In a two-semester long capstone project students define, develop and deliver a full design project. Once students have defined the project aim, they are asked to identify all the stakeholders whose needs and interests must be considered in the research phase of the project.
This is often challenging for the students as they have focused till now (in their education) on different types of end users, not yet having thought about e.g., influencers, decision makers or budget holders. The learning experience being offered here has three stages.
First, an example of a hospital furniture project by the teacher provides an overview of different types of stakeholders (e.g., patients and nurses but also cleaning staff and purchasers). Secondly, students are given instructions for doing a visual mapping exercise (an actor / issue mapping tool). Thirdly, students are instructed to work in a group to identify stakeholders, but also for different students in the group to adopt stakeholders’ roles and then to bring up issues from that role’s perspective. Then students are asked to prioritize needs/issues/stakeholders to further investigate.
The exercise first grounds students in thinking very pragmatic through the business /organizational context in which the project is situated. A level of emotional awareness is required to imagine and feel through functional and emotional needs from the point of view of different stakeholders. The visual mind mapping exercise helps students to visually think through the complex picture emerging.