Design Patterns as Guidance for Designers of Groupware used by Team for the Development of Innovative Products

Design Patterns as Guidance for Designers of Groupware used by Team for the Development of Innovative Products

Petros Georgiakakis (University of Piraeus, Greece), Simos Retalis (University of Piraeus, Greece), Marlies Bitter-Rijpkema (Open Universiteit, The Netherlands), Kees Pannekeet (Open Universiteit, The Netherlands), Marjo Rutjens (Open Universiteit, The Netherlands) and Peter Sloep (Open Universiteit, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-144-7.ch016
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This chapter proposes a design pattern based on the Six Thinking Hats Creativity technique to foster the collaboration among specialists of various fields. It exemplifies the value of pattern languages for the work in multidisciplinary teams and discusses how the proposed pattern helped in a design project in which a groupware system is developed. Following the structure of flow design patterns, the Six Thinking Hats Technique is described in the pattern format taking the problem context and its forces into account. In its solution part, the pattern describes the types of tasks as well as the types and structure of groups for each of the various roles defined by this creativity technique. The core solution of the present pattern is to shift between various perspectives and to incorporate multiple views of the stakeholders.
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Design Patterns As Guidance For Designers Of Groupware Used By Team For The Development Of Innovative Products

Development of innovative products requires people with various skills and knowhow to collaborate in multidisciplinary teams and learn from each other. Nowadays, these teams more and more work distributed across locations. This implies that collaborative work and creativity should be facilitated by usable groupware systems (Strijbos et al., 2004). Designing effective groupware systems is a complex task which requires the synergy of several people of different specialties and expertise. Designers (particularly novice ones) need guidance and advices to help them produce effective prototypes. On the one hand guidance and advice need to be based on solid research and empirical findings. On the other hand, they should not be is too prescriptive, or based on a single model, since they won’t help designers to create innovative prototypes, suited to their particular context, and benefited from the most of new and evolving technology. In the specific domain of collaborative development of innovative products, which is the focus of our work in the idSpace project (, groupware system designers need to cooperate with experts who knows about creativity, innovative products development processes and computer supported collaborative work based learning, as well as with application domain specialists who will incorporate the system into their working environment (e.g. aerospace industry). As an effect there is a need for a common design language. In general, people within a discipline often have trouble communicating their ideas and decisions to other specialists (Borchers, 2001). One of the challenges in groupware system design is to develop effective techniques for making specialists’ knowledge and assumptions more explicit, and easier for the other disciplines to understand and refer to. Design patterns could play the role of a “lingua franca” thus supporting discussions among people who are specialists in various disciplines (Fincher, 1999). Design patterns express the accumulated & tacit design knowledge with respect to a specific problem either pedagogical or technical or organizational and propose how this problem can be solved when someone deals with it. Therefore, in the context of creativity process and collaborative innovative product development, design patterns are expected to reduce the conceptual gap among the fields of collaborative work, innovation design, creativity process and the software development world. In this chapter we propose one design pattern about the Six Hats creativity technique which can help the designing team to create a groupware system for supporting it. The design pattern acts as a medium for transferring the design knowledge of creativity experts to the groupware system designers and evaluators. The design pattern can tackle or highlight different insights of creativity for collaborative design, i.e. cognitive, psychological and organizational ones.

The proposed design pattern is a flow design pattern which should be regarded as a more formal way of describing the Six Hats creativity technique. The term “flow” refers to the coordination at activity level (activity-level coordination), which describes the sequencing of activities that make up a process.

As pointed out by Hernandez et al (2005) flow patterns provide software developers with information about the flow of activities types that are expected to occur during a collaborative scenario based on a specific strategy which the flow pattern analyses. Using this information, software developers can identify the functionality of tool (e.g. concept map, chat) that will be needed in order to better support the sequence of activities that the flow design pattern describes.

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