Needfinding Practice: Enhancing Students' Problem Framing Skills through Iterative Observation for Business Innovation

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Kim, Seoyoung (1); Kim, Sohyeong (2); Koo, Jeamin (3)
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Stanford Center at the Incheon Global Campus, Stanford University; 2: Stanford University; 3: Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST)
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 2775-2784
DOI number:


The ambidextrous balance of combining quantitative and qualitative approach is crucial to achieve business innovation in our ever-changing society. While exploring the early stages of a problem space, profound and iterative observations of human behaviors allow designers to discover unusual insights and users’ needs. In this regard, the purpose of this study is to introduce the Needfinding Practice course at KAIST and emphasize the importance of observational research to frame new business opportunities. Main learning goal of this course is to expand the problem finding phase for enhancing students’ creativity and divergent thinking abilities. In this study, we have conducted a literature review on needfinding through observation and how the early stage of design thinking process is related to understanding users deeply. By presenting students’ field research projects, we highlighted the process of identifying unexpected latent needs to gain qualitative data for future business implications.

Keywords: Education, Design methodology, Human behaviour in design, Problem framing, Iterative observation

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