by Selina Grade and Imke Vierjahn

At this year’s SAP UX Day in Karlsruhe, Germany, more than forty people attended a Design Thinking workshop of a different kind. It did not address customers’ endeavors on how to best digitalize their business or on how to innovate by introducing intelligent solutions. This workshop conveyed Design Thinking methods on how to improve people’s lives – their own private lives.

Seven steps around vital matters

“To climb Mount Kilimanjaro you need endurance, and many small steps. This is also true for people to reach their goal and achieve long-term change,” said Jochen Guertler, Design Thinking coach at the SAP AppHaus Heidelberg and an avid hiker himself. Jochen led the Design Thinking workshop held on February 19 at this year’s fifth SAP UX Day held in the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in KarlsruheHe invited the workshop participants to write down one personal question that concerned him or her right now. In a playful way, the participants should explore and collaborate along the following seven steps:

  1. Where does our shoe pinch? – Which question concerns you right now?
  2. What is really behind it? – What would be the benefits for you?
  3. What do others think about? – Tell your partner about it and get feedback.
  4. What is most important now? – Choose one concrete aspect. Does this change your original question?
  5. How crazy can you be? – Find ideas to solve the problem! Go for wild ideas.
  6. What do you make out of it? – Select one of the ideas and detail it out a little bit.
  7. How do you start? – Define one concrete step you can do next week to start?

One key take-away of this workshop was the surprise to see how many creative ideas popped up in only one hour that two people dedicate to their personal questions. What’s more, in many cases the original question leads us to more urgent needs. For example, the question on how to do more for our fitness can also stand for the wish to go out more frequently, find new friends, or spend more time in nature. By the way, these experiences are common outcomes in business-related Design Thinking workshops, too.

From programmer to Design Thinking coach

For those who wonder how a former programmer has become a Design Thinking coach and extended the idea to the sphere of personal development, such as in the workshop “Design Thinking Your Life”, we recommend to listen to Jochen’s recent interview recorded by Tobias Maerz (only available in German). Here, Jochen provides insights into his personal experiences. He explains how a combination of elements taken from Design Thinking and Gestalt therapy can support people when facing personal challenges. While Gestalt therapy focuses on the experiential present moment and sees everyone involved in relationships, both techniques emphasize the importance of exploring the why behind a question or problem, as a vital starting point. Through gaining new experience and continuing step-by-step, goals on a personal as well as on a professional level can be realized more efficiently. This approach underlines the practicability of Design Thinking and its potential impact on people’s everyday lives.

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