Future of the book – workshop

by Juho Hyvärinen

My course fellow Anu. K. Nousiainen arranged a year ago a workshop regarding her thesis. The idea was to create ideas in order to help her to get material for the thesis and help with the research part. Anu only had a one problem: She needed qualified facilitators to keep the discussion flowing and ensuring everybody had a great time.  I decided to grab the opportunity in order to be able to write an essay for my current topics course.  It is a pity it has taken 13 months to do that but I guess better late than never.

Anu’s workshop turned out to be a splendid occasion which also gave me plenty to think about regarding my own workshops which took place a couple of months later. I was able to form an understanding about different service design methods and what is needed to be able to utilize them as well as possible.

Anu had given the facilitators strict instructions about their roles. Most of it was typical project management stuff about keeping in the schedule, presenting the tasks and making sure everybody had enough wine to drink (this was natural for me).  I was a bit concerned whether my skills would be sufficient for task like this particularly when we didn’t have any extra training for our roles and material we had was exactly the same as what the proper participants had. In the end it all turned out ok.

The idea behind the workshop

Anu’s basic idea for the workshop was to create ideas regarding the future of the book. The agenda was very shortly “The Future of the Book. There were about 15 participators if one discounts the facilitators and Anu herself. Everything was very organized. Anu started with 30 min presentation regarding her objectives, schedule about the whole thesis and what she hoped to achieve that day. This was the first lesson for me. No matter how hip and cool service design is, one must always create the proper context for hippiness and übercoolness. Especially when there are people present who are not so familiar with the study subject.

Anu’s thesis timetable was based on Moritz’s Service Design steps. Our workshop was part of the steps of Idea Generation and Explanation. This was to be followed later on by next steps Filtering and Realising which aim at conceptualizing and concretizing the new service offering.  In her presentation Anu also had slides regarding trends pushing the change forward and also about the strategic intent evident in current operational environment.

Trends

In this slide Anu discussed such themes as digital versus mobile, co-creation versus co-production, fast versus slow and finally ideas versus innovation. By putting these up against each other Anu wanted to provoke a good conversation. What is more important?

–           To be able to feel more through different channels or the meaning of time and place?

–          Customer actually taking part in the processes of a company or vice versa?

–           Following madly so-called “digital roadsigns” or concentrating and taking our time in order to get a good grasp of something?

–          To research and identify possibilities or to test and actualize possibilities

Strategic Intent

This slide was about content, networks, moving the servitization from the book to the narrative and the new role companies just have to adapt in order to find their place in digital world. I think the most important realization here was that a book is only a delivery channel for the story. In the end the media through which the story is transmitted is not as important as the story itself.

The workshop itself

Workshop was based on three different personas with unique set of abilities and challenges.

1.)    Person number one was a called a storyteller. He was a professional writer who had studied literature

2.)    Person number two was a “text producer” who didn’t regard himself as “writer” just yet.

3.)    Third person was a woman specialized in fantasy literature and currently writing a fantasy book series.

Anu had created a one-pager about everyone, which included a description about his or her essential characteristics along with a process map which illustrated writing and publishing flow for people in question. There was also a small interaction network illustration about every one of the three personas.

Process maps along with the personas formed the most essential part of the workshops. Anu used them as a foundation for affinity walls which were the most important single workshop task for all the participators. Participants were given series of tasks which were to be “answered” on wall (yep you guessed it!) with post its. Tasks varied from interactivity with different stakeholders to imaginary situations where personas could suddenly found themselves (for example what kind of chat show would persona number three design?)

In the end best ideas were marked with stars and presented to other participants. If there were some difficult moments during workshop Anu offered as solution so called 5ideasin5minutes where one participator starts writing something, then hands the paper to next person who continues the work and so it goes until paper has been used. There is only very limited amount of time available for one person to spend with one set of ideas. Below you see an illustration of typical 5ideasin5minutes work sheet.

Image

Conclusions

All in all this was a wonderful occasion which gave myself a lots to think about and provided absolutely vital empirical knowledge that I exploited to the fullest when little bit later it was my time to have workshops for stakeholders important to the goals of my thesis. I understood the meaning of context in the service design workshops and how by building a good foundation one can easily get more out of the participants by making them to do more different kinds of exercises.

The Anu’s area of interest was and still is bit in the dark for me and this limits my ability to comment on the results which actually were not revealed to us there (Anu just collected all the stuff to be analyzed later in her secret laboratory), but nevertheless it was fascinating to follow professionals passionately discussing the pros and cons of things like augmented reality. Everybody seemed really motivated and there was a healthy passion (not aggression) in some of the discussion.

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