1 Design Department, Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
2 Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering Department (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 5015-5022
ISBN: 978-84-09-14755-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2019.1223
Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain
Design thinking is an established approach for product design workshops implementation at Politecnico di Milano. A widely cited definition by Brown describes design thinking as an approach of user-centered innovation that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity. The focus of the creative approach is to highlight which features of the product need to be improved and developed while creating a new or enhanced feasible solution meeting customer needs with added value.

On the other hand, the agile methodology provides a way to solve problems by promoting better collaboration and communication among the designers and the clients, thus shortening the feedback loop and improving productivity over the design process. The key objective of the agile development is to deliver quality products in a cost and time effective manner through a series of short iterative and incremental development cycles.

While design thinking and agile have different approaches regarding requirements gathering and upfront design, they also have similarities. The main is that both approaches are user and customer-focused.

In this work, the authors show how design thinking and agile methodology have been combined in order to improve the overall process quality of a product design workshop. The application of the hybrid approach has required the detailed planning of the activities by following specific timing for product development and clients’ feedback, consistently with the agile rules. The objective of each development cycle instead has been set by following design thinking steps for product development: understand, diverge, decide, prototype and validate. The activities have been planned in a manner that each day was preparatory for the upcoming working steps. The client has been engaged in the initial phase of the educational experience in order to show the stringent requirements of the new product, and in reviewing activities over the design process. In line with the number of the iterative cycles, the workshop has lasted five days and has involved undergraduates design students at Politecnico di Milano.

The results have been measured by considering both the final projects and the process quality. The firsts have been evaluated by the client after a final presentation of the work that each team was asked to prepare. The second by collecting students answers from a dedicated questionnaire in addition to the direct observation of the working sessions.

The achieved results have shown that the workshop has been evaluated as a positive experience by both the client and the designers. The overall increased productivity makes the hybrid approach appropriate for short-time activities of product development, such as workshops, as it allows for quality outputs and improved collaboration among the participants.

The here presented experience is the basis for further improvements and results validation for conducting product design workshop at Politecnico di Milano.
Design workshop, product design, user-centered design, agile method, integration.