Tag Archive | Gijs van Wulfen

“Doing things differently” or “Doing different things”.

Innovation can either be doing things differently, or doing different things. Within the field of innovation people are now doing a lot of different things, but I would say its only done a little differently when speaking about areas such as “Employee driven innovation, “Service innovation”, “Sustainable innovation”, “Social innovation” and so on. This can be a bit of confusing, but Gijs van Wulfen founder and author of FORTH Innovation method has done a lot of great work on this area, and is telling us both when you should NOT innovate, and how you can use his 5 steps (shown on picture) to create attractive innovative products and services within a multidisciplinary team. On the very first contact session, starting my MBA in Service Innovation Design we did exactly that. Our multidisciplinary class formed teams of 4/5 people, using the FORTH innovation method on the following case: “Create new products or services for your university campus to make it a better place to be, learn and live”. Being an international exchange student, ideas easily popped up in my head!


Together with Gjis, Katja Tschimmel Researcher and Consultant in Creativity led us through the Design Thinking course. Katjas creative approach and her long experience and contribution within the field show clearly. Gjis and Katja met at a creative conference where they decided to team up. Gjis tells that he has a more “innovation and structure” focus, while Katja delivers the design thinking tools. “The best way to learn is not to listen, but to do it” (Gjis). Throughout the Design Thinking Course we did exactly that, we got the perfect combination of theoretically and practical work.

 “Highlights and eyeopeners”



Since this course took place over two days, I will not go in detail of every exercise, but highlight the ones that were new to me or made me think differently – “an eye opener”. We were a few exchange students in my group and therefore focused on “short-term housing options for exchange students”.

Based on working in teams within my previous Social entrepreneurship studies at University of Oslo, and working as a team on a start up I have really seen the importance of creating “good” collaborating teams that communicate well and know each other to a certain degree before starting a collaborating process. I therefore enjoyed Katjas exercises that introduced our multidisciplinary group. The picture to the left shows one of the exercises:

“Who are we”: I had to draw a team member, while another member wrote down interest and information on post-its as she was explaining them. All of these posters are still hanging in our classroom so we can look back at them to refresh our thoughts since we only see each other once a month!

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First step: backwards

It was the morning of our second school day at Laurea, and the coffee line was long. We sat in the cafe with a classmate and watched the line getting longer and longer. In a few minutes, we had come up with a solution to improve the situation. Or so we thought.

When our first Design Thinking class started and we got our assignment, we were thrilled. We were supposed to think how to make Laurea a better place to study, which meant we would have the chance to put our coffee line solution into practice on the spot.

We started mindmapping and deepening the idea and were pretty far with our improved spatial design when our teacher Gijs van Wulfen came to interrupt us. “Take a step back. You are already finding a solution and you haven’t even defined what the campus actually consists of.”

Oh. Right. A step back.

When we finalized our task the next day, the coffee line problem was solved. But so were many, many other things that actually affect the atmosphere on the campus even more. To me, the most valuable lesson of the Design Thinking course was just that: take a step back, look at the big picture first. That’s how you can innovate something, not just improve existing solutions.

And innovation is what Design Thinking is all about. Our workshop facilitator and the author of the article Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation Katja Tschimmel describes Design Thinking as an abductive thinking, which is “thinking in new and different perspectives and about future possibilities, which do not fit into existing models”. This requires some perceptive cognition. In other words, taking a step back.

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