Design Innovation Methods

Course reflection

During the course, Design Innovation Methods, I together with my group worked to improve the stUMobiel service. The first thing we did was try to find the real problem that needed to be solved. To do this I came up with the idea to sign up as a volunteer so I could experience the service first hand. This immediately gave us a lot of information that we would not have gotten otherwise. It also gave us the opportunity to talk to one of the founders of stUMobiel. During the course, I have done about five trips for stUMobiel. This pointed out another problem, a lack of time, that we would not have easily found otherwise. Based on this we eventually decided to pivot the service to a larger group of possible volunteers, steering away from just students. Connecting students and elderly is a very nice idea, but we found that students do not have a whole lot of intrinsic motivation to volunteer and that most still want a reward. A lot of other groups focused on the obvious challenge, motivating students. We took a different approach and looked at the reason people do volunteering. We found that being part of a community and appreciation are the prime reasons for most people so we decided to focus on that.

I am very happy with how we worked as a group. Everyone took their responsibility and did the work that was asked of them. In the past, I have often experienced having hour-long meetings that did not go anywhere. During this course, we regularly came together to discuss the work that needed to be done and divide is over the group. This made our meetings very efficient and allowed us to work at the times that suited everyone best. What we did not do enough was review each other work to make sure it was a coherent story. We could have done this by planning another short meeting when everyone finished their part to do a quick review session and finalize the document together. This is something I will try to do for future projects. Despite this, I am very happy with the work we did and how we did it. I really feel that the way we worked had a positive impact. By making everyone responsible for certain parts of the assignments we all put in the work and effort to get to a good result.

Even though the stUMobiel case was very interesting and it felt like a noble topic to work on, I feel that it got in the way of true innovation. Eric Ries describes a start-up like this: A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty” [1]. By this definition, I would argue that stUMobiel is not a startup. There is no extreme uncertainty and the success is mostly dependent on good execution. With a client like stUMobiel, you want to deliver something that they might be able to use. Coming up with a concept like transporting elderly with drones, this seems much more like a startup, it is completely unusable for a service like stuMobiel.
In our process, we tried to come up with something that could actually be used by stUMobiel as the founder we talked to in the beginning expressed that he wanted ideas that could be implemented.

To conclude, I enjoyed working on the stuMobiel case, even though I think that to really learn about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial innovation, it would be best to go out into the world and try to build something, without constraint. Coming up with your own idea for a startup and trying to turn it into something real. But maybe eight weeks are not enough to do that.

References

  1. Ries, E. (2011). The lean startup: How today's entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses. New York: Crown Business.