BRITA – Not all water is the same

The family-run company, BRITA, operates worldwide and has continually expanded its product portfolio over the past decades. Their history shows that BRITA is an innovative company. Starting with the optimization of tap water for car batteries in the 1960s, BRITA has developed into an international company whose water filters and other products have become indispensable in many households and commercial sectors.

BRITA’s innovative culture comes from its employees who are trained to think and act creatively. As part of BRITA's internal executive development program, a project was launched to develop a new product idea.

The company is aware that external sources can increase the power of innovation; however, long-term innovations come from their own employees.

Together to the new product idea

This is where we, the Design Thinking Factory of Fraunhofer FIT, come in. To support an internal project group, two of our Design Thinking experts provided BRITA employees with many methodically-oriented tips and tricks. Within the project group, the product portfolio was to be further developed with promising ideas.

With our methodical support, the BRITA project team developed various ideas for services and products along the design thinking process. The aim was always to provide BRITA employees with methodological knowledge and to guide them to independently carry out a design sprint. Five sessions were planned to achieve these goals.

A common knowledge base was created in the kick-off workshop. First, BRITA employees informed us about their current status, followed by the creation of a common goal, which was to be achieved in the next workshops. At the same time, there was a method training from our Design Thinking experts where the appropriate methods for the subsequent steps were jointly selected.

Focus group: And the user journey begins

The constant involvement of end users is important for a user-centered design approach in the product development cycle. Accordingly, we started the empathy phase with a focus group. Based on the preceding method training, the BRITA project team guided the participants through the workshop independently with the help of Questorming. Many insights were gathered, which formed the basis for the next course.

One thing we can say quite clearly at this point: You did a great job!

Understand your stakeholders and their needs

In order to document and structure the insights into the world of stakeholders, BRITA employees have synthesized their findings in various forms such as personas, empathy maps and value proposition canvases.

These physical artifacts were not only intended to serve as a means of communication and thought-visualization within the group, but also to help make the project results public within the company. Based on the impressions of the empathize and define phases, the group started to generate ideas. Along a previously defined "How might we" question, various ideas were collected in a targeted and problem-oriented manner.

Then the time had come for a decision. The most promising ideas were democratically selected in a dot voting process.

Prototyping & off into the cold water

In the next steps, our experts provided the BRITA project team with various tools for rapid prototyping. Within the prototyping phase, three different product ideas were created, after which their iterative refinement only waited an evaluation.

In order to obtain stakeholder feedback, we acted true to the motto "off into the deep end". The BRITA employees tested their prototypes on the road. This took some effort at first, but in the end, many important and informative insights and feedback were gained through the short user studies and interviews.

The results were shared in the plenum and the next steps were jointly discussed. For each prototype, it was collaboratively worked out which phase of the Design Thinking process needed to be re-visited, in order to sharpen the concept.

Conclusion – a creative atmosphere that pleases

The creative atmosphere, as well as the balance of freedom and structure during the joint workshops was noticed by our participants. They have learned to let themselves fall without knowing exactly where the journey is going and where it will end. The process, methodology, and tools have positively impacted the BRITA project team. Our service was light-heartedly described by the workshop participants as "supervised work". While our pedantic time limits and use of post-its caused for some skepticism at the beginning, the dynamic work accomplished by the end of the workshops was praised and summarized with the words "In the end everything made sense". Thus, the notorious post-it gluing fulfilled its purpose and we are proud to have passed on a lot of knowledge about the Design Thinking process and its methods.