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This was the "Design Thinking" workshop

Creativity techniques: The cure for tunnel vision


To find solutions for problems or create innovations, you have to think a little bit around the corner. The impulse workshop "Design Thinking" revealed how productive this thinking process can be when approached methodically and as a group.

Introduction to the Design Thinking process: a review

The introduction to the "Design Thinking" process, which was offered to our alumni by the management consultancy Avanade, was extremely labor-intensive. Already the first task - the self-presentation by means of Post-it - set the course for the rest of the afternoon: short theoretical input, followed by practicing a creativity technique. We recorded the central insights that we gathered during the two and a half hour impulse workshop for those who stayed at home.


In vase veritas: In the vase lies the truth

The first item on the agenda revealed that what you want is often different from what you need. First, the participants in the four groups formed pairs, which were asked to draw a vase. After they had put it down on paper, they had to interview each other to find out what they liked about flowers and what disturbed them. In the course of these interviews, the alumni became aware that the previously drawn form often barely or not at all matched the requirements they had for it. Based on the insights they had gained, they drew another design that was more in line with their expectations. As a result, the vase was not always, but quite often fundamentally different from the first model. At the end of the exercise, the students were asked to make a drawing that combined the characteristics of their own design with those of the other person. This exercise impressively demonstrated the constructive potential that lies in the combination of different approaches.


Clustering as decision support

Another method the participants got to know was clustering. This not only serves to identify fields of action, but also helps to decide in which of them priority measures are to be taken. In this context, it is first necessary to formulate a clear topic, e.g. "shopping in the supermarket". Then the participants receive post-its in three colours, which have different meanings. On the pink Post-its all problems associated with the topic are written, on the blue ones all the merits and on the green ones all the opportunities. After the collection of thoughts is completed, the participants group the elements into a thematic grouping. The next step in the clustering process is to name the fields of action identified with an umbrella term, e.g. "orientation", "service", "assortment", "experience" or "payment". If you look at these clusters individually, you can see in which field of action there are the most construction sites, in which there are the greatest opportunities and in which fields of action there is no acute need for improvement.


Reaching your goal through imitation and criticism

Following clustering, a decision must be made as to which field of action is to be addressed first. Based on this, a main concern, e.g. "We would like to speed up payment at the checkout" is formulated and written in the first line of a four-line table. Underneath this, the names of three different companies are written and the approaches these companies have taken to solve the problem are collected. From this collection of keywords, it is possible to extract those approaches that present themselves as promising. There is also a suitable method for making this assessment objectively. This is a short group exercise which requires four participants and a folded sheet of paper with four instructions for action.

In the first quarter of the folded sheet, all four participants write down the main concern previously formulated. The sheets are then passed on in a clockwise direction and unfolded for the first time. The instruction on the second quarter asks the participants to choose from all the proposed solutions in the table the one which in their view has the greatest potential. This is now written down and briefly explained. After passing on the sheets again, the third quarter is unfolded. Here the task is to find a reason and to write down why the solution proposed by the other participant will not work. After the last handing on of the sheets, the last quarter is unfolded. The final task is to examine the suggestion and its criticism and to find a way to solve the problem by which the counter-argument can be refuted.


What's going to happen after the summer?

The workshop, which was held by the psychologists and consultants Sarah Radloff and Anna-Lena Rosenkranz, was perfectly timed and delivered new impulses for change projects in a condensed form. It was the successful conclusion of the first half of our "Year of Change". This will be continued from October onwards - with numerous events focusing on changes in the professional context.