A Library Paradigm Shift

Someone says “library service design”, so obviously, I am interested. And what a fascinating project it was, as part of the Service Design Achievements: the turning of a university library into a learning center – for real, not just in name. The recently formed, but with old roots, Aalto University Library, is really re-inventing itself. Given that libraries have been one of the areas where a move towards service-dominant logic has increasingly meant “let’s remove all sunk costs (e.g., books) as just sunk costs”, and a strong availability heuristic bias (“my kids don’t use the library, so it’s worthless”), this is an extremely positive move. As a library manager and a service designer, I applaud the project.

Leena Fredriksson and Valeria Gryada presenting.

Leena Fredriksson and Valeria Gryada presenting.

Now, what have they done so far, if the project is not yet finished? Plenty. It appears that both by themselves, and with Kuudes Kerros, they have not only charted current services (finding out that digital ones are eight times as used as the physical ones), they have gone for a holistic design. Taking as principle the fact that the traditional library almost solely caters for the traditional learning system – cramming – they went looking for other opportunities. Continue reading

To me sound of SID is like a sound of music

How I found my inner spark of Services Innovation and Design Thinking? I was one of the lucky ones who got in to Services Innovation and Design (SID) Programme at Laurea University of Applied Sciences. We newcomers met for the first time during our 3-day kick-off session in September 2014. I had high expectations for the class but I also kept my mind open because I didn’t know if my expectations were fair.

I think Design Thinking was a good subject to start with. We had workshops during the study days and we got to know each others. I learn a lot from my group but also of myself. For example I noticed that the passed working years in the traditional business life had moulded the standards and rules around me. And now it was time to let them go and start to think about services and business in a new and innovative way.. in a SID way.

We had inspiring lecturers leading our workshop; Gijs van Wulfen, the founder of FORTH Innovation method, and Katja Tschimmel, a researcher, coach and a famous Design Thinker.

Gijs   Katja

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking

  • brings new ways of managing business and a creative design approach to traditional business thinking.
  • offers new models of processes and toolkits to visualise creative processes, not carried out only by Designers but by all kinds of professionals.
  • gives a visual perception to business thinking; the act of visualising is used to clarify ideas and to support the dialogue between the problem and the solution.
  • is done with the users, not for the users (human-centered approach to design work).

Design Thinking models and tools – how to choose the proper one?

There are several Design Thinking models and tools where you can choose from; IDEO’s 3 1 Model (Inspiration, Ideation, Implementation), IDEO’s HCD Model (Hearing, Creating, Delivering), The model of the Hasso-Plattner Institute (developed in an educational context), The 4 D or Double Diamond model of the British Council (Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver) and the Service Design Thinking (SDT) model. At the moment Katja Tschimmer is working on her own Design Thinking model called E.volution 42. But which one is the best? Criteria used to choose the more appropriate process model depends on the innovation task, its context, the number and composition of the team and its dynamic, and also the time available for the innovation process.

Tools for Design Thinking can be Brainstorming, brainwriting and brainsketching, sketching, storyboard, rapid prototyping, storytelling, audience observation, empathy maps, mind maps, focus group, ethnography, personas etc. To get an idea of the potential Design Thinking tools, Managers could little by little introduce tools into the existing stages of their innovation processes, without being attached to a specific DT process model.

Written by Anne Hirvonen (1st year SID Student)



  1. Contact sessions Sept 12-13th, 2014
  2. Tschimmel, K. 2012. Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation. In: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona. ISBN 978-952-265-243-0.
  3. Cross, Nigel. 2011. Design Thinking. UK. ISBN 978-1-8478-8637-8


  1. Jaakko Porokuokka
  2. http://www.forth-innovation.com/home/
  3. http://katjatschimmel.com/

Need for Service Design up in the Air?

Airline-Customer-Service-AgentHave you ever read the story about the funniest customer feedback in the world? It is the one directed to Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group. It was sent by a passenger who flew from Mumbai to Heathrow with Virgin Airlines and who wasn’t too happy about the food catering or the inflight entertainment during the flight. Apparently Finnair doesn’t want this to happen to them, so they hired a creative technology company called Reaktor to improve their in-flight entertainment service. Reaktor describes itself as a constructer of well-functioning services. The reason they believe they were chosen was that they could deliver both the design and development from the same house.

Starting Point

It had previously taken a huge amount of time to navigate through the entertainment system. For the new system the aim was to have less levels to navigate, show the content on the first page and of course for it to be faster. The main goal was to improve passenger satisfaction. It was interesting to hear about the development process, which was reputedly a new way of working for Finnair and Panasonic, the manufacturer of the hardware. The displays in the planes have a computer inside and it was impossible to take them out of the aircrafts as they were flying daily. It required people from Reaktor to travel to Panasonic office in California where they had the equipment needed for the development process.

The Designing Process

Reaktor 2The team consisted of five smaller groups: Development, Coaching, Concept, UX (user experience)/UI (user interface) and Visuals. According to Reaktor the team worked seamlessly together during the process. The kick-off for the project was in June 2013 and the installation started in August 2014. They had possibility for only two plane visits, which was surprising to hear. So they decided to build a test lab where they then performed user research and tests. The process wasn’t linear, but instead went from designing, developing and testing back to beginning several times.

The Current Situation

The new service is now being installed to all Finnair’s aircrafts which have flights lasting at least seven hours. It certainly helps fight that boredom on those long flights. According to Reaktor two or three Finnair planes have the new system now and after it is installed to the others, Finnair is going to make a customer survey. Presumably they’ll get better feedback than Virgin did.

FinnairThe reflection

Why did Finnair feel the need for a new in-flight entertainment service? It is plausible that their previous customer surveys had shown that the customers really needed this. Moreover the low-cost airlines like Norwegian are offering high-level in-flight entertainment service during their flights including free WiFi on board. That is surely a big reason for Finnair to make improvements of their own. Reaktor told us that Finnair decided not to have analytics in the system at this point, but maybe that is something they want to add in the future. Along with some features that help to improve tax free sales. I guess that would be very convenient.

They say that service innovation can only be successful when there is an actual need for the service. And in Finnair’s case I think there really was. The new system appears to be a great enhancement for the old.

Written by Marja Roine

For more info, please see the presentation:

Four tips to prevent innovator’s block

How to get the ideas flow? What if the others think our idea is lame? What if we fail? These are some of the reasons why people struggle with innovation and I have also find myself pondering these same questions.

“Ideas stand in the corner and laugh while we fight over them.” -Marty Rubin

I started my Master’s Degree Programme in Customer-oriented Service Development with master class of Practical Design Thinking  facilitated by two inspiring specialists, Design Professor Katja Tschimmel and Innovation consultant Gijs van Wulfen. The theme of the course was to get into the concept of Design Thinking, test different design thinking tools and the FORTH-innovation method in a concrete case. In this post, I’d like to share some of my findings from the class. I have summarized them as the four things to remember during the ideation process.


note1The importance of preparation

Comparing some of the best known design thinking models Tschimmel (2012) presents in her article it is clear that the first step to take before ideation is to understand the customer, identify the problem or the opportunity and observe them to get inspired. She concludes that these insights are important for later idea generation session. According to van Wulfen (2013) the reason why brainstorming process don’t bring up any ideas is the lack of preparation. It’s all about getting new ideas from exploring ”customers relevant future problems”.

I must admit that it was hard to produce ideas without deeply understanding the concepts or the problems behind the given topic. And I cannot deny that the lack of preparation had an negative effect on our whole innovation process.

Continue reading

There is no way round play

How does it look when you are innovating? Yes, the very moment you are in fact doing innovation? We all have our occupational hazards, mine when I bring my colourful post-its and bag of LEGO-bricks to the table. But it is in fact play, serious play if I may, and here is a shot at examining the thoughts behind the innovation practice. The practice of Design Thinking to be more precise.

Work then and now – solving complex problems

They thought they did something clever back then in the industrial age when someone came up with the scientific and waterproof separation between work and play. It might have been appropriate at the time when they needed people to have approximately the same kind of knowledge, and be functionaries or manual workers that could replicate the same work over and over again. But today, now what? In this modern age we are facing real wicked and complex global challenges, and the call for the innovators and creative problem solvers has never been bigger. There is not much need for the linear-thinking functionaries or workers, at least not in the field of innovation. But how do we create emergent practices as Dave Snowden suggests is the way to solving complex problems? How does probing, sensing and responding look?


The doing that supports the thinking

Why do I ask my clients to play out the story of how their new idea will look from a customer point of view in LEGO? Or make them build a cardboard helpdesk to test it on a user group? It’s a vehicle to get to know the motivations and nuances in a customer scenario, it helps promote narrative and visual thinking. Through prototyping, user testing and working in interdisciplinary teams we create a practice that brings forward Design Thinking and thereby more holistic, user centric and thus sustainable solutions.

Prototyping allows for early testing and communication of – the meaning of – a certain idea. Just as the child builds something that falls over, just to build something stronger the next time, the process of going back and fourth between prototype and user testing is iterative and probing and which more than often makes the result a little better every time it is repeated. This not only allows for small and early failing which reduces risks at the end of an innovation process it also brings the customer and user closer to the innovation process ensuring that their needs, values and expectations become a crucial part of the innovation equation.

Design Thinking is human centric at its core, so the big suggestion is to go out and meet and talk with people. We can know a lot about people by looking at statistics, analysing focus groups and interviews and general trends and demography in populations and society, but it´s rarely going to provide insight that we didn’t know we where looking for. To know what problems you are solving, it´s important to understand the context and micro- systems where the solution is emerging. Innovative solutions can emerge in co-creation with the people that are going to use them and who need them. On top of this we already know that people are experts at making bad and dysfunctional systems work. That´s one reason why talking to users and target groups are still good, but why actually observing how people solve situations with current conditions is sometimes even much better.

Serious play for innovation

A childs learning process is innately playful and creative. There is no failing in a childs play. Children prototype their way towards understanding of the world.

When we work based on design thinking principles it might look messy, overly creative, unstructured, excessively playful and even chaotic at times. The question is: are we in deed not just fooling around with our colourful post-it notes, LEGO-bricks and cardboard iPads? Not at all! We are in the process of probing, sensing and responding, and letting new innovative solutions emerge. Design thinking is a well thought out and proven process of practice intended to set optimal frames to create solid, creative, user centric and sustainable output.

So I don´t know what you see when you see yourself innovating? But chances are that when you find yourself working on a cardboard box first version prototype machine on your way out the door to do some serious people user testing, you are on the right track.

Written by Marte Sootholtet (First year SID student)


Brown, Tim 2009. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

David Snowden Cynefin Model: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynefin

TED2013: Sugata Mitra- Build a School in the cloud  http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud

Tschimmel, K. 2012. Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation. In: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona. ISBN 978-952-265-243-0.

How do we get a great idea?

Well, finding the answer to that question is probably worth a fortune, but after our first course – design thinking- of the SID Laurea programme I have a much better picture of how to facilitate and enhance idea creation. In a few days a group of strangers became not merely acquainted with principles of innovation process and design thinking, – but also with one another. Simultaneously, we all co-created little innovation projects ourselves, – with the help of design thinking tools, naturally. As design thinking and innovation are complex processes, next I will present only some of the most inspirational methods for innovation and idea creation for me from this course.

The tools are there to help you

We started with a faint idea of a new service for learning and through an iterative process ended up with a new innovation. We learned the basics of design thinking – by applying them in practice. With the help of e.g. observation, collaboration and visualization we got our heads working, minds flowing and ideas running. For example with mind mapping and especially opportunity mapping our initial thoughts both expanded and narrowed. By making forceful combination of opposing subjects, our minds were forced to think differently – resulting in new, surprising outcomes. Opposites attract it seems, – better ideas that is!

Accept, or even embrace failures

Design thinking is an experimental, iterative and essentially human-centered process – needless to say, failures are inevitable. Moreover, failures can indeed facilitate learning. After all, isn’t one method in design thinking, not observing ideas, but in fact observing the challenges and problems? Observation can be used to examine challenges and thus in fact creating ideas. (In another context observation can be used as a method to learn with and from the users).

Ideas do not come when called upon

Ideas, unfortunately, cannot be ordered like a pizza. Often ideas appear in the most unlikely of places – rarely at the surroundings where we are trying to innovate.  I noticed that I started to gain new insights to our project several days after the course, in unrelated places. Hence, taking distance from your ideas and innovation project can help.

Co-creation enhances the outcome

Design thinking is essentially multidisciplinary and depends on co-creation. As the course work was done in groups, we were already co-creating. We also interviewed people in the college, to facilitate creating with the users, not merely to the users. Collaboration and feedback from the other groups was also vital in understanding the shortages of our idea. To raise (and visualize) our ideas we used for example brain writing and mood boards, which would not have been as fruitful if not done in a group.

Visualisation & Prototyping Fuels the Design Thinking Engine

Using visualization throughout the project helped both understand our challenges and ideas. It assisted in understanding the concrete aspects of our innovation and it gave us completely new reflection to the process. It enabled to see relations, differences, similarities, patterns and shortages that were not evident before visualization and prototyping. Yet again, it sort of challenged our innovation.

Are we there yet?

Finally, it was eye-opening to understand that design thinking is an iterative process. At some point it felt like we were stuck on  the same problem or phase but it was only later realized that our innovation route meandered between idea stages and gates.


Tschimmel, K. 2012. Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation. In: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona. ISBN 978-952-265-243-0.

Lockwood, T. 2009. Design Thinking. Integrating Innovation, Customer Experience and Brand Value. Allworth Press, New York. ISBN 978-1-58115-668-3.

Written by Roosa Kallio SID MBA student

Turning to Design Thinking for New Ways to Create Innovation and Growth

Participating in a two-day master class on Design Thinking (DT), taught by Innovation Consultant Gijs van Wulfen and Design Professor Katja Tschimmel, marked the starting point of my studies in the 2014 SID MBA group at Laurea UAS and also served as a great reminder of why earlier this year, I felt the need to study again and catch up on the latest trends in Service Innovation and Design. I have built my career in an industry where a very traditional business mind-set of measuring success based solely on monthly financial reports and company rather than customer driven standards seems to dominate.

Comparing the designers’ approach to a traditional business approach and highlighting the differences seems to be a common way to illustrate what DT is about. According to Dr. Katja Tschimmel, the traditional business approach is often looking for “correct” answers through rational and analytical methods, whereas the DT approach is more open to being emotional, empathizing with the customer and using visual tools to communicate ideas. In their book titled “Designing for Growth: a design thinking toolkit for managers”, Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie note that the traditional business a approach and the DT approach are so fundamentally different yet so complementary that they can form a match made in heaven – or hell. When comparing the two approaches, Liedtka and Ogilvie point out many of the same differences as Tschimmel does, noting that design assumes human experience as its key decision driver.

In my opinion, the legendary IDEO shopping cart video is in many ways a great example of how designers think and how their methods and ways of working differ from the traditional business approach (click on the link below for the video):


There are many ways to go about your innovation efforts, and many concrete process models as well as various tools have been developed in order to make it easier to grasp the DT concept. Undoubtedly, each of the models and tools has its uses, but for me DT is about something bigger than any individual tool – it’s about switching one’s whole mind-set to embrace multidisciplinary project teams and to think empathically from the customers’ point of view as well as involving the customers in the innovation process to create something meaningful for them. It’s also about not being afraid of failing on the first try or coming across as unprofessional in front of your colleagues and superiors, because the whole process is iterative in nature and exploring even the craziest ideas is the way to go.


Picture 1: My team during the Design Thinking workshop discussing all sorts of crazy ideas we have posted on the wall earlier. As you can see from the look on my face, this is not only very productive but also great fun :)

DT and how it can be applied to yield innovation and growth seems to be gaining a lot of momentum currently. I personally feel, that being a relatively young discipline, DT is only now starting to become clear to its practitioners and the numerous parties that could benefit from it. As per Katja Tschimmel, DT has existed in its current form only since 2005. No wonder that I found the whole concept somewhat confusing when first exposed to it sometime around 2009. In reality, all the pieces were probably already there, but it took some time for it all to come together in a nice comprehensible package that is now being marketed – and perhaps rightfully so – as the new big thing.

To end this blog post, I wish to point out that I would never consider myself a pure designer, but I’m definitely going to dig a little deeper into the DT approach to see if it can help me bring something fresh to the table in a stagnating industry. It doesn’t even have to be the next iPhone of my industry – as Gijs van Wulfen pointed out, innovation isn’t necessarily something that’s new to the whole world, but it can also be something that’s new to a particular market or company.


Liedtka, J., Ogilvie, T. 2011. Designing for Growth: a design thinking toolkit for managers. New York: Columbia University Press.

Tschimmel, K. 2012. Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation. In: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona. ISBN 978-952-265-243-0.

Photo credit: Jaakko Porokuokka

Written by Jaakko Kähäri, SID MBA student