In our first contact session with Gijs van Wulfen and Katja Tschimmel, we experienced a lightning version of an innovation process with Design Thinking: 2 days, not even 14 hours of work. And I’ve been wondering… What about real-life innovation? Can you expect to find a great brand new solution in just a couple of days? If not, how much time and effort does the process require? I hope to draft an answer to this question by gathering information from The Innovation Expedition.
Note: don’t get me wrong! I loved the approach. We could live the whole process and understand what we are supposed to do as service designers in a flash. That’s a great guidance for the rest of our studies and beyond. But I really need some perspective…
So, what did we do in class?
We solved an innovation assignment by applying a short version of the Forth innovation method structure, developed by Gijs. And completed each step with design tools —very visual and intuitive—, provided and clearly explained by Katja.
Forth method and design tools used in class
And the long version…
The structure of the method remains, but a little more time is used… About 20 weeks per project! Let’s see how much bigger this looks.
Comparison between our two-days workshop and the Forth consultancy 20 weeks projects
What do they do with so much time? (And what did we do with so little?)
Full steam ahead – 5 weeks
Exploring the assignment. Source: Visual Report. Master class. Practical Design Thinking. Laurea University 13-14 September
At the beginning of a real innovation assignment, many sensitive issues have to be decided:
- Establish the innovation assignment and evaluation criteria.
- Form the innovation team.
- Plan the approach.
- Set the total costs.
Once all of those are decided, you can:
- Introduce the team members to each other.
- Make the team familiar with the innovation assignment.
Those are basically the two parts we did. Only the real workshops are longer than ours.
Observe and learn – 6 weeks
Primary and secondary research combined. Source: Visual Report. Master class. Practical Design Thinking. Laurea University 13-14 September
Key activities in this phase are somehow similar to ours, but much deeper. Individuals:
- Explore trends and technology by gathering secondary information and visiting outside sources of inspiration.
- Discover customer frictions with qualitative research.
Note one key difference: to research on customer frictions, they meet real users and talk to them.
At several stages the whole team meets to share all those findings and chooses the most promising opportunities.
Raise ideas – 2 weeks
Brainwriting. Source: Visual Report. Master class. Practical Design Thinking. Laurea University 13-14 September
On the basis of the opportunities spotted in the previous phase, the team gathers in small groups to brainstorm new product or service ideas. In total, they:
- Produce 500-750 ideas.
- Cluster them into 30-40 idea directions.
- Form 12 concepts.
- And improve them with feedback from other groups.
Our process for this was similar, but we only produced about 10 times less ideas, didn’t cluster them and simply chose or formed one concept.