Harnessing the power of experimentation through design thinking and agile methods


Design thinking and agile thinking are approaches that have great value in product innovation management. While they may be widely discussed in practice, it is unclear to what extent they are understood and how they are applied. To answer these questions, qualitative research was conducted with design engineers involved in product innovation. Interviews focused on the type of iterative development used and the extent to which experimentation, with a variety of media, contributes to design and innovation. The research examines experimentation through creation of low-fidelity models. These include mechanisms modelled using construction toys, or scale models created from materials found in a workshop, to test and explore ideas. We use the concept of boundary objects to explain the way that these low-fidelity models facilitate communication between individuals who possess differing sets of knowledge. A variety of experimentation techniques are identified, from hand drawn sketches to simple models, which contrast with computer drawings and simulations. A distinction is revealed between those who trust their own intuition and creativity compared with those who rely on objective measures and trust computer models. A question over the extent to which design involves analysis and synthesis is demonstrated in this distinction. The contributions of this research are as follows. Firstly, it reveals the ways in which technologies – old and new – enrich the armoury of the designer, by facilitating the exploration and communication of ideas. Secondly, it provides insights into the role of experimentation in innovation by examining the use of low-fidelity prototypes. And finally, it draws comparisons between design and agile methods, finding opportunities for cross-fertilisation and suggesting how managers 2 may wish to support designers in innovation projects through agile methods and by encouraging experimentation.

Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Operations & Information Management
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
Additional Information: © 2019 The Authors
Event Type: Other
Event Dates: 2019-06-10 - 2019-06-11
PURE Output Type: Conference contribution
Published Date: 2019-06-11
Accepted Date: 2019-06-01
Authors: Beltagui, Ahmad (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-2687-0971)
Bell, Andrew
Candi, Marina



Version: Accepted Version

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