Katja (2021). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.

Sitra. Megatrends 2020 – https://www.sitra.fi/en/topics/megatrends

Prototyping User Experience :: UXmatters

Breaking the ice on Design and Design Thinking 

Don’t worry if you are not familiar with the concept of design thinking, here you will get your first dose of design thinking vocabulary!

Figure 1: Perception of Design Thinking 

Before starting our Masters degree program in Service Innovation and Design, the concept of design thinking was vague and unclear also to us. Once the first Design Thinking Master class held by Katja Tschimmel begun, we quickly noticed that there is no universal definition of design and design thinking available in literature, and even professionals and researchers working in the field of design thinking have not been able to agree on single definition (Buchanan, R. 1996; Motee, I, 2013; Tschimmel, K., 2022). It also started to make sense why that is: With a single definition of design thinking, it is impossible to cover the diversity of ideas gathered under the label. Instead, it makes more sense to look for where and how the concept is used in different situations, both theoretical and practical, and what meaning is given to the concept (Johansson-Sköldberg, U., Woodilla, J., & Çetinkaya, M., 2013).

Figure 2: Design Thinking terminologies. 

Since we learned that there are as many definitions as there are people involved in the field, and it is pretty easy to get confused with the terminology such as creativity, creative thinking or design, designerly thinking and design thinking. Our aim is to break the ice by getting familiar with these basic terminologies often used around the topic of Design Thinking. 

Creativity is defined as a cognitive capacity to develop something new (Tschimmel, K. 2021). A person is recognized as creative when a large number of specialists endorse that his work has brought an important contribution to the field. Here, it is interesting to understand the difference between creativity and creative thinking, as the cognitive ability to deliberately and intentionally produce new ideas and targeted results is defined as creative thinking (Tschimmel, K. 2021).

Design is often associated with creativity, and even some researchers consider creativity as an essence and the heart of design. For a lay man, the whole idea of designing is either to create something new, or make existing objects, conditions, and services better and preferred ones. Designerly thinking links theory and practice from a design perspective, whereas, in design thinking the design practice and competence are used beyond the design context, and most importantly the people involved in the process does not necessarily have scholarly background in design (Johansson-Sköldberg, U., Woodilla, J., & Çetinkaya, M., 2013). In simple words, It can be said that design thinking is a simplified version of designerly thinking.

This is only a tip of the iceberg when it comes to the topic of Design Thinking, however, it’s a good place to start our learning  journey, and you should join us!

Written by Usman Sheikh and Hanna Valkonen, SID MBA Students

References:

Buchanan, R. (1996). Wicked Problems in Design Thinking. In: Margolin, V. & Buchanan, R. The Idea of Design. A Design Issues Reader. Cambridge: The MIT Press. 

Johansson-Sköldberg, U., Woodilla, J., & Çetinkaya, M. (2013). Design thinking: Past, present, and possible futures. Creativity and Innovation Management, 22(2), 121-146. https://doi.org/10.1111/caim.12023 

Motee, I (2013). Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. 

Tschimmel, K. (2021). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation.” DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6 

Tschimmel, K. (2022). Design vs Design Thinking. In Creativity and Innovation Affairs. (in process). Available only for SID students at Laurea University. 

Homo partum – unleashing the creativity within everyone

Etienne Girardet – Unsplash

At the age of five I remember following my parents to the local library of the small village where I grew up. At the entrance of the library, an impressive landscape prototype of an upcoming development project where on display, containing miniature buildings, cars, trees and even dogs. 

The local municipality council had gathered local residents, including my parents, to get their feedback, thoughts and ideas on an upcoming development project. As for me, I was fully occupied in trying to figure out how to create miniature asphalt as realistic as in the landscape prototype, unaware of that I was attending my first participatory design event.

Harnessing creativity

According to David and Tom Kelly (“Creative Confidence” 2013), there is no division between creative and non-creative people. To make something innovative, you need to choose to be creative, and in doing so, not being afraid to make mistakes. It is through experimentation and learning that we nurture our creative capacities. Through our literature studies and insights from Katja Tschimmels lectures, we make the conclusion “Homo partum” — Latin for “creative human”, is a very important driver of any innovation process. 

The ability to harness this creativity that resides within everyone is a powerful tool to drive innovation. Research done by company Braineet shows, that 58% of worldwide businesses are piloting co-creation/participatory design projects to help drive internal innovation. Companies like Unilever, IKEA, DeWalt are using co-creation as a strategy to get both employees and customers to join forces in order to build better products, services and experiences. 

Creativity by Participatory design – in urban development 

It´s not just global food or furniture making companies that has seen the advantages of harnessing the creativity of the workforce and end customers. Professor Henry Sanoff of University North Carolina have studied participatory design for over 50 years and in his publication “Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning”, Sanoff illustrates how the creativity of local communities can be unleashed by using participatory design.

When including residents of a community in the design phase of a new development project, the balance between viability (should we build it), feasibility (can we build it) and desirability (do the residents/customers want it), can be better aligned at an early stage, helping the project to be more anchored within the community and ensuring that the outcome of the project will be more inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. By using participatory design, the risk of having to redesign and/or redevelop urban spaces is significantly reduced.

Participatory design in urban development uses some elements recognized from the different design thinking approaches. Sanhoff gives examples of the most common stages:

  1. Collection and analysis of primary information where the urban development specialists inspect the area/facility and identifies of the development potential and the needs of the local residents, business owners and other stakeholders, using field observations and interviews as method.

  2. Informing the residents about the upcoming plans to create awareness and promote involvement in the development process. Usually done through newsletter send-outs, bulletin boards or townhall meetings.

  3. Invite residents to participatory design sessions in workshop format where the residents share ideas, create prototypes and proposals, which conveys their needs, wants, and desires. The proposals are presented and reviewed, and the best ideas are selected using voting mechanisms

  4. Celebration as an important part to recognize the community strength and the common achievement. Giving a sense of unity and appropriation for the upcoming project.

Shannon Chris, Dotte Agency

Why use participatory design?

In urban development projects, it is important to give meaning to public spaces, and who, if not people who live in, work in, or utilize these areas such as parks, squares, courtyards, city gardens, sports fields, and playgrounds, will be the ones that can provide the best input on what their needs are? Involving the “end user” in the design process ensures not only more refined ideas and the unleashing of the creativity within, but also a higher chance of a successful project.

Reflection

My lasting memory from that out-of-the-ordinary visit to the library in my youth was that my parents from that day on mentioned the development project every time we drove by the area in our village and how excited they were that they had the chance to convey their thoughts and input. 

Thinking of it now many years later after reflecting on the impressions from the first sessions at SID, I have come to understand the great value of involving the end user in all projects where innovation is needed. 

/ Eleonora Prits & Johan Svensson

————–

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

Sanoff, Henry (2000) Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning. John Whiley and Sons, Inc.

Solis, Brian (2021) This Is Marketing’s Ctrl-Alt-Del Moment: Leading CMOs Prioritize CX And Innovation In Business Transformation, Forbes

Mootee, Idris (2013) Design thinking for strategic innovation, Wiley

https://www.braineet.com/blog/co-creation-examples

Project group 8, DOM.RF, Foundation for the Development of Single-Industry Towns (2018) Involvement of citizens in improvement projects. KB Strelka LLC

Snegireva, Nadezhda (2018) Organization of public discussions of territorial development projects. Project group 8, Program for the development of public spaces of the Republic of Tatarstan

The human-centered concepts of creativity and design thinking

These two concepts have been used when creating the products and services that we use, which have resulted in simplicity and ease of use. But, what are these concepts? And how are they human-centered? Let’s find out.

What is creativity and how is creativity human-centered: Divine comedy or everyman’s labor

How wonderful it is to feel being creative. Having that short-lived touch of magic when a new idea or solution presents itself. A deux a machina – moment as if some divine spark accidentally lands in one’s way and lights up the road. For long we were convinced that this is how creativity is manifested. We also thought that it belonged exclusively to some extraordinary persons and rest of us were to be content with occasional leftovers. That was before we started to study innovation and design thinking. 

Our inspiring SID lecturer Katja Tschimmel argues unequivocally how “creativity is not a trait of supernaturally gifted persons with innate ability to think and act creatively”. Instead she points out that creativity is multidimensional and non-situational BUT it requires a social and economic environment to nurture it. And the more interactions and mental connections our cognitive system is facing the more potential we have to accelerate our creative thinking and thus creativity. To put it another way – innovation is more social than personal.

What is design and how is design human-centered: User, User, User.

Figure 1: Design Thinking Definition (Brownn)

Design Thinking is based on 5 principles: 1. Human-centred approach, 2. Collaboration, 3. Experimentation, 4. Visualisation, and 5. Holistic approach. To get a better grasp of Design thinking, we can look at it as a process (see figure 2).

Figure 2: What is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular? (Dam & Siang, 2020)

Design thinking is used as an innovation method where people work together from different departments without necessarily having a designer in the team. This is the beauty of Design Thinking as it is not limited to gifted people. Design Thinking is also used as a tool for simplifying and humanizing services and products, making even complex technologies simple to use.

How does design and creativity co-exist

According to George Kembels the co-founder and executive director of Stanford d.school, creativity is the adventurous spirit to try something new, to be open to the unexpected. Design is the act of creation, bringing something new to the world. Design thinking is the approach and mindset that explains how to make creative design happen.

Figure 3: D.confestival in Potsdam (Kembels, 2012)

Experiences from masterclass and Conclusion

Based on our experiences at DTmasterclass it is easy to agree that creativity, design and design thinking are inclusive abilities that don’t belong to any particular or exclusive group of geniuses but rather are innate human capabilities that can be trained and developed. 

In the masterclass we were also pushed to our limits in being creative and trying to come up with ideas and solutions to enhance being included at a workplace. Here we were really thinking of the end-user of our solution, and every idea revolved on making the end-user’s experience to be better. The human-centered approach was shining here.

Written by Toni Ekroos & Wasim Al-Nasser

References

Brown, Tim 2019. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Dam, R. & Siang, T. (2020). What is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular? https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-design-thinking-and-why-is-it-so-popular

Kelley, D. & T. (2013). Creative Confidence. New York: Crown Business.

Kembels, George (2012). Discussion between Oliviero Toscani and George Kembels at the d.confestival in Potsdam 2012 https://www.tele-task.de/de/archive/lecture/overview/6606/ 

Kolko, J. (2015) Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture. Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.Tschimmel, K. (2021). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”.

Diving into Design Thinking – First Taste

Our service innovation and design studies started with an interesting Design Thinking course held remotely by Katja Tschimmel. During the two instruction days we learned the basics of Design Thinking, went through a Design Thinking process in small groups using Miro and did also some creative thinking as well as thinking outside the box exercises. We liked the execution of the course very much. It was two very intensive but fun days. Below you can read part of our learnings from the course

What is Design Thinking

During the last decade Design Thinking has become a popular approach for innovation. Design and Design Thinking are closely connected as Design Thinking is based on design methodology, the designer’s culture and way of thinking (Tschimmel, K. 2022a, 47). However, design never achieved the same position in the corporate world as Design Thinking has now achieved.

Design Thinking is a cross-disciplinary method which combines innovation with a human-centered approach. It investigates thoroughly the needs and wants of people and turns then into customer benefits and business value. (Brown, T. 2008, 86) Design Thinking is being used in fields such as service, business, organizational, social and educational innovation (Tschimmel, K. 2022b, 13).

Design Thinking Principles

Design Thinking is based on the following principles:

  • Collaboration means that as many stakeholders as possible should be included in the process.
  • Human-centered approach underlines the importance of user’s perspective.
  • Experimentation means that mistakes and failure belong to creative processes.
  • Divergence highlights the importance of thinking in different perspectives and looking for future possibilities.
  • Visualization helps to simplify complicated things.
  • Holistic perspective takes into account the system of interactions around products, services etc.
  • Prototyping makes ideas tangible through early simulation and testing.

Another way to describe the principles of Design Thinking is by dividing them into three main categories with sixteen subcategories (picture 1). The main categories are thinking, actions and mindset. (Tschimmel 2021)

Picture 1: Principles of Design Thinking by Mindshake

Process of Design Thinking  

The way we see this, is that the process of design thinking is out there with an ultimate purpose – to make the world a better place. Designers, innovators and anyone in between strive towards solving challenges of various multitudes by using innovative and creative approaches while getting inspired, ideating and, finally, implementing ideas into real-life environments. The most successful way of utilizing a Design Thinking approach is often a collective process, involving mind work of a number of individuals, who have a common goal to reach, an issue to solve or a process or service to improve. 

Picture 2 and 3 on Team-based Approach to Innovation & Dramatic New Forms of Value: Brown (2008)

Design Thinking’s Areas of Application  

Design Thinking, or human-centered problem solving is traditionally used in business and strategy, as Mootee is describing in his book, however, the application areas of Design Thinking are increasing diverse, versatile and can often be seen utilized in unexpected scenarios within industries that slowly only begin to realize the potential that Design Thinking methods can bring to the table. 

Moreover, Design Thinking in a modern society is seen as far more than simply a product design tool; it is used for creating something that is not only technologically possible, but also financially viable, as well as valuable for a target consumer, with the customer being at a centerpiece of the process. 

Written by Katja Kotilainen & Yulia Lobanova

References:

Brown, T (2008). Design Thinking: How to deliver on a Great Plan. Harvard Business Review June 2008, 84-95.

Kolko, J. (2015). Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture.  Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.

Mootee, I. (2013).Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation : What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Tschimmel, K. (2021). Design Thinking Master Class 3.-4.9.2021 material. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Tschimmel, K. (2022a). Design vs Design Thinking. In creativity and Innovation Affairs. (in process) Available only for SID students at Laurea University.

Tschimmel, K. (2022b). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centered ménage à trois for Innovation. In perspectives on Design II: Research, Education and Practice II. “Serie in Design and Innovation”. Springer International Publishing. (in print)

Design thinking tools to make meaning from the mess

More and more non-designers know at least some design thinking tools when different organizations commonly use them. Design thinking helps make sense of complex problems, and what is most important, it helps people create new ideas that fit better consumer needs and desires. (Kolko, 2015)

Design thinking is not an exceptional talent or a skill that only designers have, but design thinking practitioners see it as a mindset.

We can use the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and a viable business strategy.  While every designer is a design thinker (Tschimmel, 2022), design thinking tools can make anyone a designer.

Our studies at SID began with a two-day intensive course on Design Thinking. We got the task to investigate and push forward the issue of workplace inclusivity. For this purpose, we utilized the Evolution 6 model (E.6² for short) by Tschimmel and employed various Design Thinking tools along the way to the final presentation of a single refined prototype.

The E.6² model consists of six phases, each with three divergent and three convergent phases called moments. While working on this course, we were encouraged to retrace our steps, review our progress with a critical eye, and make adjustments accordingly.

Our experiences fit in with the notion that the design process encompasses different tools and methods that drive innovation. As Brown (2008) puts it, we executed multiple related activities to foster and engage in Design Thinking to come to innovative solutions. Well-prepared templates and a broad license to utilize, e.g., image material found online, helped our endeavors. 

Design thinking is cross-disciplinary teamwork that brings the user to the center of the problem statement.

Kolko, 2015

During the process, we leveraged the strengths of multi-disciplinary teams. We sought common ground amongst ourselves to further our understanding of the problem and offer solutions in rapid prototypes.

Kolko (2015) defines design artifacts as physical models used to explore, express, and communicate. In the digital context of our lecture weekend, we used online media in picture form to develop our ideas and convey them visually to our group members and classmates, especially during the prototyping and final presentation phases.

Prototypes should command only as much time, effort, and investment as are needed to generate useful feedback and evolve an idea.

Brown, 2008

In the space of this one weekend, we were able to design novel solutions to tackle a complex issue and present those solutions in a coherent and visually striking manner while working with the constraint of not interacting with each other face-to-face.

It is good to remember that while design thinking helps solve complex problems and innovate future solutions, it does not fit all situations or solve all problems. It requires strict expectation management with realistic timelines that fit each organization and its culture.  

While design thinking methods can help to create innovative products, they can still fail to sell. Brown (2008) talks about a project between US-based innovation and design firm IDEO and Japanese cycling manufacturer Shimano. They used design thinking tools to create a new innovative concept of Coasting bikes, which offered a carefree biking experience for the masses.  Several other biking manufacturers incorporated Shimano’s innovative components after their Coasting bikes launch in 2007, and the project won some design awards. But for some reason, the bikes were not selling, and a few years later, they disappeared from the market. (Yannigroth, 2009) Maybe they did not test the idea properly with target users after all?

Written by: Viljami Osada & Saija Lehto SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

References:

  • Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95.
  • Kolko, David J. (2015) Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture. Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.
  • Tschimmel, K. (2021). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation.” DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.
  • Roth, Yannig (2010). What caused Shimano’s Coasting-program to fail? Blog post. https://yannigroth.com/2010/05/12/what-caused-shimanos-coasting-program-fail/ 

Photos: Pexels.com