End of August I had the chance to attend the Design Thinking Camp in Sofia and facilitate a brainstorming session. Thanks to SAP DevX, who sponsored the trip, I was able to show the innovative power of SAP and bring some insights back to my colleagues.
It was the first ever event in Bulgaria tackeling only design thinking and service design. The event took place at the Sofia Tech Park, where 18 high-tech companies (including SAP), as well as 11 startups are working and developing their innovative business ideas. The 200 participants were mainly students and total design thinking newbies, but also some startups, IT specialists, designers and a few DT experts.
Day 1 – Human-centered experiences
As the event was supported by the municipality, the major of Sofia Ms Yordanka Fandakova, was there to speak some welcoming words. Followed by the organizer, Eleonora Carnasa from the Sofia based service design agency Fabrica 360.
The two days, packed with talks and workshops, started with an inspirational keynote from Rama Gheerawo, Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art, UK.
He stated that we see centralisation and top-down control in leadership today. But in tomorrow’s world we need Creative Leadership. He is convinced, that people which use Design Thinking and Inclusive Design have a great potential to lead and he’s not the only one:
“CEOs who are inclusive, leading with emotions and empathy, are more likely to succeed in creating lasting change.” – Lars Faeste, Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group
His talk was followed by some trend researches in Design Thinking, including how to design for AI-services, as well as more insights on when and how to apply the DT process within projects, in order to be successful.
“Did you know, that you need to have at least 3000 ideas to end up with one successful product?”
In the afternoon, I attended a workshop on Inclusive Design, where we got introduced to real people (not users, nor customers) with disabilities. Our interviewees name was Vanja. We had to interview her and find out which daily problems she is facing and think about, how to solve them.
“Users use, consumers consume, but people live! Therefore design for people, not users.”
My team ended up with the “rent a wheelchair for free”-scenario, in order to create awareness on the issues wheelchair-drivers are facing in the city of Sofia, e.g. cobblestone pavements, big gaps on the train platforms, unusable furniture etc. It was an eye-opening experience to talk and design for inclusion. And I definitely aim to include such “unusual” interviewees, such as physically impaired people, but also kids and elderly people, into upcoming projects – at least every now and then.
Day 2 – Design Thinking for different industries
On the next day, speakers were showing use cases on how design thinking is applied in different industries. For example, a London-based startup named EnrolYourself uses the process to solve learning challenges within a group of strangers, which become mentors over time. Iva Halacheva, a Bulgarian service designer living in Melbourne, talked about the benefits of designed experiences in sports and how they can stop violence. There were also some learnings from Mohamed Fakihi (CEO at Kratos Technology) on why design thinking could fail in your organization.
Building castles in the sky: Unlock creative potential with different ideation techniques
In the afternoon, I was facilitating a workshop on different techniques for the brainstorming phase and when to apply them. It was the class which was booked out first, and there were even more people joining. I ended up having 26 very engaged and curious participants. After an introduction, for which I got special speakers support from SAP DevX (thanks again!), we deep dived into three methods.
First we tried to find solutions on how to improve the next design thinking camp with reverse brainstorming. Then we used a Customer Journey Map and the REICC-method to create a stressless flight experience for our user persona. We ended with ideating on a possible future scenario with autonomous cars, where every participant was blindfolded by wearing a sleeping mask (a method invented by Zukunftsinstitut Workshop). The participants enjoyed it a lot and showed their interest by asking a lot of questions.
My dear colleague from SAP Sofia Veselina Petrova rounded off the day with a workshop on storytelling with SAP Scenes and hand-drawn sketches.
Both, Veselina and me were able to prove that it is fun and inspiring to work for SAP, and we hope we have awakened interest for future employees.