Inspiration for innovation
Germany’s Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung foundation works to promote peace, freedom, the rule of law, and the social market economy in Germany and internationally. As part of its annual board meeting in March 2016, it joined a design-thinking workshop together with the SAP Design and Co-Innovation Center at the new SAP AppHaus in Berlin at which it tried out user-centric methods to generate creative input to arrive at new topics for 2017.
It’s nothing like a conventional conference. And we really didn’t know what to expect so we had to be open to anything. Being guided through a process like this was fun.– Andreas Kleine-Kraneburg, head of the foundation’s Berlin Academy
Back at the foundation after the workshop, we realized that design thinking wasn’t something we would spend an afternoon on and then forget about but that empathy was something that will affect us for the long term and that we will continue to focus on. Empathy for our target audiences is now ingrained in us.– Dr. Hans Maria Heӱn, head of strategy and planning at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung
A second workshop was held in October 2016 at SAP’s new creative space, the SAP AppHaus in Berlin to spark more ideas for innovation and to define specific actions for the foundation’s theme of the year.
Creating awareness and reaching out
To draw on as many skills as possible, the 17 participants at the workshop were chosen from different departments of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and comprised team assistants, instructors, research fellows, and heads of department. They worked in three groups on different personas. The focus on empathy forces participants to approach problems from a completely different angle:
“We are talking about a target audience that we can’t actually identify. That is the first thing we have to tackle,” notices Tobias Montag.
This evoked understanding and respect:
“Our persona helps society in a practical way, not just through theory. That is why it is so valuable for our work. Even though it has no idea who we are or what we do,” says Carsten Krägeloh.
This insight raises some important questions: How can we arouse the persona’s interest in the work of a political foundation and in politics generally? How can people tap into our expertise to help integration? How can we find out what its personal values are? These questions were the starting point of a brainstorming session and for working on initial ideas. The workshop participants agreed to seek further alliances and partners to find more innovative concepts. A strong network encompassing young people, artists, and the media is essential to bring in, expand, and pass on skills. Before that can happen, though, touch points for topical issues have to be created for each target audience.
Bringing the future to life
The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung worked with design-thinking experts from SAP on outlining a communications plan, identifying its key messages, and visualizing its theme of the year for 2017.
“The abstract notion of the future is brought to life in the workshop,” says Nils Thieben.
The foundation came up with ideas on how it can open up to its target audiences and offer attractive programs. It emerged that image and connecting with society at large would be key to enabling that society, in all its diversity, to identify with the foundation and the values it represents. This is precisely what the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung is hoping the design-thinking workshop with SAP will help it achieve. The SAP AppHaus in Berlin breaks with the conventional office atmosphere. Their creative vibe inspired Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung to come up with new ways of thinking about how it can further accentuate its theme of the year and make its offerings attractive to a diverse audience.
It’s always fascinating to see how a change of scene makes all the difference. The creativity techniques and elements of design thinking that we learned in the workshop will certainly benefit us in the future. Especially when seeking inspiration for our theme of the year.– Frauke Gottwald, research fellow in the field of strategy and planning, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung