Seminar on design thinking research

160420 Design Thinking ESBRI I
This day I was on a very interesting seminar on one of the hot topics in innovation management, namely design thinking. It was held by two of the leading researchers in the field from Chalmers University in Gothenburg. For those of you who are not yet familiar with design thinking and its implications on innovation management can view this short introductory video (4:20 min).

Some key reflections
To me the most valuable part of design thinking is the foundation that innovations come from insights, that in turn come from truly understanding the target audience’s needs, context and situation. So by merging insights and problem analysis with a design perspective we can expect to raise the levels of innovativeness. From my point of view this approach should be essential in all innovation activities. The last decade seems to have been only focusing on creating and finding new ideas. The whole ideation concept with idea management systems concentrates almost exclusively on the “spontaneous” eureka moments to happen by employees and customers. Yet, Edison was completely right (and he spoke from experience) when he said that “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Accordingly, a ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework”. So deep knowledge of the challenge you’re facing will increase the likelihood of innovation. This is a fact that design thinking is embracing to the fullest. Design thinking is not a process, but this is a common description of the phases of it:

  1. Emphasize. Create a deep understanding of the target audience through i.e observations, interviews or etnographic studies.
  2. Define. Identify root causes of the need/problem and define the need. You can use personas to detail the definition. One method to be used this is called Point of View: audience + need + insight.
  3. Ideate. Brainstorm and build on eachother’s ideas. An applicable method can be How Might We (HMW).
  4. Prototype. Visualize. Make quick experiences, test and iterate. Be ready to kill each previous version at any time as learning is the objective.
  5. Test. Catch opinions, attitudes, and thoughts.

Presented research
The research team have, and are, investigating the use of design thinking in large organizations and have made over 100 interviews to pursuit a good understanding of how it is being used in large organizations today. Many of the studied companies considered design thinking to be a good approach to wicked problems. It also sped up development, made it more audience oriented, plus gave great insights to the development team for future redesigns. The design thinking process also led to greater openness and a greater acceptance for innovation. One of their articles is available here.

The presenting scholars’ article on framing design thinking has just been published in Journal of Creativity and Innovation Management. You can find the publication here.

The seminar is available online as a permanent stream through this link. [Note that the lecture was held in Swedish.]