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Design thinking beyond the process | Design Thinking Camp 2019

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

Missed the Design Thinking Camp Sofia 2019? Here is a summary of Selina Mayer's and Caroline Merz’s talk.

Selina Mayer's and Caroline Merz (on the right)

Selina Mayer and Caroline Merz are program managers and design thinking lead coaches at Hasso Plattner Institute. The academy is named after the creator of the German company SAP which is the fourth largest software company in the world. After seeing the effect that design thinking has on his company, Hasso Plattner decided to invest in creating the Design Institute at Stanford University with the support of David Kelly - one of the pioneers of implementing the innovative method.

The Institute’s definition of design thinking is the creation of products and experiences for people with the help of an intentional process. According to Selina Mayer, if a company’s strategy isn’t working, it means that the firm forgot to incorporate the innovative method into its culture. “If you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t get there.” She added that there are six attitudes to a design thinker’s mindsets that guarantee success.

Firstly, the focus of your work should always be on the user. In that sense, human-centeredness is essential when it comes to creating innovative solutions for the customers’ needs. The second attitude you need to adopt is learning through experimentation. The design expert believes that the learning cycle is not just about prototyping and saving money. It’s about observing users, synthesizing data, finding ideas and then building a prototype.

Thirdly, diverse collaboration is another one of the key attributes to designing successful solutions, because you will have different perspectives on the problem that you are trying to solve. The challenge is to find a way to make people with diverse points of view communicate and work together.

In order to progress, embrace uncertainty and explore a certain problem deeper - look for effectiveness, not for the fastest and cheapest solution. Think about the different needs and problems you need to tackle. Last but not least, you need to be open to possibilities because only 1 of 3000 ideas might have a chance of success when entering the market.

The experts’ advice is to experience design thinking on a management level - that is the only way a company can fully adopt design thinking and think of new ways of creating new products and services. “Personal design thinking experience contributes more to developing the culture than a strategy”, Caroline Merz said.

Caroline Merz at Design Thinking Camp in Sofia, Bulgaria.

For instance, Deutsche Bahn’s management started using design thinking and put the needs of its users first. Nowadays it is one of the most thriving organizations in the world. It also opened up to hearing the customers’ voices and organizing feedback gathering sessions in order to understand why people do what they do when they engage with their services. Based on these insights the company was able to generate new ideas, build prototypes and test them with their end-users.


Take a look at the 10 barriers to innovation with a summary of Pedro Janeiro's lecture from Design Thinking Camp in Sofia, 2019.


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