A challenge in creative problem solving for the students in Embedded design
Collaborating in a real-life situation and using the design process as a tool for sustainable change. Students in HDK-Valand’s master’s programme in Embedded Design got a chance to try both – and much more – during a three-day design sprint hosted by Lynk & Co.
On the fourth floor, with a view of Geelygruppen’s office buildings on Lindholmen, four students from HDK-Valand’s master’s programme in Embedded Design are hard at work. They’ve only been in the programme for a few months, but they’re already working in the offices of Lynk & Co, the company that would rather see people subscribe to sharing cars than own them.
The students’ assignment for this Wednesday through Friday is to take a deep dive into the subject of car sharing. They’ve been asked to come up with a concept that makes it more attractive for car owners to share their cars with others during the hours they would otherwise stand idle. It’s a challenge that’s right in line with Lynk & Co’s sustainability goals and with the purpose of the Embedded Design programme as well.
“It’s a win-win,” says Kristina “Kitty” Hemkemeier, who is the Innovation Manager at Lynk & Co. “The students take on a real problem and get to see what a company looks like on the inside. And we benefit from their ideas and learn from the students.”
It was Hemkemeier’s idea to invite in the students. She earned a degree in design herself from HDK-Valand about four years ago, and she has been working at Lynk & Co for the last year and a half.
“Our idea is to do things a little differently and to bring in people from the outside to be part of our team,” she says. “That’s been really easy with these students. They learn quickly, have lots of tools at their disposal and can see our problems from a different perspective.”
When Hemkemeier contacted Samantha Hookway, the Embedded Design programme director, there was no doubt that the two shared a mutual interest in collaborating. “It was the obvious thing to do,” says Hookway, “and it fit the on-going course, Design Practice in a Corporate Context. Coming here gives students a taste of the kind of business they might be working with after their studies.”
She says that it is extremely valuable for them to be able to take on a real assignment out in the so-called real world, rather than just simulating one in an academic setting.
“Of course they’ve learned a ton about car sharing,” says Hookway. “But that’s not the important thing. What’s important is that this gives them a way to learn what working in a company is really like.”
The students agree. Because they follow the design sprint methodology in their work, they spent the first day interviewing the staff to orient themselves both in the assignment and in the company. The fact that they’ve been able to do that from inside the organisation has made that process easier.
“Everyone is extremely accommodating, and it’s easy to get answers from someone in the office when we have questions,” says Evin Güler, one of the participating students.
The fact that they’ve only had three days there has definitely been a challenge – but also an asset.
“One of the things we’ve really learned here is how to handle the pressure of a tight schedule,” says Evin. “We’ve really had to keep working and make progress.”
They’ve also been able to practice collaboration, which is kind of the heart of Embedded Design. Coming into an organisation to work and, as the programme intends, daring to take a critical approach requires both courage and the ability to communicate.
Although the students began getting to know one another during the programme’s first course – this is the second – they come from a variety of different academic backgrounds. Two of them come from the fashion world, one is a product designer and the fourth has a background in engineering. Lisa Kristiansson, who studied fashion design, says she’s accustomed to a quick design process. But Evin, the engineer, is more focussed on solutions and addresses most problems from a user perspective.
In addition, the four of them all grew up in different countries: Sweden, Norway, Poland and Austria.
“We’re all different, and that can be frustrating, but we have to adapt,” says Evin. “It’s also a strength that we have different experiences and knowledge. Together we make a good team.”
By: Camilla Adolfsson
A Design Sprint is a time-limited process that is often divided into five phases. Participants use design thinking to answer business-critical questions. Working in Designsprints is about "brainstorming" fast and effective solutions and is used to solve complex problems in a short time. Part of the process is to define and familiarize yourself with the intended user and their needs. The user's problems are then defined, and suggestions are made on how to solve these problems. A design sprint aims to help a team clearly define goals, validate assumptions, and decide on a product roadmap before development begins, with the aim to reduce the risks before launch of a new product, service or function.