Tag Archive | Mindshake Design Thinking Model

Why do we need empathy in the design process and how to gain it?

Introduction to empathy

Most of us can probably recall products or services where it is clear that usability has been so far off from the priority list that the product/service is unreasonably difficult or even impossible to use.

Photo: A real life example of an ATM machine in a town of Räpina, Estonia. Photo source: https://www.delfi.ee/artikkel/84142766/foto-rapina-pangaautomaat-endiselt-liiga-korgel-tadi-peab-seisma-pangel-et-rahamasinani-ulatuda

What is needed that these above-mentioned mishaps can be avoided and services and products designed are actually usable and desirable for their users? We believe the answer lies greatly in empathy.

Empathy helps designers to understand users better

With the spread of design thinking and service design over the past years, the role of a user and user experience has gained central prominence. For instance, Katja Tchimmel (2022) names design thinking as “the design of an alive and dynamic system of user experiences” and elaborates further by stating human-centered approach to be one of the five main principles of it.

The role of empathy is further addressed by Iris Motee (2013), who states that design thinking promotes empathy as it locates users at the core of everything and it encourages using tools that help better understand behaviours, expectations, values, motivations and needs. Brown (2008) describes the designer mindset with empathy as a personal characteristic to be able to observe the world from multiple perspectives.

But what is empathy in design and how can a designer use it in the design process?

Kouprie and Sleeswijk (2009) draw that despite the somewhat hazy common concept of empathy, it nevertheless is “related to deep understanding of the user’s circumstances and experiences, which involves relating to, more than just knowing about the user”. Kouprie and Sleeswijk have further presented their own framework for applying empathy in design, consisting of four phases: Discovery (designer enters the user’s world), Immersion (designer wanders around in the user’s world), Connection (designer resonates with the user to understand the feelings and the meanings) and Detachment (designer reflects to deploy new insights for ideation). They claim that in addition to that the fundamentals of empathy helps designers better to choose the techniques and tools and their order, this framework can help designers to plan their time accordingly as a process of empathy in design practice requires time and not spending unreasonably long time in only one or two phase and actually going though all the phases explicitly can enhance designer’s empathy. (Kouprie & Sleeswijk Visser 2009.)

Tools and methods to gain empathy

In the SID Design Thinking Masterclass we were introduced to Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6², developed by Katja Tschimmel (2021), one of the several models in Design Thinking. The “E.62” model offers tools and methods to support divergent and convergent thinking during the design process. Empathy (E2) is the second step in the model and aims to better understand the context, users and their latent needs. The exploration phase introduces methods such as stakeholder map, field observation and interview. Personas, user journey map and insight map are used for visualizing users and their needs for all in the design process in the evaluation phase.

It is nice to realize that despite not using all the tools of the model we went through all of the four stages of the Kouprie and Sleeswijk Visser’s framework on the process of empathy. In the Discovery phase we approached the design challenge and the users’ problems with How might we? questions on Opportunity map and formulated Intent statement for selected opportunity, followed by User Interviews on selected design opportunity in the Immersion phase. We seeked to achieve emotional understanding of their feelings and meanings while collecting the findings on the Insight map and formulating the Intent statement in the Connection phase, and finally, ideated and Prototyped the solutions in the Detachment phase.

Conclusion

Empathy in the design process is not only a set of different tools and methods but also a designer state of mind and characteristics. Understanding the users’ latent needs is essential for developing products and services.

Written by Peegi Kaibald & Tiina Auer SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E1: Opportunity Map and Intent Statement (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E2: Interviews and Insight Map (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E3: Brainwriting and Clustering (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E4: Rapid Prototyping (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E5: Storyboarding and Concept Visualisation (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

References

Brown, T. (2008). Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June 2008: 84-95.

Kouprie, M & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009). A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life (Links to an external site) in Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2009, 437–448.

Mootee, I. (2013). Design thinking for strategic innovation: What they can’t teach you at business or design school. Wiley.

Tschimmel, K. (2021). Design Thinking Master Class 3.-4.9.2021 material. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.

Tschimmel, Katja (2021): Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.

Tschimmel, K. (2022). Design vs. Design Thinking. In Creativity and Innovation Affairs. (in process) Available only for SID students at Laurea University.

Becoming a Design Thinker and Doer

Design Thinking in action

Our journey to the realm of Design Thinking started in extraordinary conditions, because our lecturer Katja Tschimmel wasn’t able to attend the course physically – nor some of the students – because of COVID-19. In spite of this, we got an inspiring and participative start for our studies.

When quantity is more important than quality: the process of identification of opportunities.

The best thing was the “learning by doing” mentality. It was easy to get a grip about the Design Thinking principles and Service Design process through the small exercises and the group task which tackled each service design processes’ phase one by one. The most difficult thing was the shortage of time. As Tim Brown states in his book Change by Design (2009, 84), time is the most insistent limit for design thinkers, even more insistent than limits of technology, skills and knowledge.

The process of Ideation.

During the lecture we got to see that there are many ways of describing the Service Design process. Brown (2009) presents the process through three main “spaces” of Design Thinking: 1) inspiration , 2) ideation and 3) implementation. In our group work we used the Mindshake Design Thinking Model, which has six different steps. Through using the model, the process with its different phases came really concrete. 


Mindshake Design Thinking Model, Pinterest

While doing our group work we also noticed that it can be difficult not to offer ready-made solutions before defining the problem to solve. A valuable tip here is that don’t ask what, ask why! It’s also good to remember that the design process can make unexpected discoveries along the way. Though the insecurity about the outcome may feel difficult, it’s better to “fail early to succeed sooner” (Brown 2009.)

Don’t just do design, live design

We’ve now learned that Service Design is all about thinking like a designer – it’s a mindset you have to switch on. Anyhow, it’s easier said than done. The mindset of an individual doesn’t change all of a sudden. Also the organizational shift is never easy and culture changes slowly. In many companies we can weekly observe a board of managers debating about internal processes and making decisions of company’s strategies behind closed doors. Concerning the change, the expectations must be set appropriately and aligned around a realistic timeline (Kolko 2015).

It is important to internalize that Design Thinking is a collective and participatory process. The more parties and stakeholders are involved in the development process, the greater range of ideas, options and different perspectives will occur. Also, to harvest the power of Design Thinking, individuals, teams and whole organizations have to cultivate optimism. People have to believe that it is within their power to create new ideas, that will serve unmet needs, and that will have a positive impact. (Brown 2009.) 

There are many cases to show how Design Thinking can be used for social change and the common good. For example, the Indias Aravind “Eye care system” has built a systemic solution with Design Thinking to a complex social and medical problem (Brown 2008, 90-91).  Also Warren Berger explains how design can change the world through solving problems on a case-by-case basis around the world.

The advantages of Design Thinking seem obvious. It offers an powerful, effective and accessible approach to innovation which can be integrated into all aspects of business and society and that all individuals and teams can use it to generate breakthrough ideas. So: get into the world to be inspired by people, use prototyping to learn with your hands, create stories to share ideas, join forces with people from other disciplines. Don’t just do design, live design! (Brown 2009.)

Thought and conclusions by Maiju Haltia-Nurmi and Elena Mitrofanova, first-year SID students at Laurea UAS

References: 

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

Brown, Tim 2009. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Kolko, Jon (2015). Design thinking comes of age (https://hbr.org/2015/09/design-thinking-comes-of-age). Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71. 

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

Warren, Berger (2009). Can design change the world? (http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/11/06/berger.qanda/index.html)

From Chaos to Clarity: This is Design Thinking

“Design thinking is a human centered, creative, iterative and practical approach for coming up with new ideas and solutions” (Brown, 2008).

The approach can seem chaotic at first as the process doesn’t follow a linear path. The above picture by Tim Brennan of Apple’s Creative Services illustrates this well (Liedtka and Ogilvie, 2011).

The Different Stages of Design Thinking

There are several models that can be used to implement design thinking. For example at IDEO the design projects go through three, what they call, “spaces”: inspiration, ideation and implementation. The projects go back and forth through these three spaces in order to refine the idea and find new directions (Brown, 2008). Alternatively, the Portuguese company Mindshake follows the innovation process EVOLUTION 6². In this approach there are six steps: emergence, empathy, experimentation, elaboration, exposition and extension. It starts from identifying an opportunity and ends at looking at ways how to implement the solution. In the end, it doesn’t matter which model you use to implement design thinking as all the models use similar tools to move through the different stages.

EVOLUTION 6²

Divergent and Convergent Thinking

At the beginning of each stage, designers seek to look broadly at the problem, so they don’t get fixed on the most obvious first set of solutions. Designers refer to this as divergent thinking (Liedtka and Ogilvie, 2011). A good example of this is brainwriting, where participants write on post-it notes all the ideas that come to their mind. The more extreme the better. After having come up with new solutions, the designers need to start narrowing them down to the most promising ones. In this case to idea clusters, where similar ideas are stuck together on the wall (see below picture). This is referred to as convergent thinking.

Idea clustering
Brainwriting

Tools

There are plenty of tools to help designers to widen and narrow the set of questions in the different stages of the design thinking process. According to Liedtka and Ogilvie (2011): “Visualization is the “mother of all design tools”.” It is used in every step of the design thinking process. It helps to decrease the risk of wrong assumptions and one doesn’t have to be an artist to do it. Simplicity is key and just drawing stick figures is usually enough (Liedtka and Ogilvie, 2011). An equally popular tool is prototyping which is an easy and inexpensive way to quickly collect feedback on an idea before investing more time and resources on it (Brown, 2008). See below the example of the prototype of the Green Laurea concept which we created in class. The prototype was made by using only Legos and pieces of paper to simulate the ways in which the students and staff could collect green points, for example by biking to school.

Prototype made out of Legos

Design Thinking is for Everyone

In this blog I talked about designers going through the different stages of Design Thinking. However, you don’t have to be a designer to implement the above learnings in your organization. You can be an accountant or a buyer and still do all the above. Design thinking is really meant to be used by anyone in any industry. You can start by using one of the tools or go through the whole process. And don’t let the word design thinking intimidate you, just think of it as trying a new way of working in your organization.

Written by Lyydia Pertovaara

Links:

https://www.ideo.com/eu

https://www.mindshake.pt/

References:

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

Liedtka, Jeanne & Ogilvie, Tim 2011. Designing for growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers, New York: Columbia University Press.

Let´s be creative!

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The team space while we were working with Evolution 6² model.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is one of the biggest trends on service business industry and Katja Tschimmel (2012) defines it as a game changer to different industries. Tschimmel sees it as a new way of thinking which can lead to innovative new ideas.  I didn’t have any huge expectations for this course, because I wasn’t that sure how I think and feel about design thinking. After the first day, I was sure that I certainly love this! We had amazing two days led by Katja Tschimmel and Sanna Marttila. During these two days, we learnt some history and theory of design thinking but the focus was to work with Evolution 6² model invented by MINDSHAKE company.  Evolution 6² model can be for example used to different kind of project and workshop development. It consist six different phases to work with new ideas and improve them. Two days went over quite fast and left behind a mind full of creativeness and a bunch of new tools to work with design thinking.

 

I search more information about design thinking by reading the Harward Business Review article of Design thinking by Tim Brown (2008). The idea is to create something new rather than try to develop existing services or products.  Also, it doesn’t have to be expensive and difficult. Focus is to find your inner creative designer and use the tools or toys companies already have. In this review, a design thinker´s persona was defined not to a weirdo hippie but to any one of us. Design thinker needs to have empathy and think people first. Optimism helps design thinkers to stay positive and see beyond the possible problem. Then add some experimentalism to have excitement towards new things and directions. Finally, collaboration completes a design thinker by mixing and matching different levels and backgrounds. On my opinion, you can be a design thinker if you want and at least teach yourself to be creative and out of the box thinker.

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Educating the Design Thinkers of Tomorrow

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First day at school

My Daughter

My first-born started her school journey this autumn. It’s the same school that I attended 30 years ago, a respected and multicultural school, back then quite a traditional one – discipline based, classroom centric, the teacher standing in front of the class, the pupils listening. It still is a good school, but I already have come to notice some important changes.

The first graders’ theme for the first weeks has been their hometown Helsinki. They have already made many excursions (e.g. Children’s town at the City Museum), spent time outside of school moving and observing their environment (e.g. how many cyclists use helmets) and learnt through their own experience (e.g. mapping how they travel to school). Currently, they are building in teams a city block, which involves planning, discussing different alternatives, making decisions together and executing their plans. The number one hit has been the intelligent carpet, a huge iPad as my daughter says, for doing math exercises, memory games and other cool stuff with your feet. A big thank you goes out to the progressive thinking and creativity of the class teacher. She acts rather as a facilitator and coach in the knowledge creation process than as the knowledge provider, like in the traditional teaching approach.

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The “Intelligent Carpet” in action!

 

Whether the school’s management and teachers are talking about Design Thinking when planning the curriculum or teaching methods is secondary. Most important is what they are doing and how they are doing it. The fact is that the school’s teaching approach celebrates the ideology and values of Design Thinking, such as human-centricity, empathy, multidisciplinary thinking, holistic approach, creativity, collaboration, playfulness and visualization of thoughts. Also the phases and methods are similar to those used in Design Thinking, such as the design process introduced by IDEO for educators: discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation and evolution. Most importantly, the pupils are taught to think on their own and exercise analytical thinking, mixing facts and rational thinking with feelings and emotions. I truly hope they also learn to tolerate uncertainty and risk-taking and accept that doing mistakes and failures is an important part of the process. This wasn’t self-evident when I went to school.

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