Throwback: SDT 2018/19 – Alumnitalk with Felix

Felix participated in the Service Design Thinking programme in 2018/2019, during which he worked together with his team at KIT and HSG on a project for Plansee in China. Felix wrote his master’s thesis at Fraunhofer ISI and is now working completely remotely at bloXmoveI had the chance to ask him a little bit about his experience!

Why did you initially apply for the SDT programme?

There were pretty much three reasons:

Firstly, I wanted to apply the knowledge gained during the bachelor’s practically. Our degree programme is quite theoretical and the alternative at this point is basically just an internship. So a course that runs over 9 months, working on real challenges and having a constant exchange with industry partners – sounded just right for it!

Furthermore, I didn’t go abroad during my Bachelor’s degree, which I definitely intended to do during my studies. The programme includes several trips, among other international meetings to visit team colleagues and project partners, a global kick-off and final event among all students. That way, I got to know teams from different continents and expanded my experience abroad a bit.

And last but not least – actually, I also wanted to meet new people. I did my Bachelor’s degree here in Karlsruhe – but most of my friends went to another city for their Master’s degree. And a course like this is a good way to meet new people, and not just on the surface. And hey, I actually met one of my best friends there!

What do you remember most about the programme?

When I think about it, the team and the composition in particular. At the beginning I thought: „Wow, how is the team put together, what are everyone’s roles – so many different characters, that can be really difficult“. But later I realised that just the diversity brings the various competences into the team! I realised that at the time and I still can see it, especially now in my current job we are a very diverse team.

When you think of the Design Thinking approach, where do you recognize it in your life?

Well, first of all: Design Thinking is praised in every company – but how you apply it depends heavily on the individual company. I definitely noticed how valuable it was that we could really take these 9 months to go through all the phases intensively, to test everything, to go back a step, iterate and even fail. When I think of Now, especially the part with Persona has influenced me a lot, because it makes you empathize a lot more with the people you are talking to and with whom you want to share your vision.

What did you take from the experience?

Overall, this experience has really helped me a lot. During the project it’s really a lot of work, and sometimes you question the meaning in between – is it really worth it? And in retrospect, I can say: definitely, yes! Extremely valuable experience that I wouldn’t want to miss out on. Especially in terms of interpersonal skills, I learned a lot from working with industry, in diverse, intercultural teams, for foreign project partners from completely different sectors than I knew before. And prototyping! We as Germans – I’m just going to say it this way – tend to always strive to deliver the perfect result directly and refuse to share „unfinished“ products. But that’s exactly what it’s all about! Showing what you got, what you envisioned, getting feedback, taking it in, developing it further. This quick feedback is so incredibly helpful!

What would you like to pass on to future teams?

Get involved with it! Don’t try to handle too many things simultaneously, but really immerse yourself in the programme – it’s worth it!

And: Never fall in love with your prototype. You will certainly hear this in the programme, and then remember the actual difficulty related to it.

And one last thing: Remember that it is a privilege to have this time to be brave, to explore the problem space, to open up and be creative. You are in the Safe Zone – make the most of it!

Felix, thank you very much for sharing your insights!