Future at work: What are the new skills service designers will need?

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?

Pexels Stock Image, Danny Meneses, March 2018

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.

List by Perttu Pölönen, December 2020 Online Webinar

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.

Pixbay Stock Image, Tumisu 2014

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.

List by Perttu Pölönen, December 2020

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

Refrences:

Thought Leaders’ Talk by Perttu Pölönen

Streamed live on Dec 2, 2020, Youtube videosharing platform

Current Topics in Service Design.

Unnecessary office?

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.

Vitra Summit 2020

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.

Tarja Paanola
SID Student @Laurea

#officespace #workplace #remoteoffice #covid19 #newnormal


https://www.vitra.com/en-fi/summit

Designing a better life

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?

Picture: getinstantdeals.com

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.)

Picture: ISTOCK/UBERIMAGES

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.

Picture: United Nations

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.

Laura Ekholm

More information can be found:

Campbell, A.D. Adaptable Glasses.  https://www.angusdonaldcampbell.com/project/glasses/

United Nations. The 17 goals. https://sdgs.un.org/goals

Worldbank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/southafrica/overview

Aligning strategic foresight in large organizations – Workshop at SDGC

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.  

Strategic GPS used as a tool to navigate strategies of a company.
Strategic GPS can be used as a tool to navigate and understand strategies of a company.
Source: Online workshop at SDGC 2020 (Day 2)

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 

Embracing change at the Service Design Global Conference 2020

The international community, Service Design Network (SDN), founded in 2004, arranged an online conference focusing on service design in October of 2020. The conference was planned to be held physically in Copenhagen, but due to the global pandemic, all keynotes, workshops, and other events were held online utilizing convenient tools for collaboration.

This year’s theme was embracing change, a topic strongly reflected in all presentations. Keynote speakers this year were employees of big corporations and experts in service design from different cultures, countries and time zones.

In this blog post I summarize two intriguing presentations and ponder service design trends and opportunities for value creation in companies.

Embracing change and service design today

Birgit Mager, one of the founders of the SDN community and the first Professor in Service Design globally, has attended every SDGC conference since the beginning. In a short introductory presentation, Status of Service Design Today, Mager explains current transformation in operations of companies and how the roles of service designers have changed over time. Although service designers by default are optimistic, the “new normal” (due to Covid) has largely impacted ways of work, she says.

Mager emphasizes that the important of technology substantially has grown, but the future lies in utilizing both new technology and data to create services. Currently, we already are using a lot of technology and conduct research online, but a change has happened in agencies, where e.g. data scientists are involved as new roles in service design, Mager explains.

In addition to these, ethics has been put as a focus when creating services. Other equally relevant areas are sustainability, accessibility, and participation, Mager mentions.

Designing aviation future through design

The Dutch aviation company, KLM, founded over a hundred years ago, has recently been facing challenges due to the global pandemic and how it has changed the aviation industry. The complex industry is naturally very regulated and evolves rapidly as consumers are becoming extensively environmentally aware.

In a jointed keynote, Ryanne Van De Streek, project manager at KLM, and Anouk Randag, service design consultant at Livework, presented a sample of methods through which KLM has introduced new ways to innovate and develop services.

As a company, KLM has already for some time put efforts on design and has also started design initiatives that currently are in use. KLM, however, wanted to continue developing these new methods with a goal to activate ~1500 employees, to develop competences and to involve innovation in a system by the end of 2023.

According to Randag, high impact can be created by utilizing, developing and scaling current initiatives. In her presentation and new model was presented that had been co-created iteratively within KLM as an organization.

Although KLM drastically have had to cut budgets due to Covid, Van De Streek explains that certain areas still are being put in action. For example, are their new service design principles and process (”KLM X way of working”) shared with new employees to foster agility, as this continuously is needed in their industry.

To summarize, we can conclude that although service design is quite a broad principle, it can work as a great way to develop internal working methods and sustainable business in organizations. By being open to new ideas, utilizing current competences and starting initiatives, with a focus on building custom ways to work, organizations can achieve innovation and test new business models.

Written by Thomas Djupsjö
MBA Student at Laurea, University of Applied Sciences 

Panel Discussion: Design Thinking – a tool to create and develop better services

Fraktio, a Finnish company crafting state of the art web applications, arranged an online panel discussion to explain and analyze Design Thinking principles. All five participants had a vast experience in designing services and contributed with practical examples on how Design Thinking had been taken in use with their customers.

Fraktio, Design Thinking
Fraktio, a Finnish software company, arranged a discussion on Design Thinking with a panel of experts in October of 2020.

To start with, Vitali Gusatinsky, who leads the design team at Fraktio, emphasized the importance of innovation and experimentation in service design. Vitali also described how renewing services from scratch, in an old-fashioned manner, many times require sizeable resources involving high risk-taking. This was the basis for the panel discussion; comprehensively looking at optional (new) ways of creating value through an iterative design process.

As a tool to develop services, Fraktio presented a five-phased model, which looks as follows:

  1. Empathize – Listen to users
  2. Define – Define and select a challenge
  3. Ideate – Create proposals
  4. Build – Build a solution
  5. Test – Show the solution to

To truly understand consumer behavior, you really need to go out there and listen to users (empathize), e.g. through semi-structured interviews. According to the panelists, it many times is needed to sell this phase to stakeholders in organizations, as people sometimes falsely think they already know what users want and need. Although user research is a powerful tool to minimize risk and wasting resources, it unfortunately still often is underestimated.

In an interview setting, however, one should focus on finding new insights rather than taking things for granted or focusing excessively on stereotypes. By challenging both yourself and the interviewee, you can validate concepts and develop new ones quite effectively. This again pushes you towards innovation together with a customer, that in a perfect world creates sustainable value for both actors.

As we know, multidisciplinary teams and co-working is a key factor in a design process and the panelists agreed on a few crucial aspects to consider. Firstly, one should closely define and analyze the challenge at hand from many perspectives. This involves collecting all types of data (current state) that supports co-creation of ideas constituting towards possible solutions.

When facilitating multidisciplinary workshops, it’s important to build an environment where participants feel like a designer. The panel ensured, that everyone can draw (sketches) and that everyone has the brainpower to produce both a variety of ideas and possible solutions. Certainly, there may occur tension and resistance in the beginning, but it’s the facilitators role to ensure everyone feels comfortable.

When a substantial amount of ideas has been produced, it’s necessary to converge; in other words, prioritize and focus on one solution to be developed as a prototype. According to Fraktio’s designers, a prototype can literally be anything and does not by any means have to be something complete. A prototype should work as “something real that evokes discussion”, preferably created as rapidly and cheap as possible. By iterating and quickly generating new, developed, prototypes for testing purposes, you’ll be able to capture feedback and help showing direction in service development.

In my opinion, it’s crucial to build a culture that allows failing and testing radical ideas. The purpose of a design process is not to be right, but rather gaining insights through a systematic approach and most importantly, creating services that create user value.

Written by Thomas Djupsjö
MBA Student at Laurea, University of Applied Sciences

The panel discussion was held in Finnish. Content has been translated by the author.

Resources

We are Fraktio – Fraktio (2020)
https://www.fraktio.fi/in-english

Perjantaipaneeli: Kuinka Design Thinking auttaa luomaan parempia palveluita? – Fraktio (16.10.2020)
https://www.fraktio.fi/perjantaipresikset/2020/10/16/perjantaipaneeli-kuinka-design-thinking-auttaa-luomaan-parempia-palveluita

Let’s play!

In service design you stumble sooner or later in the use of Legos. They can be used in many different ways and stages. In Global CX 2020 Day which themes this year were CHANGE, Transformation and Future of CX, one of the keynote speakers Sirte Pihlaja, CX/EX advisor, community creator and global #1 best-selling author tells on her talk “Get ready, Get serious, PLAY!” us how to use Legos and how to play, seriously!

Its is said in her introduction that Sirte Pihlaja’s purpose in life is to make people happy and happiness is also what she first talks about. She points out that for three years in a row Finland has been selected the happiest country in the world, even though even her colleagues wonder that every year. The aim of the company Shirute is anyway to make people happy.

Picture 1. The happy emoji. Photo by author.

Why happiness is then so important?

You have to be happy to deliver happiness. The atmosphere of the workplace is important and how workers feel is vital for business. If you are not feeling well, the customers won’t be neither. One of the first researchers of happiness was Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who recognized and named the psychological concept of flow, a highly focused mental state of mind. Flow is important cause it raises your creativity and productivity, when you are in the highest mode of concentration. And why this interests also business life is that you can achieve more in one hour during flow than in one day in normal working state of mind. It was also said that boredom is the opposite of flow.

One way to feel happiness and engagement is playing. Play is the most fundamental human learning mechanism. It helps innovate new solutions that we need in business and life over all. Or as Stuart Brown has said: Play is like oxygen, once it’s missing, you’ll know it. Pihlaja says that also businesses should be more playful, because that’s how you keep up in the competition.

How do me find new solutions?

Pihlaja also says that we are born creative but the surrounding world and education system actually makes us less creative and it has also been tested. Already in 1965, 1600 children aged 4 to 6 years were tested and it showed that 98% of them were creative, after 10 years the creativity rate had sunk to 30% and after 15 years it was only 12%. The test was repeated with one million adults and the numbers were even more crucial, only 2% of them hit the genius level on creativity (see pic 2). Or as Esa Saarinen says it, the world is full of great philosophers, it is just that most of them are about 5 years old.

Pic 2. How your creativity “evolves”. Photo by author from the slideshow.

Let´s teamplay!

Playing helps us feel connected to our group of people, while you’ll also get to know other people better and faster. Teams grow sense of belonging when playing together. Members of a organization also feel then fresh and boosted! As Amber Case says, we have become slaves to our digital devices, when people’s primary task is not to be computing but being human. And what else is more human than interaction, or play? Imagination is actually the human superpower.

How do you built playful culture?

You have to change the ways of working, invest between your ears, not on material or equipment. And we should also accept, if not embrace failure, because it makes company more mature and open.

Pihlaja says that in a company we have to ask why we do something instead of what we do. You first have to get your employees know that “why” and then people will buy your product. But you need to think differently than everybody else. Pihlaja off course introduced us to LEGO Serious Play, a methodology that LEGO created for themselves when they needed to renew their business. It is a registered trademark for a catalyst for change (see pic 3).  It has different variations and applications like: Strategy, Beast, Cx play and Identity.

Pic 2: Lego Serious Play. Photo by author from the slideshow.

And as said before, imagination is the only limit what you can do while playing. Pihlaja says that with Legos you can for example do customer journey experience and mapping, customer management, built personas and so on. You can also corporate landscapes and make a shared model made out of individual models. And built future scenarios! In addition to everything mentioned in pic 4.

Pic 4: What Lego Serious Play can be used for. Photo by author from the slideshow.

One of Pihlaja’s teaching during the workshops is: Don’t think, just built! That is how you unleash your potential!

Author: Iiramaria Virkkala, SD student.

I´m not creative at all! And other experiences from the first workshop of SID-programme 2020

What makes a great designer? Who is creative enough? What is design thinking? Design itself is not anymore merely about aesthetics or product design, but about creating new kind of processes, services, interactions and collaboration. As new service innovation design students we all might worry that are we in the right programme; are we able to express enough creativity and generate new, bright ideas?

The definition of creativity has changed over time.  The term “creativity” derives from the Latin creare, which means “to generate” or “to produce”. Creativity refers to cognitive capacity to create something new.  (Tshcimmel 2020.) “The lone creative genius” myth is nowadays replaced by interdisciplinary collaborator (Brown, 2018).

Deep understanding of customers, their needs and emotions is crucial in developing more attractive offering. This is where the design thinking has a central role. Design principles can be applied to the way all people work, not just designers, which makes the role of design more central to businesses than before. Design thinking includes e.g. empathy with users, prototyping, tolerance for failure and embracing risk. (Kolko 2015.) Motee (2013) describes design thinking quite poetically as: « the search for a magical balance between business and art, structure and chaos, intuition and logic, concept and execution, playfulness and formality, and control and empowerment ». Design thinking can also refer to cognitive process, a mindset or a method with a toolkit for innovation process (Tshcimmel 2020).

A classroom full of enthusiastic collaborators, great designers-to-be, in the Design Thinking Masterclass were given a task to produce new solutions of the theme: Social distancing in the educational institutions. The 2-day workshop was lead by professor Katja Tschimmel from  Mindshake company. Our team selected to elaborate the theme of safe commuting to the campus, thus we developed an e-bike concept to Laurea. The process of development followed the workshop structure: team member introductions, sketching the ideas into the mindmap, selecting three project ideas, voting the most feasible idea, elaborating the idea, prototyping it with the Lego serious play -toolkit, testing the prototype by introducing it to another team,  modification based on the questions from another team, preparing for pitching; converting the prototype into story with a comic strip picture and finally pitching the concept to the SID -classmates. This was an excellent start of our SID programme;  two days loaded with intensive teamwork and theoretical knowledge of design thinking, key concepts and practical training.

I am particularly interested in visualization, team leadership and creative problem solving within multidiciplinary teams. Therefore I wanted to learn how different visualization techniques were used in the Design Thinking workshop. Power of visualization was used in the team building: through visual introduction; drawing pictures and writing notes about team members, making a prototype; it helped us to see the big picture, and identifying the missing points and failures in our concept and in mind maps; seeing the connections between different elements from which our e-bike concept was constructed and finally converting our prototype into storytelling with a story board. From the team leading learning perspective in mind, I also observed what kind of stance do our team members take on their own creativity during teamwork sessions and how will our team perform in decision making situations. All in all I learned most about the process of concept development and the core elements of design thinking.

It was indeed a pleasure to see the sparking creativity in action – especially of those team members, who themselves claimed not to be creative at all! I can not wait to see what we will develop in collaboration with each creative mind bubbling with new ideas.

Written by Tanja Saloniemi

REFERENCES

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

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

Tshcimmel, Katja (2020). Creativity, Design ja Design Thinking – ménage à trios. In Perspectives on Design: Research, Education ja Practice II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. (in process).

Mootee, Idris (2013). Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation : What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/laurea/detail.action?docID=1358566

Designing remote working practices to improve employee experience (EX) in organizations

In recent years, remote working has become a hot topic as organizations are developing new working processes and modern collaborative platforms and technology emerge. At the same time, firms are moving towards human-centric approaches and working in multidisciplinary teams to stay competitive. Due to these rapid changes in several industries, recruitment, finding right competences and retaining well-performing employees has become crucial. 

With this in context, two Service Design students, Nora Ryti and Jenny Kurjenniemi at Laurea, University of Applied Sciences, arranged two online workshops. Their intention was to research how employee experience can be improved to retain talent. They we’re looking to include findings from this workshop (combined with e.g. qualitative data from interviews) in their Master’s Theses, that focuses on the following topics: 

  • What are the characteristics and trends in knowledge work? 
  • What skills, practices and tools are needed in remote knowledge work? 
  • What are the needs of a knowledge worker? 
  • What is the role of employee experience in employer branding? 

I attended one of the workshops and explain how it proceeded in this blog post. This workshop, arranged mainly on two platforms, Microsoft Teams for communication and Miro as a visual collaborative tool, was completely online. To ensure that all involved participants had equal opportunities to join, technical aspects were considered and all participants were sent guidelines on how to set up necessary tools prior to joining the session. 

The selected group of participants, consisting of ~10 individuals, was diverse, involving knowledge workers of different ages, locations and industries. Most cameras were turned on and it felt inspiring meeting strangers, knowing that you’d soon know much more about them and their views. 

To complete tasks in co-creation, Microsoft Teams worked as a channel for communication. Both chat and audio were activated all time, and groups were set into separate calls to deepen discussion in certain assignments.  

Miro was used as a collaborative tool, where most tasks were completed on a digital whiteboard. Access was granted through a shared link and no signup was required.  

Miro was used as a tool for collaboration
Miro was used as a tool for collaboration. Screen capture from workshop.

Workshop agenda

The workshop had a well-outlined agenda including breaks and different tasks (explained in detail below). In the beginning of the session, thorough information was shared on what to expect and strictly stating that no data was going to be shared outside of the research, thus leaving participants anonymous.  

Below the assignments chronological order: 

  • Introduction round (warmup exercise) 
    • To get to know all participants, participants answered a few simple questions:  Who are you, what do you do, how has your day been and what animal would you be? 
       
  • Task 1: Express your feeling towards remote working with one emoji 
    • This resulted in a visualized canvas with various emoticons in different sizes and shapes. This task was a suitable introduction to Miro and activated all participants. 
       
  • Task 2: Insert an image explaining what you miss during remote work 
    • A set of images were copied from the internet and explained what attendees miss the most in remote work. The canvas resembled a mood board.  

Divergence 
Through a canvas produced by the facilitators (based on a previous workshop), discussions were held in different areas related to remote working such as leadership, tools, ergonomics and collaboration.

  • Task 3: Add sticky notes with ideas/concepts that constitute to a good remote working experience
    • Participants were given the task to add as many ideas as possible, by placing one idea per sticky note grouped on the whiteboard.
  • Task 4: Produce more ideas!
    • After a small break and individual analysis of what was on the board, more ideas were produced.

Convergence
To combine, structure and analyze all produced ideas, participants were divided into two groups for further discussion. 

  • Task 5: Discuss, document and prioritize three main areas (per category)
    • Separate Microsoft Teams channels were created to give focus in group discussions. In the end of this session, ideas were condensed into three main topics that were explained briefly to the rest of the group including comments.

In the end of the session, ideas were converged into three main themes.
Screen capture from workshop.

Conclusions  

Although a three-hour workshop was quite intensive after a long day of work, there were many positive aspects. Firstly, Miro as a collaborative tool seemed useful, easy to grasp and I might utilize a similar tool in future workshops myself. 

Participants were open for discussion and I believe everyone got their say. In online environments, it’s crucial that the one in a facilitator role ensure that all attendees are active. It is, although, also important to give room for silence – especially as you do not see what participants are thinking. A few second of silence can potentially constitute to great reflection and new ideas.  

Overall, when arranging digital workshops, a culture of openness, respect and honesty needs to be embraced to fully utilize its’ potential and to get things done. 

Written by Thomas Djupsjö 
MBA Student at Laurea, University of Applied Sciences 

Resources 

Brown, T., 2008, “Design Thinking”. Harvard Business Review, p. 84-92

Djupsjö, T., 2019, “Key issues and strategies for implementing the Lean Methodology in organizations “, Arcada, University of Applied Sciences 

Keller, S. & Meaney, M., 2017, “Attracting and retaining the right talent”, McKinsey & Company 
https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/attracting-and-retaining-the-right-talent 

Küng, L., 2017, “Strategic Management in the Media – Theory to Practice”, 2nd Edition, SAGE Publications Ltd., London. 

Developing a Non-Governmental Organization’s operations in Zimbabwe through co-creation

Zimbabwe Aids Orphan Society (Zimbabwe Aids-Orvot ry.), founded nearly 20 years ago, is a Finnish non-profit association founded by Seppo Ainamo and Oili Wuolle. The association raises funds for welfare and supports education for orphans in the poor neighbourhood of Dzivarasekwa in Harare, Zimbabwe. 

Currently, roughly 500 members support almost 400 orphans (out of which 63% are girls) by financing a safe environment and daily meals at a private activity center, The Dzikwa Centre. 

The economic situation in Zimbabwe has for a long time been unstable due to political and economic issues and it’s estimated, that around 7 million is in need of humanitarian aid. Almost 50% of the population is also living below the national poverty line (< $3.20/day). 

Zimbabwe Aids Orphan Society support orphans living in poverty. (Photo: Djupsjö, Thomas)

In early October, a workshop was arranged at Töölö Library, Helsinki, where participants were gathered to solve key issues and challenges in the association’s operations through innovation principles. The goal was also to develop growth models and find new ways of acquiring sponsors for orphans. 

The diverse group of approximately 20 participants, in ages ~20 to ~80, were divided in three groups for an innovation exercise. All groups had a designated facilitator that took notes in brief 15-minute discussions, that focused on the following themes:  

  1. Acquiring sponsors and financing 
  2. Improving volunteering work Finland 
  3. Collaboration with schools and student communities 
The workshop was divided in three main areas for discussion. (Photo: Djupsjö, Thomas)

After lively, intensive and thoughtful discussions, the facilitators documented valuable points and summarized main findings from all groups. These were then shared with participants at the event, evoking discussion.

The association management gladly stated, that they were positively surprised to find so many practical areas to take action upon. In other words, the workshop was quite successful. 

To summarize this event, I honestly can verify that co-working and ideating for an NGO is very rewarding. Working in diverse multidisciplinary groups truly open up for good discussion and reflection. Although there always aren’t straight answers and solutions, the process of ideating certainly evokes new inspiring ideas. 

I’d be glad to participate in similar events in the future. 

Written by Thomas Djupsjö
MBA Student at Laurea, University of Applied Sciences

Resources  
Zimbabwe Aids Orphan Society, Who we are 
October 5th, 2020 
https://zimorvot.org/en/who-we-are/

Wikipedia, List of countries by percentage of population living in poverty, 
October 5th, 2020 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_percentage_of_population_living_in_poverty 

Zimbabwe Aids-Orvot ry, Workshop and lecture materials
October 4th, 2020