Identifying the designer’s, the design team’s and the stakeholder’s values


Educational setting:

Interaction Design and Media,
Bachelor’s level,
Elective course,
15 ECTS,


2 x 2 h workshops (and homework in between)

Number of students:


Learning Activities

In this course, the students worked with digital interface design and the theme: social change. The majority of the cases that the students could work on were inspired from Hilary Cottam’s book “Radical Help – how we can remake the relationships between us and revolutionize the welfare state” (Cottam 2018). Her book illustrates how she collaborated with designers at a design and innovation company to facilitate social change processes at a community level in the British welfare society. With this as an inspirational source, students worked on cases related to ageing well, growing up, good work, family life, good health and circular economy. During the course, students had value based workshops and ran processes, focusing on values in design. Here one workshop and one process will be described and how they relate to how values in a project are defined on multiple levels.

In the first workshop, the students started with identifying their own personal values. Thereafter, they used their personal values to determine which values they would have as a team. They formulated their design teams’ value manifesto (see “Materials” for slides with instructions and worksheets).

The students went through a process building on the initial stakeholder research phase of their projects where they, among other things, had gathered stakeholder data and analyzed it through the affinity diagram (IDF, 2021) method. This process ran in parallel with the analysis and concept development phase of the project that they were working on as part of the course. The process resulted in a list of four identified project values.

Thereafter, they went into the process of mapping and negotiating the project values with their stakeholders (see Materials for instructions and worksheets):

  • Step 1: Initial project values
  • Step 2: Stakeholder’s values
  • Step 3: Value negotiations
  • Step 4: Values agreement

Finally, students submitted the values agreement as an identification of operational project values.

Since the course ran online, students worked remotely, and all the workshop materials were presented to them via video conferencing and were shared via a digital learning platform. The members of the student teams also worked with each other remotely via an online digital whiteboard.

Learning Outcomes

As a response to the first workshop, the design teams’ workshop manifestos showed that the teams tended to identify the work spirit of their design team, and that they imagined that they would be a design team working at a design consultancy. For example, they also considered relations to collaboration partners and clients.

One student team added meaningfulness as a supervalue, then respect for each other, including collaboration partners, resources, work environment and development. Since some of these words might mean several things, the team added a few keywords and sentences to specify what they meant by each value. Another student team just stated the values. In another worksheet that students submitted, team values were followed by a range of keywords that the student team associated with each value. These keywords deepened and specified their desired understanding of each value mentioned. It was clear from many of the teams that personal and collective development and community / sense of belonging and supporting each other appeared as values. All team manifestos showed values associated with teamwork and design processes. However, it was unclear if the values mentioned also represent personal life values. In case teachers want the students to reflect on which of their life values a design teams’ value manifesto should contain, for example representing their design consultancy, then a teacher might need to emphasize this in the introduction of the assignment.

As a result of the project value process, student teams created value agreements. See an example below:

Figure 1. A communication service and network for elderly women who can meet and arrange/join social activities.

The above example explains what each of the values meant in the context of elderly womens’ life situations and was based on insights from interviews with elderly ladies. Students highlighted the following: to dare to meet other people and trust people who you do not know. To be challenged to try new things in good company etc.

Another team that worked with a professional networking platform for job seekers and employers listed the values: equality (understood as inclusivity), ambition, structure and reliability. This team’s project values led to a focus in their project where the platform should prevent judgement based on physical appearance and skin color. It should speak to the personal dreams of the job seeker in order to encourage engagement, and it should provide a communication structure between job seeker and employer so that both parties could count on each other.

In the reports submitted by the students, most stated that the project values gave them a way to focus throughout their design process. It worked like a compass that provided direction in the idea development phase, and it guided choices of visual materials and text through which students communicated with their users through their prototypes.

When looking back on the project value process, perhaps some of the steps in the project values process were redundant. Another way of using the values agreement worksheet could be to use it as a way to generate provisional stakeholder values that students can arrive at from an analysis of the stakeholder research data without being in direct and continuous dialogue with stakeholders about the project values.


Cottam, Hillary. (2018). Radical Help – how we can remake the relationships between us and revolutionize the welfare state. London: Virago.

HuValue (2021. A Tool to Enrich Design Concepts with Human Values. Retrieved on 2021-06-16 from

Interaction Design Foundation (2021). Affinity Diagrams – Learn How to Cluster and Bundle Ideas and Facts. Retrieved on 2021-06-12 from



Teaching Activities: