The Catalyst Kit

Encouraging collaboration and design thinking
in interactive systems development

A holistic view — including the product as whole and above all the human perspective within the social and environmental context — on software development is still not standard. Designers and software engineers are both experts in their respective specific field, yet only few methods and tools exist to build a common understanding of the overall product to support a smooth collaboration between them — from the first concepts to the actual product.

This thesis builds upon discussions on the theory and practice of software development in the perspective of design theory and upon the research on boundary objects — objects which are shared by both disciplines to empower collaboration. The experience acquired from many industry projects and case studies from the literature provide the basis for researching the collaboration between designers and engineers on software development projects from three different viewpoints: process, people, and artifacts.

Based on those findings I propose a toolkit — the Catalyst Kit — to encourage a holistic view on software development. The catalyst kit fosters design thinking by focusing on the collaboration within the team and by providing methods and tools to improve the transition from concepts to the final product. By treating software development as a dialog between disciplines we can understand each perspective separately from different points of view. Communicating the rationale of the methods, instruments and tools of each discipline supports better understanding and better team work, and leads to better products in the end.

This is the accompanying website to the doctoral thesis by Jürgen Spangl submitted in September 2008 at the Vienna University of Technology.


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