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Design Thinking as the Innovation Methodology: Structure of the Kyiv LEPP Programme

Design thinking is a non-linear iteration method for the creation of the product that tries to understand the product user with risk assumption, proposed innovation approaches to prototypes and product testing. 

The Kyiv LEPP Programme of the Ukrainian School of Practice is based on the design thinking method for idea incubation as regards the practical solution of issues of access to justice. The Kyiv LEPP Programme is the School’s International Programme the purpose of which is to find viable and human-focused practical solutions in the area of A2J. The Programme provides for participation of up to five teams from different countries, who determine the legal issues for the Programme to develop the practical solution at the application stage. The teams cooperate to determine, invent and create prototypes of solutions and test their sustainability during the presentation to each other. The structure of the Kyiv LEPP Programme uses all five stages of design thinking.

The design thinking method allows understanding the complexity of perception and understanding of the contemporary phenomena, where scientific inventions and technical and technological solutions have turned into an ordinary thing. Design thinking allows considering the issue in a creative manner and with an account of the human needs, which is more interesting, understandable and easier.

The design thinking process is based on the teamwork, a continuous exchange of opinions and experience. In order to get the practical product, the main thing is to keep trying (and creating prototypes) since there can be a genius idea during the brainstorm, out of a billion of seemingly insane ideas. Each experiment is a new step to resolution of the issue or creation of the new product, which will be of use for people.

Let’s consider the stages in more detail.

I. Feelings, or Empathy

Ability to place yourself into another person’s shoes, to try to understand his or her character and conduct, feelings and outlook. During the Kyiv LEPP, this stage provides for deep analysis of the target groups and connection thereof with the issue stated by each team.

II. Definition  

Attempts to define the issue are the process of analysis of the observations collected at the previous stage. Definition of the issue must be focused on understanding a user of the future product, feeling his or her needs. At this stage of the Kyiv LEPP Programme, legal issues of all the target groups for each team are verified.

III. Invention

We can start looking for solutions when we know the carrier of the issue and understand that the problem does exist, and it has been verified.  The invention of the solution is generation of the team’s ideas concurrently with mapping of all opinions and proposed approaches to solution of the issue in access to justice stated by each team. The variety of approaches is a pre-condition for the Invention stage. It is forbidden to focus on several convenient and well-established solutions.

IV. Prototyping  

It is the process of concurrent implementation of various proposed ideas, proposals and modelling. At this stage, the team uses optimum approaches but does not focus only on those that seem obvious at first sight. Design thinking is a creative process, and the prototype of the “strange” solution may turn out to be the most efficient at the next Testing stage. At this stage, the teams participating in the KYIV LEPP Programme can implement their ideas to settle legal issues by different means. At Kyiv LEPP 2019, it looked as follows:

V. Testing

Testing the prototypes is the moment of truth.  It is time to find out how viable the idea is, how implementation thereof may be of use for resolution of the issue. During the testing, there may be feedback on the created prototypes. One should remember that the “failing” prototypes are not to be thrown away at once: some of them may be of use next time. To some extent, the Kyiv LEPP Programme is the crash test of the idea, a chance to check viability of the model of the solution, the teams’ opportunity to bring home the finished plan for resolution of the issue of access to justice.

For the last several decades, the design thinking method has been actively used by the global leaders such as Google and Apple. The rules for use thereof are taught in the leading universities all over the world since the business of any level is starting to use it. Design thinking improves the world around us day by day owing to the method’s ability to generate innovation solutions in an innovative manner. 

As for access to justice, the authorities in different countries have been proposing the methods far from design thinking for years, with the main instructions “from above” as the main one. In the Kyiv LEPP Programme, the representatives of the authorities, public organizations, paralegal communities and agents of changes in the communities joint their efforts to find the solutions of the issues with the account of the needs of their target groups.

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