A Morning About Facilitation vol.2 – Virtual workshops and meetings

In a previous post I summarized my experiences and takeaways from a facilitation demo by Grape People. The event was inspiring and the content felt useful for everyday work, so I decided to attend their virtual facilitation demo as well. Fitting for the topic, the demonstration took place online so I was able to see firsthand in my own experience how virtual facilitation works. The demonstration was done via Skype, and participants were able to contribute by using the annotation tool.

Virtual meetings and workshops are becoming more common, as it often makes it easier to arrange a common time without asking people to travel. Therefore it was great to hear new ideas and tips for how to best facilitate virtually. Many of the same principles apply to virtual and face-to-face meetings, but the fact that people are not present in the same room gives an extra twist to the situation and some extra responsibilities to the facilitator. Just like in face-to-face meetings, most often the meeting process is the biggest reason for bad meetings and workshops. The workshop target should be clear from the start, and the facilitator should be well prepared with a structure and timeline for the meeting.

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Trendwatching.com Live Trend Event in London

Some time ago I had the privilege to participate in a massive trend event organized by a trend agency called Trendwatching.com. You might already be familiar with their free online content and monthly briefings (if you are not, check it out!), and in addition to those they provide a subscription based premium service packages and live events all around the world. After using their premium content for some time I was eager to see how they would put together a live show!

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I was most eager to hear about their methodologies in collecting data and analyzing and forecasting trends, and these were all presented first thing in the morning. Trendwatching.com has an army of trendspotters from around the world who spot exiting new innovations and report back to the trend team. The team then matches the new innovations to their existing trend framework to analyze which way the trends are moving and how to update the framework itself. About 90% of spotted things fit this framework, but with the 10 % it gets exciting. Whenever there of these oddballs are found and if they can easily be grouped together, a new trend is created! Even though forecasting is not always simple and straightforward, I quite like this mechanical approach. It can be easily adapted to any organization wanting to find a way to do a little forecasting themselves.

kuva2A simple Venn diagram can be used by anyone to find the sweet spot between needs, drivers and innovations.

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Legal Design Summit

Legal design is a new hot topic in service design domain globally – and also in Finland. Dottir, a law firm, and Hellon, a service design firm, organized the first ever Legal Design Summit in Finland on 16.11. at the University of Helsinki.

In the opening speech it was mentioned that legal design is not only important for companies who constantly seek competitive advantages – it is also a growing interest of the public sector. From the Finnish ministries, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is a pioneer in the field of legal design; in a current law-making process, there are not only jurists in the group but also other experts – and also one service designer!

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Legal Design simply means that a legal writings (a law text, contract etc). are formulated and designed so that it is easy to understand. Legal design is both information design and communication design.

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A Morning About Facilitation

What facilitation is? That was the question addressed in a morning seminar by Grape People. The company specializes in facilitating trainings and workshops and offer consultancy services related to these things.

The mission of Grape People is to get organizations to facilitate themselves. The process is quite simple, and can be applied to any group situation, where participation and involvement is desired. Therefore by learning a few basic principles anyone can easily become a facilitator.

How to facilitate?

Miikka from Grape People defined facilitation as combining the knowledge of a certain group. It’s about bringing this knowledge to the surface, making it visible and grouping it to gain understanding and new solutions. Sounds simple, right? The aim is usually to make sense of a problem, an issue or a topic, with hopes of finding solutions or new ideas in the end.

The key elements of any facilitated gathering are clarifying the issue and/or goals, creating the solutions and summarizing the action points and what will happen after the workshop or meeting. By keeping this simple structure as a backbone to a discussion, the facilitator is able to ease the thinking process as the participants are concentrating on one piece of the puzzle at a time. Without a structure it is easy to jump directly to e.g. thinking about solutions even before clearly defining the problem.

Remember:

  • Get the participants talking within the first 30 minutes or they don’t open their mouth at all.
  • The solutions and answers are created together in the group and are not brought in by the facilitator.
  • Most problems that occur during group gatherings are related to the process. By structuring the gatherings and planning the meetings and workshops these can be reduced.
  • The ownership of the created ideas should remain with the participants. Therefore it should not be the facilitator’s task to summarize!

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Hack the Budget

Hackathons – modern versions of workshops – are now popular also in the public sector. These events follow the service design principles; experts from various fields, customers, entrepreneurs and members of other interest groups gather together for a day or two, form teams, discuss, ideate and develop various solutions for a certain wide and complex subject matter.

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Hack the Budget was held on 31.10.2016 at Design Factory, organized by the Ministry of Finance of Finland in cooperation with Open Knowledge Finland and Rapid Action Group. The aim of the event was to explore new approaches to government’s budget data and explore how it could be made more understandable and usable for relevant stakeholders. For example, could the budget data be visualized somehow so that it would be easier for the citizens to piece together where their taxes go? Or how the budget data could be utilized when evaluation of social impact is of interest? The state budget is especially interesting when the state has a monetary deficiency and an aging population – citizens may ask where their tax money go, now and in future.

Hackathons and Jams – what is the difference between them?

Hackathons focus on solutions. The organizers have described the subject matter and the problem which can be wide and complex – and new, innovative solutions are required. Therefore it is only good that the teams consist of experts from various fields. It is also good if potential product or service providers and customers join in. In the end of the day (or two days) the teams present various solutions for the problem described.

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Consumer Experiences From Theory to Concrete Examples – Suhde 2016

Consumer experience seems to be a hot topic in marketing seminars these days. It was also the topic of the day at Suhde 2016 seminar organized by MARK Suomen Markkinointiliitto ry. The afternoon was filled with speakers from different industries, who provided the audience with a wide range of viewpoints to consumer value and experience thinking. First speakers concentrated more on the theoretical frames on consumer experiences and how they create value to businesses. Towards the end of the day the speakers moved on to more concrete examples which then nicely summarized the day.
Elina Kukkonen from Alma Media walked the audience through the main points of her PHD about the value created by consumers online. Her main thesis was that the consumers create new kind of value to the companies in the digital world, and capitalizing on this value makes it easier for marketing to meet the risen expectations of measuring return on investments.

Through all kinds of subscription models companies are able to better engage their consumers and make the most out of the value they create. This feels very logical to me, but to me it seems that the biggest barrier that keeps the consumers for using any subscription based models is the quality of services available. Many services could really benefit from consumer centric thinking when developing their business models.

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Elina Kukkonen talked about the value the consumers create in digital channels

The role of emotions in decision making is critical, making emotions financially important. Understanding this and the role of the consumer experience was the topic of insight agency Frankly Partners’ Anna-Riikka Hovi. Even though brands and consumer experiences are strongly linked, Hovi stated that brands are overemphasized in marketing. The main focus should be in consumer experiences. Brands should therefore be built on clear, forward looking insights about the consumer. Relevant brands equal strong brand preference, which then creates more money below the line.

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NBF16 – my takeaways

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Last year I attended Nordic Business Forum 2015 thru the live stream and it was an amazing experience. I was so stoked that had to buy a NBF16 seminar pass right away –  I wanted to experience it physically, to hear the keynote speakers live, meet people and be part of the buzz.

Now, after digesting the whole experience for 2 weeks, I’d like to share some of my learnings with you. The four things that are still on my mind are:

Do, do, do =  Only action makes inspiration come true, execution is everything

Choose to matter = Everyone of us is the change, don’t wait for it to happen

Attention on solutions = Solve a problem, don’t concentrate on egos

Values & Trust = Employees 1st, customers 2nd

The main themes at the Nordic Business Forum 2016 (NBF16) were marketing, digitalization and culture . Two days, almost 6,000 people, tens of nationalities – the event was bigger than ever. And well worth the investment in time and money. Full agenda can be found at NBF16.

On marketing and change

Marketing is a service, an emotion and about making a connection. Today mass anything is dead, even niche groups are big enough to target. Scott Galloway continues:

  1. The young and healthy have left the building (=tv). 74% would cancel Netflix if there were ads. The price of freedom – adfree world – is a couple dollars.
  2. Store is the number 1 factor influencing the purchase decision – next come search, CRM and social.
  3. Ratio, heart and genitals drive the decisions. Technology helps reduce pain when you’ve first identified the actual pain points.
  4. Car is a service, Google is a spiritual guide and FB’s for love, empathy and sharing.

His final words were that “lots of things are happening that are not good for us”. Privacy issues and tax evasion are threats if you’re not transparent.

Peter Diamantes asked which problem do you want to solve. Solve and share it – like Uber. Everybody has potential to become extraordinary problem solver with latest tools around like sensors, 3D printing, virtual & artificial reality, genetics etc. But how to the unlock passion to do this?  Unfortunately our governments are the slowest to change as they are the most linear organizations on the planet. But even they can’t regulate against change in the end. We – the people – are the change, in the past citizens have started the biggest changes. And what’s not possible today, will be possible tomorrow.

Gary Vaynerchuk started his keynote stating that we’re still grossly overspending on stuff that we’ve done before. For example by using tv ads to interrupt storytelling. Everything should be about creating value. Communication drives everything and you can only learn by doing. Only action creates results, not inspiration. Do, do, do – test, test, test – and do it again. Try out all the new stuff and think how this could help your business. Create a culture where your employees are better than the competition and figure out a firing policy as well.

This was the first time I heard the godfather of creativity, Seth Godin of the Purple Cow, live. For him marketing is all about creating experience. So are you’re creating something worth mentioning? He focused on the value of teamwork, building trust, co-creation and sharing ideas – a connection economy. Sounds familiar to a service designer.   A few phrases of his that resonated with me:

  • There no such thing as a writer’s block – just bad habits and reluctance to dance with fear.
  • It’s all about creating marketing together, being fully human. Sow ubana – I see you.
  • There are not enough bad ideas to find a few good ones.
  • Do you want to make art or be a copycat?
  • Will you to choose matter?

And of course I have to share his picture of bats having a cocktail party. Certainly made me think of these creatures in a different way.

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Vineet Nayar on culture

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