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Communicate like a Child

My background is technical. I have a Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry working with lasers. Following that I have experience as a product developer within light-based sensors. As a product developer I have seen the downside of technology driven innovation. The imagined user you have in mind during the development doesn’t always need your technical solution afterwards. With that insight I applied for the BioMedical Design programme in order to learn about need driven innovation. In addition to that I have realised that my creative skills hand in hand with my technical knowledge can lead to new innovative solutions.

From systematic to crazy

At the beginning of the Creative Skills phase in January we had four needs. Now it was time to find the best and most innovative solutions for the needs. From one day to the next we had to put away all that systematic and model-based thinking from the need selection phase and open our minds for wild and crazy ideas. The more ideas, the better. The mindset was to think like a child and discard all your biases. In order to encourage this new approach, we were given a present – an ideation box full of clay, beads, balloons, cardboard, hot glue, and much more. The scene was set, this was to be playful.  We started out with two full weeks of concentrated ideation on solutions for our needs.

Building on other’s ideas

The ideation process is a teamwork process where you get better ideas by building on each other’s ideas. Our ideas were very different because we are different people with different backgrounds. In order to build on each other’s ideas, we learned to communicate our ideas in nonverbal ways with simple drawings and fast prototypes. For me this was turning my spare time interest of art drawing into a professional and fun way of communicating.

Creativity in my personal and professional life

“As a person I have always been creative and have a fundamental need for creativity in my everyday life. Getting tools for how to work with creativity in a professional setting has been a positive experience, and I would like to do more of that in the future.”

Back to systematic thinking

Having generated close to a hundred concept ideas we became more systematic again. We started to research, select and verify our ideas. We looked at technical feasibility and put ourselves in the shoes of our users in order to come up with the best possible solution. Again, we used our combined skills and network. For me this is where my technical knowledge has come into play.

It’s all coming together

We have now selected among our needs and ideas and are down to one concept idea. With that concept in hand we are entering the business and device development phase. In the coming months we will be developing a business model and a prototype of our concept idea. The creativity, the technical feasibility, and user feedback will go hand in hand in order to develop the best possible solution.