Design Thinking Workshop at betahaus Berlin - How to offer the perfect gift?


INNOKI was part of the People In Beta Festival 2015 organized by betahaus Berlin. In this introductory Design Thinking workshop, we asked participants to redesign the gift-giving experience for their workshop partner. This introduction was originally prepared by the in Stanford and guides participants through the entire design thinking process in a span of two hours.


The Process: A Brief Introduction to Design Thinking

Design Thinking is an iterative, interdisciplinary human-centered approach to solving complex problems. The starting point of every design thinking project is to understand the person we are designing for. This includes their goals, wishes as well as their situational or life context. A good way to start is to build up empathy by having a conversation. In Design Thinking we have guidelines of how to conduct, analyse, and interpret interviews.

Within the Design Thinking process, we look at solutions for the person we are designing for, considering the world surrounding them and key insights that have emerged and been mapped. Insights are actionable learnings about people inferred by the design team based on interviews and research findings.
From these insights the design team is able to deduct a point of view or problem statement. The problem statement should be one that is worth tackling and actionable. It is the basis for generating ideas on how to satisfy a person's need/s.

Ideation is the phase of various brainstorming techniques and the quest for as many possible solutions as possible. It’s about covering a wide range of possibilities for tackling the previously defined problems and about selecting several ideas that are fit for prototyping. As a last step of the Design Thinking cycle, prototypes are made and tested. Here it is more important to show people a tangible thing and have them experience what it is like to use rather than just telling them about it. After testing the feedback has been collected, design teams iterate their solution or features thereof.

At the end, our design teams came up with really awesome prototypes related to giving, receiving, and finding gifts. We would like to share the experience in the form of a photo protocol and major takeaways at the end of this article.


The Prototypes: Giving, Receiving and Finding Gifts Based on Empathy

Various ideas emerged that encompassed the act of gift-giving with digital and analogue solutions. Overall, participants agreed that a personal way of preparing and giving gifts was essential. Gifts were not only designed to be offered for birthdays or special occasions, but also as a 'Thank You' for friends, for hosts after a vacation. Some even considered a shared experience connecting the giver and receiver.

The Ketchup-Explosion-Clean-Up gift was designed to thank hosts after a vacation stay. Upon opening the door of their apartment, Ketchup explodes through a stenciled 'Thank You!' on the wall. This surprising and confusing moment is then topped off by another surprise; cleaning personnel enter the space and deliver a personal message along with a bottle of wine to the hosts.

Northern lights and camping under the moonlight was another experience designed for one of the participants and his son. Spending time together under Icelandic skies out in the wild was the solution that came out of the need of spending more time together.

We also had a prototype to extend the instagram experience: the instaGift app. From their instagram feed, users can compile a personal gift board with pictures and clips for their friend and send it to them. Upon request, this gift can be printed and offered offline.

The ‘Theaterplay’ gift giving experience entails a role-play, in which both giver and receiver act in. Friends and family can also take over roles to make this an even more exciting way to receive the gift.

Joint cooking with friends is always fun. To make it even more of a gift-giving experience where time and coming together play a central role, the cooked recipes are collected and printed in form of a cooking-with-friends cookbook that could be enriched with pictures, thoughts, and notes.

What do you do if you are unsure of what to gift your friends? You can visit a web app together with friends and family, where each member independently is asked five questions about the gift receiver. Also, family and friends are encouraged to suggest possible gifts. After all answers are online, the app creates the perfect gift for your friend based on the input.

In the digital age, personal videos are a perfect gift. One prototype focused on combining clips with good wishes from family, friends, and even pets. Before the recipient can see this video, s/he receives a mystery letter in the mail including a link to the video. After viewing the greetings, s/he receives a challenge suggested by the makers of the video, e.g. starting jogging with one of the friends.

A second prototype focusing on videos is the documentary video gift. For a little while (or longer), you accompany and film your friend when they spend time with you. Be it in the subway, in the park or in a cafe: You are their personal documentary filmmaker and will give them a compilation of shared experiences together.

One prototype addressed the difficulty of writing the perfect gift card message. The idea is a gift card service that shares tips & tricks on how to write the perfect message in a personal, polite, and inspiring way. The service includes gift cards of your choice.

Another prototype focused on the difficulty of finding a gift for people that already have everything. A solution could be a 'treasure chest of memories' that grows from year to year with pictures and little notes of shared moments.

If you offer something to somebody, you want it to be personal and on occasions, handmade. But what if you are lacking the skills to do that? One solution for this dilemma is to have your perfect gift handmade by a craftsman. This crowdsourcing platform lets you request the gift and have people pitch for making it. No more long gift searches required!

The Recap: Action Mode, Rapid Prototyping & Iteration

  1. When starting a design project or feeling stuck it helps to take your mind of off things for a little while. This is where Warm-ups, e. g. rock - paper - scissors played in a team or other physical activities can help. This preparation for working in ‘action mode’ is often underestimated but can truly help teams to interrupt processes, relax and focus again.
  2. Two of the key factors of the design thinking process are rapid prototyping and iteration.
    When opting for an idea and making it tangible in form of a physical prototype or one that is experienced, design teams can gather better feedback.
  3. Watching and observing people using the prototypes or walking through the scenario of using a service allows us to identify things easily overlooked or missed. The feedback can yield to better ideas to build upon. The earlier and more often prototypes are tested, the closer you can get to a desirable solution.
  4. This iterative approach accepts that errors are made to learn from them by allowing for a redesign and a new round of testing. It is also more about doing and learning than thinking and discussing.
    Within the process it is therefore also possible that the design team jumps back to an earlier stage at any given point, e.g. reframing a different problem statement or simply refining the prototype. This also happened in the workshop when people interviewed their partner twice, got feedback for a second time and iterated their prototypes.

We hope that we could inspire all participants to use the Design Thinking approach more often from now on to find better solutions for all kinds of complex problems. And surely you now have many more ideas on how to make the next gift a true experience ;).

This workshop was a free learning experience for participants. We did profit from the amazing team spirit and prototype presentation fun at the people in beta festival!

INNOKI Coaches: Julia Kolm, Cecilia Hilmer, Jonas Fleischer and Anita Sehagic

Photo credits: All pictures by Sebastian Krammig