Service Design Breakfast #2 – Mikko-Pekka Hanski, Idean

Figure 1. Service Design Breakfast, Idean 2012

How do emotions impact the design? How can design projects benefit from understanding the emotional rollercoaster? How can you become a better designer if you are aware of the changes in emotions throughout a project? How can you adjust your project plan based on that? In this blogpost you will find out how analyzing your emotions can help your project.

Figure 2. Service design from a different angle, Idean 2012

In order to design something, a service designer needs to be able to make decisions. In order to make decisions, each designer has to feel something, he goes through an “emotional rollercoaster”. Mikko-Pekka had been interviewing designers from Idean and shared the results with us during the second Service Design Breakfast. The designers were asked about their feelings during the service design process, what the emotions they go through are.

Figure 3. Design process, Idean 2012

During the service design process, a designer needs to make many decisions. During that process, a designer goes through many emotional stages. What are these stages?


Feelings of a designer during the project stages (or any other innovative process):

1. First crush – interest towards the project, desire to create something

2. Excitement – first enchantment

3. Frustration – a designer is not satisfied with what he is producing, clients are not always happy with his work (inside out). At the same time it is good to have anger moments, because you start generating new ideas after (outside in).

4. Magic moment – a moment when a designer understands that he finally got it, he knows how to proceed, he found out the design foundation

5. Boredom – a designer has to put all the pieces together, usually that’s the stage where a designer gets bored

6. Relief – a feeling that he has finally delivered something and can start a new project


Mikko-Pekka provides several suggestions on how to improve your productivity (survival guide):

1. Respect yourself – don’t over promise on things you can’t deliver, you should be able to say “no” if you cannot do what is required from you. No one knows your limits better than you.

2. Keep the blood sugar level high.

3. Redefined project plan – thinking about project plan from an emotional perspective.

4. Reflect on what has been done during the project, think about emotions you had, try to learn from your experience.


What can you do as a manager of a creative process?

  • It helps to switch people from one project to another one, if you feel they are bored.
  • Negative emotions spread very quickly, so you want to avoid them.
  • Provoke the discussion with the client, if you understand that something is going wrong, try to make them understand problem, but be diplomatic.

You can find the full presentation from Mikko-Pekka here.

SID Laurea students reviews:

For me it was the shortest presentation I’ve seen so far. It took only 15 minutes. Another 15 min was for questions from the audience. You could see that Mikko-Pekka is not the type of the person who is giving a lot of presentations, but rather hands on ones. The whole message of the talk for me is: “how well you manage your emotions” and understanding your own weaknesses and strengths during the design process. He told a lot about spirit of service design and emotional approach to project. He really stress on first crush phase. He said that it can follows it’s own time and it’s really difficult when it comes to share the emotions during that phase. Every person express things differently and the most important is that designers creates experiences which makes memorable journeys full of emotions. I like the idea very much as for me the key to success is always coming from good designs. It’s always convert to the statement that “you make a good decision at the beginning, you feel more successful later”. He expressed that very first impression about the project is always a sign. If something goes well at the beginning then probably it will be OK at the end and vice versa. It just reminds me blog I read some time ago by Jared M. Spool, “Great Designs Should Be Experienced and Not Seen” (2009), where Jared pointing that: “when things are going well in a design, we don’t pay attention to them. We only pay attention to things that bother us” and the most important thing is to eliminate all of the frustration. When there is no issues with design people are more delightful from the service and they put more focus on how design integrates with other parts of their life. “The design itself is still invisible, but the experience comes to the surface”. For the designers the goal should be to improve the invisible part by discovering the new ways of delighting the users. That will bring focus to deliverables which creates memories full of emotions! Daniel Augustyn

It’s great to see how all of these steps in the process designing seem so familiar.  Ultimately it’s about designing with and through emotion. Perhaps that’s why we as designers have to embrace these feelings as part of the designing process. One could even say that if you didn’t go through at least some of those feelings it’s not a good design.  It was great that Mikko took the time in trying to understand this part of the process because it’s definitely something we wouldn’t be aware of otherwise. Hugo Molina

I agree with Mikko-Pekka that to improve the results of your project or any other creative work, it’s important to pay attention to your emotions and your habits. Our character is a collection of our habits, and habits have a powerful role in our lives. Make sure you know what your habits are, as they will affect the results of your project work. It’s been proven that people who regularly experience positive emotions show better functioning and experience better life outcomes, including physical and mental health. The discussion reminded me about the book of Stephen Covey “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Covey emphasizes that if we want to make a change in our lives, we should first focus on our personal attitudes and behaviors. Making and keeping promises to ourselves comes before making and keeping promises to others. We see the world based on our perspectives, which have a huge impact on how we perceive things. The change always starts within oneself. Ekaterina Zhiteneva

In my opinion emotions are particularly analysed and they are always set in a context. Get some advices and recipes in how to handle your team emotions, get them more engaged, supportive and productive is always good, but doesn’t mean that everything will be solved, each case need a proper annalyse. People are different and normally teams include different disciplines, people experiences and backgrounds. The best chance to have good results is first to have a clever leader, project manager, specialized on the field needed and then this person will be responsible to find better solutions and methods to engage the team. Normally more experience professional have good understanding about their emotions, but even this isn’t a rule. New professionals are often happy to be part of the processes that you can also use this to create a nice mood in the team. Still about divine inspiration are related to good moods I would disagree, for instance there are some fields as Arts (poems, paintings, novels, etc.) where the beauty of it is sometimes inspired by pain and suffer. Jane Vita

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