3i - intercultural innovation initiative

Published on July 2, 2014 um 17:59

Summary of your idea

3i is a concept to revolutionize the business-oriented research for German NGOs and companies, which are acting transnationaly by applying the method of design thinking. As a team of 3, originated from 3 continents and with 3 different academic backgrounds, we provide the service of simulating the implementation of user-centered products, services, aid or other innovations in a foreign culture. With our partners assumption in mind, we travel to conduct survey, where they plan to implement their ideas, and we apply a whole design thinking process there: interviews with the stakeholders, ideas for solutions based on their needs, prototyping these ideas and testing them on the stakeholders in order to receive feedback. Our product is the outcome of this interactive and iterative research in terms of holding workshops for employees and managers and documentations of our findings for our partners as well as suggestions for improvements in business models based on intercultural insights. The critical function of our mission could be summarized in decreasing the risk of misinvestment as a results of cultural differences and gaps concerning the use of products or services. Based on our experience as professional design thinkers, we know that the real needs of a user cannot be anticipated by only doing interviews and generating statistics. Especially in foreign cultures, the culturally-related and therefore self-evident needs of the end-user remain mostly hidden until the moment of implementation (for example see the toilet story in our clip). With our service, our partners will be one step ahead and could save high amounts of money. In other words, we are offering consultancy for culturally based investment positioning.

Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development

The idea behind our project is to find an answers to a global demand that appears to be increasingly grown these days: to reverse the unsustainable, mere capitalistic aspects of globalization by implementing culturally based and user-centered innovation into the business world, also on a structural level (by developing analogous business models). Focusing on the aspect of interculturality means to consider different parallel histories of civilization development and the need for a more multi-layered and sophisticated fundament for a common future on a global level as well as including them in any future plan to build a sustainable business partnership. Our project tackles the communicative issues of this critical endeavor by delivering a new interactive approach for business and/or service oriented research abroad which is always the first step towards sustainable international cooperation. On a more concrete level, we have already received a lot of positive feedback for our concept from people who work abroad for international aid organizations. We have been told that there is a true and enduring demand for our service since the conventional research methods of the organizations they are working for are too conformed to the methods of market research and, therefore, in most cases ignore the real needs of their users. Neither global interculturality nor the real local user will disappear or be disconnected from each other in the near future. On the contrary, the future belongs to those companies which could understand this fundamental link on time and be able to react accordingly. That is why we consider the central part of our concept as sustainable.

Plans for implementation and sustainability

Or service has the capacity to be extremely value-adding. We simulate implementations by testing prototypes, predict culturally based future needs of the user and, therefore, prevent our project partners from misinvestments by giving guidelines for more sustainable international partnerships based on a more appropriate intercultural communication method. Knowing that people in a foreign culture would not use products or services in a way it is planned to be used, and, therefore, to iterate on it, can make the difference between a successful and a failed investment. Our expenses, on the other hand, are extremely low, if one considers the loss of a possible misinvestment. As design thinkers, we work quick, efficient and only with provisional prototypes. The whole process of research, evaluation, ideation, prototyping, testing and iteration, which altogether can last for months or even years, will be carried out by us within days or weeks. Our travel expenses (including working space) and material costs (mostly post-its and prototyping material) shall be covered by the project partner. We are a B2B project, relying on assignments by partners who want to or already operate internationally. Therefore, getting our first assignment will be the most challenging step. Being aware of this difficulty, we have the contingency plan to do test run researches abroad without partners, but with broader draft assignments which are likely to deliver valuable outcomes. We already did that in Tunisia with tangible results, which can be provided, if needed. In terms of scalability, we are well prepared for a demand for our service, which exceeds our working capacity as a team of 3, as we are also co-founders of d.partment, a network of 33 design thinkers (based in Berlin) who are willing to participate in 3i.

Your profile

We are a team of 3 from 3 different continents, with 3 different academic backgrounds. Interculturality is not only our main issue, it is also the essence and source for our creative teamwork. Each of us carries a different approach to every topic, and at the same time the will and ability to find an innovative consensus. We got to know each other during our apprenticeship in Design Thinking at HPI Potsdam, where we all fell in love with this way of working. Ever since, we worked in many projects in cooperation with very different partners: Holzmarkt, Evangelical Church, Department for Foreign Affairs, Senate Department of Berlin, Oberlinhaus, Lufthansa, Engagement Global, EPIZ and several schools. Tassilo Weber, 28, born in Berlin, is the man for the big vision. He graduated from masters program in Philosophy, wrote 12 books and traveled to more than 40 countries. He has the mindset of first taking aside realistic measures and elaborating completely new perspectives and microcosms with an inner logic, and then look for feasibility. Isabel Bahiana Wotzasek, 30, born in Rio de Janeiro, is the designer and perfectionist of the team. She graduated in Product and Graphic Design at Rios State University and has a long list of professional experience and project participation in her field. Apart from Brazil, she lived in the US, France and moved to Berlin in 2013. Mehdi Javadi, 33, born in Zahedan, Iran, is the teams Buddha. His imperturbable high spirits, rational planning mindset and down-to-earth-questions prevent the team from getting lost in space. He moved to Berlin 5 years ago, where he just finished his PhD in Urban Planning. He has many good friends and contacts around the globe.

Video (optional)

Stage of Idea

planning stage

Your idea has a positive impact on

sustainable trade, cultural diversity

Tassilo & Mehdi teaching Design Thinking at a school

Isabel in presentation mode

Our favorite working space

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July 4, 2014 10:47

am vote number 5

July 3, 2014 06:56