Tag Archive | design thinking

Public servant as a designer

I have been working for the government since 2005. We have now come to a point where we are moving from working groups, spreadsheets, data from the past to understanding the complex interconnected eco-systems. In this blog, I try to make some insights how design thinking could be applied to our governance.

Burden from the past

Finland’s public administration is built to a world which is linear, clear and predictable. We have ministries and their controlled bureaus and everybody knows what is their individual mission and responsibility. It is told that it was necessary to build Finland’s public administration this way so that Russians could not come here to bring their own governance. We are quite far from the everyday life and challenges of the citizen. The traditional way of working does not resonate the real, post-industrial world.

From numeric, logical models to emotional insights and experimental models

Design thinking (DT) gives you freedom to break down the models that are constructed in our minds and in our programme development plans for five-years. It is a toolkit for any innovation process and it combines design approach and more traditional rational problem solving. In the chart below you can see the differences in main characteristics between DT and traditional working way.

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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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Wake up officer!

A scene from a random municipal office somewhere in southern Finland. One lonely planning officer sits behind her table. She has a computer and a cup of cold coffee in front of her. Her task is to plan a new customer service process for this small municipality. There are many problems in existing process: customers don’t find the right service, the service desk is not open when people need help, customers don’t get answers to their questions in decent time – just to mention a few.

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But how to come up with solutions that serve different kinds of customers in best possible way? If there would be a good solution for this problem, wouldn’t it already be invented?

After taking Laurea Design Thinking course (by Katja Tschimmel and Sanna Marttila 2017) I would give this lonely planning officer – who might or might not be my alter ego – a few advices.

Think holistic

First advice: take holistic approach. The service you are designing does not exist in a vacuum but is surrounded by complex variety of other existing and developing services, processes and artifacts. From the point of view of a customer these services and processes cross and blend and boundaries between them are fuzzy. Continue reading

Starting a deep dive to Design Thinking

This fall, my SID studies in at Laurea started with a crash course on Design Thinking.  The two fully packed days served as a first introduction to the theme – and not the least, getting to know the multidisciplinary team of international SID students.

Design Thinking has been recently understood as way of thinking, leading to change and innovation. More than a motor for innovation, or a mindset, Design Thinking is offering models of processes and toolkits that can be used in every creative process by multidisciplinary teams, connecting creative design approach to traditional business thinking. Today, it is much explored in the fields of innovation management and marketing, helping to bring some of the abilities of designers to solve and to visualize problems in a creative way. It is also widely used in the public sector, by cities and governments as well as by social entrepreneurs.

img_7441.jpgKatja Tschimmel acted as our guide to lead us further to discover creative thinking, fluidity in ideation and exploring the design thinking process and use of E6 Toolkit by her design company Mindshake.  There is no one and only best process or tools, she states, it is up to the companies and innovation managers to choose the best models that suit the individual needs of their projects and organisations and 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 when everybody designs

When, a couple of years ago, I announced I was going to quit my job to attend the HPI School of Design Thinking, most of my family and friends thought I was about to neglect the business path I had been following to find my true self in sketching trees on a notebook. (Which, by the way, is a back thought I never really excluded).

Later on, when sitting next to a scientist, a film producer, a psychologist and a dancer, all aiming to become design thinkers, I wondered what would bring us all together.

Once clarified that our goal was not to become excellent drawers, what does design mean to us? And if background is not a differentiator, what’s that make us feel in the right place?

Tim Brown (2008) lists a number of characteristics shaping the profile of a design thinker:

  • Empathy, as in the ability to observe situation from multiple perspectives
  • Integrative thinking, as in approaching a problem holistically
  • Optimism, as in having trust in finding a solution that fits, no matter how blurry the process is
  • Experimentalism, as in curiosity and resilience to failure
  • Collaboration, as in a natural tendency to work in teams

groupwork

This last point is further explained, again by Tim Brown in his book “Change by design”, where he summarizes the profile of  design thinker as a “T-shaped” person, meaning someone with a deep expertise that can clearly contribute to the outcome, but also with a certain capacity and disposition for collaboration across disciplines.

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