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Design Thinking Revisited by 3AMK students at XRCenter

What can students from three Finnish universities accomplish in a ten-day intensive design sprint? A multitude of ideas, a set of prototypes and feasible concepts for their commissioners. Students, coaches, and tutors of 3AMK gathered for an intensive micro-course to solve business problems with service design mindset and tools in early June. The novelty of this summer’s course was a brand-new MOOC as pre-course study.


Liisa Wallenius

Senior Lecturer
Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences

Published : 01.09.2022

10 days and 100 challenges -course is a service design module developed at 3AMK. This model was developed in the consortium to cater for in depth study in customer research and creation of concepts and business models. It is a micro-course offered as summer studies at the three-university consortium 3AMK since 2018. This year the 10 days 1000 challenges – course was hosted by and held at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. The student participants formed interdisciplinary and international teams of both of bachelor and master level students. The sprint themes were sustainability and digitalization, and the commissioners the students worked for were Inka paahtimo and Xocolab.

Design thinking is a human-centric approach that solves business problems by bringing together needs of people, viable business solutions and technology in innovative ways. Design thinking in its various forms and implementations has become a rather popular approach in the 21st century business environments and educational institutions. This might be because it offers innovative, fast, and cost-saving problem solving.

Design thinking originates in the late 90s in the Standford d. school’s process of five steps. It is a process and a mindset of working with problem solving. There are various approaches to design thinking such as Design Council’s Double Diamond with a four-step process, Google Ventures’ Design Sprint with a five-day process. The approaches have in common customer-centricity, objectives to tackle business problems combining disciplines and specialists from different fields, using innovative tools and a fast pace of work to test ideas and prototypes. The objective is to create innovative solutions that are desirable by users, technologically feasible and viable for business to realize.

The micro-course comprised of a MOOC, seven days of intensive work and a learning diary documenting the design and learning process. Both the commissioner companies, Inka paahtimo (roastery) and Xocolab, offer sustainable high-quality artisan products and were looking into digitalizing some of their services.

One might wonder what the benefits of such a micro-course can be. Firstly, the MOOC offered an effective and flexible way of studying the theory as the students could work in the environment when convenient for them. Further, the MOOC enhanced learning as it was a pre-requisite helping to ensure that the student teams could immediately start working on the problem-solving as they met, and each day started with a re-cap of the day’s tasks and objectives. Secondly, the students of various disciplines and year courses complemented each other and were quite effective. They could proceed with the tasks swiftly and had coaches and student tutors to help and advice. Also, the commissioners were present on several days and welcomed the teams to visit their premises.

All in all, the sprint provided the student a quick first-hand experience on design thinking problem solving and the commissioners a multitude of ideas, survey results with insights into customer needs. The new concepts created can be used in developing the business. Thus, the micro-course has an impact not only on the students’ work life competencies and especially that of design thinking but in the commissioners’ businesses. Further, 3AMK staff gained experiences and enriched the culture of co-creation by offering this joint course.

Liisa Wallenius
Senior Lecturer, Work Placement Coordinator, Project Coordinator
Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences

Project information:
3AMK project, Project Manager Mikko Järvinen
10 days 100 challenges, 3AMK

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