Thinking out of the box: How the Design Thinking innovative approach shapes the project

Innovation is IcARUS’ raison d’être not only in what it will achieve – an innovative rethink of local urban security policies – but also in how it will achieve that. The partners have thus spent the past five months elaborating the project’s approaches through intense collaborative work. One key element is the Design Thinking methodology, an innovative process for designing human-centred solutions to complex problems. Design Thinking shapes the way the project will co-construct concrete and forward thinking solutions to urban security challenges, notably in the framework of the workshops to be held further down the line.

IcARUS seeks innovation. Not only does this project aim at original solutions, but it also looks at innovation in the process of designing these solutions. For the project’s consortium, this is a true journey from start to finish. Indeed, rather than following traditional approaches, the project’s methodology, titled Design Thinking, brings innovation in the way partners interact and co-create in order to deliver the project’s outcomes. Design Thinking is a methodology used by some of the world’s leading innovative brands and is taught at prestigious universities. Through the application of this human-centred methodology to urban security approaches, IcARUS seeks to enhance multi-stakeholder cooperation and create solutions that meet the collective needs of citizens.  The IcARUS partners have been focusing on this methodology from the beginning of the project, delving into the theory and exploring ways to adopt it.

Shaping future training sessions and workshops

Now that the methodology is set, they can progress to a more practical stage. Among the latest developments, Design Thinking will shape all the workshops that are planned for the near future and the years ahead.  The consortium partners have received guidelines on how to conduct and participate in workshops with the Design Thinking method. In particular, the method will ensure that all involved stakeholders express their views, that solutions are co-created, and that the sessions are successfully managed in terms of practical needs. Thus the exercises that will be proposed to workshop participants, or the values to be shared among the facilitators reflect the Design Thinking main concepts and foster successful exchanges of ideas in order to co-create possible solutions to problems.

Co-creation is indeed the term and the concept that leads IcARUS in the months and years to come. This means that the whole consortium of academic partners and partners representing local authorities and urban security practitioners will start discussing issues, problems to be addressed, and will try to find innovative solutions together. This is indeed the time of doing, and the entire consortium has been given the necessary tools to start practicing with and experiencing the methodology. The IcARUS partners will participate in comprehensive training sessions on the Design Thinking method. They will have an opportunity to go beyond the theory and apply it, develop appropriate skills, and bring into play all the main concepts IcARUS revolves around.

Embracing discrepancy and difference

All this, from the defining of the methodology to the practical guidance for workshops, highly benefits the pool of partners, especially now that the consortium is ready to enter a more practical stage where contributions from each and every participant are greatly welcomed and valued. The diversity of actors within the consortium should and will most certainly favour the generation of innovative ideas, as much as stimulate divergence, contrast and disagreement. The next steps consist in fact in acquiring specific skills for embracing discrepancy and difference while thriving in it. This is indeed one of the main reasons why it is relevant for the consortium to start experiencing the methodology via practical sessions.

Crucially, the time spent these past few months in defining precisely how we’ll use the Design Thinking approach in our work will also benefit the wider community of stakeholders. IcARUS aims at innovation and its method encourages to see things from different viewpoints. The switch in perspectives is the concept which this approach hinges on: partners are inspired to analyse problems from a different angle. In doing so, it will be easier to deliver innovative solutions, especially in the long run. Such original results achieved via this challenging, yet exciting methodology will benefit urban security actors, urban designers, members of municipal administrations, law enforcement agencies, and otherstakeholders, including civil society actors.