How to make a Service Designer’s Portfolio

What are recruiters looking for when hiring a service designer? How can you showcase your skills in your portfolio? These questions were discussed at Service Design Network Finland’s Portfolio Evening on 9 March at Haaga-Helia. The event kicked off with a panel discussion with recruiters. After that, mentors offered feedback about participants’ portfolios in small groups. I compiled some tips from the event to help you make your portfolio stand out from the crowd.

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Lab8 is Haaga-Helia’s Service Experience Laboratory. Here’s a slogan on the wall of Lab8. photo: Raija Kaljunen

1. Show what you can do

Your portfolio is your sales presentation. It amounts to pitching material about yourself and is a summary of your main skills. It’s important to tell the recruiter about your experience in service design. You can, for example, depict your projects from various angles: the creative process, project results and your roles in them. You can also describe your failed projects and what you did at the point of failure and what you learned from it.

2. Show who you are

Hiring a new service designer is not just about the skills and knowledge of the job applicant. The recruiter is also hiring a new member to an existing team and wants to know something about you as a person: What do you like? What else can I talk with you about apart from work? So pay attention to what else you can say about yourself in your portfolio in addition to showcasing your projects.

3. Keep it short and simple

The recruiter is usually very busy: there are dozens of portfolios to go through. It is important to create a portfolio that is easy and fast to consume. The average time the recruiter spends on your portfolio is about three minutes at most. If your portfolio is unclear or has too much information in it, the recruiters won’t read it at all. So less really is more, as one of the panellists said.

When designing your portfolio, it’s a good idea to think about the wider context relevant to the likely recruiters. What is essential for them to know about you? Often several persons will look at your portfolio in the course of the recruitment process. They will check whether you are a cultural fit, team fit and supervisor fit.

portfolio evening photo Martti Asikainen Service Design Network Finland
Eliisa Sarkkinen from Haaga-Helia was the host of the portfolio evening. The panellists were (from left to right): Teija Hakaoja from Silver Planet, Zeynep Falay von Flittner from Hellon, Emma Laiho from Frantic, Viivi Lehtonen from HSL and Teemu Moilanen from Haaga-Helia. Photo: Martti Asikainen, published with permission by Service Design Network

There is no single right way to make a portfolio. I think one of the best tips from the panel was this:

“Treat the recruiting process as a service design process: think of the recruiter as a customer!”

First of all, you should do your research: check out the company you’re applying to and the job profile specified. When you’ve gathered the information you need and know what they are looking for, it’s time to think about the content and the form of your portfolio. Show both your experience and what’s unique in you. Find a balance between quality and quantity in your portfolio. And remember: your portfolio can also be minimalist if you are not a visual designer.

author: Raija Kaljunen, Master’s Degree student in Service Design at Laurea

Designing from linear to circular economy

Event: Circular Design Workshop, “Designing sustainable future”

4th of March, in Maria 01, Helsinki

I had a pleasure to participate in an interesting design workshop, which dealt with the topic that seems to be in the headlines everywhere – circular economy. More specifically, the workshop was about circular design, and from a service design student point of view, this sounded a chance too good to miss. The info about the event promised an introduction to circular design and practical guidance how to use circular design tools, especially from product and service design point of view. Definitely, this was something that I got, and a huge amount of material and tools to go through.

The workshop was arranged by Taival, a management consulting company which provides business, strategy and technology advisory services. The company was founded in 2017, and it currently operates in Finland and Germany. Taival arranges events related to circular economy under the title “Digitally Circular”. Workshop was facilitated by Tapani Jokinen, who works as a Principal Design Advisor at Taival and he has over 25 years’ experience in design.

As mentioned before, during the workshop we were introduced many practical tools that can be used in circular design. However, my aim in this blog post is not to go through all these materials in detail, rather than to discuss the themes and topics that I consider as my main takeaways from this workshop and what kind of thoughts came into my mind as I went through all the provided materials.

Circularity starts with design

From the circularity point of view, decisions made in the product design phase are very important. They affect enormously to environmental pollution, and also to the possibilities for example reusing, remanufacturing and recycling the product. These aspects are very critical from the circularity point of view and it is very challenging to make changes into those features later. That’s why it is important to take these dimensions into account already during designing – and that’s why we need circular design!

There exist terms, that are similar to circular design, such as ecodesign or sustainable design, which can be more familiar and understandable for many. However, the term circular design is nowadays often used, because it describes well that the focus of the design phase should be very holistic, in systems level, and it emphasizes the importance of “closing the loop”.

New mindset of circular design

In circular design, you must have a totally new mindset: waste doesn’t exist. This means that products and services are designed in a way that the waste and pollution are designed out. Waste should be considered as a resource that can be utilized. The focus of circular design is trying to retain the value, and this can be designed through different loops. This means that instead of just thinking about recycling the waste in the end, as in the linear economy, the focus is on how to retain the value the best possible way – through repairing, reusing, remanufacturing and finally, through recycling.

Loops help to follow and design circular flows

The possibilities how to retain the value and in this way extend the life of a product can be thought through following circular flows, which are presented as loops (Figure 1). The inner loops are preferred, as they retain value better than the final loop of recycling, which is important, but considered as the last option.

Figure 1. Four loops of retaining the value (Slide from Jokinen’s presentation)

Loop 1: Repair, maintain and upgrade

First loop describes how the products are kept in use as long as possible. This is done through design by making durable products that are easy to repair and maintain, and also easy to upgrade when needed. A good method for this is for example modular design, which makes it easy to change only a part of a product, if it is damaged. Additionally, modularity enables customising which means that the product is easier to modify to the needs of different users.

Loop 2: Reuse

Second loop focuses on what happens to products and materials after the first use. This refers to reusing products in their original form. Ways to do this are reusing, re-selling and redistributing. This has also increased the interest in sharing economy, which refers to the shift from ownership to access, “product-as-a-service”. Quite often people only need an access to a product for a short period of time, and after that the service provider is able to pass the access on to another user. This is seen to make better use of materials and resources, and through these kind of shared services the result is also that less products needs to be produced.

Loop 3: Remanufacturing

Third loop refers to remanufacturing process. If the remanufacturing is already considered in the design phase, the product is made in a way that all components are easy to replace, if needed, before re-entering the market.

Loop 4: Re-/Upcycle

Last loop is recycling process, where raw materials from the product are recycled. There can also be a process of upcycling, which means transforming for example waste materials or unwanted products into new materials or products.

For me, going through these loops helped to understand that there exists many different possibilities of retaining a value – circular economy is so much more than just thinking about recycling in the end.

As a final sprint in the workshop we prototyped circular system with Learning Factory Lifecycle Design Canvas (Figure 2). That sprint definitely was a concrete reminder of all the different perspectives that should be taken into account in circular design – so many different things, so many different stakeholders.

Figure 2. Learning Factory Lifecycle Design Canvas (slide from Jokinen’s presentation)

Time for redesigning

After this introduction to circular design I surely can understand that transformation from linear economy to circular economy is not an easy one – many things must change. I think, that from the service design point of view one of the most important things is changing the focus to more holistic level, because we have to know and understand how the whole circular system works. However, based on this half-day workshop, I can say, that circular design is definitely something that I warmly welcome to change the way we think about owning and using products. It will be very interesting to follow the future of the circular design – are we going to redesign everything?

Below are links to some of the reference materials provided in the workshop. There are many useful tools and informative materials for those who want to know more about circular design.

Author: Erika Niemi-Vanala

LINKS:

Sustainability Guide

Circular Design Guide

Ellen Macarthur Foundation

 

The future belongs to those who prepare for it today – Malcolm X

Wouldn’t it be great to know what the future holds for us? Particularly in the difficult times we are currently living, it’s easy to wish we’d know what the world looks like in six months or a year. This of course isn’t possible, but futures thinking provides a framework for us to foresee what possible futures might look like. In the words of Malcolm X – the future belongs to those who prepare for it today. So let’s prepare!

Futurice Scenario Co-Creation Workshop 5.3.2020

To learn how to use foresight strategically and to network with specialists in the field, I attended a scenario co-creation workshop at Futurice. The event was organized on the eve of National Futures Day in order to introduce the newly developed Futurice Lean Futures Creation toolkit.

Similarities between design thinking and futures thinking

Futures thinking and design thinking have some synergies and overlap, not only in theory but also in practice. Personally I have more experience attending and organizing service design workshops and only a bit of experience in futures thinking through coursework at Laurea. Although I am quite new to futures thinking, the tools and canvases used during the workshop felt familiar due to my experience in service design.

My Laurea coursework introduced me to all the futures thinking concepts discussed in the workshop. With this background, the workshop contributed to my learning and provided me with additional tools for my personal toolkit.

The future of workputting the Lean Futures Creation toolkit to the test

We started off with a brief introduction to the new toolkit and quickly formed groups of 6-7 and started working. The workshop focused on the future of work and all participants had been tasked with finding five trends or weak signals on what work might look like in 2030.  Based on these we filled in a PESTLEY table, which we used as the basis for our alternative futures. The PESTLEY table was the first canvas we used.

The first and second canvas: PESTLEY and futures table

The PESTLEY table guided our work in the next step; creating alternative futures. For this we used the second canvas. We selected seven topics, came up with alternative outcomes and finally developed three alternative futures based on this work. The team divided into pairs and used the third canvas to guide the development of the different narratives.

The third and fourth canvas: Creating the narrative and backcasting

The very last canvas we used guided the development of scenarios. My group had been so swept away by the previous steps that we didn’t have enough time to backcast and develop complete scenarios. We did still get to try it and as the facilitator kept reminding us – today was less about the substance and more about the process!

We got to practice using four canvases, developed a deeper understanding about co-creating scenarios and networked with likeminded professionals. The night was a great success in my books!

For everyone interested in creating scenarios, download the free Futurice Lean Futures Creation toolkit here >>

What if… organizations could prepare for uncertainty?

What if an organization would know what are the pain points of its future customers, which are emerging competitors and partners, what type of ecosystems organization should be part of, what type of legal, social or political issues are arising, what is going to be next industrial trend, how to disrupt the industry? “What if” is one of the most important questions in futures thinking. It enables stretching our thinking and imagine possible futures.

Photo from https://www.pixabay.com

Minna Koskelo, futures designer had a presentation about “What is futures thinking” on Waffle Wednesday at Wonderland in February 2020. According to Koskelo “you can’t control the future but you can have a sense of control if you do understand more the drivers that are affecting the future. “ We don’t know the future but futures thinking gives us a mindset and offers a systematic approach that combines, methods, and tools to explore alternative futures which can support organizations to make right decisions. Koskelo’s presentation made me think about how well organizations are actually aware of the powerful mindset of futures thinking and its methods? Organizations are doing customer insight, business insight but how systematically and continuously companies are conducting future-oriented insight a.k.a. futures thinking? Feels like many organizations are focusing more on what is already visible instead of investing on what is about to come. Research shows that future-prepared firms outperform the average by a 200% higher growth and were 33% more profitable than average!

From where to start Futures Thinking?

When talking about the future there are certain terms that we need to understand. These terms are: megatrends, trends, signals.

Megatrend is a dominant long-term phenomenon with a global impact. Megatrends can change slowly. Examples of megatrends are climate change, senior citizens, digitalization, and circular economy. Koskelo mentioned that many times it is said that companies shouldn’t focus on megatrends when finding business innovation because megatrends aren’t bringing any competitive advantage. Then again we could also ask how many companies are today actually tackling on helping senior citizens?

Trends are changes in people’s behavior, attitudes, and values locally and globally. They have an impact on the culture, society or business sector. Trends indicate which direction development is going. Trend has a lasting impact, but the impact is smaller than megatrends’ impact.

Signal is a phenomenon, the first expression of change or a new trend. Signal might be a weak signal that is very surprising and weird that forces companies to challenge current assumptions. So if a company would spot a weak signal and tries to develop it to a trend, it might offer a competitive advantage.

Tools for exploring the future

The more aware organizations are of the opportunities that the future holds, the more future-proof decisions can be made. There are various tools for supporting in future decision making. Four of them are described below.

What if an organization would get a holistic view of opportunities and obstacles in its future environment? It feels like organizations focus their future view heavily on technology and ignore other important trends. But in order to get a more holistic view, an organization could utilize a framework called STEEPLED that is an acronym for: Social, Technology, Economic, Environment, Political, Legal, Ethical, Demographics. STEEPLED offers a checklist for exploring external factors that might have an impact on the organization’s success – the organization could find signals that might turn into trends!

What if organization could really reach their vision? Backcasting would be the tool to be used in this case. In backcasting the organization defines first its desirable future and from there works backward to identify the critical steps necessary to achieve the desired future, the vision.

What if organization would be able to anticipate its future customers? By using future personas the organization would provide insights of future customers, anticipate what motivates them and what are their future needs.

What if organization would recognize the direct and indirect consequences of a decision, trends and events that might have an impact on the organization’s ecosystem? Futures wheel is a visual tool that supports to create a structured map of the future. When working with the futures wheels a particular trend will be put in the center after which the primary, secondary and tertiary impacts of the trend will be explored in a structured way.

Six business benefits of Futures Thinking

Based on Minna Koskelo’s presentation and my earlier studies in futures thinking I would sum up futures thinking benefits as below.

Futures Thinking
1. offers a safe space to consider and discuss unthinkable options,

2. encourages to think beyond the company’s current value proposition and reveal new business opportunities,

3. offers new innovative ways for decision-making processes and enhance decision making under uncertainty,

4. enables test ideas before translating them into business or innovation strategies,

5. helps to align the whole organization working towards a common vision in their daily work practices,

6. offers a roadmap for navigating complexity and reaching the vision.

Future does not just happen, it depends on today’s choices and is created through interaction and collaboration. What if we start to influence our future today?

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You might be interested in below links:
Megatrends 2020, Sitra
Futures Day 2020

References:
From signals to future stories
Futures Thinking
Ojasalo, Koskelo and Nousiainen. 2015. Foresight and Service Design Boosting Dynamic Capabilities in Service innovation. In: Agarwal, R., Selen, W., Roos, G. & Green, R. (ed.) The Handbook of Service Innovation. London: Springer. 193-212.

What’s the secret recipe to becoming an agile and customer-centric company?

Futurice hosted Service Design Network Finland’s event in Helsinki in January 2020 where Marc Stickdorn* talked about how companies can use journey maps as a management tool. Stickdorn explained three different situations where journey maps can be used: in workshops, projects or as a management tool. Workshop journey maps are used only once and they will not live after a workshop. Project journey maps are used throughout the project and they can be research, assumption or future based. Journey Map Operations is a management tool that combines different projects and business units in a company and supports companies to become agile: it builds relationships across silos, collects information and the most important – manages customer experience across departments.

Journey Map Operations, Marc Stickdorn

The reality in many organizations is that different departments are working with different projects and processes. There might be lots of handovers, various targets, expectations, practices and end solutions. This is because departments have different ways of documenting, they use different tools, terms, and language in their projects. The focus of the projects might be different depending on if it’s a legal, IT, sales, product innovation, marketing, or finance project. But in the end, all the internal and external projects impact also directly or indirectly on company’s customer experience. Many projects might also overlap and from the customer’s point of view there may be shared the same steps in the journey but then the journey continues for different directions which might be really confusing and frustrating for the customer. For a company it is difficult to operate and manage this kind of complexity.


How to get a shared perspective and language across departments?

Companies talk about being customer-centric and agile, but few companies really are because it is impossible to be agile in practice without a shared perspective and tools. According to Stickdorn journey maps would support companies be agile in operations by offering a common visualized language and understanding across different departments and levels in the organization. By mapping and combining different internal and external projects from customer’s perspective organization gets better transparency and understanding what’s going on in different parts of the organization that have an impact on customers or employees’ experience. This helps employees and management to see what are the ongoing initiatives where the organization needs to align? Is there an overlap in the processes? What ongoing and planned projects are around the organization?

I like how Stickdorn compares journey maps for maps in geography: by zooming in and zooming out it is possible to see different levels of the journey. By zooming in the company can see details and understand micro-interactions while zooming out helps to see the high-level journey, the bigger picture.

Different level of journeys zoomed in and out


A recipe for the secret sauce

Stickdorn proposes that there should be specific roles or teams in charge of the journeys. These would be called journey map coordinators. Coordinators are responsible for different parts and levels of the journeys. Somebody on the higher level, for example, CXO, is responsible for the highest-level customer journey. When zooming in the highest-level journey there might be different teams and departments responsible for other parts and experiences of the journey.

Journey map coordinators are split around the organization into different departments and they should meet regularly – once per quarter, month or once per week depending on how close the organization wants to be with the customer, how quickly they want to react and adapt to change. In these meetings, information is shared from microlevel customer interactions to higher levels. The power of the meetings would not only be in sharing information but they would help to see what kind of qualitative and quantitative information organization has from its customers on different levels. And when you add customers’ and employees’ pain points and KPIs there, soon a company might have a dashboard of customer experience!


The value for business

I think that Journey Map Operations is a perfect example of service design method – it brings people from different parts and levels of organization together, focuses on collaborative problem-solving, offers a holistic view, brings clarity in complexity, creates a common language by visualizing things and shares information between different departments with a common target – the customer. At the the same time Journey Map Operations provides a lean way of working and supports company to become more agile.

In overall, journey maps are helpful when company wants to get a holistic understanding of customer or employee experience, recognize their needs and pain points and seek opportunities for innovations. We just need to keep in mind that it’s not about the tool but what the tool can deliver for employees, customers and business. “Journey map isn’t a f..inkg deliverable” as Marc Stickdorn would say.



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You might be interested also:

How to co-create journey maps https://www.thisisservicedesigndoing.com/methods/journey-mapping

How to map journeys https://www.thisisservicedesigndoing.com/methods/mapping-journeys

*Marc Stickdorn is co-founder of More than Metrics, and editor and co-author of the award-winning books This is Service Design Thinking and This is Service Design Doing. He regularly gives talks and workshops on service design and innovation,and teaches at various business and design schools.


Journey maps and facilitation: my take-aways from Marc Stickdorn’s workshop

What a way to spend Friday evening it was: about 70 people hungry for Marc Stickdorn’s facilitation exercise and presentation on journey map operations! Futurice hosted this Service Design Network Finland’s event on 31 January. I’ll share with you in this blog post two insights about journey maps and three points from the facilitation exercise that I found most interesting.

Zooming in and out the journey maps

Journey maps on different levels

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Zooming in and out. photo: Raija Kaljunen

Marc Stickdorn states that for agile teams you need journey maps that contain all levels: these are high-level, detailed and micro journey maps. You can zoom in and out on these levels to get into the details of a certain touchpoint. In this way you can map the whole experience of the customer. It is also important to map the touchpoints not provided by your organization. As Marc Stickdorn put it: “The customers have a life outside of being your customer!”

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It’s the whole experience that matters. photo: Raija Kaljunen

You have to take into account the whole ecosystem where the customer interacts with your service. Finding all these touchpoints really requires careful work when creating the journey maps!

Service design as a management approach

“When an agile organization or team shifts to customer-centric management system, it actually brings design into management. For instance, journey map operations can serve as a dashboard for management including real-time KPIs and data”, said Marc Stickdorn.

I found the new roles needed in organizations using service design as a management approach particularly interesting. You always need to have someone at management level responsible for customer experience. Marc Stickdorn introduced a new role needed in organizations: journey map coordinators. These coordinators lead specialized teams who are in charge of different levels of journey maps across the departments. The teams meet in journey map councils weekly, monthly and quarterly and ask this important question:

“Has someone in our organization something that has an impact on customer experience?”

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Building bridges between silos. photo: Raija Kaljunen

This is how you prevent people working in silos and make all projects visible for all. Up-to-date journey maps also serve as a tool to visualize processes and align all ongoing initiatives.

“You get the same language, same tools and same perspective for everyone. This is how you build bridges between silos”, said Marc Stickdorn.

Insights from facilitation exercise

1. Warm-up creates a safe space

Marc Stickdorn gave us hands-on experience on co-creating journey maps for different touchpoints. But before kicking off the workshop, we did a warm-up with a hilarious Danish clapping game.

Danish Clapping, a video by Copenhagen Game Collective

“You need to make people move around and make the room their own. Also make sure that nobody sees from outside to your workshop room – it may be difficult to be relaxed if your boss is staring into the room! And get people to laugh in warm-up – positivity helps always to create a safe space!”

2. Time is the tool for the facilitator

Marc Stickdorn recommends giving precise timings in workshops: 7, 16, 19 minutes and not 5, 10 or 15 minutes – the latter only makes people relax and do nothing first. He also hides the time in the room: “Time is the tool for the facilitator, not for participants! This is called liquid timing.”

3. Three ways of working

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From one pen to many pens and from one page to many pages. photo: Raija Kaljunen

  • You get speed and diversity when you have all participants working individually with many pens and many pages.
  • At the other end of the line you get more completeness and shared understanding with one pen and one page.
  • Between these two you work with many pens on one page.

Hands-on experience is a great way to learn, especially when it comes to facilitation. I learned a lot just by watching how Marc Stickdorn facilitated the evening: how he gave instructions, what kind of materials we had and how he guided us through different phases of the workshop – not easy when you have 70 people in the room!

Thank you Marc Stickdorn, Futurice and Service Design Network Finland for a great and productive event!

author: Raija Kaljunen
Master’s Degree student in Service Design at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Further reading

Stickdorn, M., Lawrence, A., Hormess, M. & Schneider, J. 2018. This is Service Design Doing. California: O’Reilly Media Inc.

This is Service Design Doing Methods’ library

 

My first touch with design thinking and why it was so difficult to write about it

Design Thinking workshop on September 7th 2019 at Laurea Leppävaara campus
Photo credits: Bento Haridas

The journey of writing this blog post

I have written this blog post so many times and felt so insecure and confused what to write about. The assignment for the Design Thinking course was to read couple of articles and books and reflect on your own learnings.

Over and over again, I have read my notes from our workshop days from September 2019, facilitated and lectured by Katja Tschimmel. I have also read her article “Design Thinking as an effective toolkit for innovation” and a book “Design Thinking for strategic innovation – What they can’t teach you at business or design school”. I have had good discussions with my colleagues, at work (you know who you are) and in the SID program.

I have familiarized myself with the different Design Thinking models and in general why and how design methods can be used creatively in solving any problems, regardless of the context. I have learned that it is a great tool to frame the problem and find the right problem to be solved. The variety of Design Thinking tools can be used by anyone, you don’t have to be a designer or creative person to use those tools.

In organizations, Design Thinking approach and tools work well in gathering people together across the organizational silos. Bringing people together regardless of the background and helping people to discuss and share thoughts in supporting and safe environment was one of the important things I noted down. I also learned that Design Thinking allows people to try different solutions, even if they do not know if this is the right one or right direction. Design Thinking accepts and encourages people to learn through making failures. The well known benefit of that in business world is that making failures quickly actually makes the development timeline shorter and that way cheaper.

Photo source: Design Thinking for strategic innovation – What they can’t teach you at business or design school, page 37.

Getting in touch with feelings is hard

Before the workshop, I knew some theory and benefits of Design Thinking. But only through the personal experience and quite many months of mental processing I have started to understand why it has been so difficult to write about Design Thinking. The playful methods and way of working together co-creatively was just so much fun. I actually felt something.

For many reasons, I have been used to just rely on my rational, logical and analytical thinking at work, working in a big corporate with big corporates in solving their challenges as a management consultant. But this approach touched and opened something in my heart and I could also use my ability to feel to solve the problem we worked with in the workshop.

People have natural need to be in connection with people, to work with people, feel that they are part of something. Especially in large organizations people can feel very lonely. Design Thinking brings people together and makes you feel you are part of something.

When organizations and people face changes, very often people feel fear of the coming change. Fear again makes people to fight or run away, or in a very difficult situation, paralyze. Organizations are in a constant change, and change happens fast. I feel that Design Thinking is powerful tool to address the change, to plan the changes together and go through the journey together. You will still need to make your research to understand the needs of your customers, make a business case for the change, you need to get people onboard to the change, you will need to find technological solutions, you need to figure out the operating model and design efficient processes. Design Thinking is a new perspective to add on. That’s why it makes so much sense in organizations to use design methods.

The power of of Design Thinking is definitely in the psychological side, among the many others such as giving tools for ordinary people in organizations to be creative and innovative and making organizations more human places to work in.

I will end this post by sending lots of hugs and kisses to everyone who reads this post! Let’s be brave and make organizations good places to work in ❤

23.1.2020 by Katriina Granlund

This adorable panda bear is not in any way related to the design thinking workshop. I was having lunch at Roots kitchen in the charming old Turku market hall one day, and they use these animal figures instead of regular numbers to bring the food to the correct table after order. Such a nice idea!