Design Thinking For Dummies
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Creativity techniques used in design thinking can be divided into methods that are intuitive-creative or systematic-analytical. By applying the intuitive-creative techniques, usually in a group, you can stimulate spontaneous ideas, associations, and analogous conclusions in order to overcome mental blocks in the form of a much freer configuration. Intuitive techniques are particularly suited for problems that are tough to solve as well as for tasks that are still unclear.

Not every technique designed to improve creativity is suitable for every question and for every team. Creativity is highly individualistic: Everyone has their own experiences, habits, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. This is why you should experiment with various techniques for spurring creativity and test multiple techniques in a team. Avoid using the same methods all the time. In any workshop, vary the use of creativity techniques frequently. Ideally, you combine different techniques in order to get new impulses for the generation of ideas.

The principles of decomposition and abstraction are increasingly used in systematic-analytical techniques. If you want to improve products with a modular structure or solve technical problems, systematic-analytical creativity techniques are recommended. Two helpful systematic-analytical methods that you can combine with brainstorming are mind-mapping and the morphological box, as described next.

Structuring the topic with mind-mapping

Mind maps are graphical representations of a problem and the various aspects of its solution. The problem or question is written down in the center of a large sheet of paper or on a white board, and the solutions are spread out over the entire surface. The idea is to write down the topic or question in a cloud in the center of the sheet, as shown in Figure 10-2. Branches that divide and fan out from the topic into different areas emerge from the cloud. When you develop a culture of innovation, these areas are strategy, leadership, processes, structure, and competencies. Keywords are written on the branches. The main branches represent the top themes. Details are written on the twigs. Make the mind map even more expressive by using color, images, or symbols. After creating a mind map, you can summarize the branches and twigs again, or you can combine branches that hadn’t been connected before.

mind-mapping Developing a culture of innovation with mind-mapping.

Specifically search for missing branches or twigs so that you can detect gaps in your problem-solving process or your generation of ideas. There are also software programs for mind-mapping. You should note the following rules for mind-mapping:

  • Only use nouns
  • Write in block letters
  • Use symbols (arrows, emojis, figures) and images
  • Write the labels horizontally for legibility
  • Use W-questions for the structuring (Who? What? Where? Whereby? When? Why?)

Systematically finding solutions with a morphological box

With a morphological box, you first mentally break down a product, process, service, or your entire business model into its components or functions. You then search for different characteristic forms for each component or function. These variants are combined in order to generate new ideas for solutions. The creative approach of the morphological box is shown in the following figure, with the example of an alarm clock. In the first column, write down the individual functions of an alarm clock, such as the alarm itself, the alarm reminder, or the setting of the wake-up time. For each of these functions, think about how you might express this function differently. You can generate an alarm signal by ringing a bell, playing music, making an announcement, shaking an object thoroughly, shining a bright light, or changing the temperature. Then combine the different characteristic forms of the individual functions with each other.

morphological box An example of the development of an alarm clock with a morphological box.

You can use the morphological box for more than just technical devices. Imagine that you want to write a thriller. A thriller has a perpetrator, a motive, a victim, a detective, a witness, a crime scene, a time of the crime, and other characteristics. Then list how you would realize each individual component. The perpetrator can be a professor, a book author, a soccer player, a butcher, or a gardener. These are the characteristic forms of the perpetrator component. In the end, combine the selected characteristic forms of the various components with each other. Your screenplay for a new thriller is complete!

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