Tag Archive | Katja Tschimmel

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).

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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!

References

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.



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

References:

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.

Links:

Mindshake: Evolution 6² Official Website

Swimming in a Sea of Possibilities – Design Thinking and the Beauty of Teamwork

A two-day course in design thinking taught me that a team is more than a group of people and that in our aim to reach our goals, failure can be a positive thing.

Katja Tschimmel

Katja Tschimmel introducing Laurea students to the fascinating world of design thinking.
Image: Suvi Seikkula.

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Learning the essence of Design Thinking process

“There is no universal best DT process model, the choice innovation managers make depends on their disciplinary background and their personal taste.” says Katja Tschimmel in her article about Design Thinking process models and tools (Tschimmel 2012, 11). And this is also what she tells us listeners during our first hours of Design Thinking course (Design Thinking 2017). The decision of choosing of an appropriate Design Thinking model is influenced, among others, the characteristics of the task in question, its context, the composition of the team and its dynamics, the number of designers involved, and the time available for the process (Tschimmel 2012).

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Design Thinking, new superpower?

World is changing faster than ever before. Businesses are facing more and more complex issues. Management models from the days of Industrial Revolution are not so useful in the fast-moving world of today. No businesses are safe from change as world is going digital. Think about Uber and Airbnb. We want more, when we want, how we want it. Current management tools are focused on value capture but we should be focusing more on value creation. There is a need for something new.

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Design Thinking is a creative, logical tool that can facilitate innovation and transformation. Applying it to business problems empowers organizations and individuals to better understand their competitive and operational environment. It helps us to get back to the basics of human needs and human problems. Future business leaders need to be Design Thinkers. Design thinking teaches us how to bring intuition into the strategy process.

New skills are needs in the working life and therefore also education needs to change. We need skills as the ability to think creatively and critically, take initiative and work collaboratively for common goals. Design thinking offers enormous potential to improve the current educational system.

Our two-day course on Design Thinking led by Katja Tschimmel was based on the MINDSHAKE model Evolution 6, 2012 – 2016. Big part of Design Thinking is design doing and our course was exactly like that. We worked in small groups on the subject “Studying in Laurea”.

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Will Design Thinking disrupt Education?

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VIDEO Desktop walkthrough prototype

Chances are if you didn’t go to design school (or don’t have a career in design) you believe you have absolutely no clue what Design Thinking is.

But when one starts analysing how they create solutions, they are likely to recognise similarities with this now superpop method. Innovation by Design Thinking follows patterns similar to other traditional methods, however guided by human-centric principles rather than business & technology requirements. Katja Tschimmel (2015) describes it as a way of transforming and innovating through human-centric approach. In other words, creative thinking with people in mind that leads to actually meaningful solutions.

Doing is the new Teaching

During 2 intensive days we had guests from Portugal, Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valença, lecture the Design Thinking masters course at Laurea SID. What stood out for me was their way of lecturing. They digested all those years of extensive research into easy-to-grasp exercises and a useful set of slides overviewing everything Design Thinking. It was interactive and inspiring rather than exhaustive. Quickly the lecture became practical with quizzes, ultimately becoming a workshop following one of the models presented, Evolution 6.

I’m more interested in observing how Design Thinking can change the way we teach/learn anything at schools in general. While performing the exercises myself I recognised at least 4 design thinking principles applied to the teaching&learning environment, described by Tschimmel in the latest Research Report D-Think.

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