The digitisation of our daily lives offers major innovation potential for organisations through such services as mobile apps, cloud services and applications in the Internet-of-things (IoT) sector. Not every technical innovation will achieve automatic success however. Many technical gadgets fail because users have no need of it, or because they are too complicated to use: Do users really want the water tap in the kitchen to respond to a verbal command delivered via Alexa? Do users really need the several dozen automatic baking programmes offered by modern ovens? If they do, how can such products be intuitively operated? Do users actually want to start their dishwashers via a mobile app or want the app to tell them when the wash cycle has finished?
It is only when digital services deliver a sustainable value for the user and can be used efficiently and effectively that they can earn broad acceptance and so create lasting value for both users and society.
This is where Design Thinking comes in: Design Thinking is an innovation method which on the basis of an iterative process delivers user- and customer-oriented results to solve complex problems (cf. Uebernickel et. al. 2015).
Companies like SAP, Lufthansa, Continental, Telekom, BSH Home Appliances and BMW are already deploying this method and are beginning to rethink problem solving and to anchor user centered design in their corporate philosophies.
By applying methods from the fields of Design Thinking, Lean UX and agile software development, the Innovation Lab will rapidly develop software and systems for the problems posed with the inclusion of the user. From the very outset the focus is on the anticipated user group and its requirements and the assumed added value for the users. Design Thinking is more than asking users what they want, rather Design Thinking teams attempt to uncover hidden user needs.
As an interdisciplinary course, the Innovation Lab brings together students from the Faculties of Computer Science and Mathematics, Architecture and Business Studies. The different perspectives which come together form a basis for creative idea development beyond the boundaries of their own specific disciplines.
- Students are introduced to and familiarised with the Design Thinking innovation method and use it to find solutions in actual projects.
- Students recognise the relevance of involving users in the problem-solving process.
- Students can assess the value of the method for use in their own projects and can apply it independently.
- Students can derive requirements from prototypes and transpose them to agile project management tools.
- Students can set up and manage their own projects with Scrum, and can deploy methods of User Centered Design to check whether the solution which they have developed fits the user's requirements.
- Students learn to work in interdisciplinary teams and to appreciate the viewpoints of other disciplines and specialisms.
- Students develop an understanding of design theory and business startup theory so as to be better able to understand and categorise the concepts they have learned.