“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.
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.
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.
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.
Many companies are facing the challenge of changing their linear business into a circular one. How to do that and at the same time gain more customers, loyal to your business? How to make this necessary change into a win-win situation for all stakeholders? And the bottom line: how to make sustainability into profitable business?
Designers and innovators from three countries, Finland, Estonia and Sweden discussed circular design and transition to more sustainable living in an online workshop called Speed up transition with Circular Design on 29 March 2021. The webinar was organized by Design Forum Finland, Swedish Industrial Design Foundation (SVID) and Estonian Design Center. The seminar was part of the Eco-design Circle 4.0, an international project with the purpose to strengthen awareness and practical application of circular design and to enhance the capability of small and medium-size enterprises to make use of eco-design.
It is not only about recycling
While the linear business is based on the idea of “take, make, waste”, a truly circular economy relies on the notion that each step throughout the entire life cycle of a product or service is reviewed against a set of circularity criteria.
For many goods and materials, sufficient infrastructure exists for recycling them. But not for all. For example, there are no industry standards defining composition for plastics, and plastic goods are also added other substances to provide or improve performance characteristics. This makes their recycling very complex. Hence, the circular economy is not only about recycling the materials, but also keeping what we have already processed viable and in use for as long as possible, and reusing what we’ve already extracted and processed.
In circular economy, all materials should circulate and the circular loops should be as closed as possible, not allowing leaks of usable materials. Every time the loop leaks, you lose value. In a perfect circular economy, waste simply does not exist. Before recycling the materials of the product, we should try to find ways of using the waste product in an efficient manner. Thinking innovatively, this “waste” can be valuable material for either your own company, or to some other organization.
During the webinar the main areas of circular design and the benefits of using it were discussed. The participants were provided with tips on critical parts of the process, and a few tools to make one`s business become circular were presented. The most inspiring part of the seminar was the presentation of case examples from different industries that concretized the topic providing us first-hand experiences of the journeys that organizations had taken to become more circular.
From Product Thinking to Service Thinking
Astonishingly, 80 % of the environmental impact of a product is already determined in the stage of its design. Hence, it is very important that designers are familiar with the principles and possibilities of eco-design and circular economy. The first thing to do is to ask: do we really need this product or service? If the answer is positive, we have to make sure to give longer life to products – designing from the beginning how to make sure the product stays longer in use. In short, we need more service thinking instead of product thinking.
When designing new products or services, the materials should be selected so that their impact on the sustainability (environmental, climate, social etc.) can be minimized.
The distribution and packaging are another major issue when defining the sustainability of the product or service. It goes without saying that light weight helps reduce CO2 emissions. It is worth optimizing and designing well the delivery and packaging. An example given by SVID`s Project Manager Anna Velander Gisslen was about Kinnarps which managed to reduce their transport needs by 50 %, using old blankets in the packaging.
Service design thinking is a key strategy into circularity. Co-creation in the design process helps identifying the needs and possible ways of becoming sustainable. What should you prioritize, what areas are the most critical ones in your business, and how to measure change and impact? Participating in a design sprint, or other type of eco-design co-creation forum will provide insights on how individual companies can start to implement circularity, and what must change to achieve its widespread adoption and implementation in the company.
The importance of analyzing thoroughly customers` ideas, hopes and expectations was raised by several speakers. Going circular is not only about the company; it`s even more about its customers. Circular solutions should be user-tested and gain true user attraction. They should not be solutions that are OK: they should be the most desired solutions for both the customers and the company. Co-design is possible also through virtual means (Zoom, Teams etc.). Hence, it pays back to put time and resources to a proper co-creation in the design process.
Strengthening the circularity is not something you are expected to do alone. Guides and tools are available. The Design Forum of Finland has used a set of tools with organizations aspiring to become circular. These include for example Eco-design learning factory, Eco-design audit and Eco-design sprints. In addition, there are tools and services that help organizations to create strategy roadmaps, certification systems to guarantee circularity, and marketing and communication tools to tell the customers about the perspectives and steps taken. According to Aino Vepsäläinen from DFF, in the beginning the focus was more on products, while lately it has been mainly on services.
Design Forum has implemented several design sprints on circular design. The sprints usually involve coach, a client company and a design agency. Eco-design Sprints usually consist of 3 phases: Understand, Ideate, and Deliver. Understanding phase may include identification of the lifecycle of the product or service, circular value mapping, context analysis, and discovering possible circular strategies. Delivery phase normally comes a couple of weeks later and includes identification of next steps.
According to Estonian Strategic Designer Joel Kotsjuba, key takeaways from eco-design sprints are that they provide good ground understanding of circular design (its theory, concepts, strategies and methodologies), build momentum for change, find key opportunities, help engage decision-making structures, allow constructing a follow-up plan, give insights into implementation, provide numerous ideas to improve customer and employee satisfaction, and help in evaluating and selection of first ideas for testing. These small wins and proofs of concept will help “selling” the idea further.
The New Normal
One third of all food produced globally is thrown away, and the impact of food waste is 4 times greater than the impact of all flights in the world combined. These were some of the facts that inspired a group of young Swedes to create a company that focuses on reducing food waste. Through their Karma mobile application restaurants, cafés and grocery stores can sell their waste food. While helping them to sell the waste, Karma also advises companies on how much to produce. Less production means less waste. By now, Karma has rescued over 1,200 tonnes of food, saved more than 4 million meals and eliminated over 1,800 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Another concrete example of circular economy initiative came from Helsinki city. Think Sustainably is a new service that lets users select service providers that are committed to responsible operations. It helps consumers prioritise sustainable services and thereby motivates a wide range of different actors and service providers to focus on sustainable ways of doing business. This online tool covers services, transport and experiences: restaurants, accommodation, events, shops etc. There are now 130 companies participating in this initiative, and the criteria for circularity is a “fits all” model – the companies are committed to doing changes that require long-term commitment but are not extremely difficult to implement.
Changing linear business into a circular one must have tangible impact and at the same time be profitable. To be truly sustainable means being sustainable also economically. There`s a remarkable business value for companies to find and commit to new sustainable solutions. Companies have constant fight over consumers` time and money and by becoming more circular they will improve their competitiveness. From the consumer point of view, sustainable choices must be easily embedded in their daily life. Sustainability has to be effortless. As Karma puts it: “You can now save the planet by doing the simplest thing on earth. Eating.“
As someone working in sustainable development, I am always fascinated by events that concentrate on making our planet better and healthier. So following event caught my eye: “Innovation, Big Tech and the Climate Crisis” by Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneurship, which was held on Wednesday 17th of March 2021. The event concentrated on challenges on climate and technology and how we need to innovate towards sustainability. I’m not a tech-oriented person and know very little about the industry, so it was a learning experience.
Marc O’Regan, CTO EMEA at Dell Technologies, presented what and how Dell is trying to reach a 2030 moonshot goal to accelerate the circular economy.
We know that sustainability is about the ecological perspective and the well-being of people and economic balance. These three elements need to be in balance for sustainability to take place effectively. A great quote from SEOS- Ideation cards for positive impact says: “Designers do not need to become experts in environmental and social issues to make a difference. Basic awareness and understanding of these areas, however, increases their ability to do the right thing from the beginning.”
This is where Marc hit the spot. They understand that all of these perspectives need to be considered since it’s not only about production and manufacturing. What they do and how they do it also has an environmental and societal impact. It requires taking all partners and suppliers together with customers towards a sustainability journey.
He listed some key examples of how people get involved:
Enriching communities and strive for sustainability
Inclusion in workspace
Closing diversity gap
Environment of empowerment
So what Dell is designing? Marc said that tech and programs are created to solve problems. They work with NASA, healthcare and other industries which require new technological approaches, but that is not the only thing Dell is doing. They are also working towards transforming lives and the future.
At the centre of everything is sustainability. They have three strategic approaches: accelerating the circular economy, protecting the planet and championing the people who build their products. They are constantly improving their sustainable actions to change the systems. Such as:
finding ways to do a circular economy,
being part of a culture that shifts towards a greener planet, and
working together with people who help Dell implement sustainable actions through programs, products, software, and other ways.
There are also constantly auditing that standards are met.
As Marc said, there’s massive pressure regarding this situation on a global scale. Therefore it is also a team sport and requires a collective effort. They are working closely with and engaging their own design teams, suppliers, manufacturers, and users to find a solution and change the system not only as a business itself but as a whole industry.
So what Dell is currently working on?
They are adding more resale and recycling services around the worlds, adding circular design standards in their operation concept, creating circular material innovations, and using scraps such as reclaimed carbon fibre. The result is that “no tech should end up in waste”. In addition to this, they also co-operate with non-profits. They are collecting plastic waste from the oceans and using that plastic in their products. The aim is to keep the plastics out of the sea.
They are also trying to reduce their carbon footprint by changing designs and using AI to solve many problems. For instance, making data-centres more efficient, lowering costs, risks and environmental impacts. The idea is to generate more than what it is using.
I just finished watching the “TEDxHultLondon 2021: Game Changers” event that you could also follow in an AR environment! This was an independently organized TED event by Hult International Business School. The event focuses on breakthroughs and innovations and invites very inspiring speakers to present their perspectives on a collective topic.
This was actually my very first TED event. I have, however, seen some individual TED talks on YouTube and other platforms. But following a live event and watching something afterwards has a different feel to it.
The pace of the event was quick, so I really hope I was able to catch the key takeaways. There were six speakers: Raj Balandusadam, Trudi West, Ranu Sharma, Max Klymenko, Michelle Li, and Gleb Tritus. I will only give a little insight into Raj’s and Gleb’s speeches, keeping this blog post as compact as possible.
Raj Balandusadam presented the topic “Can AI save the planet?”. He built a story around a cheap shirt, and that “cheap always comes at a high cost”.
His speech concentrated on how AI can help us understand what we really need. Manufacturers, retailers, and distributors could use the information AI gatherers to produce and sell only what is needed, thus reducing waste and pollution. In addition to this, AI can learn what style we like, what actually fits and suits us best, and predict what we will need in future.
Also, we need information that will help us towards the right and sustainable choices. In Finland, we don’t have traffic light labels, but personally, when visiting the UK, they have impacted my food choices.
Source: British nutrition foundation
Raj presents an idea that this traffic light system would be used in a much broader context, such as the fashion industry. Just imagine when buying a simple piece of garment, such as a t-shirt or pair of socks, you’d have choices from Green, which is good for the planet, Yellow, which has a caution, or Red, which is not good for a planet. Which one would you choose?
Gleb Tritus, with the topic “Travel and mobility after the storm”, presents 3 examples that could influence the next game-changers in the mobility industry.
The first, due to COVID-19, we are adapting to the new normal. Through this new normal, there are massive technological advances. Travel and mobility industries need to adapt and reinvent themselves and their offerings to this new normal.
The second is that we need to utilize existing systems better. With the help of digital innovation, we can make current systems more efficient.
The third and last example was about understanding that consumers have changed. In just a few years, all of us will have a digital footprint. But unfortunately, in the current state, the travel and mobility industry still fails to utilize digital information to satisfy our needs because the industry in itself is very complex and consists of many parts.
Gleb concluded his speech with future foresight:
Soon, we might travel by air taxis.
There will be more autonomous vehicles.
We will substitute a lot of travelling through digitalization. A great example was the event itself.
General Assembly hosted a weeklong event called “break into tech” from 16th to 22nd of February 2021. One of the events that caught my attention was “Innovation through Human-Centered Design Thinking”.
The host was Steph Mellor, a coach and consult in human-centred design, ethnography, leadership and change. She’s also a Principal at DigIO, Design and UX instructor at General Assembly.
This was a truly insightful and useful event to follow. Steph answered the most common questions that might come to mind when thinking about design-thinking: what it is, when should we use it, why we need it, how to begin the process, what do we need, and how to utilise Design councils double-diamond framework, so it provides value and right solutions.
What it is
To summarise what the double-diamond framework is all about, here’s a short list:
It can be applied to any design, service, product, UX etc.
It is a creative problem-solving approach where innovation is the result
Emphasis is on understanding the problem thoroughly before attempting a solution
Explorative, iterative and collaborative
Honours human experience and responds to human behaviour and intuition
Design the right thing, then design the thing right
Spending equal time on each part of the diamond.
Steph pointed out that when people learn about design thinking – they try design thinking on everything. Innovations don’t always come from design thinking – or we could say you cannot force innovations through design thinking.
When should we use it
Design thinking should be applied when problems are complex and there are people involved. For instance, we don’t need to design-think our way through how to get fuel into our car since it is a straightforward problem with a relatively straight forward solution (simple)
But when adding humans, the situation is always at least complex.
In the end, the process will get you somewhere useful, even though the beginning might feel difficult and frustrating.
Why we need it
First of all, the design thinking process and results should not shift the original problem somewhere else. The idea is to solve the problem. It also provides us with a better understanding of how people behave, and we must design according to their behaviour – not how we wish for them to behave.
How to begin with the design thinking process
We will go through the double-diamond process in this section. Starting with the discover and define phase.
The design thinking process begins with a designerly mindset. You need to be empathetic, human-centred, inclusive, collaborative and ego-less with an agile and iterative mindset. You also need to be ready to observe and learn during the process and give away your “power”.
You also need to conduct design research. Design research is
Not academic or scientific research
Not statistical research
Not investigative journalism
But common research techniques are, for example, contextual inquiry, observation or shadowing, surveys and questionnaires, usability or interactivity tests, facilitated workshops, journey or relationship mapping, etc. It’s about asking the right questions and having good listening skills (don’t respond or correct).
Also, since we’re trying to learn and uncover the needs, preferences and expectations, we can conduct experiments and scenarios, ideal futures or simple likes and dislikes.
The key to starting the design process is to begin with the question: what do we want to know, and then we ask: who might have the answers. Quite often, people fail into the trap of starting from the second question – and end up with the wrong type of solution. But when you have successfully collected the data, it’s time to put it all together and define the problem. The end result is that you have found the answer to your question, which addresses the people for whom you’re designing.
The last diamond in the double-diamond process concentrates on the develop and deliver phase.
During the developing phase, you need to be inclusive, collaborative, and creative. Focusing on the “what” and not on the “how”. The goal is to come up with as many ideas as possible. The ideas need to be desirable, viable and feasible. Additionally, innovations come from creative problem solving, and this is how design thinking breaks through. When you’ve gathered all your ideas, you can process them similarly like you’ve processes your research data. Just be careful of your biases.
Finally, we get into the last phase: deliver. The key to this phase is to do fast and cheap prototypes, which allow you to fail early. That’s why it’s a prototype, so you have room for improvements and adjustments. When people are trying the solution, your task is not to sell, persuade, or convince people. You need to listen to their feedback, and it’s better to ask questions rather than giving them answers. If the tester asks: “what does this button do?” you don’t give the answer. You ask: “what do you expect it to do?”. Learn and don’t correct.
Not all innovations are glamorous, and most of them are small and quiet. They don’t need to be revolutionary since the idea is to provide value and help people.
Post by: Tereza Dickson Current Topics in Service Design.
A webinar by Perttu Pölönen, futurist, inventor and author.
When thinking about the future, we might assume that the skills we need to have will be related to AI, Robotics, Coding, and everything involving technology, however, Perttu Pölönen has a different view on the skills of the future. The question he posed to everyone during his Thought Leaders’ Talk was:
“What can I get from you that I can’t get from a computer?”
This question immediately made me think of a future in which an AI could easily replace the work of a service designer. However, is this thought something real or is the field of service design too human-centric to be replaced by computers?
According to Perttu Pölönen, the working environment is shifting from an information era into a human revolution working environment in which the main skills will be our personality, our characters, and what we have to offer as humans. We will evolve from information professionalisms into creative problem solvers. Leveraging the silent knowledge computers don’t have, will be our main focus for future years.
With all this in mind, one can only wonder: what will change in the field of service design?
In order to prepare for the future, we shouldn’t focus on the skills and professions which will change in the future, rather we should focus on the skills that won’t change at all. According to P. Pölönen, these are some of the skills of the future we should really start nurturing now.
However, how can we validate these skills, and most importantly when this change will start to happen?
No one can verify one’s levels of humility and spontaneity, however to develop and nurture these skills so that we can take them into use in the working environment, we need to update our mindset. Change is happening right now and we can see this with the younger generations. Instead of them being though by adults on how to use technology the tables have turned and the younger generations are teaching and guiding the older generations how to adapt to this new developing digital native era.
With the rapid evolution of technology and the future fast global internet connection, we will be able to bring online half of the global population and drastically increase the innovation happening worldwide. We have gained the potential power to change the world through our ability to connect, which was merely impossible 30 or 40 years ago. Our creativity, courage, motivation, enthusiasm cannot be measured or achieved through a university degree, but it can be encouraged and showcased by easily connecting to people from all around the world from the comfort of your sofa.
Thus, to boost these skills P. Pölönen has envisioned a future curriculum that might be a bit different from what everyone might have thought for the future.
Taking a closer look at this curriculum we can clearly see that the field of service design develops many, if not all of these skills. Problem-solving, teamwork, and curiosity are some of the core skills that every service designer should have when starting a service design journey. Adopting this future mindset and focusing on these human-centric skills to develop is already putting us on the right path for the future.
Service Design might change over the years, and many tools and methods might be simply applied and executed by an AI. However, having in mind the five main service design principles: user-centric, co-creative, sequencing, evidencing, and holistic, we can discover, define, develop and deliver from all corners of the world at all moments in time.
Published on 11. 01. 2021
Written by Andreea Cozma on 12th of December, 2020
Thought Leaders’ Talk by Perttu Pölönen
Streamed live on Dec 2, 2020, Youtubevideosharing platform
The global pandemic Covid-19 has changed a whole lot how we relate to work and specially towards workplaces. Since spring 2020 almost all office workers have been quided to work remotely from home offices. Long awaited freedom for some, and prison to those who need social contacts to stay sane. First qualitative studies show that many employees globally feel they will work more remotely after the pandemic is over. When asked, majority feels 3-4 days a week would be the new normal for remote work. Where will this lead?
Vitra, a well-known design company held their annual two-day Vitra Summit on 22-23 of October, exceptionally online. The seminar was divided into four categories, “The Human and the office”, “dynamic Spaces”, “Design matters” and “Remote World”. All themes dealt more or less the changed situation we are facing and how it effects to the ways we are working. The message was clear. “We are living in a totally new world. The attitude environment changed at the same phase as the physical environment around was closed. As I work in a field of workplace development, I deal this theme in my text.
What comes to working during these abnormal times, it is evident that many psychological or trust related barriers were concurred overnight. Things that were said to be impossible to arrange worked out fast and quite easily. Learning curve in adapting new technologies and online working methods surprised us all. We have seen a peak on efficiency when meetings have been taken to Teams and no time has been wasted on moving from place to another. At the same time the number of meetings during the workday has exploded, activity during workdays has crashed down, there is less recovery time between meetings and spontaneous ideation with colleagues has dropped close to zero. Good or bad, the way we consider our offices has changed, probably for good.
In a discussion “will we miss the office if it disappears? The participants shared a common vision that the offices as we known will change. They are too expensive and as many feels, also too dangerous. At the same time the speakers in many discussions raised up the fact that we people are social animals. We get energized when we meet other people. Ideation and innovations don’t happen in a vacuum. Co-creation is more fruitful when people share a physical space.
It came clear that most of the speakers felt that offices will get more dynamic. We have spoken of dynamic offices for a quite some time, but it in real life we have still designed open platform and multifunctional offices that are quite fixed. To be able to narrow down spaces into smaller sections or connect them into bigger co-creation spaces in according to the needs and situations will be the future. Also the seamless interaction of physical space and digital environments will take over.
Remote working has become to stay, if we agree with the summit speakers. This has an impact on environment, our health and also our homes. If the companies won’t have such a huge offices in the future will they provide ergonomic home office systems together with all the latest digital tools to the employees. Will homes work as an office hub for one or will we see the raise of small city block hubs or co-working spaces? How we ensure that the company goals are achieved if people don’t interact face to face? Does this mean shifting down the fast speed of business economics? Is this just a momentary phase that we won’t even remember in ten years? A lot of open questions that we can start answering with empathy and design.
South Africa remains among the world`s most inequal countries. High inequality is perpetuated by a legacy of exclusion, and the economic growth does not contribute to diminishing poverty and generating new, decent jobs. Inequality in wealth is striking: the richest 10% of the population held around 71% of net wealth in 2015, while the bottom 60% held 7% of it. Furthermore, inequalities are passed down from generation to generation with little change in inequality over time. (Worldbank.) The structural inequality and exclusion lead up to more fear and less trust among the citizens, and less participation in the community.
How does design fit in a reality, where so many people lack even the basic services: water, energy, shelter, food, sanitation, health care, transport and education?
This question was explored by Head of Department and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) at the University of Johannesburg South Africa, Angus Donald Campbell, as the keynote speaker in Studia Generalia lecture “Designing with the Underserved: An Exploration of the Complexities of Design in South Africa from the perspective of the SDGs” organized by the Finnish Design Academy on 17 November, 2020.
A time of crisis and protests contains within it the seeds for transformation and change. According to Campbell, philosophical and practical re-design of the society is possible in South Africa. While many feel helpless, small and collaborative interventions of change are needed.
Local and sustainable innovations can play a key role in the path towards the United Nation`s Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. Reaching high-minded and noble goals does not always mean million-euro budgets or heavy structures. Instead, a locally and culturally sensitive approach, combined with an immersion into the life of people can help the researcher or designer understand the small everyday challenges people face and thus identify appropriate opportunities to improve the quality of life in big scale.
“My face isn’t designed for glasses!”
This was an exclamation of one project participant in a project that Angus Campbell`s student Marcha Naudè implemented during 2017-19. It reflects the way how underserved and excluded people, but also people living a middle-class life in European countries, can perceive services: they should fit the services, and not the other way round. Should eye-glasses be designed for the people, or people`s faces be designed for glasses?
Poor eye-sight often causes other problems, such as weak performance at school or work, difficulties in reading, doing manual work, driving etc. These in turn can deepen the exclusion and inequality. In South Africa, the challenges within the eye-care services include lack of sufficient private and public eye care services, and eyewear frames that do not consider the contextual needs. The majority of available eyewear frames are imported and most of them come from one monopoly organisation, which designs eyewear from a predominantly Eurocentric perspective. For example, there are currently only two types of eyewear fit, the “regular” fit, based on European facial data, and the “Asian” or “global” fit, which was developed in reaction to the inappropriateness of the “regular” fit. (Campbell 2020.)
However, the wide ethnic variety of people in South Africa caused that neither the “regular” fit nor the “global” fit suited well the facial features of huge numbers of south Africans. The nose pad did not sit well on the nose, the frame width was incorrect or the arm length was too short or too long. Improper fitment causes discomfort and leads to blurry vision and long-term vision problems. (Campbell 2020.)
The project focused on trying to solve the problem with frames, applying human-centered design. Naudè conducted a comprehensive field research about the needs and challenges concerning eyesight among the deprived groups. The needs of glasses wearers in local context were analyzed. The final outcome of the project was an adaptable and customatized eyewear frame that was of local design, could be produced locally and fit well the common facial features of local people. Local production helped make the frames more affordable.
This well-focused design project shows the way in which small but smart interventions at local level can achieve visible (literally!) results at the lives of local communities, and at the same time help the country reach the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. This particular case contributed to the SDG 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) and 10 (Reduce inequality within and among countries).
When solutions to local problems are identified, they can be scaled up. A similar design research approach could be applicable in a number of countries in the Global South.
During the Service Design Global Conference (SDGC) arranged in October, a workshop was held around facilitating future visions in large organizations. One of the goals was to learn how to support company empowerment involving leadership in the design process. A secondary task was to demonstrate suitable tools for aligning discussion and to synthesize focus areas.
The workshop was facilitated by two experienced service designers, Marcela Machuca (Nordea, Denmark) and Aleksandra Kozawska (BBVA, Spain), but also involved 30 participants from companies in different industries, countries and cultures. These experts, with a various spread of competences, actively contributed through co-creation and discussion. As an introduction, the facilitators thoroughly explained main concepts and rules of the session to handle expectations. They clearly stated that this would be a co-working session rather than a lecture.
As the conference was arranged entirely online, Miro had been selected as a platform for collaboration. To get familiar with other participants and Miro as a tool, a simple first task was to show personal superpowers (traits) in a visualization, including texts around our interests and competences.
After the introduction, two key tools were introduced; Strategic GPS and Future Scenarios.
Strategic GPS was explained as a tool to navigate and understand strategies (goals) of a company and to compare contrasts. By comparing radical opposites, the tool gives views on how a firm can develop its services and prepare for potential market (and industry) changes. In other words, it may help companies review and align its vision in a specific direction.
Future scenarios on the other hand, was defined as a tool that helps synthesize and bring transparency to how a business landscape currently looks like, and how it may look in the future. Additionally, it can provoke stakeholder thinking and stimulate minds towards challenging current views of a business landscape.
To further explain these concepts, workshop participants were divided in groups to work on a case introduced by the facilitators. Both methods above, that can be applied to any business, were utilized and put to action in two assignments. For example, was our group working on a concept around supermarkets, discussing and reflecting potential opportunities and outcomes through the future scenarios tool.
Through a divergent approach, plenty of ideas were brainstormed around this assigned topic and discussed within the group. When numerous thoughts had been considered, all ideas were converged towards three main themes that were prioritized, summarized and communicated to the rest of the participants.
Overall, the workshop session was eye-opening. Even though involved participants had no prior working experience with supermarkets, many insightful areas were touched upon. By utilizing a global network of experts and understanding emerging trends, these convenient, yet practical, tools increased our knowledge on how co-working functions in practice to develop innovations.
Written by Thomas Djupsjö MBA Student at Laurea, University of Applied Sciences