Tag Archive | emotions

Fail like a designer

Our image of the world is built on assumptions and schemas. Without them, our everyday life would feel chaotic and quite burdensome. However, in an innovation process, our assumptions mainly work against us. They keep us from thinking outside the box. You could even say that assumption is the mother of all screw-ups 

Without intentionally reflecting on our thinking patterns, they will act like the shining exit signs that show us the closest way out from whatever maze or task it is we are working on. Our brains are saying, “look, the exit is just here, take it. It is safe, and you’ll be out in no time!” The rest of the maze remains unexplored, but at least we survive.  

Get out of the box 

The first insight or idea is likely to be obvious one, not innovative nor original, as we learned in Katja Tschimmel’s master class course. To be able to truly innovate, it is necessary to step out to the un-known and out of the comfort zone with curious mind.  By Design Thinking processes, we become more aware of our assumptions and intentionally move them aside, becoming brave and curious explorers and resolvers of the latent needs of people, needs that even the people themselves struggle putting into words. 

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Design Thinking is like being balancing on a tightrope where on the other side is the chance of failure and on other side the chance for innovation. Our own assumptions and uncertainty of success will push us towards failure, while curiosity, trust and empathy will give us a good nudge towards innovation. 

Big emotions at stake 
 
Fear towards failure in the efforts to innovate is human. Failing just is uncomfortable. Emotions overall are an inseparable part of our humanity, and they strongly affect our actions. The possibility of feeling shame makes it less tempting to be vulnerable and represent our rough and preliminary ideas to the audience without carefully fine-tuning and polishing them first.  

As designers, it is a necessity to consciously train our ability to handle failure. Accepting failing as an essential, positive part of innovation process is something us as becoming designers will have to learn to do. Besides professional growth, becoming a service designer is therefore also a matter of personal growth.  

No fail, no gain 

In Design Thinking, there is no other way to innovation besides the try and error cycle. In fact, in Design Thinking failure is not seen as failure, but as an essential part of the process towards something innovative.  
 
Tom and David Kelley state in their book Creative Confidence (2013:41): “In fact, early failure can be crucial to success in innovation. Because the faster you find weaknesses during an innovation cycle, the faster you can improve what needs fixing.”  

The more failures we get, the more possible improvements become tangible, if we just are able to analyze them carefully. Every (mis)step is a step forward, even if it sometimes might feel like a step backward. 

It’s all about the people 

Design Thinking is human-centric by nature. The true needs, perspectives and feelings of other individuals and groups become concrete and tangible only when we address empathy. This requires us to take the leap out of our comfort zone and interact with people.  
 
According to Kelley brothers, Michael Schrage wrote in his famous book Serious play: “Innovation is always more social than personal”.  

Could we even argue that innovation is always something that will somehow serve others?  


Written by Taika Rantanen and Nora Rahnasto. 
 

References and links 

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

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

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. (https://hbr.org/2015/09/design-thinking-comes-of-age

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

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

The forgotten fuel for business – Emotions

Photo from https://www.pixabay.com

Kuudes Aisti hosted an event in the end of February 2020 where Camilla Tuominen talked about do we destroy businesses by forgetting our emotions. She spoke how to lead and understand feelings and the importance of consequences of these intangible factors and invisible behavior at the workplace.

Today organizations are focused on data knowledge and pure facts. We take it as default that feelings and difficult thoughts don’t belong to work. But this is against biology. The reality is that instead of logic, most of our decisions are based on emotions and appealing to our feelings but not knowledge. Emotions affect every cell in the human.  We are messaging to ourselves and to others though our emotions. At work our emotions impact upon people’s relationships, teamwork, customer satisfaction and employee retention. And of course, all this influences how we make decisions, how we plan,  how we negotiate and show that there is a place for creative thinking  within the organization. We all have emotions, even the C-level management. Emotions drive people and people drive performance and business. 

Imagine if

  • people at work could communicate and connect effectively and feel confident in uncertain situations, 
  • people would be more present and make conscious choices rather than automatic reactive ones,
  • people received critical feedback from others in a non-defensive manner,
  • people had more empathy towards others,
  • in challenging and stressful situations people were able to manage pressure and think rationally but at the same time be able to listen to what their own and colleagues’ feelings are saying  to them. 

Above could be a description of a workplace where people understand the power of emotional intelligence. Goleman (2018) highlights that our emotional and rational parts of our brain work in tandem and they need each other. What if we could consciously combine and manage the rational and emotional parts of our brain? What if it would be everyone’s duty at work to learn to use emotional intelligence?

How emotions and feelings influence us?

Emotions and feelings are crucial in impacting what we think, how we make decisions and how we behave. Our behavior is driven by how we think. Underneath our thinking, there is how we feel. Feelings are mental and they are sparked by physical emotions. Feelings are a subjective expression of emotions.  Emotions are physical, they contain data about ourselves, other people and the world around us. Emotions are the energetic stage on our body.  

We learn already from childhood that there are “bad, negative emotions” – sadness, anger, grief, and fear. We tend to push these emotions aside and say “stay positive” or “stop being so angry”.  We think that we are in control of our emotions when we ignore them but in fact, they control us and we lose the capability to see the world as it is.  When people are encouraged to understand their emotional truth at work there will be more creativity, engagement, and innovation at work. (David 2017.)

Tuominen explained in her presentation in February 2020, that for example, negativity in a meeting might create fear and loss of confidence, being cynical or unfair might create anger and frustration. Consequences of these might be that we decide that it is easier to keep our mouths shut in the  next meeting,  put our shields up and keep inside  one’s true self.

This might lead to worse performance, loss of work time and an atmosphere where ideas aren’t flourishing. Consequently, we might think that it is good to numb our painful emotions and continue working as normal. But according to Brene Brown (2010) “we cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

How to avoid pitfalls?

Many times we think we have made a rational decision, but the chances are our emotions made the decision first.  Reasons are then established to justify our instinctive gut feeling. We validate our decision by saying we had an intuition. Sometimes our “intuition”, that is based on emotions, might be true but the problem is that our emotions aren’t always reliable, and we might interpret them totally wrong. We also have a tendency to collect and repeat stories of defeats. We might get hooked by our feelings and thoughts and treat them like facts. Examples of these could be “It was the same in my last job, it’s not going to work out”,  “I don’t like working with strong personalities”, “I’m bad at multitasking”, “I don’t like to work with slow people”. We get stuck in these old stories and we start seeing only one perspective.

In the end, these stories start impacting on our daily decisions at work. We need to learn to understand why we think and feel this way and learn to detach ourselves to deal with real situations. (David 2017, 2018.)

How to get started in leading emotions?

We should never ignore our emotions. We should remember that emotions are here to tell us something and we need to learn to recognize what they mean. By learning to name and admit our emotions helps us to get a start with leading the emotions, this helps us to calm down and see things more clearly. Instead of saying “I’m angry”, we should say “I notice I’m feeling angry”. “I’m angry” sounds like you are the emotion but instead of this, we need to understand that emotions are a data source and we need to listen to them. By understanding our emotions we learn to recognize their causes and understand better why you and others feel and react the way they do. 

Managing emotions is about drawing data about yourself and trying to respond effectively rather than reactively. It’s about integrating emotions strategically to enhance thinking, reasoning, problem solving and creativity. Emotions don’t own us but we own them. We need to remember that emotions are also contagious. We have no right to put negative emotions forward. We should understand what kind of bad influence it can have on others. When we learn how to handle negative emotions, we open a door for positive emotions. (Tuominen 2020, David 2017, 2018.)  

So do we still afford to ignore our emotions and feelings in the workplace? Emotions have an impact whether the business makes it or breaks it.

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References:

Brown, B. The power of vulnerability. 2010. Accessed 27 January, 2020. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability?fbclid=IwAR1O28UsQaEqVutHwOpySu1nTbJ7UaN-U8Ny8AVGDrYexCXOFXPK2__If3g

David, S. The gift and power of emotional courage. 2017. Accessed 13 March, 2020.  https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_david_the_gift_and_power_of_emotional_courage?language=en

David, S. Emotional Agility. 2018. Accessed 15 March, 2020. http://bestbookbits.com/emotional-agility-susan-david-book-summary-bestbookbits-com/

Goleman D, 2018, Emotional Intelligence

Tuominen, C. 2010. Emotions management. [lecture]. Held on 29 November. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Watkins, A. Being Brilliant Every Single Day. 2012. Accessed 1 March, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q06YIWCR2Js