E6/E4, FORTH, HCD, 3 Is, Hasso-Plattner, 4D/DoubleDiamond, SDT…these are all methods that have come up during the reading for this class and in class. Whatever the method, the point is to have a process that is collaborative (between team members but also between the team and the intended consumers and also the unintended consumers), with well-placed moments of divergence and convergence, and involves some kind of hacked prototype. Only from these very roughly described actions can a team have the beginnings of a workable idea. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish and who is involved will depend on which of these many models serves you and your team(s). These processes then rely on a handbag full of various “tools” that can be accessed when needed. And you will not need all the tools all the time.
During the first days of classes we were introduced to the “Top Ten” tools in Design thinking (Tschimmel, 2012). Of those ten we used 6 in the class project: minds maps, brainwriting, visual confrontations, storyboarding, rapid prototyping, and storytelling. But we also used interviews and a mood board to get the process started in class. One of my favourite points that was reiterated over the three days and in the readings was the fact that the first ideas are the ones “in the box” and that to really access the great ideas you have to go through many processes to jumble everything up first. This allows the participants to step back and really let their imaginations work on another level.
The ability to design is undeniably an essential part of human intelligence. Everyone is a designer. Just like everyone is capable of creative thinking. We may not be equally talented at it but using Design Thinking tools can amplify our chances for success tremendously when working on tasks or problems at hand.
Over the span of the two-day intensive Design Thinking course taught by experts of the field Dr. Katja Tschimmel, Design Professor at ESAD Portugal, and Gijs van Wulfen, Innovation Consultant, I was exposed to some already familiar Design Thinking tools as well as completely unfamiliar techniques I had never used before. The course emphasized the importance of visual triggers and sensations for our idea developing process and collaboration within your design team. Collaboration is known to be especially fruitful when the team members have diverse backgrounds and are experts in different fields (Brown, 2009), which put us into a perfect setting for our hands-on group design project carried out as part of the course. Working through the different stages of a service design project within a diverse multi-background team also presented the already familiar tools in a new light to me – as being much more applicable in a business environment than I used to think before.
Figure 1: Visual triggers during idea generation: Moodboard, Brainwriting, Mindmap
Especially to my liking among the previously unfamiliar techniques and something I will definitely adapt to my professional life are visual and semantic confrontations, part of the group of tools used in idea generation and experimentation (Tschimmel, 2012). Combining and connecting unrelated things with each other can lead to very unique and new ideas. This technique reminded me of a quote by David Byrne from his book Arboretum: “If you can draw a relationship, it can exist” (Byrne, 2006). The creation of relationships and links between so far unrelated things can be an ideal source for new innovations and is therefore a very good starting point for any design process.
How many ways of using a pen could you come up with in two minutes? I managed to write down 10. Actually that’s not very creative. Some people can easily think of even 20 or more ways. They are more trained in Design Thinking.
We, the SID group of 2013, started our Service Innovation and DesignMBA this fall by diving into a very elementary field: Design Thinking and innovation. We were guided by Katja Tschimmeland Gijs Van Wulfen to complete our own innovation journey using the FORTH-innovation modelsqueezed into just two days.
The two day innovation exploration was interesting and fun. We had a blast creating a desk top walk through of our fictional service “Groovi”. Some of my important learnings were that I should first think outside of the box but not to be too “designery” in presenting my ideas. They might be accepted easier if they feel like coming from the box. Communicating my ideas is definitely a skill in which I want to get better at. Another important discovery was that facilitating an innovation process is a very demanding task and I have to practice that.
But what is Design Thinking?
Katja Tschimmel defines Design Thinking as “ a complex thinking process of conceiving new realities, expressing the introduction of design culture and its methods into fields such as business innovation.” Eric Roth says in the foreword of Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation that: “Design Thinking is the search for a magical balance between business and art, culture and chaos, intuition and logic, concept and execution, playfulness and formality and control and empowerment.”
So basically there is the attitude and mind set and then there are the tools. The concepts and words have been floating in my mind for weeks and in order to reflecting them a bit I started to write them down and noticed that they make up the entire alphabet…or almost.
Professor and researcher Katja Tschimmel and ideation facilitator Gijs van Wulfen showed us where the Rabbit Hole of Design Thinking is. So I also jumped in it, dug together with fellows hands on for two full days – and we are still digging. The more we explore, the more we find. This post is about what I have perceived here for so far.
We all have the gift of creative thinking. We just need to find it and start thinking mind open. Children do this all the time while playing, so we all have already once been creative thinkers. We just forgot and lose skills that we don’t use or practice.
Explore the challenge
We also know what it’s like to perform our daily tasks in hurry. People are expected to been efficient to make decisions when challenges are met and needed to get over them quickly. But quite often we meet the same challenges again – one after another and day after day.
To make a difference we need to stop for a moment, change how we act and learn to understand the true nature of the challenge. Look at them together with your collaborators from different point of views. Smell the challenge. Taste and listen to it, shake, turn it around, feel and live it, observe and learn. After we know the challenge throughout, we can start changing it.
This is where we need to take a few steps backwards. We have to see the big picture and give space to emotions and feelings. Because if we don’t follow our hearts and base the later coming solution on feelings we won’t be able to solve the challenge in a creative way. Why? Because then we wouldn’t like the solution we would create.
“And be visual. Because ideas can’t be seen. They need to be shown.”
The classroom was filled with excitement on last Thursday, as the 4th SID Master’s group started to navigate their service innovation & design journey. Throughout orientation the 28 new students were completely submerged in the Laurea’s cocreative learning culture, which provides the foundation for success as they pursue the Master’s program together. Team-building exercises at the very beginning of the studies help the new students hit the ground running, get familiar with each other and learn basic concepts they’ll use over and over again for the next 18 months. So, even before the actual classes began, they learned to rely on one another and were able to start building professional and personal connections.
Beginning part-time studies in a Master of Business Administration program can be particularly challenging for a lot of students: The transition of going back to university after years of full-time work, acclimating to a new location, getting used to the amount of work, meeting a bunch of new people with diverse cultural backgrounds, and learning new disciplines is a lot to juggle all at once. University, career, family obligations, and social life all require time and effort. There is a lot of anticipation, a little bit of nerves and seemingly more questions than answers at this early stage. But one thing is for sure: The students will have an abundance of resources to guide them along — faculty, support personnel, second-year SID students and the rest of the “SID family”. During the first day’s panel discussion, the new students got plenty of useful advice from SID alumni and students representing all the three previous SID groups. From the very start the new students are beginning to grasp what it means to be part of the “SID family” that consists of more than 100 current or former SID students, 14 SID faculty members, several visiting lecturers and 18 SID Advisory Board members.
Service Jam is about designing and developing services. The goal is to develop a service in 48 hours. The time frame is surely a limitation, but the biggest challenge is to work as a team and to keep the ball rolling. Basically, the challenge is to keep rolling that ball together to the same direction.
This year’s theme was: grow^. Teams were formed with “blind date” type of conversations. Participants were asked to think about the service ideas or problems about the theme, grow. After a short period we were asked to start sharing these ideas in one-to-one short discussions. The point was that if you can find people with same type of ideas, you should be in the same team. It was obvious that the theme was challenging, too broad maybe. What does it stand for and should the service be precisely about “growing”. We did just the opposite!
After changing a group I ended up working with the concept about nutrition. The basic idea was that this nutrition service concept would help people to loose or gain weight or just to stay fit. Basically this would mean that most of the service users don’t want to grow. They want to get smaller.
I attended the public defence of Tiina Tuominen’s doctoral dissertation at Aalto University in Otaniemi, Espoo on 22nd February. Title of her thesis is Innovation and development activities in professional service firms- a role structure perspective. The thesis can be found here: http://otalib.aalto.fi/en/collections/e-publications/dissertations/