Design Thinking

- A student's perspective

Rather than building on past experiences, I have the impression that SSES looks ahead, nourishing the soil for a future sustainable mindset.

Name: Johanna Liz Gustavsson
Title: Master student in Decision-, Risk- and Policy analysis

1. Tell us about yourself, what do you do and what is your academic background?
At the moment I’m attending the Masters program in Decision-, Risk- and Policy Analysis at the Department of Computer and Systems Science at Stockholm University. I have an academic background in several disciplines: life science, humanities, social sciences, and a bachelors degree in International Economic History, specialising in International Relations, Eurasian and Cultural Studies. Before starting the masters program, I’ve worked in different sectors for many years, including NGOs, state offices and entrepreneurship enterprises.

2. What are your impressions from the course? And what are your major takeaways?
The course has made me realize that Design Thinking has the potential to go beyond the scope of just creating products and services. It is a tool for innovation and change, allowing people to embrace reality as it emerges, in contrast to traditional managing tools which are based on linear and predefined series of orderly steps, reducing reality to narrow representations. Design Thinking has helped me open up and allowed my mind to grow. I’ve come to realize the benefits of sharing and exchanging ideas in a non-judgemental environment, such as higher levels of creativity and innovation. The merging of an “I” into a “we” doesn’t necessarily mean getting locked up in a consensus or “group-think” structure.

3. How will you use the knowledge and the experiences of the course in your future career?
Design Thinking was a missing link in my interdisciplinary “worldview” regarding how chaotic and complex problems can be solved through iterative and creative processes. The next step on my interdisciplinary quest is to explore how Design Thinking works in other contexts than the re-designing of a commercial product or service. For instance, how do Design Thinking and Nudging work together?

4. Have you taken any previous courses/experiences at SSES? If so, which ones?
I’ve attended a weekend workshop in Conscious Communication and Decision-Making, and I just started the SSES course in Social Entrepreneurship.

5. Do you value working in interdisciplinary groups? If so, why?
I very much enjoy working in an interdisciplinary context. Putting different mindsets together allows more inclusive and holistic solutions to complex problems. I think that interdisciplinarity is a prerequisite in order to come to turns with the global challenges we face today.

6. Would you recommend the course (and SSES) to a friend?
I would absolutely recommend the courses at SSES. In my view, SSES represents an educational alternative that is up to date and aligned with how the future emerges. Rather than building on past experiences, I have the impression that SSES looks ahead, nourishing the soil for a future sustainable mindset.

7. You find yourself suddenly walking up on stage to your own TED-talk, without any preparation. What do you talk about?
Since the last five years I’ve been preoccupied with how to establish learning systems that promote sustainable decision making under complex and uncertain conditions, I would talk about the spaces for creativity within the monitoring of organisations and companies.

8. What’s one trend that you’re most excited about in the next five years?
The trend at the moment that I feel most excited about is the developments in HCI (Human-Computer-Interaction).