Making mutual funds a mutual fun

Openfin hack and ideathon poster

Openfin hack and ideathon poster

They say the best way to become a great service designer is to participate in as many service design contests and hands on happenings as possible. That is what I thought when Minna Myyryläinen, one of my SID Laurea fellow students, brought the idea to join the openfin Hack and Ideathon competition in Espoo.

Finally our team, addition to Minna and me, included Antti Kytö and Jaakko Porokuokka, all SID13 Laurea students. I knew – despite none of us being a real hacker in code – this team could do anything related to creating awesome business concepts using our service design methods and toolkits. Luckily later the hacking part was completed when I persuaded my colleague and friend Lassi Jatkola to join our team.

Before the event itself the team studied trends and innovations in the financial sector and shared views and ideas through chat.

Getting ready for the challenge

On Friday 26th the team gathered to the app campus premises and prepared itself for the 22 hour challenge ahead. Me and Jaakko had already agreed to stay overnight at the app campus as it was offered as a possibility by the competition rules.

Jaakko, Minna, Antti, Lassi

Team preparing for the challenge

Aalto OpenFin project manager Mojtabaei Renani Mahnoush said the welcome words and wished all participants good luck. Next was Juha Viljakainen’s, from OP-Pohjola, time to give some background on OP-Pohjola and the financial service sector generally, its history and challenges.

The competion rules and three categories were introduced by Jouni Lähteenmäki from OP-Pohjola. The categories included:

  1. consumer app innovation zone
  2. entrepreneur app innovation zone
  3. business ecosystem infrastructure innovation zone.

The competitors would be evaluated by financial aspect, market potential, business model viability and how realistically it could be implemented. In addition presentation with surprise factor and impressive demo would get extra credits. Final word was given Futurice’s Riku Valtasola, who explained how the business idea to concept works in the company he represents.

Beginning the design process

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The Customer is the King

On 24th of September 2014 a group of enthusiastic entrepreneurs participated in a lesson which focused on customer understanding and service-centric business. InnoEspoo organized the event which was a first part of “Osaamista ja oivalluksia” (Know-how and inspiration) entrepreneur -coaching events.

The keynote speaker was Katri Ojasalo who works as Director of Master level education at Laurea University of Applied Sciences (UAS). In my opinion she can be called as a service design guru. Ojasalo has gathered a lot of knowledge and experience about service business via studies and projects during the past 20 years. Ojasalo presented the basics of service design. You might have heard about Bain & Company Survey i.e. 80% of the companies believed they delivered a superior experience to their customer. But only 8 % of their customers agreed. The survey was made in 2005 but it is still relevant.

Jani Jylhä from the company Green Drivers presented how they have managed to make this gap, between service providers´ believes and customer opinions, smaller. Their secrets were to understand customers´ needs and usage of service design in a business concept development process.


Learning by doing

In a workshop part hosted by principal lecturer from Laurea UAS Leena Alakoski, participants worked with customer personas, customer journey and Lean Business Model Canvas. At the end of the session every group shared their results.

I interviewed few entrepreneurs about their customer relationships.

“Today my feeling just got stronger that I am on the right track. I just have to find even more ways to contact and involve customers to my business. It’s really rewarding when you get good feedback from a happy and satisfied customer”, says Pakarinen.

“Today my feeling just got stronger that I am on the right track. I just have to find even more ways to contact and involve customers to my business. It is really rewarding when you get good feedback from a happy and satisfied customer”, says Pakarinen.

Outi Pakarinen/ Kude Design

Outi Pakarinen owns and runs a company called Kude Design. Kude Design offers cloth coaching and Kude is also a clothing brand. Pakarinen has worked many years in clothing and textile industry.

“With the help of my work experience I gathered a great deal of customer understanding before I established Kude Design. I made benchmarking and researched future trends about customer behaviour. I also got to know different industries and found that way something new for my business. I would say I got the whole business idea from the customers. We make products based on a real need. I use a designing by listening –method when designing new clothes. We do not make products if there is no demand from the customer side. I want to have an impulse from the customers so they can e.g. decide which colours they prefer to be in Kude collections.I communicate and gather customer insights through my website and Facebook page. I meet lot of people at the fairs. I am also very active in B-to-B networking”.

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Transform Your Business Through Design Thinking

The postindustrial digital age and the emergence of the experience economy have fundamentally changed the requirements and the expectations how companies develop and deliver new services. Well-known brands like Airbnb, Mayo Clinic, Bank of America and HBO have all understood this shift and successfully utilized holistic design thinking approach to transform their business. They have created profitable business through sophisticated, emotionally satisfying and meaningful experiences to their customers.

Design Thinking

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking can be described as human-centered (designing “with” the users instead of “for” the users), exploratory and integrative innovation process that emphasizes observation, collaboration in interdisciplinary teams, fast learning, visualization of ideas, rapid prototyping, and concurrent business analysis. Design Thinking essentially is a way of thinking, applying designers’ sensibility and methods, leading to transformation, innovation of new products, services, business strategies and even new organizations.

The best part is that you don’t need to be a professional designer to master in Design Thinking. Nevertheless, the following key abilities are important for a Design Thinker:

  • visual and divergent thinking
  • empathy and cultural sensitivity
  • integrative and holistic thinking
  • the ability to think in analogies and metaphors

Models and Tools for Design Thinking

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Design Thinking: A Left-Brain Viewpoint

Constraints foster creativity. In this case, my own limitations. At the core, I am an analyst, a conceptual thinker used to dealing with words rather than images. Most of my best service design work so far has furthermore been done using traditional survey methods rather than the kind of innovative methods promoted by designers like Tim Brown or Katja Tschimmel. And, to be honest, that approach has worked for me really well – so far. The fact is, however, that I am nevertheless utterly fascinated by this new toolkit, as its visual approaches to innovation at first seem so alien to me, yet they work. They work for me, as they do for others.


So what is in design thinking for the kind of an academic Brown frequently mentions as his opposite in thinking throughout Change by Design? The easy answer is ”a lot”. The real answer is: even more than that. Continue reading

We Are the New Design Thinkers!

“How many of you consider yourselves as design thinkers?” asked our guest lecturer Gijs van Wulfen (Innovation Consultant and founder of FORTH Innovation method) when our SID 2014 group started the Design Thinking course. Not so many hands rose at that point, I was certainly hesitating. However, we were soon about to learn what Design Thinking is, what kind of challenges we face in innovation processes, and what kind of methods and tools we could use to improve our skills as design thinkers. In addition to Gijs, we had the pleasure of having another great guest lecturer, Design Professor Katja Tschimmel from ESAD Portugal, to teach us more about Design Thinking.

The course started with simple visual Design Thinking exercises. Katja and Gijs then teached us about Design Thinking in general, innovation processes and methodology, as well as Design Thinking tools. After the theoretical part it was time to put our design thinking abilities to test! Once we were divided into teams our assignment was to come up with a new service for better learning. We learned how to use Design Thinking tools such as mind mapping, foto safari, image interview, visual research, moodboard, brainwriting, and desktop walkthrough. In the end we communicated our new concept business models to the audience and got feedback.

Katja hanging up our beautiful group picture.

Katja hanging up our beautiful group picture.


So, what does Design Thinking mean exactly? Katja Tschimmel’s research paper Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation (2012) states that Design Thinking is nowadays understood as a complex thinking process that leads to transformation, evolution and innovation, to new forms of living as well as to new ways of managing business. Liedtka & Ogilvie (2011) define Design Thinking as a systematic approach to problem solving. I especially like how they state; “You’ve already got the power. You just need to figure out how to use it“. No supernatural power or magic is required and you can safely try it at home!

During our two-day Design Thinking course we had Gijs’ FORTH Innovation method as a basis for our learning activities. In real situations this method would take several weeks, or months to be exact. Check out this short introduction video to FORTH Innovation method by Gijs.

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Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship

Innovation is all about making a difference in people life‘s, and it starts with an idea.

This idea needs to resonate with customer needs, create the appropriate market attraction, find the right value network to grow, justify its financial costs and last but not least have a potential return on the investment.

For that many aspects about innovative ideas need to be understood, starting with the person who take the idea from being an abstract idea to be a reality (AKA the entrepreneur) and what qualities he / she should have. What innovation means, and how it can create a real value for all of its stakeholders. What is the industry context we are going to work in and what are the market forces that we need to take for. How we are going to build a sustainable business model to support growing our dreams and business. Last but not least, how we are going to find a real market needs and get the appropriate customer understanding.

All these and more were the topics within this interesting course “Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies” which was named #1  Entrepreneurship Course on Coursera by CourseTalk’s “Top Rated” MOOCs.

This blog post is an attempt to go through the course material in a moderate way and provide the key insights and knowledge that you can take with you within your entrepreneurial journey! So I hope you find it useful.

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A Crash Course on Creativity!

Where do ideas come from?

Creativity is looked at as the engine to bring ideas, but also most of us think creativity is an epiphany, where some will get it, while others will not!

What if I told that creativity is something that every one of us can learn, its only a matter to understanding its underlying framework and how to unlock it.

Creativity is more than imagination!

How can we understand creativity as persons and how can we enable it in the world we live in? This is the topic of this fascinating course provided by Tina Seelig the Stanford professor, who has spent the last 13 years or so looking for the answer to the question, how we can unlock creativity?

Most of the efforts in the course where in the psychical group sessions (+videos) as we have formulated as team of 5 from the same location to carry on the assignments. The team was called Alien Team, just in case we pumped in the name below :)

5 + 5 = ?

Can you solve this equations? The answer may be obvious as we learned in school that there is only one right answer to this problem, but what if we looked at the equation in this way (? + ? = 10)! Suddenly we have infinite numbers of answers that we can suggest!

What happen is that we have changed our perspective of the problem and this helped spared our imagination.

Click on the image to watch the video!

Click on the image to watch the video!

The innovation engine

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