User Innovation Toolkits in Product Development: Qualitative Study in Shopping Center Design

DS 58-5: Proceedings of ICED 09, the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design, Vol. 5, Design Methods and Tools (pt. 1), Palo Alto, CA, USA, 24.-27.08.2009

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Helminen, Pia; Ainoa, Juha
Series: ICED
Section: Design Methods and Tools
Page(s): 265-274


Understanding user needs is essential in product development. Transferring the user needs from the user to the manufacturer can be, however, difficult. In other words, the need-related information is costly to transfer, i.e. "sticky". So called user innovation toolkits are designed to help this sticky information transfer more easily. Available solution space and a module library are key elements of a toolkit. In this study, a qualitative experiment on three different toolkits is carried out in the application area of shopping center design. The roles of the size of available solution space and the content of the module library are examined. We learn that contrary to assumptions, opening up either the solution space or the module library only, will not lead users to communicate their true individual needs. Only when both elements are fully opened, the sticky need-related information will transfer.

Keywords: user innovation, user innovation toolkits, product design and development


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