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Design Thinking

Laura, Eliza, Hans, Max & Criz
on the

3 weeks


This is the
Team 4 aka
Vincent van Homeless

Documentation overview
o Project pitch
o Understanding
o Observe

o Synthesis
o Ideation
o Prototyping

o Testing
o Iteration
Summery & Lessons learned
o Teampage

Project pitch
Our project is a workspace, where homeless
people can create art and exhibit it to
the public.

Our prototype for the final idea was at our first testing phase,
when we went out and let homeless people draw pictures for us.
Our main insight was, that the people who were helping the homeless
always wanted to change them, which made them feel even more
miserable and not understood by others.

Project pitch
Pitch: For Jrgen,
who has a need for
social interaction and acceptance,
a creative workspace
as creation and meeting space,
empowers him,
unlike social workers or shelters,
the product makes him feel accepted
and not forced to change.

o Why are people homeless

and what does it mean to be one?

During our challenge we faced
problems and questions that are
often misunderstood by everyone.
Its an uncomfortable topic, closely related to
drug abuse, violence and absolute despair.
Instead of helping, the easier option is to take the way of ignorance.

What are we, comparatively rich and happy students, to

even think that we can understand the underlying problems.

During the understanding phase we explored
the challenge from various angles, but our
main focus was with the use of drugs.
We started by reframing the challenge to

Design a way to enable

a drug addict to understand
the reality he/she is dreaming of
One of our core beliefs was that

the persons passion for making a difference

could be ignited, so we just had to find the proper flamethrower.

Design a way to enable
a drug addict to understand
the reality he/she is dreaming of
Eventually it occurred to us that

the person himself could possibly

become the flamethrower,
creating a self-sustaining process of helping and getting helped.

In order to find out if our hypothesis would be correct,

we moved to the observation phase.

Very eager to see whats out there, we started empathy work. As
there is so much to see, so many different dimensions, we decided
to split up into two groups. Possible dimensions to observe are:
o the homeless themselves
o people seen as homeless on the streets, in shelters, in parks etc.,
o the organizations
o the institutional framework dealing with the issues of homeless like from
the government, churches and NGOs.
o normal people
o people passing homeless people everyday (yes thats actually everyone)
o people affected by homeless people in other ways
(shop owners, people living close to homeless spots etc.)

The method and key questions:
We decided then to focus on the homeless and the homehaving
people in order to contrast these groups. Maybe we already
somehow had in mind to bring these groups together...

One group, tried to experience homelessness from the inside.

They decided to immerse into the homeless life by pretending to

be homeless. They did this in order to find out a) how it feels to
sit on the street and asking for money b) to see how the
normal people interact with someone homeless.

o How much money are
they actually making?
o The act of giving:
How do people give them money?
o Do they interact in any further way?

o How much people give them food or offer to buy sth.?

o How is the internal mechanism that is:
How do other homeless people interact with our fake homeless?

Wolf (person we met camping out
in front of a supermarket):
o his days are very organized and structured
o very social, has a big network of people in the neighborhood
o had a work accident and eventually became homeless
o likes his life the way it is
o if he had a fortune, he would buy houses for homeless people and let
them live there
o very caring and loving


o ignorance
o social interaction is very important/keeps you alive
o there are only very few people who show that they care
o kids look you straight in the eye
o 18 euros in 2.5 hours
o homeless people have their designated spot

Quote: You cannot just sit anywhere you like.

The other group tried to experience homelessness from the outside,
from an observing position.
They wondered what the homeless people story is. In order to
make the people who deal a lot with social shaming open up they
decided to use a method from art therapy. By asking the homeless
people to paint their childhood they hoped to learn about their past.
o Did they have a normal life before?
o What keeps them on the street?
o Is there something like voluntary homelessness?

o What are they dreaming of and wishing for?

Homeless people dont dream of a
big mansion and three ferraris.
All of them said that they want
nothing more than a normal life.

This is a major insight for people like us who seem to

want nothing less than a normal life.

Apart from that the homeless people
had a stroke of fate which brought
them into this situation:
o I lost my wife
o I had an accident and could not work any more
But we also had the impression that there was no bitterness in their words.
They remained very nice and helpful people.

.We found out that they would like to help other people or even did this in the
past and by enabling them to help they could also help themselves

We started to collect all the information from
our observation and created an empathy map.

Her death took my soul.

One of the most surprising facts we found out was that in most cases,
a strike of faith had led to a series of misfortunate events
which accumulated to this person becoming homeless.

We also found out, that the people we interviewed
had managed to deal with many difficult situations,
but then gave up at a certain point.
It made us wonder if

there wasnt some kind of safety net for people

who had through a traumatic event in their lives and if there
wasnt any or enough psychological help at the time.
For our framework, we created a journey consisting of a biography.

In that journey, we tried to fit in as much information as possible
in order to do justice to all the people and their stories.
We came up with the following POV:

a 60 year old
homeless man
from Yugoslavia
needs to reignite
his fighting spirit in a world
where homeless people are

However, we realized that
none of us felt comfortable with the persona we had created.
At first, we had tried to fit too much information into the journey,
then we had to cut it down in order to develop a strong POV.

We felt like we didnt really get to the bottom of what the needs
of that person really were and we could not identify with the
person we had created.
This was also one of the low points of our teamwork because
we got stuck for the first time since we had started the project.

Then we decided to come up with a different persona to define a
different POV
We came up with the following :

a 60 year old
homeless man
With a heart of gold
needs to realize
That he has superpowers

It would be game-changing to
Give him back hope/
make him a fighter again

Song about our persona

Jrgen is this homeless guy
Who is 53 and now somehow shy

Jrgen is this homeless guy

We want to help, To make him fly

He lost his wife In an accident

He is a hero, but he didn't know

It destroyed his life

When he helps other people

Jrgen is this homeless guy

He can not pay his rent

He gets in the flow

Who has a golden heart

And two golden eyes

Jrgen is this homeless guy

Jrgen is this homeless guy

Who has a golden heart

Who was once depressed

He sees the good

And two golden eyes

And loves to eat pie

In everyone, In everyone

He sees the good

He shares his food

In everyone , In everyone

With everyone

He want so get out of the dark

And he wants to change his life

He wants to get out of the dark

Because he is this nice dude

And he wants so see the sun

And its more fun

At the end of tuesday we came up with the token/coin idea.
After a raff day where we were struggling with the process a lot
We were finally back on the road.
The idea of the token came up during a brainstorming session including
body storming and building on the ideas of others.
There was a post-it
with the "magical touch"
which should
give homeless people
back their confidence.
After further development the team
came up with a coin named hope.

The idea behind this coin was that homeless people could use them
like a voucher for a shelter where s(he) could take a shower, get
something to eat or a have a place to stay for a night.
Depending on the amout of coins it could be one or more of these
At this point in the process we choose
a special coin instead of real money so
the people who would buy the coin(s)
could be sure, that (s)he couldnt spend
the "money" on drugs.
With the coin people could be able to
do a good deed without trust issues

The next meeting was on friday, the day of prototyping.
Since we already had a clear vision of the coin which could be easy
prototyped we also thought about another idea:
the homeless shelter, where people could come to, to take a shower,
have a sleeping spot, get something to eat, have a makeover and so on.
As part of the design thinking process team challenges were mixed for
a short prototyping session so that one group who were working on
challenge A prototyp for a group which were working on challenge B.
The result of this exchange was the idea to make our homeless shelter
mobile. So the idea of a mobile makeover truck came up. In a second
prototyping session we build this truck out of lego.

On Friday we started prototyping. out of the ideas we had earlier, the
homeless-makeover-house seemed to be most fitting to prototype.
As for our prototyping tool, we decided to use legos.
Through collaborative effort, out prototype
turned out to be an end-to-end process
facilitated inside a truck.
A homeless person would enter the massive
truck and go through the process that
would make him into ordinary citizen.
We were quick to realize that the idea
wouldnt work as a massive single entity ,but
more as a collective of smaller parts. In the
end, the single truck was spliced into separate
modules that could be moved individually


Process prototyped by us - Unfortunately life rarely is so linear

Our next prototype was the
concept of mobile help clusters
for homeless people, built from cost-effective
cargo containers.
The basic idea is to make them specialized
and modular, each of them containing a single
function of the process introduced earlier.

The containers would then be strategically

placed to temporary empty spaces within cities,
such as development areas and construction sites, that are currently
not in active use, but are still unsuitable for other purposes.
With no additional time left in our hands, we prepared both the process and
the cargo container idea for the testing phase and finally Wrapped the day up.

Our group split up in two and we decided to test two parts of
our makeover truck.
One idea was to ask people if they would go with us to the hair salon
and get a new haircut.

Ideally, we would get

a before and after picture
in order for them to see the
difference in their appearance

We started approaching people and realized quickly that none of them
wanted to go with us to the hair salon.
This had different reasons:
First, they didnt have enough time
and their priority was to go to
take a shower instead.
they felt uncomfortable because they hadnt showered and they would
have been embarrassed to walk into a hair salon. Finally, they didnt think it
was necessary for them to get a haircut and that other people would need it
much more than they did. In the end, we did not go to the hairdresser, nor did
we have any pictures taken. We did learn that it just wasnt their priority to
get a haircut.

In our second testing scenario we met with Herrn Armgart from
Universal Stiftung Helmut Ziegner.
We met him to present our prototype, get his opinion as an expert
(social worker & manager) as well as to get more insights on topics
that we did not focus on before.
In the beginning, Herr Armgart talked a lot about laws and guidelines.
He seemed to be frustrated because:

When working with homeless people

most of the energy is wasted on bureaucracy
instead of really helping these people

He talked about the social system as an system which generates
Homeless people. Unfortunately, he has to work within the rules of
this system. Herr Armgart explained to us that

organized help is more of a business than a good deed.

Since homeless people are just a symptom of problems in our society,
A solution might be to change the society. If youre working against the
structures and rules of a society, the system either assimilates you or
eliminates you, he said.

Instead of changing the society all at once

he suggested island solutions.

When we presented our prototype, Herr Armgart liked it.

He told us about a similar concept, the Kltebus, which is well

accepted in Berlin. The mobile makeover truck might be a good
solution, but he suggested it might be better to use it in the region
of Brandenburg because its harder for homeless people who do not
live in a city.
Also there are already a lot of offers for homeless people in Berlin.

Although he liked the idea
(and was curious about seeing it really happen)
he made very clear that our concept might be a short-term solution.

During the testing scenario we all got the feeling that our concept
was more an offer to change (new clothes, new haircut etc.) than
accepting the people the way they are and offer help to self help
(get back confidence, feel to be needed again etc.)

After going out to the field once again and coming back with
some unexpected insights, we tried to go back to the essential
challenge and realised, that we were absolutely on the wrong path.
Instead of really trying to empower our persona, we were
trying to change it.
And this is exactly what the people we interviewed hated the most.
They said, that all the help theyve got from the social workers and
therapists was all about changing them. They didnt feel accepted
the way they were and they did not feel like the people were really
interested in helping them. Instead, they felt treated as a problem,
which has to be solved with a limited amount of money

We tried to think of solutions which could give the homeless a
feeling of being needed or at least accepted the way they are.
We ideated on that and felt pretty stuck at some point. Just 20
minutes before the presentation we came up with a decision and an

We decided to reject the makeover truck idea,

because it was about changing the person
So we decided to go
with a completely different

The new idea was to create a space, where homeless people could
get productive by painting, drawing and crafting.

While prototyping we came up with

the neighbourhood factor. Which means,
that the space would also be open for
elderly or other interested people in the

So it would also work as a social interaction space with

different people and coaches, who would coach the homeless.

The new idea was to create a space, where homeless people could
get productive by painting, drawing and crafting.

Workspace for homeless people

including gallery to sell their work

Lessons learned
o dealing with the dark aspects of society like homelessness makes you feel
uncomfortable but it is worth it and definitely changed our attitude.

o dont boil the ocean: In order to really make a difference for our POV we
must not focus on every problem of all homeless people. Stay focussed !
o homeless people are very nice
o breakdowns for breakthroughs. It was a crucial part of our progress to
get stuck from time to time.
o when creating the POV we should dare to leave some information out in
order to have a well defined POV and not a best of compilation of the
people we met.

o by using our hands in the prototyping part we managed to get much a

much more concrete picture which everybody shared.
o if testing fails, the project doesnt. After testing we almost felt like we
were stuck again but this really gave us the drive to come up with our

Team page: Vincent van Homeless

Team page: Vincent van Homeless

Christiane Nusch
University of Siegen/Human ComputerInteraction
Hans Rusinek
University of Bayreuth/ Philosophy & Economics
Gotham City
Elizaveta Petcheniouk
ESCP Europe/ History of Art/ Business
Russia/ Berlin
Laura Krentzlin
University of Hildesheim/ International Communication & Translation
Hannover, Germany
Max Salminen
University of Jyvskyl Information Systems

Coach page: Vincent van Homeless

Dr. Arndt Pechstein
Biomimicri Germany
Galina Emelina
Monika Frech
Dark Horse GmbH