I’m very pleased to bring you the seventh in my series of interviews with SAP employees in a variety of roles in the area of user experience and design.
Beate Riefer is a design thinking coach with SAP’s Design and Co-Innovation Center in Heidelberg, Germany. Beate started working at SAP in 2010 as a user experience designer and has been a design thinking coach for 2 years. Currently she is coordinating the AppHaus Heidelberg.
Please briefly explain what you do at SAP as a design thinking coach.
As a design thinking coach I support design projects in the DCC with my expertise in design thinking (DT) methods and the DT process. It’s a bit like project management mixed with user research and creativity methods. The biggest part of my DT work is customer workshops to define the scope for a project and DT trainings and “get to know” DT-activities with customers.
With whom do you usually work on a typical project?
That depends on the setting. If I’m working on a project, I work closely with the project lead (who does the real project management) and the other people in the project such as customers and other coaches. If I’m setting up a workshop, I have to coordinate on the one hand with the “client” (often the account executive or the customer contact from the SAP services side) to clarify the setting and goals of the workshop. On the other hand, I work together with other DT coaches who will support or co-moderate the workshop.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The variety of people you get to know, as well as testing and applying new methods, interacting with and coaching people.
What are the most challenging aspects of your work?
Getting the customer expectations right is often a challenge. Many times people want to have a one day DT workshop and solve all their problems in detail and also be DT experts after one day. It’s hard to give people the right feeling for what is possible and what not.
Sometimes it’s also a challenge to pull the people out of their usual working and thinking structures in order to open up for new methods. Interestingly, our SAP employees often express reservations to us that if we have a workshop with rather conservative customers, that we might “scare” the customers away with “silly games.” But normally the conservative customers are the ones who enjoy those activities the most! The “games” are proven methods which really help people to open up and get the most out of the workshop.
What did you study?
I have a degree in media design from the Hochschule der Medien in Stuttgart, Germany.
How did your studies prepare you for a career in design thinking?
The main focus of my studies was on design, but I also learned a lot about communication, how people learn, the iterative design process (design thinking means: thinking like a designer), and a passion for creativity methods.
What is your design motto?
Don’t fall in love with your ideas!
Thank you for the interview, Beate.