Facilitating an awesome ideation workshop

Service Design Workshop“Service design cannot be learnt by reading, but through practice” described Marc Stickdorn, co-author of the black book “This is Service Design: Basics, Tools Cases” (2011).

Marc Stickdorn held three days intensive service design workshop for Laurea SID Master of Business Administration students. Workshop focused on how to facilitate service design ideation workshops. This blog post focuses on insights learned during 7th to 9th of February 2013.

Facilitating is

Patterns. Marc explained service design process is an iteration process where chosen service design tools and methods can be used multiple times and sometimes few steps have to be taken backwards.  Marc told patterns can be found from everywhere (See: “Charlie Brooker’s How to Report the News). In service design there are also patterns, which facilitator aims to make appear in workshops.

Marc sharing insightsHolistic.“Service design is not just about being like a taxi drivers who take their customers from bad product to better product.”Marc said and continued: “Instead we are helping (organizations or clients) to learn how to drive the car themselves (apply service design).”

Process-focused. Marc instructed that as a facilitator of a workshop one has to be process-focused, not output-focused. This approach offers higher chance for an output at the end.

Participating. Goal of the workshops is to engage all the participants into participation. His approach is that solutions and insights should emerge from inside the organizations instead of bringing them ready from outside. Therefore all the central stakeholders for service have to be involved in the co-creation workshops. This ensures the ownership of the new ideas within the organization. (Tip: Even having administration department in workshop can bring a lot of additional value for ideation).

Preparing for workshop

Adam“Secret of successful workshop is about winning the hearts of the participants. Trust makes people feel honest and secure and ready to fail.”

declared to us through Skype Adam Lawrence, from service design agency Work. Play. Experience and co-iniator of Global Service Jam.

Have a plan. Marc instructed facilitators to have a plan, but should not let plan become a restriction. By preparing a plan one simplifies the content and makes it easier to remember. (Insight: Marc uses himself a small paper, like a napkin, where he has bullet-points structure).

Be flexible. Facilitator has to have an eye for the situation and change settings, if necessary. Safe space makes people more open and is opposite from boardroom settings. (Tip: Designer might ask all the participants to move furniture away from middle of the room and this can make people feel the space as their own).

Be aware of situation. Marc shared us the concept of the room. It makes huge matter where the facilitator stands in the room when he is asking questions. Facilitator has to find way to engage people to talk to each other, not just to the facilitator.  Having a right mindset is helpful. (Tip: Facilitator should take clients problems seriously, but not taking themselves too seriously. By showing that facilitator is not perfect, people will more easily participate).

Have a rubber chicken. See more from theatrical play underneath.

Running successful service design projects and workshops

Jakob SchneiderTaking benefit of dramatic arc. When did James Bond movies ever gone wrong? By applying similar dramatic arc structure (also called as The boom-wow-wow-wow-boom framework) one can design great service experiences and workshops.

Ensure there is a common design language. Jakob Schneider , the co-author of the book “This is Service Design: Basics, Tools Cases” (2011)  shared us through Skype that there has to be common language with service designers and customers. Communication problems can lead to lost of money, bad service design and possible delays in projects. He also said that there has to be common understanding within design team and co-operation partners:  “You need to work with intelligent persons.” he added.

… And be prepared for reality. Jakob shared that when having real service design cases, only part of service design tools can be used. In his experience limitations can cause customer’s budget, lack of openness and given time frame. (Tip from Jakob: Sometimes it is necessary to decline customers when there is no common understanding and especially when customer is focused on color and typography matters instead of the big picture).

Fitting business model canvas with other service design tools

Dramatic Arc Chorus

There are multiple different in service design tools (or methods) from which we tested some. We learned there is no fixed order of how tools should be  applied. Marc reminded us also the importance of investigator triangulation (more than one people studied), data triangulation (data collected in many forms) and method triangulation (many methods used).  Here are some SD tools we used:

Working with stakeholder map

The Business Model Canvas. Marc Stickdorn has developed with Markus Edgar Hormeß “Bridging the Gap” model, which is combining multiple service design tools together to fill in The Business Model Canvas different building blogs such as Stakeholder Map brings insights customers, key resources and key partners.

Stakeholder map. Marc described this as the ecosystem of service, which illustrates the exchange of value. It can be used for the service, for the organization or for the customer in the middle, and drawing layers from there on. To build it there are has four steps: 1. Making a broad list of all the stake holders, 2. Prioritize them, 3. Visualizing them to the map and 4. Drawing connections.  (Sorry could not find link online for the same awesome Smaply template we used). (Tip: Five Whys can be applied on phase 2)n tools together to fill in The Business Model Canvas  different building blogs such as Stakeholder Map brings insights to customers, key resources and key partners.

The Customer Journey Map:  “Customer journey map is always linear, because life is linear” Marc explained. Later he added: ” Good customer journey mapping is emphatic . Customer journey map illustrates the customer journey and different touchpoints also before and after the service. For example queue is as important part of the service experience as buying coffee and drinking it is. (Tip: remember to visualize it!)

The Smimlane Map is a  template that is similar than customer journey map, but it focuses on different channels in order to give insights on how different customer walk through service touch points.  (Sorry could not find link online for the same awesome Smaply template we used)

Service Design ProcessService blueprinting. Marc explained service blueprinting enlarges the customer journey and shows internal aspects as well. (Insight: He felt that using it has risks of making customer journey too much of a process map, which has not enough visual elements and it can lack some important emphatic points).

Theatrical Play is all about diverting and converting (See Double diamond design process model), and powerful method to test and refine ideas and prototypes. First it is about understanding the situation, then it is about gaining more ideas and finally it is about testing. Method can be used also for spreading innovation culture within the organization.“Jams are effective on against the “If it is fun, it cannot be good work” –attitude.” Adam explained to us. (Tip: See how Adam illustrates how to use method with rubber chicken)

Mobile ethnography Mobile ethnography allows great and accurate data collection of customer journey, which can be validated easily. Marc introduced us his research project called myServiceFellow. Very handy tool for mobile ethnography (Tip:  students and academics can have a free version after launch).

Visualization is important part of the service design process. Illustration method is chosen according to the need and circumstances of the workshop.

Theatrical methods

Final words: Amazing Workshop!

 This was an amazing workshop, with lot of new insights and clarity to service design processes. Marc showed with his example how to lead workshop that can be same time really fun and productive.

As Marc said: “If you have great group, you can just take it step back and let them do it.”. This is one of the most important things I learned.

“The more ***t happens, more you learn.” – Marc.

I especially enjoyed Marc’s remark that typical business mindset dislikes failing, but in service design one has to embrace failures in order to make the final designs profitable.

Text by Laurea SID student: Erkki Salo

This blog post was created as an assignment in SID course Current Topics of Service Design.

Ps. Interested to know more? See:

See Marc talking in Melbourne about service design

His presentation

Further reading: Service Design Books

The 5th Annual Service Innovation and Design Seminar, March 14

5 thoughts on “Facilitating an awesome ideation workshop

  1. Hi!
    Thanks for the kind words. I’d like to correct one small mis-hearing (I blame Skype!), because I think it’s important. 🙂
    I didn’t say” Trust makes people feel honest and secure and not being afraid to fail.”
    I said, “Trust makes people feel honest and secure and READY to to fail.”

    If we are going to be innovative, we have to be happy and willing to fail and fail and fail again – and to use that failure to learn and grow. This is crucial, because in most organisations, failure is a problem – if you fail, there is a meeting. Ouch.

    In workshops with people from these organisations, we need to set up a mental shift. This is why we are playful, use impossible warmups and impossible deadlines, emphasise “sh*tty first drafts”, iterate, iterate, iterate – all to give people the experience that failure is common, acceptable and useful.

    Thanks again for allowing me to visit your workshop!

    Hope to see you all that the Jam!


    • Hi Adam,
      thanks for your great feedback and very important correction. Sorry about, I will fix it.
      Happy to fail – and learn :D.
      Btw. I think this dialogue makes this blog post also an iteration process :D.

  2. Pingback: Facilitating an awesome ideation workshop « fred zimny's serve4impact

  3. Pingback: Helsinki Service Jam 2013 retrospectives | Service Innovation & Design

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