Design Dash - Experience Design Thinking practically and digitally.


Design Thinking as an innovative approach to solve business challenges and develop new ideas. It stands for trial and error and iterative work in the form of simple prototypes or the application of creativity techniques.

Social conditions are subject to constant change - the so-called megatrends. They affect all levels of society and influence every person. One of these megatrends is "New Work" and refers to the changed understanding of work: On the one hand, new expectations of employees are developing and on the other hand, the fundamentals of business are changing, among other things through digitalization. Mechanical and plant engineering therefore needs to adapt its own working conditions in order to be able to continue to call up the specific speed of innovation and reaction in the future.

With innovative methods, approaches and attitudes of New Work, one's own working methods can be adapted and at the same time the internal as well as cross-company cooperation can be improved. One of these approaches is Design Thinking, which is used to find solutions to complex problems and to develop new ideas. As an agile framework, design thinking aims to approach problems or new approaches in a solution- and customer-oriented, open-ended, flexible and interdisciplinary way. Weighing the economic viability and expectations of stakeholders are always part of the process.

Virtual Design Dash Workshop

In order to bring this innovative approach closer to companies from the mechanical and plant engineering sector in NRW, ProduktionNRW organised a two-hour virtual workshop on design thinking on 1 July 2021. Andrea Veerkamp-Walz, Innovation and Human Resources Management Officer at VDMA Business Advisory, gave an overview of this topic from the VDMA's perspective. Rasmus Fackler-Stamm, consultant at imu augsburg GmbH & Co. KG, then led the participants through all six phases of Design Thinking: understanding, observing, synthesizing, finding ideas, generating prototypes and finally testing. In the shorter version, Design Thinking becomes the Design Dash. The Design Dash also covers all phases of Design Thinking. Due to the shorter time frame, the participants have to be more determined to achieve results.

In four small groups, the participants worked on the individual phases of Design Thinking with the help of the IT tool Mural. These small groups dealt with more general questions, such as the design of the ideal lunch break or the way to work. This gave the randomly assembled groups quick access to the task at hand. After each completed phase, the participants were led back to the virtual main room. Here they had the opportunity to ask questions or make comments before the next phase was explained and the participants returned to their small groups.

It was the timed short processing phases of the Design Dash in the individual breakout sessions that presented a challenge at the beginning. From the very beginning, those present had to work single-mindedly on the task at hand and creatively immerse themselves directly in the topic. Despite initial teething troubles, all participants were able to successfully work through the phases and experience them in practice. Working with an IT tool such as Mural proved to be particularly helpful, as it allowed initial ideas to be visualized directly.

"New Work" event series

The event "Design Dash. Experience Design Thinking practically and digitally" is part of the "New Work" event series, which is organised by ProduktionNRW together with the VDMA Business Advisory, the VDMA Competence Center Labour Market and the VDMA regional associations.


The event was offered by ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the competence network of mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is carried out by the VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform for networking, informing and marketing companies, institutions and networks among themselves and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).