Experimental results: can the degree of use of Design Thinking be diagnosed using management tools?
In 2017, I was in Finland at Haaga Helia University of Applied Sciences, and I was able, together with Dr. Anna Kimberley, to conduct behavioral research in inter-administrative teams on the use of various management methods. One of them was also the Design Thinking methodology, which the students used to solve an organizational problem.
The concept of Design Thinking emerged as a consequence of a human-centered approach to innovation. It can be used not only to create new products and services, but also to solve human-centered organizational and business problems. It is said that Design Thinking is becoming more of an attribute of the organizational culture of a team or a company than a specialized knowledge or management methodology. I, however, am of the opinion that it is a methodology (more broadly than a method) for solving organizational problems.
The characteristic elements of Design Thinking are user focus, problem formulation, problem visualization, experimentation and diversity. They strongly depend on the culture and language dominant in the team.
The published article formulates two hypotheses. The first: multilingual teams use more elements of Design Thinking to solve a problem than monolingual teams. The second: multilingual teams are more diverse in their use of Design Thinking elements than monolingual teams.
Of course, a separate purpose of this article was to present the high potential of the Organizational Sizing System and related managerial tools in the study of phenomena in team and project management.
The participants in the study were undergraduate students from Haaga Helia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki. The study was conducted from September 26 to December 20, 2017 in Finland. The participants were divided into seven teams, which consisted of five people. Three teams were culturally and linguistically homogeneous (Finnish, American and French). Four other teams were heterogeneous in both culture and language. Their common working language was English.
In order to verify the hypotheses, I introduced rather complicated indicators to describe their teamwork. I based their calculation on the parameters of Design Thinking usage known in the literature:
- collaboration – users seek to understand needs through research and qualitative approaches, influence each other and focus on collaboration more than following a manager’s instructions,
- problem definition – team members expand the problems and solution space, create new ideas during brainstorming sessions and define ideas in detail,
- visualizing the problem – team members visualize ideas and make them tangible, practice “thinking by doing”, try to describe problems and create choices,
- experimentation – they quickly prototype and test solutions, creating different options for solving problems, they view failures positively, with fun and humor,
- diversity – the team is diverse within, which is considered a strength of the team, members perform many different activities on the way to solutions, these activities are mixed and undertaken one after another in many different combinations.
In the results of the analysis of the data on the work of these teams, it turned out, first, that multilingual teams do not use at all more elements of Design Thinking to solve a problem than monolingual teams. Second, that multilingual teams are, however, more diverse in their use of Design Thinking elements than monolingual teams.
The article is quite complicated, but I recommend you read the whole thing: