Evening after the final contact session of Design Thinking course ended at Laurea, we made a family visit to our friends. Right from the door, they asked about my studies and that pretty much set the course of the evening. Eager to share the experience, I started telling about Laurea environment and learning principles, new colleagues I got to know, and especially about the content of Design Thinking course by Prof. Katja Tschimmel and Gijs Van Wulfen. I was so highly energized talking about design thinking and innovation process, tools and practical exercises that my wife commented that she didn’t remember me being so passionate about particular topic for very long time. That made me to stop for a moment, asking myself what actually happened to make me feel like that.
Ever since, attempts to answer that question have only opened new ones as I entered the exciting journey through Design Thinking. This article is my reflection on couple of “energy sources” found along the way, rooted in fascinating perspective of changing landscape of business, culture and society.
Traditional purpose of business – to make money, focuses companies to maximize short term profits and delivers returns to shareholders. Great companies, however, believe that the business is inherent part of society as they, being so powerful, effectively shape the lives of their employees, partners and consumers. In those companies, people and society are not afterthoughts or inputs to be considered and discarded but the core to their purpose. (How Great Companies Think Differently by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business Review).
Design thinking is the collaborative process by which the designer’s sensibilities and methods are used to match people’s needs, not only with what is technically feasible and viable business strategy, but what generates social value. It is new powerful and effective approach applicable in different domains that enables non-designers, individuals and teams, to produce breakthrough innovations (Change by Design by Tim Brown). As such, design thinking in now becoming a new competitive advantage.
The Way to Do It
FORTH innovation method
Continuous improvement as commonly practiced in organizations is not enough to ensure competitiveness in the future. For that, companies need to establish systematic innovation process.
One approach is FORTH – innovation method by Gijs van Wulfen. FORT consists of 5 stages which organization can complete in 15 weeks ideating several innovative products or services. It starts with out-of-the-box thinking. First by setting the focus, then continuing with observing and learning about customers’ needs and innovation opportunities, and finally coming to the point of raising and testing ideas. It ends with “home coming” or putting it back to the box in a form of new mini business cases to enable decision making for the implementation.
FORTH comes accompanied with comprehensive set of design thinking tools meant to free and speed up thinking process and ensure more effective interaction with stakeholders (Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation by Katja Tschimmel).