Design Thinking is a way of thinking in which the end user of a service, product or process takes centre stage. Designers have to immerse themselves in the real problem of a client, in his latent desires. This will generate better products that really answer a need and comply to what people really want. Be it a new business model, strengthening the client journey, business process redesign or a software solution.
The Design Thinking Center allows visitors to specifically experience the thought process of Design Thinking, and this human centred design experience begins miles away. Behind the Amsterdam Central Railway Station, plastic whaleboats are waiting to take passengers across the water and the River Amstel to Overamstel. That is where the home of the Design Thinking Center is, in the lab of the former ‘gumball factory’. The entry is via a multi-coloured container, and that is where the party already begins. Visitors pass the most important inventions in world history. From the wheel, the art of printing, the steam engine, the paper clip and the telegraph to the internet, the Toyota Prius and Virtual Reality, and at the end the visitor’s corporate logo is displayed, because ‘today is the first day of your future’. And indeed, that gets the visitor immediately in the right mood.
The bright former factory hall invites and puts a smile on people’s faces. People want to discover, “get started.” Before visitors can get started, first a cup of coffee, and then they take a seat on the ‘stand’. That is where they are told about the space and the programme for the day. They are told that Design Thinking consists of three to four steps, with many intermediate steps in which an original idea is further and further refined. That is about working together with people from as many disciplines as possible. Everything clear? In that case, a Design Thinking coach takes them back to the starting point of the day. Is there any validity in the client’s problem they described earlier? Or is there something completely different underlaying the problem? The Design Thinking process has begun, and look, the participants split up into groups across the floor with coloured stripes, circles and dotted lines in red, yellow, blue and white, which clearly resembles the school gym of times gone by. However, one big difference: the Center is about mental gym.