Design Thinking: Strategic Design for Innovation is a an executive education program coordinated by the Bergen design cluster, Human Innovation, in collaboration with Design Region Bergen, the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), University of Bergen Faculty of Fine Art, Music & Design, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
What is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is a practical, human-centered, prototype-driven methodology for innovation that tackles organizational challenges in creative ways.
These challenges can encompass the development of new products, services, and experiences; the design of new business models; or the structuring of new organizational processes.
Design thinking is multidisciplinary in nature: It helps to merge the worlds of design, technology, and business under one powerful, problem-solving tool set.
Further reading: Hjelp! Jeg vet ikke hva Design Thinking er! (in Norwegian)
“It is at the intersection of different disciplines that innovation occurs. In the wake of this insight, it is exciting to see this Design-Thinking Executive-Education Program by NHH, KMD UiB and HVL emerge”
— Tore Ulstein, Chairman & Deputy CEO of Ulstein Group ASA, President of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), Associate Professor II at NTNU
“We believe that interdisciplinary cooperation between engineers, designers, and economists could also be the next globalcompetitive advantage for the Norwegian subsea industry. We therefore look forward with anticipation to the results of this Design Thinking education program”
— Owe Hagesæther, CEO of GCE Subsea
“We find that there is a huge need for innovation of processes and working methods in the Norwegian offshore industry and maritime sector. If we are to survive in the long run, we need to be innovative. We're thrilled, therefore, that NHH, HVL and KMD UiB have joined forces to offer an interdisciplinary program in Design Thinking”
— Linn Cecilie Moholt, CEO of Karsten Moholt AS
Who is this program for?
Our program, the first of its kind in Norway, is developed for business managers, designers, engineers, and technologists — as well as for other aspiring leaders, professionals, and public servants in various fields — interested in developing their competence in human-centered, design-driven innovation.
We will prioritize applicants who work for companies, which are members of Human Innovation, but others are welcome to apply. DesignArena is the Bergen design cluster, aiming to develop and use competences within design-driven innovation.
Candidates must have a bachelor's degree, at least two years of work experience, and should speak both English and Norwegian well.
We are looking for dedicated, forward-looking professionals willing to work in teams to tackle exciting, multidisciplinary challenges in an energetic and practical educational environment.
Once finished with the program, graduates should be prepared to serve as leading change agents within their respective companies and organizations. In turn, the graduates' organizations will have gained a valuable asset: trailblazing, creatively confident employees who are willing to push for progressive, transformational design-driven change.
What will you learn?
The Design Thinking process begins with gaining empathy for the user and ends with the real-world implementation of products, services, processes, experiences and/or systems. Despite first impressions, though, this method is highly iterative and non-linear. Design thinkers learn to swiftly move forward and backward in the process by embracing high-levels of ambiguity and uncertainty.
Empathy & Needfinding
As design thinkers, we begin by focusing on the human experience. We understand that the most impactful innovations are those that address important human needs in meaningful ways. Many times, though, these needs are hidden under the surface.
To better understand these needs, we adopt a deeply empathic perspective by standing in the shoes of others, and experiencing life from their perspective. This kind of needfinding is not new, of course: anthropologists and ethnographers have been doing this for generations. Design Thinking simply relays this powerful approach to address the challenges of modern-day organizations, such as increasing revenues and market share by developing more user-friendly products and services.
And indeed, since companies are made up of humans, the need for empathy is everywhere: internally, with retail and B2B customers, and with many other external stakeholders.
Design thinkers embrace iterations by building rough and rapid prototypes, and testing them early on. At first this can feel chaotic and risky. Design thinkers quickly become comfortable with trial and error, however, and value the immediate feedback that it provides.
We are open to small, early failures, which can eventually pave our way to success. We don't, however, think that failure is fun. That would be disingenuous. All we do is train ourselves — and our companies — to embrace failure for the learning opportunity that it really is.
Although some quiet, independent thinking can be good for idea generation, design thinkers recognize early on that meaningful, human-centered innovations can only flourish through team-based, social processes.
Design thinkers constantly seek opportunities for radical collaboration and co-creation. It is through the cross-pollination of multiple perspectives, ideas, and approaches that the creative process flourishes. We leverage diversity in all its forms — gender, cultural, academic, professional — to break with the status quo.
Design thinkers focus more on asking the right questions than coming up with the right answers. This is because the goal of design is not to discover an existing truth through traditional analytical thinking. That's the role of science. Instead, design thinkers seek to invent the future through synthesis.
And because there is no single right future, but instead many possible futures, asking the right questions helps us explore multiple possibilities — eventually honing in on the most appropriate one.
Design thinkers understand that with the right approach, our minds can become boundless. Quite often, however, the flow of creative ideas becomes obstructed by social constructs, self-imposed cognitive limitations, and personal biases, which we inevitably adopt as we grow older.
Design thinkers learn to break these mental blocks by deferring judgement, letting go of unhelpful preconceptions, building on the ideas of others, and bringing mindfulness to everything that we do.
Test & Commercialize
Ultimately, design thinkers want to have an impact on the world. This is why besides developing new ideas, we also focus on the execution and commercialization of those ideas. This means that we must understand how our innovations become part of an organization's operations, management structure, and culture.
Similarly, it's important for us to view our creations as a part of a greater whole, one which includes markets, suppliers, competitors, among many other stakeholders. We therefore learn how to integrate our creations into the larger market context by designing innovative business models.
Designing new products, services, and experiences is inherently ambiguous and messy. Design thinkers embrace this non-linearity and chaos through open-mindedness, flexibility, and a youthful sense of experimentation and play.
We acknowledge that micromanaging or over controlling the innovation process is not only futile, but also counterproductive. Design thinkers revel in uncertainty, improvise constantly, trust their gut feeling, and laugh a lot. We don't take ourselves too seriously, but we take what we do very seriously.