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Developing a Two-Hour Design Thinking Workshop to Examine the Potentials of Age-Divers Co-creation: Why Product Design Teams Should Invite Users Aged 50+, when Designing for the Demographic Change

: Schreiner, Sabrina; Radaca, Elvira; Meller, Patrick


Andersen, A.-L.:
Towards Sustainable Customization: Bridging Smart Products and Manufacturing Systems : Proceedings of the 8th Changeable, Agile, Reconfigurable and Virtual Production Conference (CARV2021) and the 10th World Mass Customization & Personalization Conference (MCPC2021), Aalborg, Denmark, October/November 2021
Cham: Springer Nature, 2022 (Lecture Notes in Mechanical Engineering)
ISBN: 978-3-030-90699-3 (Print)
ISBN: 978-3-030-90700-6 (Online)
ISBN: 978-3-030-90702-0
ISBN: 978-3-030-90701-3
Changeable, Agile, Reconfigurable and Virtual Production Conference (CARV ) <8, 2021, Aalborg; Online>
World Mass Customization and Personalization Conference (MCPC) <10, 2021, Aalborg; Online>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer UMSICHT Oberhausen ()
co-Creation; design thinking; user-centered; social innovation; product design

In light of demographic change as a driver of innovation, products need to align with requirements of an aging society. Based on evidence from organizational psychology, which has identified key benefits of high age diversity in teams, and the benefits of co-creation, we expected positive outcomes in terms of innovative ideas, when product designers integrate elderly users on eye-level in co-creation processes. Therefore, we developed a design thinking field-experiment with six groups of product designers and six co-creation groups (mixed teams consisting of users aged 5065 and design experts). With each of the 12 groups (n = 75), a two-hour formalized design thinking workshop was conducted. The workshop was designed to meet requirements of both designers and non-designers (users). As a result, 75 ideas as provided by both groups, were prepared and presented to two juries (n = 10, n = 13), one jury of interdisciplinary experts and one of non-experts. They rated all ideas in the categories creativity, impact on life-long autonomy, contribution to social coherence and market potential. Our results show that ideas of age-divers co-creation groups were rated significantly more creative and had higher impact on life-long autonomy as compared to the age-homogeneous product design groups. Thus, co-creation with elderly people facilitates innovation processes, which results in products allowing to face the demographic change. Finally, the statistics show that all 75 ideas made an above-average contribution to social coherence. We therefore discuss our workshop as a contribution to social innovation.