Design solutions come from a creative mind.
It is not necessary to involve a lot of expert creative designers in each design process. It is important to catch creative insights of participants in a design issue -- users and owners -- in an exact moment which that creative momentum is happening (Dorst & Cross 2001).
Dorst and Cross in their research also mention that designers must be able to collect all of these insights during the process in order to come up with key features of the design concept. However, it is not guaranteed that the expected creative moment should happen for sure because it is related to the situation that the design process being done.
In participatory design one of the items that affects the creative process is the tool for participatory design (Sanders, 2002). Sanders belives that using "make tools" is a projective way for participants in any level of design ability to express what they want and what they have in mind. In other words, it can be a language in common for all stakeholders in a design project.
For example, people can use LEGO pieces to make product in a simplest way, but in the meantime they are talking about those features that they want. That is how that LEGO playing enables them to talk more and more about their needs. In a nutshell, this activity enables them to say, do and make their dreams.
Christiaans (1992) shows that time is an important issue in creative process. If participants spend more time to map ideas from their own perspective to the subject that they have to be creative for, designers can achieve better results as a result of that activity (Christiaans, 1992). Besides, applying creativity in design process makes that idea original (Dorst, 2001), so if product owners can put their ideas in their own design project, it can be invaluable for them to have an original and unique product amongst other competitors.
The only issue here is how to extract those original ideas, and how to put them in action. The answer for the second part is more about the product development process, but creative designers can help product teams answer the first question. They can incorporate everyone's ideas in a design process and take advantage of everyone's time, creativity, and insights.
The research of Dorst and Cross (2001) about creativity in design also argues that creativity in design brings the problem-solving aspect involved with co-participation models. They also state that this combination brings surprises for designers in they did not think about before (Schon, 1983). This ‘surprise’ plays an important role in the process of problem-solving for a design task (Dorst & Cross, 2001). Therefore, creativity in design can expand a horizon in a design process and if this task can be done in a participatory design with a good "make tool", it could focus all stakeholders’ creative minds on a right path and make designers surprised.
To put the issue into perspective, doing creative design, as designers, users, and product owners, requires a powerful toolkit. This toolkit might involve everyone and should help participants to say, do, and make what they believe as a creative output for a specific subject.
Dorst, K., & Cross, N. (2001). Creativity in the design process: co-evolution of problem–solution. Design studies, 22(5), 425-437.
Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action (Vol. 5126). Basic books.
Christiaans, H. (1992). Creativity in design PhD Thesis. Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands.
Sanders, E. B. N. (2002). From user-centered to participatory design approaches. Design and the social sciences: Making connections, 1-8.
Eslamifar, A. (2014). A Tool for Empathetic User Experience Design (Doctoral dissertation, Arizona State University).