Tag Archive | design thinking

New values, who dis

I had the pleasure of participating in an online event on 20.5.2020 hosted by Design Forum Finland and Arctic Factory. The topic of the event was design and new values, with the focus on sustainability and the role of companies in creating new value. The topic is especially current now during an ongoing, global pandemic, which has only increased the need for a change.

Slide from the presentation of Design Forum Finland CEO: Petteri Kolinen

The idea of new value is not just about creating financial value to company stakeholders, but a new type of added value to employees, society, and environment as a whole. We’re in a new era where customers demand more from companies.

Design thinking has a big role in creating new value. Design thinking is essentially about understanding the needs of people, being innovative and solving challenges in an agile way. Companies can find business opportunities and create new value through design thinking, for example by utilizing sustainable products and involving ecological thinking.

Megatrends 2020

One important aspect of design thinking is understanding what is happening in the world, what kind of trends are taking place and how they are affecting people. By understanding your surroundings, can you be strategic and proactive.

Photo from Unsplash

Katri Vataja from Sitra talked about the future and the increasing need for having foresight. She discussed in detail the five megatrends of 2020 set by Sitra:

  • ecological sustainability crisis and the urgency of its reconstruction
  • strengthening of relational power
  • ageing and diversifying of population
  • technology being embedded in everything
  • the redefinition of economy

Vataja emphasized the importance of ecological reconstruction and stated that the key factor influencing the future is climate change and other ecological issues, and how we respond to them.

“The decisions we make in the next 10 years will impact the next 100 years.” – Katri Vataja, 2020

Vataja ended the segment with a great question to think: what kind of a future would you like to help build?

The bees of the business world

Sonja Lahtinen from University of Tampere discussed the new values and the changing culture. Her main focus was the importance of sustainability transition: a cohesive, long term change towards sustainable modes in society’s foundation, culture and practices.

Innovative companies are like the bees of the business world: they are the vital pollinators of the society without which sustainability transition would not be possible. Lahtinen stated that companies have the needed capabilities for this important change in resources and innovation.

Lahtinen highlighted the importance of companies’ role in the transition and more importantly why they should strive towards this.

“We’re now entering into an era of the unknown, the unclear, and the unfolding. Being in tune with what is emerging around, we can seize immense, but not instantly obvious, opportunities to better the world.” – Sonja Lahtinen, 2020

Photo from Unsplash

Those who adapt, thrive

The event couldn’t have had a more inspirational end than Kyrö Distillery’s segment.

Mikko Koskinen from Kyrö Distillery’s brand marketing talked about the evolution of the company from the first brainstorming session in sauna, to adapting to corona times by switching from rye whisky to hand sanitizer. Koskinen emphasized the importance of strategy and values in their company and how they are not just a slogan on their website but a tool in their daily work.

All in all, the event raised great points about new values and the role of companies in this change. It was perhaps Kyrö Distillery’s last slide that best described not only the inspirational message of the event but also Finnish “sisu” at its core:

Kyrö Distillery’s presentation slide

For more inspiration on the subject:

Ikea’s chief sustainability officer Steve Howard’s Ted talk

My first touch with design thinking and why it was so difficult to write about it

Design Thinking workshop on September 7th 2019 at Laurea Leppävaara campus
Photo credits: Bento Haridas

The journey of writing this blog post

I have written this blog post so many times and felt so insecure and confused what to write about. The assignment for the Design Thinking course was to read couple of articles and books and reflect on your own learnings.

Over and over again, I have read my notes from our workshop days from September 2019, facilitated and lectured by Katja Tschimmel. I have also read her article “Design Thinking as an effective toolkit for innovation” and a book “Design Thinking for strategic innovation – What they can’t teach you at business or design school”. I have had good discussions with my colleagues, at work (you know who you are) and in the SID program.

I have familiarized myself with the different Design Thinking models and in general why and how design methods can be used creatively in solving any problems, regardless of the context. I have learned that it is a great tool to frame the problem and find the right problem to be solved. The variety of Design Thinking tools can be used by anyone, you don’t have to be a designer or creative person to use those tools.

In organizations, Design Thinking approach and tools work well in gathering people together across the organizational silos. Bringing people together regardless of the background and helping people to discuss and share thoughts in supporting and safe environment was one of the important things I noted down. I also learned that Design Thinking allows people to try different solutions, even if they do not know if this is the right one or right direction. Design Thinking accepts and encourages people to learn through making failures. The well known benefit of that in business world is that making failures quickly actually makes the development timeline shorter and that way cheaper.

Photo source: Design Thinking for strategic innovation – What they can’t teach you at business or design school, page 37.

Getting in touch with feelings is hard

Before the workshop, I knew some theory and benefits of Design Thinking. But only through the personal experience and quite many months of mental processing I have started to understand why it has been so difficult to write about Design Thinking. The playful methods and way of working together co-creatively was just so much fun. I actually felt something.

For many reasons, I have been used to just rely on my rational, logical and analytical thinking at work, working in a big corporate with big corporates in solving their challenges as a management consultant. But this approach touched and opened something in my heart and I could also use my ability to feel to solve the problem we worked with in the workshop.

People have natural need to be in connection with people, to work with people, feel that they are part of something. Especially in large organizations people can feel very lonely. Design Thinking brings people together and makes you feel you are part of something.

When organizations and people face changes, very often people feel fear of the coming change. Fear again makes people to fight or run away, or in a very difficult situation, paralyze. Organizations are in a constant change, and change happens fast. I feel that Design Thinking is powerful tool to address the change, to plan the changes together and go through the journey together. You will still need to make your research to understand the needs of your customers, make a business case for the change, you need to get people onboard to the change, you will need to find technological solutions, you need to figure out the operating model and design efficient processes. Design Thinking is a new perspective to add on. That’s why it makes so much sense in organizations to use design methods.

The power of of Design Thinking is definitely in the psychological side, among the many others such as giving tools for ordinary people in organizations to be creative and innovative and making organizations more human places to work in.

I will end this post by sending lots of hugs and kisses to everyone who reads this post! Let’s be brave and make organizations good places to work in ❤

23.1.2020 by Katriina Granlund

This adorable panda bear is not in any way related to the design thinking workshop. I was having lunch at Roots kitchen in the charming old Turku market hall one day, and they use these animal figures instead of regular numbers to bring the food to the correct table after order. Such a nice idea!

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.

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

What is Design Thinking and how to “design think”?

Modern world possesses bigger challenges and more complex problems with people in the centre. To tackle these and come up with a creative solution, we need to use an explorative approach such as Design Thinking to innovate and solve these problems.

I was familiarized to Design Thinking when I attended a course led by Katja Tschimmel, the founder of Mindshake. Katja introduced us to the Design Thinking process and mindset by leading up through the Innovation and Design Thinking model called Evolution 6² (E.6²). The E.6² model includes steps with questions and tools that help design thinker or innovator to find out what the problem is, who is the solution intended for, what is the best solution, and how to implement it.

According to Katja the principles of Design Thinking are 1) Human-centered approach: Products and services should be experienced from the user’s perspective. 2) Collaboration: As many stakeholders as possible should be included throughout the phases of the process. 3) Experimentation: Playful thinking, making mistakes and learning by doing are an important part of every creative process. 4) Visualization: Quick prototyping helps the learning process and improves the initial ideas by visualization. 5) Holistic perspective: The big picture (environment and context) behind the product or service that is being developed needs to be understood (Tschimmel 2019, p.10).

Continue reading

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

Design Thinking process activated!

I realized some time ago that service design is the key issue to improve and develop processes and customer satisfaction. After I found this definition and concept, it felt that different pieces found their places – I love developing customer experience and always try my best in understanding and identifying customer needs. I was thinking that SID program might help me to develop more.

The first course “Design thinking” was much more than I expected. After the lectures I have a huge passion to figure out more of the design thinking methods and I have now gathered a good set of tools for that.

Idris Mootee (2013, 33.) defines the design thinking as following:


Design thinking can help people from diverse backgrounds to find connections between people, places, objects, events and ideas. According to Mootee (2013, 69.) the empathy helps to approach the innovations with a human-centered perspective. Empathy enables us to communicate and understand:

  • Current and future needs
  • Behaviors
  • Expectations
  • Values
  • Motivations

Design thinking itself is a powerful driver for future opportunities and innovation management. I also really like that in design-thinking processes, ideas are usually evaluated democratically, and persons can freely express their viewpoints in order to practically develop the concepts.

During the lecture we learnt different cases of Service innovation by the lecturer Katja Tschimmel, who was really inspiring and also introduced the group the Mindshake’s Evolution 6^2 tools, which we also implemented during two intensive study days. I can warmly recommend you these tools!

I think this work was useful, as the group has professionals from diverse backgrounds and only it gave me many new ideas! My favorite tool was the insight map, which also supports the human-centered approach and empathy with the end users. For me, that seems to be essential tool to develop new or existing services.

I also liked the opportunity mind-map and storyboard. We also, got to try the Lego and Post-its. My classmates have written in this blog about other interesting tools, so I better not to repeat their words – as I agree with them about the usability of those tools.

Our version of Insight Map, following the guidelines of 6^2 Tools. It was also interesting to see the results by other groups – so different approaches to same opportunities!

According to Tim Brown (2008, 90-92.) the basis is deep understanding of the consumers’ lifestyle and value building. I think this check list will be useful for integrating the design thinking as part of the work flow.

1. Think outside the box; Involve design thinking in the very beginning – it can help exploring new idea!
2. Human-centricity; observe and consider human behavior, needs and preferences – what do your customers need and want? Reflect the results with the innovation models – do not forget the empathy!
3. Trial and error; have the courage to create and test prototypes
4. Co-creation; you can also expand the ecosystem and develop together with other stakeholders and customers to create new added value for all parties
5. Blend different projects; this might be revolutionary – projects can be of different size, disciplinary, units etc.
6. New funding approaches and opportunities; Well, money still runs the project world.
7. Hunt for talents!
8. Give the process some time; enable the design of the whole cycle, which might take a while.

Example on how Design Thinking can help to identify common goals and visions, picture available:

So – let’s start the work and hope to have a learning journey full of inspiration, innovations and meaningful encounters. Right?

Posted by Suvi Ruippo – 1st year SID student


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).


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

The Rules of Innovation and Design Thinking

by Tiina Salminen, SID19 student

After the contact lessons in Practical Design Thinking I started to wonder the rules in innovating. Maybe this was because I was a bit surprised about the fact, how much rules there are in design thinking and innovating. When thinking of innovating, you don’t first think, that it is something that is done with strict rules. You may be thinking of Gyro Gearloose, who is always coming up with new ideas from zero and brings them to life in no time. Or as Tim Brown (2008, 88) says: “We believe that great ideas pop fully formed out of brilliant minds.”

The first signal about these rules was, when our teacher Katja Tschimmel in the Practical Design Thinking contact lesson, asked me why I wanted to use red post-its when others were using blue. Well, I liked that there are more colors on the board. How wrong could I go! Katja pointed out, that it is important, that the colors have meanings, if you use them. Also, there is a difference when to use a black marker and when to go with different colors.

These were minor rules but as we continued, I realized there are also bigger rules when innovating. At the end of our contact lesson, Katja highlighted that innovation comes when you are in a closed room in a closed time and you don’t have too much time before the deadline. Tim Brown (2009, 21) confirms the idea, saying that clarity, direction, and limits are vital to sustaining a high level of creative energy.

Our projects Stakeholders Map (MINDSHAKE model Evoluton 62, 2012 – 2016). This is where I would have liked to go with the red post-its. You can maybe see, there is no space for red ones!

I was a bit scared. I am terrible at following strict rules and processes. I was relieved from this by Katja Tschimmel. As strict as they say that design thinking project should be, Katja pointed out, that it is very important that you use the design models in innovative way. If you stuck on doing things with the way that your model presents, you could go wrong. You need to be innovative when using your design model.

After this, questions aroused in my mind. For example, how do you know when to be bold and innovative and not follow the rules and models? And when to stay in strict command? I got help from Tim Brown (2008, 88-89). He outlines that the design process is best described as a system of spaces rather than a predefined series of orderly steps. And the project passes through three spaces; inspiration, ideation and implementation.

At the end I realized that everything depends on the project. You need to go with the flow of the project. See what the points are, where to amend your model and when to stay at course. I have a feeling that this comes when you are really listening and noticing how people are going forward with the project and what kind of questions are coming along the way that needs to be answered.

Design thinking as a discipline is here, because otherwise we would just be bouncing here and there with our ideas and innovations. And at the end would not get anything done. With rules and models, we can achieve something, that would otherwise be unreachable and unidentified. Also design thinking is here to help everyone be part of the innovation process. It is not just something for the Gyro Gearlooses.

When doing the opportunity mind map, you can be more flexible with the colours. But I still wonder, if we got carried away with them..

Choose your model. Be bold, be flexible and innovative. But use the right colors!


Brown, T. 2009. Change by Design. How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review. June 2008. Brighton: Harvard Business Publishing. 84 – 92.

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking contact lessons. 6.-7.10.2019. Laurea campus. Espoo.

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

There’s a designer living within us all

As an opening to our degree program in Service innovation and design we had Design thinking -course. The blast-like opening of the studies got me really happy, as we got to start doing design tasks from day one. I have been a bit concerned how much creativity it takes to tackle all the design challenges we are going to face during the studies, but this course showed me that we all have a small designer living within us and that we can enhance our design skills by practicing.

According to our professor Tschimmel (2019), it is important to loosen up before starting to create in a new team. After some warm-up exercises, we started to learn in practice what design thinking is all about.

Design thinking in a nutshell

Tschimmel, Santos, Loyens, Jacinto, Monteiro & Valenca (2019) explain that design thinking (DT) could be described as methods and processes to solve problems, to innovate, and to find new solutions as well as viewpoints. This we got to experience already during our first lecture, when we started to solve the first design problem given to us. As I learned from our lecturer Tschimmel (2019), there are several process models and tools in design thinking, which designers can utilize in their attempt to create new solutions to existing and latent problems, and it does not matter that much which ones you use, as long as they are suitable for the design phase you are trying to solve. We got to try out the tools presented in Evolution 6’s model (Tschimmel 2018).

Design thinking enhances peoples’ skills to collaborate and think creatively, and therefore drives innovation in several types of organizations (Tschimmel et al. 2019). As we got to experience first-hand during the lectures, the core of design thinking lies in the ability to discover empathy towards people, which allows DT practioners to step in the shoes of end users, discover their hidden needs and create new solutions and insights to complex problems (Brown 2008; Kelley & Kelley 2015; Tschimmel 2019;Tschimmel et al.2019). Our class got to train our empathy skills during the field-study, where the aim was to find out the latent needs of Laurea students towards their studying facilities.

As Tschimmel (2018) explains, design thinking can be understood as making inventions in processes that involve cross-disciplinary stakeholders. Our class consists of people from different backgrounds, such as engineers, marketing professionals, and journalists. As Kelley & Kelley (2015) explain, the variation in the backgrounds of team members is a great advantage to a team. It was nice to discover how different viewpoints of our team members all brought new ideas and lots of discussion in the team. 

Why do we need design thinking?

As I learned during the lectures (Tschimmel 2019), we need design thinking to solve complex problems of today’s societies. There are several issues that have risen due to overpopulation, hunger, climate change, etc., that all wait to be solved. As Tschimmel et al. (2019) explain, today’s societies, organizations, and communities have become increasingly complex also due to rapid changes in technologies. The change has forced organizations to deal with more complex surroundings and also changed the learners’ profile in education field, as digital tools and internet have changed the learning environment (Tschimmel et al. 2019). It seems that there is a real need within organizations to gain competitive advantage through innovation, which can be reached with the help of service design (Kelley & Kelley 2015).

Design thinking includes skills, such as an ability to initiate things, collaborate with others, think creatively and innovate (Tschimmel et al. 2019). For me, these skills sound like something that would be good for everyone to possess in order to make any community, society, and organization to be able to succeed.

Release your inner designer

In their book, David and Tom Kelley describe how we all have inner creativity that is just waiting to be released. We all had it as a child, but when growing up, the learned habits and skills, as well as the surrounding world, might have diminished it. We may consider ourselves as non-creative- individuals, but the Kelley brothers explain that this is not the case: Creativity is something we all possess as human beings, we only need to rediscover the skill.

Kelley D. & T. (2015) suggest in their book an eight phase -program to boost creative confidence. With real-life examples of successful people (such as Steve Jobs) as well as everyday John Does, they manage to give convincing evidence that anyone can build their creativity by starting with small steps and not being afraid to fail. Instead, it is important to prototype in an early phase and go fast forward to receive results. (Kelley & Kelley 2015). I agree with their viewpoint that if you don’t do anything, you cannot evolve in your life. It was great to try out the fast prototyping in the course to see, how you can make prototypes to visualize the possible end results and to develop them further.

For me, the Design thinking -course was an excellent starting point on the way of discovering and enhancing my own designer skills. The course taught me how to proceed with my learning – step by step, not being afraid to try and fail. If you are interested to learn more about releasing your inner creativity, I would suggest you start from the Kelley & Kelley (2015) book and discover the eight phases to creativity.

Author: Mari Vuoti, Service Innovation and Design Master degree programme


Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harward Business Review, June. Accessed 29 September 2019. https://churchill.imgix.net/files/pdfs/IDEO_HBR_DT_08.pdf

Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. 2015. Creative confidence: Unleashing the creative potential within us all. London: William Collins.

Tschimmel,K. 2018. Evolution 6 toolkit: An e-handbook for practical design thinking for innovation [online lecture notes], in Mindshake (ed.). From Laurea Optima workspace Finnish society. Accessed 25 September 2019. https://optima.discendum.com

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

Tschimmel,K., Santos, J., Loyens, D., Jacinto, A., Monteiro, R. & Valenca, M. 2019. Research report D-think [online lecture notes]. From Laurea Optima workspace Finnish society. Accessed 25 September 2019. https:// optima.discendum.com 

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


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.


Mindshake: Evolution 6² Official Website