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This week I had the pleasure of observing and evaluating 13 student team project presentations from two segments of the Innovation and Design course at the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame.  Together with Notre Dame leaders in the Athletic Department and GameDay operations, SAP sponsored three different Design Thinking challenges around campus parking, campus traffic and event ticketing that allowed students to address real world problems.  The description of the one semester class is as follows:

• Innovation is about creating new ideas that have a positive impact. It requires thinking differently about the world around us. We’ll discuss the key principles and the innovation processes that lead to breakthroughs and the practices that make them work. We’ll learn about design and design thinking in ways that can be used to solve big problems in a human centered way.

The excerpts and photos above illustrate all of the key aspects of Design Thinking in action with a particular focus on the user experience, technology enhancements and prototyping.  This semester’s project descriptions were:

(1) Olympic Sport Events at Notre Dame do not yield the attendance they deserve.  How might we optimize attendance at Olympic Sport Events?

(2) Fans experience long delays arriving and exiting Notre Dame during peak sporting events.  How might we improve the traffic flow going into and out of ND Stadium during football and/or multiple Olympic event nights?

(3) Parking during football weekends is at a premium and it is difficult for all to find and secure parking.  How might we enable easier identification, access, and purchase of parking?

Together with the professor and representatives of athletics and gameday operations, we evaluated the final projects using these criteria.

• Process: Was the research immersive? Were the appropriate users observed? Has the team demonstrated a collaborative work process?

• Learnings:  Are learnings clearly stated and memorable? Are insights supported by photo and video evidence?

• Concepts and Scenarios: Do the concepts tie back to insights? Do the scenarios demonstrate a system of solutions?

• Storytelling: Does the presentation tell a coherent story? Is the context of the project communicated clearly (background, challenge, etc.)? Does the presentation effectively communicate what was done (process, methods)? Is the context (landscape, users) framed in a meaningful way? Does it summarize the future opportunity and its value for the company?

• Presentation Composition: Is the presentation compelling? Is it visual? Does it make you sit up and take notice?

• Overall Gestalt: Did the team embrace and learn from the process? Did the team present a valuable, user-centered innovation?

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