Ten faces of innovation at IdeasPark

NA_day7_klein2From an overall perspective tThe ThyssenKrupp IdeaPark was a real success story for ThyssenKrupp. More than 200.000 visitors joined the exhibition, talks and workshops in Hanover. ThyssenKruppp invested a total of 10 Million Euro in encouraging curiosity for technical development and creativity. They are conceiving this as an important investment in the future of engineering. As posted on the blog before, the awareness for design in this context is not yet in the focus.

In that way Zollverein School’s Design Workshop “Nomadic Academy” was very distinct from the other exhibits in the IdeasPark. The Nomadic Academy was probably the one and only exhibition stand which constantly changed its appearance and status. In the beginning the setting was very open for the audience as the design students included the audience in their discussions and design approaches, a very concentrated working atmosphere was observed the two days before the final presentation.

During the days of the workshop in my role of being Zollverein School’s project co-ordinator I’ve explained the audience the different conceptual approaches of the students. Seeing the results from today’s perspective I would relate the outcome of the developed projects to the idea of Design Thinking. Although most student groups focused on products, the results illustrate very well the approach towards innovation by design. Especially one project, that included the children’s creativity into customised products shows how “Design Thinking” is linking current situations and needs with the technical opportunities at hand and transforms them into a product strategy.

For the participating students the workshop turned out to be an excellent experience to explore the importance of strategic communication as a core competence for designers. Being asked for their most important experience during this week, most students mentioned that first of all the capability to explain and communicate ideas and processes to a team as well as to a critical audience. For the stages of concept development and execution open-mindedness and honesty in the conversation were important. As one of the students summarizes the overall experience:

“The best ideas developed through discussion. Even misunderstandings led to important inspiration.”

For me regarding their personal career development students explored some of roles/personas described by Tom Kelley in the “Ten Faces of Innovation“. While some are rather ‘experimenters’ few are ‘collaborators’ and only one demonstrated the characteristics of a ‘director’. In this context Chinese student Lu Zouh who graduated in China and who is currently continuing her studies in Sweden and Holland, reflects that she is now able to oversee the various dimensions of a project much better and that in the near future she would like to direct a similar project in order to assure it’s overall qualities.

Finally, even though Zollverein School’s key areas of post-graduate education clearly do not include hands-on design still the Nomadic Academy addressed some of the key areas of business and design thinking namely maintaining the potential of collaborative creation while integrating a business awareness into concept development!

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