Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V.

Lecture Notes in Informatics

6th conference on professional knowledge management from knowledge to action P-182, 204-213 (2011).

Gesellschaft für Informatik, Bonn

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Inverseworkflows for supporting agile business process management

Thomas Sauer , Mirjam Minor and Ralph Bergmann


This paper investigates the role of focus group methodology within the context of microinnovation management and life-based design (LBD). LBD is a multi-dimensional approach which emphasises the importance of understanding people's lives (forms of life and circumstances) as a basis for creating design ideas and concept design. Human-technology interaction (HTI) is embedded in the everyday lives of people from all age groups, yet the levels and approaches to this interaction vastly differ between various groups. Thus, based on the principles of LBD, this paper discusses a method for collecting and managing people's experiences to serve as guidelines within an inclusive design process. The focus group method operates in the form of group interviews, where the discussion is led by a theme and/or a particular activity. Microinnovation management concentrates on the management of smaller innovations such as those produced on an individual or group level, within such processes as focus groups. We are using this paper as an opportunity to theorise the focus group method as an example of Experience Management, in the generation and management of microinnovations. In this paper we discuss the way we have the focus group method as a means to gain critical feedback and reformulate a user-centred questionnaire and conceptual design. Experience is seen as central to this paper for the following two reasons: 1) that we can learn from a variety of people's life experiences, based on various forms of life, in order to inform our own decisions when assembling design frameworks; and 2) that experience is an outcome of the design process - either past, present or future. The notion of microinnovation management comes into play when discussing the utilisation of ideas generated through such design methodologies to inform concrete design decisions. 204 Much recent research activity in human-technology interaction (HTI) has focused on user-centred design, increasingly recognising the importance of end-user generated design input. Along with the content generated within the design process, comes the ever pressing need to refine innovation management methods. Methods designed to stimulate, collect and somehow pre-apply user generated design input have included activities such as story-boarding techniques, scenario creation, group storytelling, and joke telling [Bø99, Ka02, KVW10]. These methods draw potential users into the creative process by encouraging them to apply design ideas and possible solutions to hypothetical situations. They get participants involved in group dynamics which force them to be spontaneous and inventive, which in certain situations may also generate forms of performance anxiety and hesitation to participate. Other methods such as TRIZ (Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch in Russian) or TIPS (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving in English), operate similarly as problem-solving, forecasting and analysis tools, whereby a systematic approach is applied to pinpointing areas where inventive solutions are needed [BDS10, SK-S10]. The method discussed in this paper, the focus group method, conforms to our usercentred approach of life-based design (LBD from now on), in which, we draw upon and apply knowledge obtained from people's everyday lived experiences, within the design and product development process. Thus, the way in which we apply the term `Experience Management' within this paper, relates to the way in which people's (endusers') experiences can be managed to inform the direction of product development in a concrete way. The focus group method has been implemented within this study to directly inform the pre-production conceptual design process of a product for a major information technology (IT) company. We view the focus group method as providing a mechanism for what we term as microinnovation management. In other words, already within the stage of conceptual design, innovations in the forms of both existing products and hypothetical designs, are tried and tested within the contexts of participants' lived experiences. Thus, before the expenses of production and even concrete prototypes, designs can be tested and modified, and without the pressure of participants needing to think of creative uses for the designs. What we emphasise in this paper is the nature of microinnovation management in the framework of LBD, this takes place in Section 2. Section 3 looks at experience-based methodologies, highlighting the significance of recent investigations into user experience design (UX). Section 3 also outlines how the focus group method has been used within our study, exploring the conceptual design of a social media domain. Section 4 looks at the way in which the information collected during the focus group sessions is refined and applied to the design process. A model is presented showing the relevance of the method in relation to people's informed lived experiences (previous examples of trial and error) in the context of their various forms of life (life situations), the way in which the information is refined (content-analysis, observing common themes and patterns), then applied through the creation of design guidelines. Section 5 concludes the paper by reflecting on the way in which the focus group method contributes to a cyclical design process, in which there is never a ground zero. Microinnovations are informed by previous experiences with other innovations, and aim at better developing the product to suit an ever-evolving consumer population. 205 There are several traditional ways of looking at organisational innovation processes. Abernathy's and Utterback's [AU78] two phase model emphasises the importance of new small companies for their role in developing radical innovations due to their more flexible systems. Subsequently after utilising successful innovations, as time goes by companies' organisational systems become more rigid making it increasingly difficult to

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