Behind the scenes – Tools in innovation designers’ sandbox Part 5/5

Anyone can be a designer with the right mindset. Source:

Anyone can be a designer with the right mindset. Source:

Multidisciplinary teamworksimple but effective toolsvirtual workvisualization, prototyping, design thinking… There are tons of different tools designers can use in their work.

This is my final blog post about the designer tools our innovation team uses in our everyday work here at the UNICEF Headquarters in New York. This time I’ll introduce two projects relating to Design Thinking and discuss how this discipline has helped us to approach things from new angles and to perceive projects from the user’s perspective. Designing with the user is possibly the most crucial part of design and prerequisite for successful solutions.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about our way of working and that my posts have provided you with inspiration for your own work.

Global Design for UNICEF Challenge encourages students to design solutions that fit the problem context. 5 Why’s is one of the Design Thinking tools included in the competition curriculum. Photo credit: Erika Pursiainen, Innovation Unit, UNICEF NYHQ

Global Design for UNICEF Challenge encourages students to design solutions that fit the problem context. 5 Why’s is one of the Design Thinking tools included in the competition curriculum. Photo credit: Erika Pursiainen, Innovation Unit, UNICEF NYHQ

Design Thinking helps students approaching difficult challenges

Norah Maki, our Project Assistant, is also an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) candidate in the Design for Social Innovation Program at School of Visual Arts. Because of her background she pursues design thinking in her work.

Her main project is the Global Design for UNICEF Challenge, an academic partnership and design competition that engages students in coming up with creative solutions for pressing development problems. This year the Challenge is being scaled to include new universities outside The US, beyond The City University of New York (CUNY) that has served as the flagship partner for the competition.

In the process of moving towards the global Challenge, Norah has developed the competition curriculum and provided the students with more design thinking tools. This enables them to approach the challenges from the user’s perspective and to design feasible solutions that fit the problem context. The competition process now includes the following tools to encourage creative thinking from students and help them accomplish all competition checkpoints: User Journey, 5 Why’s, Stakeholder Mapping, co-creation, and consultation with experts. The winners will have the chance to go to the field to test their prototypes and do some actual co-creation with the users: the children!

Tile game pushes people to think beyond current frameworks

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Behind the scenes – Tools in innovation designers’ sandbox Part 4/5

2013, New York, The US. 3D printing at New York University. Photo credit: Erika Pursiainen, Innovation Unit, UNICEF NYHQ

2013, New York, The US. 3D printing at New York University. Photo credit: Erika Pursiainen, Innovation Unit, UNICEF NYHQ

The New York University (NYU) students I referred to in my last blog post about virtual work were asked to prepare a 1-minute video to communicate their ideas for the next class. There are so many ways to visualize projects and their components that I can only just begin to grasp the subject in this post. I will now introduce 3D printing and share four data visualization tips from our Design Lead. Nevertheless, I hope this article gives you some interesting ideas to visualize different types of data and processes.

3D printing for prototyping

I guess I had heard about 3D printing before but I didn’t really recognize what it was until here in New York. While preparing a post for our blog I was browsing through our photo database and came across a photo of Chris (Fabian, UNICEF Innovation Unit Co-Lead) throwing in a 3D-printed item he had received from Singularity University up in the air. From that point on I wanted to see a 3D printer because it seemed more like a tool from science fiction movies than a machine invented in the 1980’s. Later on I learned that 3D printers come in many different shapes and sizes.

2013, New York, The US. Chris’ 3D-printed item he got from Singularity University. Photo credit: Erika Pursiainen, Innovation Unit, UNICEF NYHQ

2013, New York, The US. Chris’ 3D-printed item he got from Singularity University. Photo credit: Erika Pursiainen, Innovation Unit, UNICEF NYHQ

From what I know, 3D printing is used at least in our Innovation Lab in Uganda. Also, the Design for UNICEF student team developing modular drones have used 3D printing within their design process. Recently, we got a 3D printer to the New York office: the 3Doodler. Some team members tested it and made cool Christmas trees. All I was able to make was a weird white ball of string (it was supposed to be a snowman). I guess it’s a good tool after some practice.

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Getting steamrolled by the Jam! #GSJTampere#Innovation#Happy

There are some things in life that you need to experience yourself in order to truly understand them – Jamming is definitely one of those! You simply can´t capture the spirit of Jamming with words. Any attemp would result in lines full of superlatives and corny phrases, and in the end, readers would think you have worn the ”funny hat” for too long. Well, that´s totally ok and not far from the truth, but that wouldn´t do justice for the concept.

Here´s an example.

I could tell you that Global Service Jam is a unique 48 hour event for curious, open-minded people interested in (service) design thinking. It gathers Jammers from 6 continents, from more than 100 cities to simultaneously design completely new services in a spirit of experimentation, innovation, co-operation and friendly competition. At the end of the weekend, prototypes of the new services are published to the world. Global Service Jam is known for it´s inspirational spirit that captures and connects the global network of over 2000 Jammers.

Or I could point you to a video. Our Jam got challenged by the New York Service Jam to make a happy dance, and here is our response:

After watching the video, your first thought might be something like ”say what?” But I urge you to hold your thoughts. In fact, if you look closer, what you can see in the video, is a group of people who have been totally taken over by the spirit of the Jam – you can almost taste the collective fun and openness! And these people were strangers to one and other before the Jam started. Just within two days, an unique atmosphere has been established. Atmosphere that frees people to be themselves, think unorthodoxically, experiment, play and build on one and other´s (crazy) ideas.

Imagine what could happen if this atmosphere could be replicated in your company? What could happen if all that hidden know-how and creative potential of your company´s employees would be unleashed? My answer: Anything could happen.

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Once upon a time in Tampere Global Service Jam

What is The Global Service Jam? It’s a global innovation burst of 48 hours. Think of a bunch of musicians starting to play together. They all have their individual instruments, but after some try and error, they will be able to reach harmonies and create a unique sound and create new music. It’s the same with innovation, having a group of motivated people with diverse backgrounds, ready to work hard together. And perhaps most importantly, as the Jam rules goes, they’re ready to have fun. This blog post focuses on the storytelling method that influenced me the most during the jam, and how it was utilised through out the service design process. The Jam event it self was an excellent example of a successful use of storytelling, as the event followed a dramatic structure from the start-up sequence to the fade out.



Tampere Global Service Jam had a great location at Finlayson factory area. No Jam is a Jam without the Emergency Rubber Chicken.


Tampere Global Service Jam

This story begins at the creative and beautiful setting of historic cotton factory in the Finlayson area in downtown Tampere, Finland. One of the old factory buildings (actually called the New Factory held a Global Service Jam event.  Tampere Jam was hosted by experts Tirri, Anna and Reetta from Kolmas Persoona, and Mikko from Solita. There were also inspiring key notes from Anne from Tarinakone and Juha from Diagonal. The idea of a jam is good and simple: get together, get inspired by the given theme, ideate, form groups, develop the service together and finally present your service prototype. We had three groups of jammers developing their ideas who designed from the same starting point totally different service prototypes. All the individual service processes used multiple and different design methods, ethnography and storytelling being common to all groups.

The results included:

So how to get all this amazing work done in such a short time? Using appropriate tools and getting inspired by the hosts, key note speakers and other jammers. Storytelling had a strong place in each and every design at Tampere Jam, during all the process. As one of our key note speaker Anna from Tarinakone told us, storytelling can be utilized not just in the final presentation of the service prototype, but along the way as well. You can find Anne’s great presentation on Slideshare.

The Power of a great Story

Stories attract and engage people, thus the method of including them in your design process is a very effective one. There’s a neurological explanation to this: our brain produces stress hormones when we get excited and “feel-good” hormone when we see adorable characters in the story. A happy ending of a story releases dopamine, leaving the listener to feel more optimistic. A mixture of these three elements produces a good story and gets your audience’s attention.

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Master Thesis: Empowering Child Sponsorship with Service-Dominant Logic

Child Sponsorship

Child Sponsorship is highly motivational form of regular giving. Largest child sponsorship organizations in Finland are currently Plan, World Vision and Fida. Picture taken from Fida’s project in Tanzania by Erkki Salo.

In this blog post, I Introduce my master thesis and share some of my personal experiences from the MBA studies. As part of my master thesis (which can be downloaded from here: Salo Erkki Master Thesis) I developed a Service-Dominant Logic based business model canvas application for child sponsorship organizations. With the help of the canvas, value propositions for the child sponsorship of the case organization Fida International were developed.

Turmoil in fundraising

Child sponsorship is a highly popular and high impact form of giving that affects to the lives of 90 million people. In child sponsorship, a donor, called a child sponsor, supports a child in a developing country through regular donations. With the support, a sponsored child receives improved chances in life. The case organization Fida International is one of these organizations with its 5200 child sponsors helping 10 000 children in poor countries.

Child sponsorship organizations, like any other charities, are facing the changing world as donor generations are aging without the younger generations filling in the gap. In order to adapt to the change, donor customers cannot be treated as passive receptors of marketing messages, but instead as co-creators of value. By co-designing services together with customers and with other stakeholders, doors can be opened for innovations.

New Business Model Canvas application for child sponsorship

The starting point of the thesis was that the Business Model Canvas (see my previous blog post) introduced by Osterwalder and Pigneur (2010) can help organizations to visualize and innovate successful business models. Despite of its strengths, it is said to represent an old paradigm of service marketing called goods-dominant logic.

The new paradigm of service marketing introduced by Professors Vargo and Lusch (2004), called the Service-Dominant Logic, challenges the Goods-Dominant Logic. In the Service-Dominant Logic, value is always co-created with customers and is solely determined by the customer.

Therefore, I decided to apply the Business Model Canvas with Service-Dominant Logic and to add also insights found from the fundraising literature and from other available business model canvas applications, such as the Lean Canvas and the Nonprofit Business Model 1.0. After the analysis, I used the original business model building blocks by Osterwalder and Pigneur, but altered the original key questions.

The developed business model canvas application was used as part of the service design process to develop value propositions of the case organization’s child sponsorship. Multiple different stakeholders were involved, and the focus was on the big picture. The chosen service-design process was the Double Diamond. As outcomes of the thesis, the case organization gained a deeper understanding of their donor customer needs and how the developed value propositions were linked to the donor customer’s public and private desired outcomes.

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Learning in Action – How We Won the Second Place in a Service Design Competition

”Could you send a female inspector?”

This is how Jaakko started our pitch at Sitras’s Service Design competition on March 3, 2014. The competition was part of Sitra’s new security forum, and it intended to test how service design could help to improve public services and make them more user-centric.

The actual design goal set by Sitra and the Finnish Ministry of the Interior was to think of ways to lower the barrier of reporting a racist crime.

Statistics show that the amount of reported crimes has dropped significantly. This is not necessarily good news. As the amount of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds has rised in Finland, the question is whether the amount of racist crimes has actually diminished or whether people don’t just report them anymore. Is the reporting process clear enough for people of foreign roots? Do people have the skills and the motivation to bring their issue forward? Do they trust the authorities? Is there enough knowledge? Could service design help to improve the situation?

This was the challenge of our design team, comprising four enthusiastic first-year SID-students, Jaakko, Ida, Hanna and Mervi. In addition to our service design studies, we all have different educational and professional backgrounds and skills – a group of truly T-shaped people. For us, the competition was a great opportunity to test our newly learned service design methods skills in action. We wanted to learn in practice and do something concrete. Earning some course credits while we were at it didn’t harm, either.

We knew we were competing with professional agencies and experienced service design researches and that made us all the more motivated. Heck, we really wanted to win and show what we are capable of! It turned out that our motivation, determination and willingness to prove ourselves earned us a second place in a very tight competition. We played to win. ”The hungriest team” as one member of the jury put it.

Walkthrough of Our Design Process Background work

As soon as we knew we were accepted to take part in the competition, we started to work on the challenge. We did a lot of background research and dug as deep as we could. We read several reports and studies. We made phone calls to police officers and non-profit organizations that have a lot of experience in working with immigrants and minorities. Piece by piece, we found out important information related to our design challenge.

We also collected and discussed our own previous knowledge. The request for a female inspector, which started this story, was a true case that happened to Jaakko about a year ago. He was scheduled to make a fire inspection in an institution for immigrant women. If a male fire inspector might be too intimidating for them, can you imagine them to walk to a police station and report a crime, most likely meeting a severe-looking policeman behind the desk asking them all kinds of questions about the uncomfortable, maybe even humiliating situation they encountered? Can you picture her trusting him? We couldn’t. It became obvious very soon that we were dealing with quite a wicked problem that had to be approached holistically.

Personas and Stakeholder Map

We used many different service design tools in our design process. After a quick brainstorm and a lot of post-its in Jaakko’s living room window, we decided to create personas. They turned out to be a great starting point. “Ali”, “Cagri” and “Zahra” helped us greatly throughout the process. Their images in mind, we were able to empathize and hold a user-centric focus.



Early on, we started also to create a stakeholder map including all the service providers, non-profit organizations, institutions, and facilities that were relevant for potential crime victims. We figured that since they already are in touch with our target group, they could act as “fixers” for victims of racist crimes.

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Cloud Computing with OpenStack – 2nd Meetup Event in Finland 2014

Second meetup event in Finland dedicated to OpenStack®, the open-source operating system for the cloud, was held in Helsinki on 11th February 2014. Apollo Live Club hosted twice bigger crowd than in the first meetup in October last year, indicating rapidly growing interest in cloud computing. Event was organized by Cybercom Finland and sponsored by Cybercom, Rackspace, Suse and Red Hat. Rackspace is a founder of OpenStack. Cybercom is Nordic IT consulting company providing expertize in connectivity services.

OpenStack Meetup Finland 2014

OpenStack Meetup Finland 2014

Cloud computing refers to use of a network of remote computers to store, manage and process the data (including for example text files, pictures and video), which users can access over the Internet on the device of their choice. It is considered faster, cheaper, more flexible and potentially more secure than on-site IT solutions. Many popular services such as Facebook, Spotify and web-based e-mail use cloud computing technologies. However, the real economic benefits come through widespread use of cloud solutions by businesses and the public sector. That is actually where the contribution of this event was targeted.

OpenStack and privacy aspects

On behalf of organizers, Illkka Tengvall, cloud architect from Cybercom Finland, opened the event giving a brief overview of OpenStack and how it fits in wider cloud stage. Talking about cloud services as modern way of providing computing resources with charging only for usage, he compared them with water consumption. You open the tap and you are charged only how much water is run out.

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