It’s time to stop thinking that to do good means living in poverty

I took part in Human-centered Design online course in Feb-Apr 2015. We were asked to form a team with at least four members in it, at the maximum six. Our team SID Inspired consisted of six students studying Service Design at Laurea University of Applied Sciences. The diversity is better if there are more people involved in the team work. But if the team is too big, the scheduling and decision making gets too complicated. We all knew each other and we share the same interest in Service Design so the project work worked well.

SID inspired 22.2.2014

The course was free of charge and it was organized by the company NovoEd that delivers online courses in an online learning environment. The instructor of the course was It is a nonprofit design organization that works to empower the poor. works to create solutions to poverty-related challenges and it inspires and enables others to bring a human-centered design approach to their own work. +Acumen courses were launched in 2013 to share’s leadership training and insights from the field. +Acumen’s vision is to provide thousands of leaders around the world with the skills and moral imagination they need to become more effective at changing the way the world tackles poverty.


The Course for Human-Centered Design is a seven-week course that introduces participants to human-centered design and ways to create innovative solutions. It was created to reach people who are not familiar to human-centered design, so no prior experience was required. During the course we learnt to use methods of human-centered design and got hands-on experience on prototyping and testing solutions.


At the beginning of the course we learnt the human-centered design process by applying it to one of three pre-crafted real world design challenges provided in the course. Our team chose the challenge of Social Entrepreneurship. Each week we studied new readings, case studies and short videos. We met in-person with our design team several times during the course. Each time one person acted as a class leader. A team leader was mutually nominated beforehand and the one was responsible for organizing necessary supplies to the workshop.

I also interacted with other design teams around the world and discussed with them about the course in an online platform. The estimated workload during the course was approximately 5 hours per a week (1-2 hours of individual work and 2-3 hours of team work). Only requirement for joining the online course was a computer with a proper software to watch videos and an ability to upload assignments. Microsoft Office Word and Microsoft PowerPoint software was also required.

The subject to a course completion was the completion of all assignments on time. When the course is completed, participants get a statement of accomplishment signed jointly by +Acumen and

The course was designed with a group-guided learning structure which means that a team will learn the human-centered design process together. The three major phases of the human-centered design process were broken down into Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation.

Course overview

Course overview

Class 1—Intro to Human-Centered Design

Class 2—Inspiration Phase

Class 3—Ideation Phase (Synthesis)

Class 4—Ideation Phase (Prototyping)

Class 5—Implementation Phase


We designed a program for making youngsters aware of the possibilities of social entrepreneurship. Do it for a purpose, but with a profit. It is important to increase awareness. Schools should have social innovation clubs and a competition at the end of the semester. The prize would be something that makes the plans real. A winner could get professional assistance in drafting a business model, a seed money and coaching in scaling. And a personal mentor and a meeting with potential investors. Also any judge may choose to sponsor a good idea that did not win.

                It’s time to stop thinking that to do good means living in poverty.

Please see our end result here: Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs_final

Designing for the Love of (Digital) Learning

After two or more decades the digital learning is still on its infancy. There has been and is multitude of applications and services that try to teach us new skills and become better humans. Unfortunately really no digital app or a service has really gained any traction.

There are exceptions of course, Wikipedia being an astounding human achievement in pooling knowledge and Duolingo, a language training app, on a smaller scale.

TEDxOtaniemiED 2015 event in Espoo focused in on the question, how to design for love of learning. To make digital learning an actual possibility.

The theme of the event was learning together. And to come think of it, all of the digital learning tools to date facilitate unidirectional learning, from the teacher to student. In Coursera for example, the courses contain series of video lectures, homework and an exam.

According to one speaker, Inga Rikandi, the academic study on learning focuses in cognitive skills of the student and less on motivation, tenacity and joy. Other speaker, Laura Heinonen, noted that in her best learning memories the students are facing each other and discussing, instead of sitting still and listening the teacher.

This rings true to me too. What if the next generation of digital learning tools would facilitate collaborative learning through workshops and co-creation. The development of artificial intelligence could tailor learning events suitable for every participant.

Lotta Uusitalo-Malmivaara said that we should reinforce strengths of our learners and not the weaknesses. The best way to focus on strengths is to create a safe place to fail and foster joy.

A recent trend in service design and probably in edutainment too has been gamification. The hook has been to earn badges from completing courses. But what if the gamification would be a vehicle to achieve that safe environment and elicit joy.
Finally, many of the speakers talked about life long learning. An interesting topic in itself.

Today many people aim to learn to fit in a certain box or in a job description. After finding a job, the learnings stops. One speaker, Petteri Kallio noted, that he is feeling most joyus when learning new stuff. The reasons might vary, but I think that part of the reason is accessibility and the lack of peer support.
(Digital) Learning should be a life long companion. And there are ways to go and latent need to fulfill.

The Course for Human-Centered Design: How Might We Enable More Young People to Become Social Entrepreneurs?

The Course for Human-Centered Design (provided by and +Acumen) is a seven-week curriculum, which introduces the concepts of human-centered design and how this approach can be used to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for social change.  This course has been developed to educate those, who are brand new to human-centered design. No prior experience is required. However, I would recommend this course for anyone looking to improve their human-centered design skills.

What is Human-Centered Design? 

Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a creative approach to solve any kind of problem. The process starts with the people for whom the solution is designed; and ends with e.g. new product or service that is tailor-made to suit these people’s needs. HCD is all about building a deep empathy with the people’s needs and motivations, generating a lot of ideas, creating prototypes, sharing the ideas and solutions with the people; and eventually taking the new innovative solution out in the world. Please see the below video describing the concept of HCD.

Our team and design challenge

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Fastest Prototypers in the West (well, North actually)

2015-04-23 09.00.44

The opportunity to hone my service design skills came again when I signed up for the Fast Prototyping Competition. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even read the description, I just signed up as I knew that it would be a good experience and a great challenge. Probably because I didn’t read the description, I didn’t realise that it would be a limited event. But with about 20 people attending it was small and highly motivating. The actual name that was given on the day for this event was “Aaltoes-Fjord Service Design Challenge”. There were three guys there from Fjord to help guide us through this process- Juska Teittinen, Mox Soini, and Ville Päivätie.

Fjord’s Process

2015-04-23 09.16.02

We had just 9 hours to do ¾ of a Double Diamond (or 3/5 circles of the Fjord process) and present our work. It was fast prototyping alright! One of the greatest features for me was the fact that we were doing work for a real client. Fjord had come with a big client for the Finnish market to see if we could help them out with their service concepts. We were given the brief of a large travel company in Finland. It has identified 5 market segments and wanted an idea for as many segments as possible. So in this case, there were 4 teams and therefore 4 different segments were used. I really don’t know if we are allowed to share the client’s name, so I will not do that here Continue reading

Coming soon: Better service experience through neuroscience

It is somewhat easy to get a grasp what people want, what do they like and what they don’t shadowing them and performing contextual interviews. It is considerably harder to find out why people like what they like.

In todays world, the consumers are bombarded with more stimuli than ever. Attention spans are shorter and as Professor Luiz Moutinho says, they are doing more shopping and less choosing. Getting the consumer on the first step of a service encounter is harder than ever.

So, understanding customer’s likes and preferences in addition to ones jobs could lead to creation of ever better services.

Since early 2000 large corporations have started to utilize methods from neuroscience to peer into the consumers brain to better understand how we make decisions and attach emotions to brands.

The brain works the same way when it attaches emotions to people and brands.

Briefly, measuring ones emotion toward a person or a brand, the activation pattern of brain is compared to known regions of brain that activate or deactive during pleasure, arousal or dominance (see the PAD emotional state model).

Currently many of the studies are being done using big fMRI scanners, that require the patient to lay still on a bed watching images and clicking buttons while the magnetic scanner hums and makes loud clacking sound around the test subject.

Not very useful for decoding the service experience.

Luckily, in the near future the newer generation of neuroscience tools, like Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) caps and headbands allow the consumer to walk and experience the service first hand, while ones emotions are captured.

Think of for example testing a new product, which includes co-creation component, e.g. flat pack furniture. Since there are so many variables in the co-creation process, it is hard for the consumer to express all the feedback which one could at the end of the test.

Capturing emotions during the service encounter helps designers quicker to pinpoint the desired and unwanted features that has value to the consumer.

By peering into the consumer’s brain the corporations are able to create evermore attractive services and products for us. Hopefully they will use these new found powers responsibly.

Business owners and investors should take part in Jam events

This blog post discusses why I think that investors, clients, CIOs, CEOs, CBOs and other people who are responsible for service quality, organisation’s strategy or business should take part Jam events in future.

Did you recognise yourself? Great!

I thought You when I wrote this.

What is Global Service Jam?

From 27th of February to 1st of March in 2015 curios and open-minded people all-around the world met for fifth time in 95 different locations at the same weekend.

Global Service Jam is a yearly 48h event where ordinary people with different backgrounds meet together and solve ordinary problems people are facing in their daily lives. Simple as that.

But Global Service Jam is by no means the only one of its kinds. Global Sustainability Jam and Global GovJam focuses more in social responsibility issues. Watch also a video about Jams in general.

Now you may wonder “what’s in it for me in Jams”? Next, I give you several reasons why I think that you should get in.

Adopt the design process and rapid prototyping skills

One of the most interesting elements in Jams comes in the form of rapid prototyping. New service concepts are tested and evaluated numerous times at a rapid succession. This is something that rarely occurs in traditional business setting.

The design process in Jams goes like this:

  1. People quickly share their views and insights about problems worth solving
  2. They team up with other people who have passion to solve a shared problem
  3. Teams learn quickly about the true nature of the chosen problem in real-life
  4. Teams ideate how the problem could be solved
  5. The most important thing… aside the process, teams create very early plausible prototypes, test and improve them, until they have found a minimum viable, desirable and feasible solution.
  6. When time is up, audience can experience or interact each teams’ service prototype. No PowerPoints or bullet points.

All in 48 hours.

Instead of explaining here more deeply what is Design Thinking, Lean Startup Process or what is a Minimum Viable Product, I suggest you to go next Jam and live the process. Bill Moggridge from IDEO have crystallized the nature of human experiences very well: “You can’t experience the experience until you experience it”. Thus, you know then what you mean, when you find yourself explaining the previous design processes for your colleagues or clients. Also, you have a proper starting point to improve your new practical hands-on design skills.

Now you may think: How long it takes to play and test a service prototype with a user or a stakeholder?

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Co-Designing Open Innovation activities with Samlink

On 10th of February 2015, a Finnish IT Service Provider Samlink asked external help, ideas and insights by involving multidisciplinary professionals into Designing Open Innovation Activities mini workshop. The event was organised and hosted together with the Service Design Network Finland. The purpose was to ideate what different kind of Open Innovation models, frameworks and activities Samlink could provide in future. Samlink, the company that I work myself too, also wanted to share knowledge for the community.

Visualising who we all are

Visualising who we all are

About thirty participants entered the event from Aalto University, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, start-ups, bigger ICT-companies, freelancers, entrepreneurs, etc. People with diverse backgrounds attended the event: service & systems architects, developers and service designers, innovation managers, and so on.

CEO of Samlink, Pentti Unkuri, opened the event by presenting some facts about Samlink and trends that are affecting in financial services. Security director of Samlink, Jari Pirhonen, discussed how information security should taken care when designing services.

Next, Mahnoush Mojtabaei from Aalto University explained Open Innovation in her speech ‘The Brave New World of Open Innovation’.

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