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Markus Kugler

27.6.2017

Innovation and Ideation Workshop: Interdisciplinarity rocks!

Since mid-2016, we have conducted a whole series of innovation and ideation workshops with coeno.

Not so much because we had strategically thought it through, but because we had already gained a lot of experience with various creative and meeting methods internally and then the opportunity arose to apply this methodological knowledge in working with some of our long-standing clients. As a result, we enjoyed this work a lot and "by the way" helped our clients to get the issues they were working on on the road.

This positive experience has encouraged us to offer and further expand the implementation of workshops as part of our service offering in the future.

What exactly was worked on in the workshops?

Of course I can't give away details, but basically most of the workshops were about similar issues: How can the possibilities that the new technologies open up be used sensibly and profitably in our customers' companies? Examples would be the topics blockchains, artificial intelligence or augmented reality. Here, the aim is to first create a common understanding and then to think about possible products and services from the customer's point of view, in order to then create the necessary conditions for the creation of, for example, prototypes or product visions.

How does coeno do this?

We offer workshops individually tailored to the customer's needs, but we also have access to a well-filled toolbox of different methods from which we put together a suitable program depending on the objectives and the group of participants. This means that the workshop(s) will be prepared and conducted by us thematically, methodically and structurally. The customer himself provides the participants. We act as moderator.
When we talk about technology-driven innovation workshops, they usually start by highlighting the opportunities that arise from the application of a technology - whether in the customer's industry or in a completely different field. Technical background information, trying out the technology or field reports have also proven to be very useful.
Once the possibilities have been understood, new products and services or optimized processes can be freely and openly considered. That's when things become very creative. This ideation phase is really about opening up the horizon, getting the scissors out of your head and "spinning around" as much as possible.
After that, you consolidate the ideas more and more, steam them and concretize them. This can go so far that at the end of a two or three-day workshop, a list of user stories for a prototype is actually created, which then goes into implementation.

If the ideation phase is about creativity, then such workshops are best done with creative people, right?

No, quite the opposite. In our experience, the more heterogeneous the workshop participants are, the better the result. A good mix of the participants' skills, strengths and hierarchies means that the different perspectives always provide new impulses, both in the initial workshops and later during implementation.

Why should you hire someone from outside for these workshops?

Basically, such workshops can of course also be planned and carried out internally - if there are methodically competent employees in the company. But the neutral structuring by a third party ensures that the most is really made out of the workshop days. As an agency, we are the pace-setters, the encouragers and sometimes also the breakers. For example, when there is a danger of being restricted by corporate policy conditions or getting lost in detailed technical discussions.
In addition, with our background as User Experience Consultants, we always have a special eye for what the user or customer wants. This helps to ensure that the ideation of products and services is customer-oriented and not purely based on technical feasibility. It is therefore the mixture of UX know-how, methodical competence and curiosity about new topics that distinguishes us as a partner.

And what about the time required - both for the agency and for the client?

We as an agency take care of the planning of content and time, the preparation, implementation and follow-up. Two-day ideation workshops have proven to be a successful time format. We are represented by two people in each workshop to ensure a meaningful process. The total effort for us is then about 12 to 15 person days (PT) for a two-day Ideation Workshop. On the customer side, ideally eight or more people should participate. In the preparation phase, some effort should be made to coordinate with us and to coordinate the schedule. Since we take care of the follow-up work - for example in the form of a documenting presentation - there is no effort for the customer here.

There is some effort involved, is it worth it?

Absolutely. Let's assume that the goal of an innovation project is to create a functional prototype so that as much as possible can be learned about a new technology and how to use it. We can quickly talk about time expenditure beyond the 100 PT.
The initial expenditure of 30 PT - agency and customer together - is easily saved in the course of the project. Simply because all stakeholders were involved in the process and the brainstorming from the very beginning. Everyone has the same picture in mind. There are no junctions along the way, no need to justify yourself to others in the course of the development.
This common "pride in one's work" helps enormously and cannot be compensated in effort and costs.

What are the most important learnings regarding innovation and ideation workshops?

If innovation projects are not carried out in a technically focused manner, but in an interdisciplinary manner with a good proportion of "design" know-how, then these projects will be more successful. Such interdisciplinary cooperation must be encouraged. Initial Ideation Workshops are a very good way to do just that.

Markus Kugler

Managing Director & Usability Engineer

mk@coeno.com

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