Tag Archive | Service Innovation and Design

The power of design thinking

And why you should consider using it to innovate and solve business problems.

Rashpal Bhati


On the first weekend of September amidst the beginnings of Finnish Autumn, the SID class of 2019 gathered at Laurea’s Leppävaara campus for their first contact session in Design Thinking. As we listened to the energetic tutor Katja Tschimmel, we were introduced to the history of Design Thinking.

It all started in 1969 with Herbert Simon who pondered the science of design in his book The Science of the Artificial, investigating its problem solving logic and potential place in the workplace and professional disciplines. Between 1980-90 this earlier work was further developed into visual design thinking and the design process, by Bryan Lawson (1986) and Peter Rowe (1987).

Design Thinking as a term and discipline really gained business attention during the 2000’s with publications like The Art of Innovation by Tim Brown & Jonathan Littmann as well as a seminal article in HBR by Tim Brown (2008) where Design Thinking as a business term was first popularised. Tim Brown highlighted that “Design Thinking expresses the introduction of design methods and culture into fields beyond traditional design, such as business innovation”.

Thinking like designers

Storyboarding ‘Study Buddy’ concept

This theoretical foundation led us to form student groups and explore practical design thinking for ourselves. Through the goal of designing better services for Laurea and thinking like designers we ventured into using visualization, prototyping and holistic methodology. We looked at various visual design models which explain the design thinking process, before settling on the Evolution 6² model which was followed for two days of intense group work activities culminating in the presenting of our ‘Study Buddy’ visual elevator pitch to the rest of the groups and faculty.

Many of us found the creation process rewarding and I echo Tim Brown’s sentiment from his 2008 HBR article that “Thinking like a designer can transform the way you develop products, services, processes – and even strategy.”

Design Thinking by Tim Brown, HBR, June 2008

He tales the inventor Thomas Edison whom he describes as having broken the mold of the ‘lone genius inventor’ by creating a team-based approach to innovation. We experienced the positive effects of this multidisciplinary approach first hand within our own teams. I can also identify with Brown’s sentiment that innovation is hard, and requires countless rounds of trial and error – the “99% perspiration.”

Brown explored the potential of design thinking to create customer value and market opportunity and posited that asking designers to create ideas that meet consumers’ needs and desires is strategic and leads to dramatic new forms of value. In closing he suggested that “business leaders would do well to incorporate design thinking into all phases of the innovation process.” I think this is sound advice when we look at today’s increasingly digitised economy as well as shifts in societal needs and greater environmental consciousness; society and its more engaged citizens demand action and solutions to deliver sustainable modern living with greater empathy for our shared global responsibility, incorporating the human-centered and holistic design thinking frameworks could indeed play a greater role in delivering these strategic and value driven benefits.

Usefullness of design thinking

Design Attitude by Kamil Michlewski, 2015

Kamil Michlewski in Design Attitude, 2015 discusses the usefulness of organisations taking design inspired frameworks like Design Thinking or its sub–genre Service Design to unlock their innovation pipeline to achieve meaningful business innovation objectives. Although design is “still on the margins of interest of most business schools” he states “design ideas are starting to significantly inform public service provision and policies including UK, Danish governments, and more recently, the EU has been pursuing design-inspired innovation policies. He cites gov.uk as a great example of the impact of design inspired frameworks, and refers to it as a UK government digital service run remarkably like a service design consultancy with full focus on the user with great aesthetic dimension.  Or MindLab, the Danish Government’s innovation unit that involves citizens and businesses in creating new solutions for society.

These examples Michlewski says, highlights the power of following a design-driven approach, it empowers managers and business people to think more laterally, creatively and openly, and importantly to experiment and iterate solutions within the business environment they will be deployed. This resonated with our group and following the 2-day contact session we also felt more empowered by what we had learned, and experienced firsthand, about the potential and power of design thinking.

References:

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking. [lectures]. Held on 6-7 September. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Tschimmel, K. (2018). Evolution 6² : An E-handbook for Practical Design Thinking for Innovation. MindShake.

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

Michlewski, Kamil 2015. Design Attitude. Farnham, Surrey: Gower.

Published 25 September 2019

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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Can Design Thinking Provide the Breakthroughs We Need to Reduce Global Poverty and Domestic Violence?

 

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Woman cooking next to the port and market in Cotonou, Benin [Image (c) Jeffrey Allen]

 

By Jeffrey Allen

25 Sep, LONDON – For the past seven years, I’ve designed and managed projects to improve lives in developing countries, focusing on education, health, good governance, human rights, agriculture, employment, the environment… everything that impacts people’s quality of life. It’s a wildly complex field, where managers have to understand business, sociology, communications, technology, innovation, politics, psychology, and more if they’re going to be successful.

I spent the first several years just getting my head around the basics, learning on the job, by trial and error, and by soaking up what I could from those around me. Before starting the job, I had observed international development work – mostly from the outside – for more than six years as a journalist remixing stories published by organizations working in the field. Looking on through my outsider’s lens, I was consistently impressed by the work development practitioners did every day to make lives better and open opportunities for billions of people in difficult circumstances across the globe. Continue reading

Unleash Your Inner Beast

Be empathetic, gather courage and nurture creativity to make Breakthroughs.

I would like to Thank our energetic lecturer Katja Tschimmel for sharing her knowledge and experiences on Design Thinking. Thank to Virpi Kaartti for providing great support during the Study and Thank to all my fellow students for such an amazing ongoing experience. 

This blog is covering two parts. 1) My perspective and highlight on Design Thinking and Innovation 2) Learning during Laurea contact sessions.

 

My perspective and highlight on Design Thinking and Innovation

 

I have gained a little insight about the potential of Design Thinking and how design thinking approach can lead to create innovations to improve existing conditions and make impact.

I can already feel that Design Thinking is slowly transforming my approach towards solving problems and my realization that empathy is so much central towards design thinking.

Design Thinking is powerful, a great methodology which provides framework for understanding empathy, nurturing creativity and using early prototyping towards breakthrough innovations.

Also, keeping an open mindset to grow and learn at the same time paves the way to unleash our true unknown potential, including creativity hidden among all of us.

Here, I would like to emphasize and highlight on key aspects of Design Thinking.

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Stages, more stages and the same stages all over again

The Design Thinking course on September 2nd-3rd 2016 was very illuminating. Doing Design Thinking by following a specific model really shows how much work should be put in design work itself from exploring to implementing. Doing the same thing over and over again with different methods (moodboard, brainwriting etc.) truly opens up new ideas during the process.

We started our service planning from one idea and through all the steps ended up in something different. Continuing the process further and with more time would have, in my opinion, led to another outcome. Doing so much work in such a short time really doesn’t give space for ideas to develop by themselves.

The difference in similarities

During the lessons we learned especially the use of the Evolution 6² model, which has more stages than other models discussed in class and in the paper Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation (Tschimmel 2002). Nevertheless, all the models can be, more or less, divided in three main stages: first you have to learn the problem (through observing, exploring, understanding, defying etc.), then you develop an idea/ideas based on your observations (through experiments, ideating, reflecting, elaborating etc.) and finally you’ll find a solution that can be made available to public (through prototyping, testing, implementing etc.).

brainwiriting

Brainwrite instead of brainstormWhy? No need to feel ashamed of saying something idiotic out loud while you can write it on a Post-it anonymously.

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Feel the Energy of Shaking Minds

We had pleasure to participate on two day design thinking (DT) study module. These days were full of innovative thinking instructed by two lovely ladies from Portugal; Dr. Katja Tschimmel (Design Professor, ESAD Portugal, developer of DT model EVOLUTION 6² ) and Mariana Valenca (Lecturer in Design thinking, ESAD Portugal). They started with introducing some of the most popular design thinking modules. (Presented below)
We got to know their company Mindshake (http://mindshake.pt/design_thinking) and the Design Model that they have developed, called EVOLUTION 6². We got to do some hands-on training as Mariana Valenca kindly familiarized us through their DT model step by step. This was very interesting, challenging and made our minds more innovative. We work in groups leading by Mariana and here are few pictures from those days and what we made.

 

 EVOLUTION 6²       –Mindshake Design Thinking model

 Phases:  Emergence, Emphathy, Experimentation, Elaboration, Exposition, Extension

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First phase Emergence we experienced the model by doing ‘intent statement’ and  ‘opportunity  mind map’. In this first phase the goal is to identificate of an opportunity.

 

 

 

 

On Experimentation phase we had a lot of fun with legos! In this phase you generate ideas and develop concepts.

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On Elaboration phase we worked with ‘service blueprint’. Phases meaning is to work on material and semantic solutions.

 

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On Exposition phase we made ‘a visual business model’. Meaning of this phase is communicating the new concept and solutions.

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Design Thinking Models

Here are briefly presented few of the most applied Design Thinking tools that are created. These model are presented widely on Katja Tschimmels research article. (Tschimmel, K. (2012). Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation)

 

Picture 1)
IDEO’s 3 I model (Created in 2001)
Inspiration
At this phase designers needs to identificate context by observing and completing design research.

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Ideation
Phases meaning is to brainstorming process and encourage visual concepts so that complex ideas could be understood.
Implementation
The core of this stage is prototyping. After creating the final product/service there is a need to develop a communication strategy to help communication inside and outside the organization.

 

Picture 2)
IDEO has also launched HCD model which has double meaning as:
Human Centered Design

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and
Hear
Design team will collect data from people and prepare and conduct field research.
Create
Thinking change from concrete to more abstract identifying themes and opportunities and then back to concrete thinking with solutions and prototypes.
Deliver
Realize the solutions and launch them in to the world.
https://www.ideo.com/work/human-centered-design-toolkit/

 

Picture 3)
Hasso-Plattner Institutes Design Thinking model:

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 http://www.hpi.uni-potsdam.de/d_school/design_thinking/components.html?L=
This model is based on IDEO’s process experience and part of it is very similar with IDEO’s 3 I model
The DT process is visualized in six steps, connected by curved lines indicating that each step is performed in iterative loops. First phase Understand is about gathering information through secondary research. Second phase Observe includes collecting insights about the users’ needs. The insights are shared and synthesized visually in the third, Point of view, phase. Fourth phase, Ideate corresponds with IDEO 3 I stage ideation (picture 1). Last two phases, Prototype and Test contains same frames as IDEOs 3 I stage implementation (picture 1).

 

Picture 4)
British Council has developed a design process model in 2005 called The 4 D or Double Diamond.

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On discover phase designer searches new insights and opportunities. The second phase, define, works as a filter for the first phase where insights are selected and discarded. In third, develop,stage designed solutions are developed and tested using Design Thinking tools, like brainstorming, sketches and prototypes. In the last, deliver, stage the final concept undergo final testing, producing and finally launching.
http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/
Katja Tschimmel writes in her ‘Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation’ research article that there is not exactly best DT process model, innovation managers should choose their model depending their disciplinary background and their personal taste. In this same research article Katja Tschimmel finds that IDEO’s 3 I model (picture 1) would exclude essential moments of the design process, even though it is easy memorable name and the first model on the market. Double diamond model (picture 4) is the most complete one and reason for that could be that it is designed for designers’ use. Other models which are presented here are produced for business and management in focus.
This research article is very important from my point of view. It tells us main points of the most important DT models and a bit of history of developing these models. This kind of information in a nutshell brings us closer to understand how new models are build up and how important these phases for example in EVOLUTION 6² model are. In my opinion Katja Tschimmel writes about design thinking in the way that we all could develop our creative processes trough DT model.

 

Design Thinking by Nigel Cross

I can recommend Nigel Cross’ book Design Thinking (2011). Book includes a lot of examples how designers works in different fields. Trough researches we can familiarize ourselves in designers way of thinking and their motivation for design work. Cross has taken designers interviews part of his research. One main relevance arising from interviews among designers is that successful designers are sensitive to nuances in their environments and their awareness is higher than average people have.
Cross writes about different case studies from teamwork and what kind of possibilities and problems arises from it comparing to work independently. With these case studies reader can really understand designers way of thinking and working. Cross gives examples between novice and expert designer and more importantly how we all can improve our creativity.
To all of us, remember Design thinking is a mindset which can be developed.
Written by Pinja Suonpää

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Sources:
Tschimmel, Katja 2012. Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation in Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation from Experience.
Cross, Nigel 2011. Design thinking: understanding how designers think and work. Oxford: Berg Publishers.