Some days ago I had the pleasure to be part of the International Design Thinking week at the d.school Potsdam. The program was developed and moderated by Claudia Nicolai and George Kempel himself. As this was both a learningful and inspiring experience I would like to share some thoughts about this with you – feel free to stop reading now if you are not interested in … 🙂

  • We worked in 9 teams of 4-5 people. The team members were a good mixture of HPI students, d.school students, international students and also some professionals from Europe and Middle East
  • The week was hosted by the Factory Berlin, a relatively new spot for startups and founders. The focus is on more established startups like SOUNDCLOUD or 6WUNDERKINDER. Even companies like TWITTER has offices there
  • We had the chance to visit the offices from SOUNDCLOUD and I was impressed – really really cool ! But the other side: also not flexible to be adjusted from the teams.
  • Each team had a coach and a co-coach (who was one of the students from the last advanced track at the d.school). To run a team with two coaches was on one side real luxury on the other side we learned over the days that also this needs planning and preparation between the coaches beforehand and afterwards. In the end I found a good mode with my co-coach and we switched our roles over the days between more „being the coach“ and „being part of the team“.

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  • The given challenge was to bring up „spacial ingredients“ to support collaboration and inspiration between the founders, people and companies inside and outside the factory. So not another community or collaboration platform but „real stuff“ which could be added to the spaces in the factory. The main insights regarding collaboration in co-working spaces we found were (and these fit very well to my own experience in the spaces I work)
    • Putting people together in one room is not enough to let them really collaborate
    • Collaboration does not happen accidental you have to give a clear frame and setup for this
    • „Leaving the comfort zone“ (both the personal and the „workspace“) seem to be really hard for most of the people. As a result they do not start conversations with foreign people for example
    • We heart several times that people would like „to be enforced“ to leave their comfort zone
    • The „smoking breaks“ was mentioned as a good trigger for this. My team created a similar solution based on a intelligent badge, which must be reloaded after a period of time in certain „collaboration areas“
  • George did a really great job as moderator from my point of view. He definitely knows all about Design Thinking but he never acts as „I am the Stanford Guru“ but has a very relaxed and humbled attitude. I really liked it!
  • George and Claudia did in the evening „talks from the heart“ where they talked about a very personal perspective about Design Thinking and all around. I really liked that they focused not on tools, methods or created inventions but on personal development, the right attitude to have a good life and the question how „creativity“ could be a general model for being

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  • At Saturday we had a very inspiring talk from the founders of http://www.knowmads.nl/ – a business school focusing extremely on the personal development of their students. The program sounds more like a „self experience institute “ than a business school. Interestingly (and for me not surprisingly) these students are in the end also very successful change makers and entrepreneurs.
  • Method wise the agenda was not completely „re-invented“ but some things are worth to be mentioned:
    • George did almost not inputs using slides but instead he gave a demo for all the steps (partly alone, partly with the coaches and partly even with the participants). For the demo of an user interview he just grapped a lady from the street and based on this interview he also developed all following steps like POV etc.
    • For the POV we used a different format like the „how might we“ – please find the under https://www.dropbox.com/s/lumz0bwd5e2ok9g/Day%2002%20-%20Define%20handout-%20Sep%202014.pdf?dl=0  – i really liked it and as it is a more open format it opens several aspects for the later ideation
  • I really liked the long coaches debriefs everyday – this was a good way to learn from the experience for the others
  • There are two good coaching recommendations available here – worth to read:
  • We did also long team debriefs, which was a very good experience and gave all team members a chance to learn from each other.

To sum it up: I learned a lot, I met interesting and inspiring people and I had fun. Perfect week in Berlin.

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