Purpose and unity as a corner stones of future work

Antilooppi and Alma organized a seminar called work life 2022, where operators and influencers from different fields of business shared their vision of the future of work. The topic is interesting and If something, it’s definitely current.

Before Covid19-pandemics flexible working was already every day living for some, but pandemics made it reality for all. We adapted to digital tools and ways of working very fast. Faster that anyone could predict. Sure, we had some problems. We are all already used to kids crashing into Teams-meetings and some have even more dramatic examples of meetings that didn’t go exactly as planned.  People also adapted to the freedom that working from home offered them, and they loved it. The work-life balance became easier to control, at least for those who were not hanging in 14 different Teams- meetings per day.

The need for collaboration has not disappeared. People feel that when working from home from “silo sized for one”, they need more interaction with others and quite soon also in different channels than only on-line. Elina Kiiski Kataja from Ellun Kanat pointed out that companies should focus on thinking and communicating the purpose, why they exist and do what they do. This is due the fact that people in the future are more interested of the shared values and why things are done. This might become even one of the most critical recruitment assets. Ellun Kanat have studied mega trends in business life and the companies ability to change from inside reflects to their success. 

Photo: Päättäjä Foorumi: Työelämä 2022, Ellun Kanat, study findings

Panu Liira from Reaktor pointed out in his speech that employee experience was before pandemics a critical business factor and it is even more critical now when companies are planning their “return to office”. Physical contacts and interactions are in big role when talking about well-being in the future and many companies renew their offices to better answer to this need. 

But is it this simple? Can we, or is it vise to force employees back to office? Do we really need rules and remote policies? Can’t we just trust people to know, what is best for the job and best for themselves? From service designers’ point of view, co-creation and iterative transparent discussion would be in order in many places. Instead of setting up “return the office teams” and “return policy- groups” should we let people to decide? What would happen if we would explain the goals, set up the frame and then see what happens? This was also the deep message and learnings from Reaktor.

Photo: Päättäjä Foorumi: Työelämä 2022, Reaktor, Employee experience 

IN the end of the seminar was a panel discussion where Timo Lappi from Heltti Oy, Alex Nieminen from N2 Helsinki, Anu Eiro from Intrum and Tuomas Sahi from Antilooppi debated of hybrid working.  Well, debate is quite far from how the discussion went. All agreed that there is a lot of need and will for meeting people face to face. Collaboration is important for both company success and as well to well-being. 
Panelists said that empathy and good eye for the game is now needed. Too big changes and one-size-fits-all thinking might cause difficulties. We need to remember we are again facing a change situation and adapting to change takes time and needs support. Hybrid work, or how ever we finally end up calling it,in the future, is more flexible than work before. 

During the seminar, I heard the words empathy, co-creation, discussion, working together, agile etc, at least twenty times. This makes me smile and gives me hope. The world is changing and there is more and more need for designers working in various roles. Service designers can help in so many change situations by bringing their skills and tools into table. Let’s co-design a better work life together.

Source: Työelämä 2022- tapahtuma, Antilooppi ja Alma Talent

24.9.2021

Duration: 2h

Tarja Paanola, SID MBA Student at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Why do we need empathy in the design process and how to gain it?

Introduction to empathy

Most of us can probably recall products or services where it is clear that usability has been so far off from the priority list that the product/service is unreasonably difficult or even impossible to use.

Photo: A real life example of an ATM machine in a town of Räpina, Estonia. Photo source: https://www.delfi.ee/artikkel/84142766/foto-rapina-pangaautomaat-endiselt-liiga-korgel-tadi-peab-seisma-pangel-et-rahamasinani-ulatuda

What is needed that these above-mentioned mishaps can be avoided and services and products designed are actually usable and desirable for their users? We believe the answer lies greatly in empathy.

Empathy helps designers to understand users better

With the spread of design thinking and service design over the past years, the role of a user and user experience has gained central prominence. For instance, Katja Tchimmel (2022) names design thinking as “the design of an alive and dynamic system of user experiences” and elaborates further by stating human-centered approach to be one of the five main principles of it.

The role of empathy is further addressed by Iris Motee (2013), who states that design thinking promotes empathy as it locates users at the core of everything and it encourages using tools that help better understand behaviours, expectations, values, motivations and needs. Brown (2008) describes the designer mindset with empathy as a personal characteristic to be able to observe the world from multiple perspectives.

But what is empathy in design and how can a designer use it in the design process?

Kouprie and Sleeswijk (2009) draw that despite the somewhat hazy common concept of empathy, it nevertheless is “related to deep understanding of the user’s circumstances and experiences, which involves relating to, more than just knowing about the user”. Kouprie and Sleeswijk have further presented their own framework for applying empathy in design, consisting of four phases: Discovery (designer enters the user’s world), Immersion (designer wanders around in the user’s world), Connection (designer resonates with the user to understand the feelings and the meanings) and Detachment (designer reflects to deploy new insights for ideation). They claim that in addition to that the fundamentals of empathy helps designers better to choose the techniques and tools and their order, this framework can help designers to plan their time accordingly as a process of empathy in design practice requires time and not spending unreasonably long time in only one or two phase and actually going though all the phases explicitly can enhance designer’s empathy. (Kouprie & Sleeswijk Visser 2009.)

Tools and methods to gain empathy

In the SID Design Thinking Masterclass we were introduced to Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6², developed by Katja Tschimmel (2021), one of the several models in Design Thinking. The “E.62” model offers tools and methods to support divergent and convergent thinking during the design process. Empathy (E2) is the second step in the model and aims to better understand the context, users and their latent needs. The exploration phase introduces methods such as stakeholder map, field observation and interview. Personas, user journey map and insight map are used for visualizing users and their needs for all in the design process in the evaluation phase.

It is nice to realize that despite not using all the tools of the model we went through all of the four stages of the Kouprie and Sleeswijk Visser’s framework on the process of empathy. In the Discovery phase we approached the design challenge and the users’ problems with How might we? questions on Opportunity map and formulated Intent statement for selected opportunity, followed by User Interviews on selected design opportunity in the Immersion phase. We seeked to achieve emotional understanding of their feelings and meanings while collecting the findings on the Insight map and formulating the Intent statement in the Connection phase, and finally, ideated and Prototyped the solutions in the Detachment phase.

Conclusion

Empathy in the design process is not only a set of different tools and methods but also a designer state of mind and characteristics. Understanding the users’ latent needs is essential for developing products and services.

Written by Peegi Kaibald & Tiina Auer SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E1: Opportunity Map and Intent Statement (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E2: Interviews and Insight Map (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E3: Brainwriting and Clustering (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E4: Rapid Prototyping (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

Mindshake’s Design Thinking Model Evolution 6²
E5: Storyboarding and Concept Visualisation (SID Students’ group work on Katja Tschimmel’s Miro board in Design Thinking Masterclass)

References

Brown, T. (2008). Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June 2008: 84-95.

Kouprie, M & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009). A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life (Links to an external site) in Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2009, 437–448.

Mootee, I. (2013). Design thinking for strategic innovation: What they can’t teach you at business or design school. Wiley.

Tschimmel, K. (2021). Design Thinking Master Class 3.-4.9.2021 material. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.

Tschimmel, Katja (2021): Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.

Tschimmel, K. (2022). Design vs. Design Thinking. In Creativity and Innovation Affairs. (in process) Available only for SID students at Laurea University.

Diving Into the World of Design Thinking

“Now I want you all to introduce yourselves, but this time you will do it differently.” – this is how our Design Thinking course started and little did we know what will follow afterwards. To present ourselves we were divided into groups, where each of us had to first, speak about her/himself, second, count one minute, third, draw the speaker and fourth, listen. What a mindshake on a Friday morning! 

In this blog we will tell you what else we did during our workshop. But first, let’s focus on the definition and purpose of Design Thinking.

Our Portraits Created by Our Teammates in Miro

What is Design Thinking?

Historically design has not been a key step in the developing process. Designers came along at the very end of the process to make the product look aesthetically desirable or have a nice package. Due to the shift from industrial manufacturing to knowledge work and service delivery, the objectives of innovation are no longer physical products, but they can be services, processes or applications.  (Brown 2008)

Design Thinking today is understood as an effective method with a toolkit for innovation processes in multidisciplinary teams in any kind of organization (Tschimmel 2021). User-centric perspective and empathy for gaining a deeper understanding of the user’s needs is essential in the design thinking process (Kouprie & Sleeswijk 2009). 

Motee (2013) emphasizes the role of business leaders in creating a design thinking culture within a company. In his opinion, future business leaders should practice disciplined imagination to formulate problems and generate alternative outcomes, look beyond the limits and enable collaboration in the company.

Mindshake E6² Model in Practice

Professor Katja Tschimmel introduced us to the Mindshake Evolution 6² model, which we will describe below and explain how we used it in the workshop.

To begin with, we were given a topic of “Inclusion at work”. We started by identifying challenges and opportunities of the issue. At this stage, we created an Opportunity map and formulated an Intent statement (Emergence). 

We planned and conducted short Interviews in order to gain Empathy with the target group and filled the results into the Insight map.  

In the Experimentation stage, we used Brainwriting for ideation and learned to come up with as many ideas as possible since the first ideas are always the obvious ones. 

The purpose of the Elaboration is to figure out how to transform an idea into a tangible concept. We utilized Rapid Prototyping to visualize our concept. 

Collaborating in Miro / SID Design Thinking Master Class Autumn 2021. 

In the Exposition stage, we created a Storyboard of our concept for presenting the key results of our innovation process and the benefits of the new vision.

At the Extension stage, we collected feedback from our classmates to potentially develop our idea-solution. Normally, at this stage, the team has to think how to implement the solution in practice. Because of the time and resources frames we couldn’t fully experience the Extension stage, however, we went through the whole cycle of the Innovation process and understood the main principles. 

The Key Points Learned of the DT Process

  • Human-Centeredness and Empathy  – We need to step into the user’s shoes.
  • Co-creation and Collaboration – Include as many stakeholders as possible throughout the process.
  • Creativity – Every idea is welcome.
  • Creativity can be developed through practice.
  • Visualizations help to communicate ideas with others.
  • Experimentation – Playful thinking and making mistakes are an important part of every creative process.

Written by Sari Eskelinen & Lada Stukolkina SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Literature:
Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95. 

Courtney, Jonathan (2020). What Is Design Thinking? An Overview. YouTube Video.

Kouprie, M & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009) A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life (Links to an external site.) in Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2009, 437–448 

Mootee, Idris (2013) Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley. 

Tschimmel, Katja (2021): Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.

Tschimmel, Katja (2021). Design Thinking course lectures, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

, , , , , , , ,

Self-organizing organizations and well-being

Tampere University and The Finnish work environment fund has studied self-guiding organizations from occupational well-being point of view. The study drilled into topics like: On what level is employee’s well-being in organizations that have no management? What is the common stress factor in self organizing companies? Which ways of working would support employee’s well-being? 

Study group found seven development areas that should be taken into consideration when developing self-organizing teams. 

  • Clarification and management of work itself
  • Adjusting workload
  • Know-how and growth (as individual, – team and – organization)
  • Increasing the sense of community
  • Increasing / managing the information flow
  • Equal and functioning decision-making process
  • Managing organizational tension and solving conflicts

Picture by Heli Penttinen, source, Hyvinvoinnin seitsemän elementtiä itseohjautuvassa organisaatiossa- hankkeen keskeiset kehittämissuositukset. Webinaaritallenne 24.8.2021


All these seem like everyday problems or development areas to all kind of companies. Painting a clear vision of what the company is doing and making sure all understand the strategy at least on basic level the same, has always been a priority in companies. All companies also struggle with information and workload problems. Works does not distribute equally, and some get more load than other as the same time others get bored the same time. We also know that only organizations that learn to learn will survive in the futures faster and faster renewing business environment. 

To understand this study better, we need to also understand the typical features or descriptions of self-organizing company. In self organizing companies’ responsibilities and decision-making rights are distributed to the whole organization. Common goals and purpose guide peoples’ actions. Abilities to decide and influence your own work are high. Employees can choose the ways, time, and place where they work. In self organizing companies employees have power also to influence on the team structures, recruitments and rules.  The ability to influence on different issues in the company goes as high as the strategy that guides all actions. 

It seems that experienced well-being in self. Organizing companies is quite high. This is partly due the autonomy, freedom to choose and influence. When comparing traditional companies and self-organizing ones, it can be seen that work engagement is higher in self-organizing companies (Tampere University, 2021)


From service designers’ point of view self-organizing team structure seams more than right. By bringing everyone’s opinions and ideas to the table, I believe we are more able to solve more complex problems and create more innovative solutions. The idea of giving everyone a change to influence walks hand in hand with design thinking ideology.  
As the Tampere University study also states, this kind of model yet requires clarity in vision, common rules and guidelines, transparent communication and regular reviews and discussions of how we are doing and where we are going. When management is missing, leadership is needed more. I feel this will be the future, but before that, we have some rocky road ahead of us turning traditional organizations to more flexible mode. 

After listening the webinar and discussions followed, I stayed thinking which kind of design thinking methods and service design tools we could use to create tools to ease pointed development areas in self-organizing companies.

Text by Tarja Paanola
SID MBA Student at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Source; Seven steps to occupational 
wellbeing in self guiding organization- Webinar

Tampere University and 
The Finnish Work environment fund
24.8.2021 

Once upon a time, there was a design thinker…

The first course in our exciting journey of Service Innovation and Design learning started with a deep dive into the world of Design Thinking. Our class has an interesting mix of different professional domains and backgrounds, which, as we learned from professor Katja Tschimmel, is a great foundation for a creative team. 

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on unsplash.com

…who believed in the power of collaboration

The two intense sprint days gave us an overview of what design thinking is and can be. During those days most of the learning was done in the form of practical teamwork. We were put into teams to find solutions to inclusion-related problems in workplaces. This is where we discovered what it was like to work intensively with other people, using Creative Thinking methods to find new ideas, doing mind mapping, brainstorming, and collecting data from real interviews. As teams, we first worked out solutions and chose one that we pitched to the others using storyboarding. During the class, we also saw the importance of warmups and wakeups and how they impact the atmosphere and create a safe, innovative space to work in.  

…who stepped into the life of others

Design Thinking is a framework embracing empathy in design thoughts. Design serves people best when based on real needs. The way to get optimal results is to have end-users be part of the process, from start to finish. To gain a deeper understanding of the users, the designer needs to step into their life, feel their emotional state and get to know their circumstances and experiences. On our intense sprint days, we had the possibility to try this in practice as we planned and conducted interviews with our potential end-users and collected good insights on how to proceed with ideating.   

Photo by Nicolas Hippert on unsplash.com
Photo by Javier Esteban on unsplash.com

…who found creativity all around

Professor Katja Tschimmel presented us with several ways to open our minds to creativity and think outside the box. We learned creativity is for all and can be found everywhere. It is a very comforting idea, that it is not just some supernatural gift, but a skill that can be practiced and improved. The Kelley brothers highlight the fact that the creative potential is a natural human ability that exists within us all, and if blocked, it can be released. They also point out that in order to gain your own creative confidence you have to believe in the ability to create change around you.  

…who wasn’t afraid to try, as there’s a lesson in every failure

Working in an iterative way gives the best results. One of the most significant learning out-come for us has been the “fail fast, improve faster” -approach. The earlier you fail, the earlier you can learn from the failures and improve what needs fixing. The key-idea is not to give up, but to keep trying and let the failures guide you towards the right direction. Both Tim Brown and the Kelley brothers have brought up Edison’s invention of the lightbulb as a great example of the Design Thinking process. Edison understood the importance of teamwork, the needs of people, and saw the possibilities to learn from each iterative step, and then managed to combine this with a market opportunity and a viable business strategy.  

The Design Thinking method and approach is for everybody, and it might just be the thing needed to find the right solution.  

And this is not the end, the story has just begun. 

Photo by Carmen Martinez on unsplash.com

Written by: Venla Knuutila & Marja Gorbinet 

Inspired by:  

Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95.  http://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/thoughts/IDEO_HBR_Design_Thinking.pdf (Links to an external site.)    

Kelley, David. & Kelley, Tom. (2013) Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business. (http://www.creativeconfidence.com/ (Links to an external site.))  

Kouprie, Merlijn & Visser, Froukje Sleeswijk. (2009) A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life (Links to an external site.) in Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2009, 437–448  

Tschimmel, Katja. (2022). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking - a human-centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II: Research, Education and Practice II. “Serie in Design and Innovation”. Springer International Publishing. (in print)  

Tschimmel, Katja (2021). Design Thinking course lectures, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences (online)  

Megatrends and the future of work

Work changes, as it always has

After living for the past year and half in unnormal circumstances, the whole world is asking the same question;” what is the new normal and has the work changed permanently and how?”

No one has a crystal ball to give the answer, but there are some tools in our use to predict the future. These are facts combined to our imagination.

Megatrends help us design the future

Urbanization will keep on growing. Approximately 85% of all world’s population is living in cities when we reach 2100 (YK). This means bigger cities, more traffic jams, more life balance hustle etc. Digitalization as another megatrend might be able to change the course of this development. From service designers’ point of view pandemics era opened many opportunities for designing new digital ways of working. This means abilities to work from wherever and whenever.  There are also many opportunities in solving the growing challenges of big cities by designing human centric smarter solutions.

Environmental crisis keeps challenging us all. Global warming means raising sea levels, which means that 800 million people’s habitation is in danger. Environmentally friendly solutions are needed fast. From work point of view this means we need new kind of professionals to clean tech, rescue workers, to construction industry etc. But is there something we can do only by designing thigs better? Can we optimize the remote work so that we drive less and cause less CO2 pollution? Can office spaces be more space efficient and, in that way, more energy efficient (lesser need for heating, parking space, lightning…)? Can we create carbon sinks that also serve some communal purpose, to office rooftops and yards? Is there still something we have not thought out and something that opens also new business opportunities to someone?

Aging is one obvious megatrend that also changes our working life. In the future the need for many senior services is needed. There are also less and less working aged people to do all the work. We need more sophisticated digital solutions to help in this dilemma. WE also need immigrants. This means more multicultural workplaces. Designing workplaces for people from different ethnic background requires understanding from different cultures and their habits. Human centric empathy-based design is one answer to solving this problem. 

So what is then the 1+1 (facts+ imagination) outcome to how work is changing. . .

Most probably we have more AI solutions to help us in many basic work tasks. Maybe the office building recognizes us when we walk in and prepares a suitable workstation according to the tasks we have in our calendar. Maybe even coffee will be automatically made ready. Who knows? 

Probably many of our colleagues work remotely from various locations and join collaborative moments via virtual rooms and mixed reality solutions. Maybe all the technological development eventually connects us more back to nature. This I hope the most.


This Blog was a summary and reflection of Futurist. Elina Hiltunens presentation by SID MBA student Tarja Paanola, Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Mitä kuuluu toimisto –webinaari  by SRV

10.9.2021, duration 2,5h

Design Thinking at first touch

DT is becoming extensively popular in modern era as more and more organizations are striving to provide compelling and innovative solutions to their customers. Design thinking helps to expand one’s creativity as well as enables one to utilize a broader range of tools and approaches for innovative solutions.

What is it exactly?

Design thinking has no single, unifying, common definition and if you ask a bunch of people to describe it, their answers will vary. Creative professional Idris Mootee (2013,29) states that: “If we take into consideration the concept’s predilection for dealing with ambiguity, perhaps there should not be only one definition.” In Mootee’s own practice, design thinking is a framework for a human-centered approach to strategic innovation, and a new management paradigm for value creation in a world of disruptive technology and radically changing networks. According to an experienced designer Jon Kolko (2015), that is exactly what Design thinking as an approach is for the most part, a response to our rapidly evolving and ever changing modern technology and business.

But we need to try and keep up somehow, right?

Keeping up with design thinking

People need help making sense of all the modern advances. To be exact people need their interactions with complex systems such as technology to be amiable, simple and intuitive and it seems that design thinking might be the best tool we got to achieving this goal. (Kolko, 2015.) Design thinking as a framework includes a lot of different tools and/or processes but according to Mootee (2013, 32), it is the framework itself where the magical balance resides.

This might be true hence design thinking is all about cognitive flexibility and how we are able to adapt the process to the challenges. The process of design thinking entails trying to think outside of the box and searching for solutions through trial and error. This method of trial and error, and the fact that design thinking is an approach to collective problem solving aimed to take on design challenges by applying empathy, makes it actually a very humane process.    

Storyboard- The result of a two-day design sprint

All in all the tolerance for failure, the empathy with users, and a discipline of prototyping, is the best tool we have for creating responsive flexible organizational culture and those amiable interactions (Kolko, 2015). 

 Our first masterclass was a mindshaker

Our first Design Thinking masterclass however showed us also, in addition to the framework, the value of tools and co-creation. We had a two-day workshop that focused on understanding the fundamentals of design thinking in the beginning of our Service Innovation and design studies. The two days were interactive and very inspiring. During these two days we learnt about Katja Tschimmel’s Innovation & Design Thinking Mindshake model.

Katja Tschimmel’s Mindshake model

Learning by doing

This design Thinking masterclass was not just another rough and boring two-day lecture. Instead, we did various fun activities to understand the concepts of design thinking. These activities included teambuilding exercises and a symbolic representation of ourselves and our teamwork.

We discussed each step of the Mindshake model and applied these steps to solve suggested problems. From all the tools, we found the insight map the most fascinating to learn. One interesting aspect in our sessions was the way we used Miro board to imitate a real-life classroom situation. The digital whiteboard enabled us to work together side by side in a way similar with actual interaction.

Team building time- DT masterclass

Learning by studying

This interactive session motivated us to learn more about design thinking, so we read Tim Brown’s (2009) seminal paper on the same topic. The seminal paper depicts various approaches of the firm IDEO. These approaches have made the firm one of the leading organizations in the field of design consultations. Tim Brown for example advocates that empathy is a fundamental tool to understand the perspective of the end user and the problems they are dealing with. This research paper further enhanced our understanding about the concept of Design thinking.

Afterthoughts

Overall, our first touch with the world of design thinking has been a tremendous experience, not only because of the interactive session where we got a chance to work together with new people, practice design thinking concepts, share ideas and learn various new things by practicing and developing, but also because of the learning that happened afterwards through recommended literature. We especially enjoyed Katja’s Mindshake model. We feel now highly motivated to implement the concept of design thinking in our professional lives and hope to expand known boundaries in the future.

Written by Henna Helminen & Nida Waqas

SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

References:

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

Kolko, J. (2015) Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture.  Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.

Mootee, Idris (2013) Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley.

Tschimmel, Katja (2020 forthcoming). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centred ménage à trois 

Tschimmel, Katja (2020). Design Thinking course lectures, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.   

A Design Thinking Crash Test

Erika Bäck & Sabine Maselkowski

Two days of Design Thinking ‘crash test’ (read: course) behind. All we think is we need to pass, like a car tested for the safety standards. Days went by at high-speed, challenging our ways of thinking and working, let’s start…

Design? Design Thinking? 

To get answers we looked both past and present practices and understandings. Design Thinking combines traditions from different fields and disciplines, arts and science alike. It is accepted that DT(=Design thinking) is found in the “everyday” and it is a procedural work. Often design is understood only as the final product rather than a process including several steps of e.g. researching, ideating or testing. Therefore, there have been more recent attempts to establish and agree on a design process.

‘Design’ can be a verb, noun and adjective. It is an approach to innovation that is applied in and between many different fields. The benefit of using DT in problem-defining and solution-finding processes is the focus on learning from each repetition, i.e. iteration. Design’s role is currently understood as creating something that meets consumers’ needs rather than “just” making it more attractive to them. The change lies in the understanding of consumers’ role: from passive recipients to active participants. The future component of design and DT are in “changing existing situations into preferred ones” (Simon, 1996, in Michlewski, 2015). and in the possibility of affecting the future. 

An incomplete checklist for potential designers 

(based on Brown, 2008, Michlewski, 2015, and the course)

Example of a (wicked) design problem

During our crash test, the theme of the DT challenge was introduced as inclusion at work. We were not expecting to solve the challenge in less than 48 hours. Rather this challenge opened our eyes for so-called wicked problems. Wicked problems are characterised, amongst others, by 

  • intederminancy
  • non-existence of clear definition
  • underlying higher-level problem
  • multitude of explanations 

(Rittel, 1972, as cited in Buchanan, 1996)

Such problems can have many solutions, all affected by context and actors, as our trial on inclusion at work showed.

What exactly happened in class?

During the ‘crash test’ with Katja Tschimmel, we took first steps towards “designers’ culture” (Buchanan, 1996). We shifted between the roles: facilitators, active participants, potential consumers. The role during class seemed to be ambivalent, and pointed out the difficulty to detach oneself from the DT process, e.g. when noticing how own assumptions made their way into interview questions and data gathering. We also learned to work on confidence; be brave with the ideas in order to get recognition from the audience and be confident to accept uncertainty e.g. when using the Miro Board.

Starting from not even a brief but only the three words “inclusion at work”, all these new ways of working, new people and new contents interestingly led six sub-groups to six distinct angles and solutions to the vaguely defined problem. Those pointed out a) the ability of designers to discover new relationships as well as b) design thinking as a “liberal art” (Buchanan, 1996: 14), be it by combining play with age discrimination, the environmental need of reforestation and equal access to information, or others. 

We might need a bit more finetuning after this initial test, but it seems we’ll hit the design road eventually!

Sources:

Brown, Tim (2008). Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June 2008: 84-95.   

Buchanan, Richard (1996). Wicked Problems in Design Thinking. In: Margolin, V. & Buchanan, R. The Idea of Design. A Design Issues Reader. Cambridge: The MIT Press. 

Michlewski, Kamil (2015). Design Attitude. Farnham, Surrey: Gower.

Breaking the glass ceilings

Women entrepreneurships days seminar 19.11.2020

“I don’t mind, I don’t mind…” sings a beautiful brown-haired woman on a screen. “Tools for breaking the glass ceiling-seminar” is about to start. WED- seminar (Women entrepreneurship day) is international event trying to raise the awareness of equality and women rights. As all events this fall, this is also organized online.  

“I don’t mind….” Is the lady still singing, But we really should! 

Why should we be interested on female entrepreneurs or care of equality or women rights in business? In business, does it matter who is in charge? 

Wendy Diamond the founder of WED organization opened the seminar by stating some facts. Companies led by women have higher stock returns and better profits globally than those led by men. Also, it is reported that employee satisfaction is on higher level in companies led by women. 

So if the fact is so, why most companies are still run by men? 

There are some quite speculative explanations people are more satisfied in companies led by women. Some say it is about women being more emphatic some that women have different outlook on life, and they read quiet signals and trust on their intuition in decision making more than men. At the same time, statistics show that even these companies might do well in revenues, they tend to grow in slower phase than companies led by men. Statistics also show that women have less access to capital to raise the business. Do men have more knowledge on these areas of business or is about courage?

Well, we need to remember that not all female entrepreneurs are running big companies. The number of female entrepreneurs is growing globally and there is a reason. Many women in developing countries start their entrepreneurship with the help of micro loans. By enabling microloans to women, different organizations actually do much more than just help on woman starting her small business. When woman get a change to employ herself, it usually means that her children get a change to go to school, learn to read, get better jobs, develop their country etc.

But let’s get back to the actual event. After the interesting start, we heard different entrepreneur stories. They were encouraging, energizing, positive but something was missing. “No one was was talking about financing, budgeting, making business plans. There were a lot of talking about Following your dream”, “wanting to live a dream life and surfing”, “jumping out from the wheel”. This all sounds great but where is the reality check?

I have attended to many women entrepreneurship seminars and events. In too many cases I have been disappointed as the content is too soft. I have the highest trust in female potential, and I stand behind all those who has the courage to take the risk of starting their own business, but these seminars tend to be a disappointment after another. It would benefit all female entrepreneurs to talk about these “hard business factors”. In the eyes of the investors and other parties that can help you to raise your business the combination of emphatic leader and sharp economist is a very compelling candidate.


Tarja Paanola
SID Student

Does the glass ceiling still exist?

Photo: https://www.hcamag.com/au/specialisation/diversity-inclusion/does-the-glass-ceiling-still-exist/142119

Users as Co-designers in Public Services

Too often the approach in the development of public services has been “This system has now been built for you, welcome, please use it”. Lately it has become obvious that to make services sustainable and attractive, this has to be changed. Hence, service design is increasingly applied also in the development of public services. In designing public services, it is the citizens who are the users group and need  to be engaged in the co-creation.

Picture: Jakob Trischler`s presentation

Why and how users should be involved in public service design? This question was explored by Assistant Professor Jakob Trischler from the CTF Service Research Center (Karlstad, Sweden) on the 21 May 2021.

A key note from Jakob Trischer was that, contrary to popular belief, it is not only companies that are a source of innovation. Users are also an important source of innovation. According to a study Assistant Professor Trischler referred to, around 5-10 % of the population in western countries are innovating regularly. Yet, innovation policies are often very producer-centric: resources and funding go to companies far more often than to citizens as innovators of public services.  

Secondly, users often innovate even before companies. In many cases, it is the users that first perceive a need and invent possible solutions to that. Later on, companies commercialize the innovation, a process which always takes some time. Some great examples given in the presentation of Jakob Trischler included a 20-year-old Indian high school student Anang Tadar, who invented in 2017 the G4B: special glasses for the blind. He created this device after a blind woman came to him asking for directions. Another inspiring example was about a British couple Naveed and Samiya Parvez, who founded their own company Andiamo, in order to produce and commercialize 3D printed customized orthosis. They set out to invent this device because their son Diamo had cerebral palsy and was quadriplegic, but the gadgets available for his well-being were not adequate and effective.

These two examples are from Patient Innovation which is a nonprofit, international platform and social network where solutions, treatments and devices developed by patients or caregivers from all over the world can be shared and improved in a collaborative way.

A third, and perhaps strongest, argument for the involvement of users in the design of public services was that users have access to “use knowledge”. They know what are the user needs, and have first-hand user experiences from the existing services. In the public sector, a user is most likely in contact with several service providers, not only one. A hospital patient probably uses also normal health care facilities, services for disabled persons, home help services, social services etc. The challenge is to understand the system surrounding the user`s  activities.

Picture: Banksy

Essentially, to promote co-creation of public services you need to allow users to be active in the provision of knowledge and innovation.

Carrot or stick?

The role and position of the user changes when we move from private services to public. In the public sphere the right of the user to get the service is highlighted, whereas in private services it is more about the availability of that service.

The motivation to participate and give one`s time to improving public services through service design comes generally from different sources: financial rewards, enjoyment, feeling of connection with others, personal reputation improvement and status. In short, there are personal, social, hedonic and cognitive benefits. According to one questionnaire done among library users who participated in a library innovation process, the main satisfaction came from getting their voices heard and needs fulfilled.

There are different types of users: ordinary users (uses the service a few times only), active users (more involved and more knowledgeable about the topic), and heavy-users who even try to create services for themselves. Some ordinary users might be very active and motivated to participate, whereas some heavy-users might be reluctant and suspicious. Just think about rehabilitation services for alcoholics or drug addicts, to put an example. Even though an addict might be a heavy-user of this kind of services, it does not automatically mean he/she insists in playing an active part in the development of those services.

When it comes to public services users can also include companies. How should the service designer treat and involve these very different groups of users? Could there be a risk of combining active users and low-engaged users in co-design activities?

It is a fact that active and highly motivated people tend to take over the discussion and promote their own needs over the others. On the other hand, there are also extreme users who have low level of engagement and motivation to participate. How to involve them? Jakob Trischler`s advice was to actively use local networks to find this group of people, connect with them, raise their awareness, and incentivize before the start of the co-creation process. During the process, it is important to continue informing, activating, and preparing this group, and make sure the process is well facilitated and inclusive to all. This will help in reaching expected outcomes: new ideas that help improve services for all users, as well as capacity to drive for change.

Users will need correct tools to participate in user-innovation. Using digital platforms has become a common method in getting users` feedback and engaging them in the service design. In many instances going digital helps the designers and facilitators, but not always the users. Within public services, there is big chunk of users who don`t feel comfortable using digital channels. On the other hand, it has been shown now during the pandemic that the participation of more timid users has been increased in digital settings, especially in politics.

In any case, a personal, targeted selection process of participants is needed to avoid self-selection and dominance of the most active users.

Ultimately, service design is a creative, human-centered and iterative approach to service innovation.  With the appropriate space, motivation and tools, users can engage in and even take over innovation activities. As public services belong to all of us and are ultimately paid by tax payers, it is only fair that that the users are the main designers of the services they use.

Laura Ekholm

For more information:

Patient Innovation. https://patient-innovation.com/

Trischler, J., Dietrich, T., & Rundle-Thiele, S. 2019. Co-Design: from Expert to User-driven Ideas in Public Service Design. Public Management Review, 21(11), 1595-1619.