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Community Building Workshop Spring 2021

26th Community Building Workshop of the Design Thinking Research Program

Twice a year, researchers from the HPI-Stanford Design Thinking Research Program meet formally to present project updates and gain inspiration for further successful work. Now, for the third time in the program's 13-year history, the exchange between researchers from California and Potsdam took place in a purely virtual format from March 15-17, 2021. By now, researchers are used to Zoom exchanges.  In several parallel workshop sessions, subgroups worked around the issues of the 15 currently funded projects, after which all the results produced were presented in plenary sessions.

Indeed, some researchers scientifically examining the change to the Zoom world. Particularly topical were "Differences and Impact of Virtual versus In-Person Interactions" by Allan Reiss' Stanford team and "User-Centered Digital Communication and Behavior in Fragile Situations" by the Potsdam Design Thinking at Scale team, which has been researching the effective delivery of design thinking in online formats for several years. The possibilities of collaboration in virtual space were also problematized by Falk Uebernickel's design team "Human-Centered Digital Innovation - Strategies, Routines and Metrics for Managing Human-Centered Digital Innovation in Digital Innovation Units".  The presentations offered exciting conclusions and numerous points of departure for other teams. 

The plenary session also featured two guest speakers.  On the second day, Deborah Denenberg, Hark Communication, offered a presentation, which drew upon the spirit of her widely iterated and adapted "Designing Effective Communication and Smarter Storytelling" framework. She emphasized, "conflict creates story."  On the final day of the workshop, Mana Taheri presented the results of her dissertation, "Impact of Sociocultural Context on Design Thinking Education," which she will submit in April 2021.  The audience transitioned into a lively discussion about the relationship between culture and design thinking.

Professor Christoph Meinel and Professor Larry Leifer, co-directors of the program, emphasized the importance of investing in new forms of community building in the current climate. In this spirit, participants also spent common breaks between sessions with each other in plenary sessions and breakout rooms.  At the end of the review session, there was also space for informal exchange and a continuation of thoughts initiated in the workshops. In this respect, the community building was successful.  Moreover, in light of the current situation, additional virtual community building events were planned in the past months for HPI researchers and for the larger community; this will be continued in the spring and summer of 2021.