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Innovation Updated: 22 Aug 2017

Design Thinking: "If you see things, you think better"

One of the areas in which the Design Thinking method has been applied to the greatest extent is in education, by encouraging changes in the learning process, in which the prototype, and not the result, becomes the protagonist.

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The object: see what you want to create. Everything revolves around the prototype in the Design Thinking method. For the Professor in the Department of Accounting and Finance within the Faculty of Economics and Business Studies at the University of Granada, Esteban Romero, "One of the attractions of Design Thinking is the fact you're thinking about objects".

"We work with prototypes during the creative process.We try to get our students to always capture something physical, even if is a concept. This helps to convey it to others." This is what he is trying to do by using this method with his students.

The professor said that they have banished the famous PowerPoint presentations at the university."Presentations inhibit participation and encourage a passive attitude. We must generate operating elements that are functional so people evaluate it. In digital projects, for example, we asked students not to make a presentation on what a website would be like, but to make one to work on a real one. If you see things, you think better".

Once the prototype is tangible, Romero stressed that the process does not end:"The prototype is the center. Products and services are not finished items; they're in continuous development. Even though an item is put on the market conceptually, it isn't finished for the company and we must continue working on it".

The value of learning

Another of the qualities of Design Thinking that Esteban Romero stresses is the evaluation that "does not result in a score but learning. It's not the end of the process, but gives rise to a new action: the implementation of improvements".

The professor stresses that the process must be emphasized against the results, "those of us who work in education need indicators, which is the mark that a student obtains in a course However, this mark does not tell you what the learning process was like; it lacks the qualitative component. There are people who have learned a lot and get a low mark and people who have not experienced any change through the subject and yet are good at doing exams. The important thing is to demand processes that, even though sometimes they do not lead to a satisfactory result, are good experiences”.

Another educational change brought on by Design Thinking that the professor wants to highlight is the fact of working in public. "It makes it possible to reduce the chances of failure because the project is continuously being evaluated".

In Romero's opinion, the Design Thinking method contributes many things but he doesn't want to describe it as revolutionary."We love the word revolution but it entails a little disappointment and a certain melancholy.These methods work for certain things, certain matters or subjects. For something very instrumental in that the first thing you have to do is learn a technique I think the priority is to control this technique and tomorrow do something creative about it. It may not be the right method to learn anatomy," he warns.

Romero believes the method works well with "people who already have previous experience and know on what to build. For this reason it's going down very well in the executive world," says the professor.

Simple method

Ignacio López Forniés, coordinator of the Degree in Industrial Design Engineering and Product Development at the School of Engineering and Architecture at the University of Zaragoza, emphasizes the simplicity of the method. "It's very easy to understand, can be applied by many people who aren't experts in design or aren't accustomed to creativity processes but find it easy to work in co-creation groups with different profiles. When faced with a challenge, they are able to understand it and empathize. It's very simple for beginners to practice it without having any prior experience”.

And where should Design Thinking be used ? "In social design and social innovation and service said López Forniés. However, unlike Romero, López Forniés, is cautious about the business world. "I think you have to use other methods in combination because it's not complete.The viability of the company, for example, needs to be studied or other requirements that can't be solved with Design Thinking.It's a tool that can be used within companies but it's not global".

Ignacio López Forniés concluded that the method, "like all of them, needs a good creative leader. All groups that need to generate innovation and apply creativity must have a leader to lift spirits and minds and motivate staff to solve problems. It's essential".