Visual Diagnostics for Design Thinking Teams III (HPI)

PI: Dr. Claudia Nicolai, Prof. Ulrich Weinberg


Over the last two years, we have developed and refined two complementary diagnostic instruments to code interactional dynamics in Design Thinking  (DT) team conversations: the Knowledge Handling Notation (KHN; Scheer et al. 2014) and the Topic Markup Scheme (TMS; Menning et al. 2015 & Menning et al. 2016). KHN analyzes how a team externalizes and combines knowledge. TMS describes the local-  and global  coherence of design conversations. We have also built up a comprehensive in-situ data library of innovation teams at work. Our raw data comprises a total of 500+ hours of video and audio recordings. For each day, a key episode was identified, which usually  is between 30 - 60 minutes in length. These key episodes are transcribed, coded with our instruments and enriched with additional measurements. All data is compiled in a relational database which enables a comprehensive, process-based analysis of team interaction  in innovation teams. But how do knowledge handling and topic coherence relate to collaboration factors and performance, e.g. in terms of idea generation? And what can we learn from testing our instruments with both teams and coaches directly? These are the  questions we are exploring in this research year.
In summary, our research objective is threefold:

  1. Pattern analysis of knowledge handling in Design Thinking Projects across teams and phases
  2. Investigate the relation of coherence and ideational productivity
  3. Process-based evaluation of collaboration in innovation contexts


  • Menning, A., Scheer, A., Meier, B., & Nicolai, C. (2015). Designing as Weaving Topics: Coding Topic Threads in Conversations. In V. Popovic, A. L. Blackler, D. Luh, N. Nimkulrat,  B. Kraal, & N. Yukari. Proceedings of IASDR 2015 (pp. 1460 - 1468). Brisbane, Australia (Link to Research  Gate)
  • Menning, A.; Scheer, A.; Nicolai, C. (2016) The Topic Markup Scheme and the Knowledge Handling Notation: Complementary Instruments to measure Knowledge Creation in Design Conversations  In H. Plattner, C. Meinel and L. Leifer (eds.): Design Thinking Research, pp.291-307, Berlin: Springer. (Link to Research Gate)
  • Scheer, A., Menning, A., von Helldorff, E. , Rhinow, H., Nicolai, C.; (2014) The Knowledge Han- dling Notation: Building an interface to enable design conversation diagnosis. In  DTRS 10: Design Thinking Research Symposium 2014, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IL, USA (Link to  Research Gate)


Dr. Claudia Nicolai

Dr. Claudia Nicolai studied Business Administration, Economics, and Social Sciences at the University of Hannover. She got … > more

Prof. Uli Weinberg

Studied fine arts and design at the Academies of Fine Arts in Munich and Berlin. 1980 to 1986 freelance work as TV graphics … > more