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Students do good: DEPT® Campus x VluchtelingenWerk

Ilayda Küçükosmanoğlu
Ilayda Küçükosmanoğlu
UX Designer
5 min. leestijd
1 september 2021

At DEPT® we believe that the design of great experiences is more important than ever. But servicing actual consumer needs might be more complex than you think. A single fun idea just doesn’t cut it. To keep up with the consumer, the market and to ensure adoption within the organization, experiences need to cater to the needs of both consumers and the business. They have to be integrated with the broader customer journey, connect to all lines of business, and be improved continuously — at a fast pace.

That’s where service design comes in handy! Last month we took on a service design challenge for VluchtelingenWerk with our DEPT® Campus, the Youth Academy of DEPT®. We invited a group of 30 bright and enthusiastic students to our DEPT® Campus Jam on 7 and 8 October. Together with VluchtelingenWerk we came up with the following challenge: “How can we help refugees to become more self-reliant and create an informal network for themselves?”

We divided the students into teams of five to six people and gave them two full working days to crack the case. And, oh boy, did we have fun!

Day one: discovery

Each day we focused on certain goals. The first day was all about discovery. In the discovery phase, we aim to understand the challenge by looking at the problem from various perspectives. We research, interview and observe to gather as much information and insights as possible. 

We started this day with an introduction from the client. This was the moment to ask them all questions about the brief. Then we took the entire morning to gather more user insights by conducting interviews. We arranged for five people from the target audience to further dive into the problem statement. The goal was to pinpoint user needs and pain. The second half of that day, the teams translated their findings into an empathy map. An empathy map is used to articulate what we know about a particular type of user. It externalizes knowledge about users in order to create a shared understanding of user needs and aid in decision making. In other words: we try to get in the head of the user.

The final step of the discovery day was creating an as-is journey map. An as-is journey map is used to better understand our user’s current experience to identify opportunities for improvement. Because that’s essentially what it’s all about. We finished our first day with a bunch of valuable insights!

Day two: define and design

After a good night’s rest and processing all the gathered information, it was time to get to work and make something out of it. First things first: in the define phase, we process all the gathered information and insights into a clearly defined challenge. The define phase ends when we pinpoint the exact challenge we will solve and have an approach to a solution. We did this by creating ‘how might we’s.’ With how-might-we statements, we turn pain points, and highlights of the as-is journey into opportunities for our designs. 

First, each team member got the time to create their hmw-statement. We started messy, big and broad. Then we made things more concrete within the team by clustering and rewriting the statements. The last step was to dot-vote with the team which statements would be selected to brainstorm solutions.

Time to design and shine

Before we jumped into crazy brainstorm sessions, we started with triggering the group’s creativity. We presented a Design Rave with a selection of apps, websites, campaigns, or start-ups related to the challenge we were trying to solve. With a bunch of inspiration in mind, we started brainstorming solutions. Based on the how-might-we’s, each team member started  creating Big Idea Vignettes individually. Every Big Idea consists of one sticky note with the idea and one sticky note with a sketch of the idea. Then the team members presented their ideas to their team and looked for similarities, bigger ideas and more iterations. In this phase everything is still possible: no limitations, no problems and no ‘we cant’s.’

Of course we don’t live in an imaginary world and want a valuable solution. To create a valuable solution, we have to create something Desirable (people want it), Feasible (we can actually do it), and Viable (we don’t want to go broke). Ideas that touch all of these elements shape the innovation sweet spot. The teams voted on the ideas that were the most desirable, viable and feasible. And from there, they decided which ideas they wanted to storyboard and prototype in the next phase.

The final countdown

After a delicious lunch and four hours left, it was time to shape the ideas into a storyboard, prototype and concept presentation.

At 4 o’clock, our jury entered the room. Each team got 7 minutes to present their initial problem statement, solution and prototype. The jury consisted of two experts from DEPT® and one stakeholder from VluchtelingenWerk. After a short jury deliberation, the winner was selected!

Want to know how the students experienced the day? Check out the story of Thiemen Stoppelenburg (in Dutch) or the Design Jam aftermovie below. Stay up to date about future Design Jams through our DEPT® Campus meetup.com page.


UX Designer

Ilayda Küçükosmanoğlu

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