design doing

KLM and TU Delft sign “Design Doing” agreement. Image: Marisa Garcia

APEX Insight: During this week’s Passenger Terminal EXPO in Amsterdam, KLM and TU Delft jointly launched “Design Doing,” a program aimed at tackling challenges in the air travel industry. The partners will apply the “KLM X” strategy of conducting tests in real-life situations, rather than in laboratory settings.

Say vaarwel to tired laboratory testing and hoi to KLM and TU Delft’s action-oriented “Design Doing” program. The world’s oldest airline still operating under its original name and one of the world’s largest industrial design faculties have formally announced a five-year collaboration aimed at tackling some of the biggest challenges in air travel using a creative problem solving methodology called KLM X. Two TU Delft doctoral candidates will work with students to test design principles in KLM’s day-to-day operational environment, working with real-life passengers and employees in airport and aircraft settings.

“In our company, we have a lot of processes that are there for a long time, and, if you want to innovate, you have to do it. Operations are about doing. That’s why we use the name ‘Design Doing,’” says KLM’s chief operating officer René de Groot.

“Operations are about doing. That’s why we use the name ‘Design Doing,’” — René de Groot, KLM

Yesterday’s program launch was accompanied by the introduction of projects already using the methodology. The Underage Minors program, for example, ensures ease of mind for parents of unaccompanied minors by using a wristband boarding pass and a QR code tracking the movements of the child at various stages of the journey. Regular updates on the child’s progress are automatically sent to parents via Messenger. The KLM X strategy has also been applied to the development of digital solutions for flight crew operations and internal efficiency programs.

design doing

KLM and TU Delft celebrate their new partnership at the Passenger Terminal EXPO in Amsterdam. Image: Marisa Garcia

Each project begins with the Ambition Phase, with a stated goal for innovation. From there it moves to the Sherlock Phase, during which a team will search for the “missing links” in the operational process or passenger experience. This is followed by the Mickey Mouse Phase, which is meant to foster “big wild dreams” to fix the “missing links.” Next comes the vital Lego Phase where team members are encouraged to “Just build!”; the Test Phase for experimentation; a Mirror Phase for evaluation; and, at last, the release of a new KLM process or product. Teams, which include TU Delft students and KLM staff,  are encouraged to take risks – after all, two of the “KLM X” factors are “extreme” and “the unknown” – but they must also satisfy the other two X factors: “experience” and “excellence.”

“How can we do this better than to have direct contact with companies like KLM?” — Tim van der Hagen, TU Delft

“I think we have a three-fold mission,” Tim van der Hagen, President of TU Delft says. “One is to educate the next generation of engineers, who will go out there and make the world a better place. The second pillar is to perform world-class research. The third one is to make sure that the results of the research have impact, and also that the engineers have impact; that they find their way; that the new technologies find their way to actual applications. How can we do this better than to have direct contact with companies like KLM?”

Marisa Garcia was once locked in a hangar in Oberpfaffenhofen while fine-tuning Gandalf’s new seats. Seriously. The firemen got her out. Writing is less confining, but she has lovely memories of those hands-on days.