Deutsche Bahn

How to co-create better travel experiences for train users in Germany

Initial Challenge

Initial Challenge

How can we make trains run on time and communicate delays transparently to improve the overall travel experience?


The core program consisted of a 2-day introduction course, 11 weekly Design Thinking sessions, 4 iteration cycles, and a final project. Twenty-five participants from the Deutsche Bahn worked in small teams to develop and prototype ideas that would improve the products and services of their organisation. At the end of each program day we organized an event open to the entire company where participants, employees and industry experts were invited to share their experiences and insight. The Deutsche Bahn employees used a variety of methods to deepen their understanding of their user’s needs including discussions with industry experts, riding trains to better their understanding of the user experience and interviewing travellers at train stations.

The employees of Deutsche Bahn put themselves in the role of a traveller to build empathy with user needs and to discuss and co-create with different industry experts .i.g: going on trains and exploring their own services or by interviewing travellers at the train station. Ideas were developed and turned into tangible products and these were tested and applied at train stations and in trains to continuously develop ideas further in an iterative way.

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Each team came up with a range of ideas and tested prototypes which were presented in front of an internal project partner. One team’s project idea allowed startups, hackers, and users to play with existing data and create new digital projects and services. Within a few weeks this project became a reality and the Deutsche Bahn held the first hackathon in the company’s history.

Several hackathons followed in Berlin, resulting in the initiative Open-Data-Portal. The project ended up with the possibility of a multitude of services created by users and for users, instead of one single service.

Working on a real challenge in a training setting motivated people to work hard and come up with a good solution.

DB Employee

Insight #1

Motivated individuals can change things in a company if they can explore ideas in a safe environment.

Insight #2

Companies should integrate more their customers into the innovation process of the products and services they offer.

Insight #3

By opening up an innovation project inside a company and inviting other employees to take part adds valuable perspectives beyond a one team’s knowledge. This increases the identification with the results and the wish for carrying the product forward.

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