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Author's profile photo Jochen Guertler

DCC runs Co-Innovation workshop with social entrepreneurs in Hamburg

Short question – what is this? 10 people, standing in a circle, are throwing an imagined ball from one to one and create different sounds while doing? Read to the end for the answer … 😉

As part of her CSR activities, SAP is sponsoring the social impact start program giving social entrepreneurs the chance to work for several months in one of the social impact labs (e.g. In Berlin or Hamburg) on their ideas and vision. The interaction with other entrepreneurs from the labs is one important piece of the program, a continuous mentoring and coaching for all relevant aspects ad topics is a second one.

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The Design and Co-Innovation Center (DCC) was asked to support the latest generation of entrepreneurs in Hamburg to reframe and iterate their current project ideas using a bunch of methodologies around Design Thinking and Business Model Generation.

Together with my colleague Dirk Ziegeler I traveled to Hamburg and we had two very intensive workshop days in the social impact lab in Hamburg, which is located near the harbor. We met 8 very motivated young entrepreneurs working on 4 projects, which are tackling interesting and challenging problem fields like the usage of tactile maps for blind people to provide them a better travel experience.

Besides the classical questions every entrepreneur has to answer we heavily worked also on the social impact of the ideas. Especially this aspect created a lot of discussions and was also very inspiring and learningful for us.

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As there is no truth inside the building, the entrepreneurs went out of it and met “their” users on the street, at the cafe or in the shopping mall. For most of them this was the first time doing so and everybody agreed that it was very helpful to much better understand the needs of a potential user. After that we did not longer talk about “a blind person” but about “Hildegard, a blind 66 year old lady, who likes to travel with her friends and who likes to plan trips in advance with them”.

Such personas created a much better understanding of the users and helped the entrepreneurs a lot to create new ideas how to help them. Why limiting for example the maps for blind people only to tactile information and why not adding much more senses to it to provide a much better experience about a planned trip?

In addition to the classical design thinking artifacts like the mentioned personas or visual and usable prototypes we used over the two days the business model canvas as surrounding framework for every project and iterated this several times – in the different project teams and also in mixed teams.

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Especially the work in mixed teams was a very intensive experience for all the young entrepreneurs as they normally work only on their own project. The different perspectives and additional inspirations they got from the others were very helpful to double-check their current project status and to find potential next steps and iterations.

Strict end-user focus, intensive team work, short iterations on ideas and prototypes, a creative, trustful and energized atmosphere and last but not least a lot of fun – all these ingredients together created two wonderful days in Hamburg we really enjoyed.

Dirk and myself are looking forward to come back to Hamburg to co-innvate again and to see how the different projects will continue.

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P.S. The answer for the initial question is “Soundball” – one of the small and funny warmup games we like to do at the beginning of a workshop day to energize the team. When will we play soundball with you and your team?

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