Design Thinking: a human-centered approach to innovation

The old saying ‘the customer is king’ is truer than it was ever before. Savvy customers shop around on the internet demanding an immediate and exact answer to their needs. If your company can’t provide it, they go elsewhere in a heartbeat. “That’s why the product-driven approach doesn’t work anymore”, says lecturer Dominique Meyers. “The Design Thinking method on the other hand takes the customer as the starting point of the innovation and design process. Design Thinking is a way of working and mind-set that stimulates to find, test and validate new ideas leading to better products and services.”

 

The educational week ‘Entrepreneurship through Design Thinking’ part of the Online MBA track, is organised by UMIO’s innovation department Service Science Factory (SSF). The objective of this week is to improve the innovation capacity of the students by providing them with the necessary mind-set, techniques and tools. Dominique Meyers: “This week is focused on skill development. We aim to inspire students with contemporary themes and the latest opportunities and tools. Students are encouraged to put everything they learn directly into practice. Red thread trough the educational week is the Design Thinking process; a powerful approach practiced by a growing number of multinationals and corporations.” Dominique Meyers is programme and project manager, trainer and coach at UMIO, the executive branch of Maastricht University. She is an experienced innovation project manager, working with multidisciplinary project teams of students, company representatives and experts to design innovative solutions to business challenges for clients using the Design Thinking methodology.

A human-centered approach to innovation

“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation”, says Dominique Meyers. “The process consists of five steps. It starts with a deep understanding of customer’s needs (empathy), defining the actual problem (defining), generating creative ideas and solutions (ideate), followed by rapid prototyping and testing. It’s an iterative co-creative process of constantly experimenting and testing until the perfect solution is found. During the educational week students bring the Design Thinking method into practice while working in teams on a business challenge. At the end of the week they present their final results. A very hands-on and interactive approach, that is much appreciated by the students.”

 

We are more creative than we think!

Yonnick Goliath (32), Executive Associate Governance and Complaince at N26, South African, living and working in Berlin: “It was a very productive week of learning new concepts and sharing ideas. One of my key take-aways is that we are more creative than we think, and are all able to contribute in creating value for customers. It was great getting insights into the personal learnings of the entrepreneurs that shared their stories with us. In fact, there were so many valuable impressions, that I am still reflecting on them.” Sander Wijers (41), Senior Innovation Program Leader at Danone, Dutch national and living in the Netherlands: “The week had a good balance between lectures, teamwork and social time leading to new insights, learnings and fun. My key take-aways are that we need to fail in order to learn, fail being the acronym for First Attempt In Learning. The second one is that it is vital to bring in the customer perspective in all phases of innovation development, not just at the start or at the end. I will certainly integrate these learnings in the day to day collaboration with my project teams, celebrate failures to optimise learning and validate each step of our development route with consumers rather that assuming we know what they are thinking.”

 

 

This article presents a recap of the Online MBA educational week on Entrepreneurship Expedition through Design Thinking at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Our Online track has a blended format, both face-to-face as online and is part of the executive modular part-time MaastrichtMBA programme. The programme has a Triple Crown accreditation and is aimed for professionals with at least 5 years of working experience.

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