Introductory workshop on Design Thinking: “Better solutions with the right mind-set”

All Categories, Faculty, Inside CBS   -  3. December 2018

The university founder network cologne e. V. (hgnc) brought two Telekom experts Frank Barz and Ulrich Künzel to the CBS Campus for the topic of “Design Thinking”. As a free advice centre for students setting up in business, hgnc thus offered a comprehensive introduction to one of the most important approaches to developing ideas. “We use Design Thinking for many customer projects and are more than convinced by this innovation process. We recommend prospective founders to go through this mind set and these methods in practice”, says Ulrich Künzel, Service Designer and Design Thinking Workshop Facilitator, Member of the Open Service Design Academy e.V..

1 What is Design Thinking?

“Design Thinking is an innovation process that focuses on customers and their needs. Design Thinking is a whole mind-set and a set of methods,” defines Frank Barz, Partner Manager and Startup Coach at Telekom Deutschland GmbH, the approach developed at Stanford University in the 1980s. The consultant attributes the great popularity of Design Thinking to the changed corporate structures: “In hierarchically structured organisations, there was no need for an innovation process based on group work. Today’s companies, on the other hand, rely on self-management in living organisms, for which Design Thinking is predestined.

2 How does Design Thinking work?

Two prerequisites are important to apply Design Thinking: The method set does not work in large groups and when participants and target group are identical. To visualize the innovation process, the Double Diamond scheme has become established: The horizontal corner points of the diamonds represent the “trigger”, the “problem definition” and the “solution”. This process is divided into five phases: Initially, the participants immerse themselves in the customer world and then focus on the task at hand. In the third phase they create ideas, which they visualize in the form of prototypes and test in the fifth phase. “The special charm of Design Thinking lies in the fact that many of the methods make sense before this setup and lead to a result. The real art is to know when I’m using which method,” says Ulrich Künzel.

In the first phase, for example, a guideline interview can take place with a representative of the target group, in which the objective is defined, influencing variables are determined and a survey is carried out. Participants should ask open questions in this phase so as not to anticipate possible answers. Subsequently, a systematic listing could be made according to “Jobs to be done”, “Desired result”, “Requirements” and “Possible obstacles”. Respondents’ feedback can also be presented in a table and analysed for possible implementation difficulties. The findings from this analysis can be summarised in the “problem statement”: “We are looking for a solution that helps (target group) to achieve (goal)”.

3 What does Design Thinking do?

For Frank Barz, Design Thinking is a success factor for young entrepreneurs: “In a nutshell, successful start-ups always have the better questioning technique to holistically take customer requirements into account”. Applied correctly, Design Thinking manages to shorten long processes and unleash the creativity of the participants. In this way, unconventional ideas and proposed solutions can also be heard within a company.

Further offers of the hochschulgründernetz cologne e. V. for students of Cologne universities at:

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