A Storytelling Methodology to Facilitate User-Centered Co-Ideation between Scientists and Designers

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Successful implementation of sustainable innovation requires strong collaborative ecosys-tems. In particular, collaboration between scientific and people-centered expertise (e.g., designers) is essential to bring technical innovation through contextualized, meaningful and attractive experiences. However, in practice, these types of expertise are siloed and struggle to communicate and think together. We present a creative design method based on participatory story building to support collaborative user-centered ideation between technology scientists and designers. The core of the method is a new story creation model, the three-tension framework, that facilitates the exploration of users’ experiences and needs during ideation. To evaluate the method’s effectiveness, we conducted open-ended interviews with participants. We found that the method facilitates the expression of different perspectives and outside-the-box creative thinking. An originality and strength of our method is that it favors the discovery of new issues and pain points—rather than only solutions. This, combined with idea enrichment by multidisciplinary expertise, contributes to generating ideas in a broader range of application areas than usual. Our results indicate that participatory storytelling has the potential to facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration and to bring user-centered thinking to non-design stakeholders in order to envision user needs in future scenarios and new ecosystems.