DesignThinkers: Facilitators of the Explorations of Value Spaces

Design Thinkers

Who are DesignThinkers?
DesignThinkers describes themselves as a Design Driven Service Innovation Agency and is based in Amsterdam. They help organisations design brands, product service systems and cultures of trust, by exploring and organising values spaces in order to create meaningful services, develop new collaborations and grow business. Their goal is to create sustainable business based on a long term and human centred vision. We conducted a creative workshop with them at their office in early December 2011. DesignThinkers consists of Arne van Oosterom (@DesignThinkers), Marjo Staring (@MarjoStaring), Tim Schuurman (@SLOEP) and Johannes van den Eerenbeemt (@JohannesvdE). Arne, Marjo, Tim and Johannes participated in the workshop. During the workshop, we explored their practices (what they offer), how they have transitioned (how they work) and what drives their practice (why they do what they do). Below is an excerpt of the workshop outcomes. The full story will be published in the book.

What are DesignThinkers’ Values and Principles?
Collectively, they describe themselves as explorers, exploiting value spaces to reveal new opportunities. It is important for DT to work with like-minded people who share the same values and vision. Over the last 5 years, their core team have built an inter-connected ecosystem consisting of organisations, associates, professional and academic networks which has led to new insights and opportunities for design thinking. This network is built on the principles of trust, ownership, entreprenerialship and collaboration.

They are driven by a collective need to ‘make a difference’ by deriving social, business and economical values through the use of design approaches. They strive to balance their professional ethical stance with a sustainable business model.

DT Vales and Principles

What is their mindset?
Making a difference
DT has always strove to challenge perceptions through their design and approach. This mindset has not changed, only redirected at more strategic levels within organisations.

Collaborative
DT’s relationship to clients have changed from one of a consultancy model to a collaborative one.

Confidence
Through the broadening of the DT network and international recognition, DT has the professional reputation and confidence to approach and engage organisations.

Being proactive
This professional clout has enabled DT to be much more proactive in engaging and convincing organisations to work with DT.

Revealing value
DT is not just communicating stories but now facilitates design spaces (through their network and service products) with the aim of revealing values.

What are DT’s thoughts on future practices of design?
Their practices are focusing much more on the facilitation of ideas and conversations than facilitation of materials. They see this as a continuing trend, certainly for themselves and for other service-led design agencies. Collaboration between designers have always been present, certainly internally with other professionals. However, the key difference has been the switch to explicitly building purposeful collaboration with businesses, institutions and government bodies (partners as they call them). Designers learn by doing. They are now just extending that to help others learn design by doing design through facilitation, workshops and masterclasses. Emotional engagement remains an important aspect of future practices, after all ‘Design is materialised emotion’ (Arne). Design approaches allow values and emotions to be made explicit through the usage of creative tools to create a safe place and time to innovate.
The only constant thing about change, is that it will change, change is constant. Organisations have to constantly change to respond to need and value of their users. If they dont, they might go the way of Kodak who has just filed for bankrupcy.


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