Processing Customer Needs in Service Jam

The theme for the year 2016 was a sound of a plash! On this basis we started individually writing down a problem. The problems we evaluated by idea walking. We changed problem papers and gave them points.
The ideas which had most points we selected. And of course they were major global problems like warming and fresh water shortage. Not very easy ones to start with. I was left with the problem of finding a toilet with fourteen points only. When I showed it to fellow participant, he instantly though it worth trying and set up a new group for it.

We stayed with our original problem, how to prevent people from going on weak ice. Not an easy one. And of course the answer was a website, what else. One reason might be that we had two IT students in our team. As mentors advised us to ask the customers first, we set out for a field trip. Not a bad idea when the sun was shining. The nearest lake Pitkäjärvi was more suited for swimming than skiing. Nobody dared to walk on it. I interviewed several people. An elderly gentleman told me that he would not go on the ice. But he guaranteed it was save and I could do it. Great!

As the first place was not a success we headed towards the lake Bodom. And found a lot of families, skiers, walkers and children sliding with their sleds. No wander we ended up with several customer groups: families, elderly, tourists as well as fast and far going athletes. The customer expectations we so varied that we could stick to our original idea of a webpage. It is easy to say afterwards that it might have been fruitful to narrow down to only one customer group. Even though it is true that all people wanted to go on ice should they know it is safe.

Building up the prototype was hard work as such. As we had the two IT students in the group, the rest of us did more or less what we could. That means writing texts, drawing comics and building Lego models. The truth is that our foreign student did the webpage layout and mobile application views on his own. And he did not even take part in the customer interview part of the work.

service users


We had what we had planned to do, the webpage and mobile application informing where it might be safe to go heading on ice. The business plan was not a very solid one. But there might be potential at least for the tourist and adventure part of it. Gathering the information from different existing sources was not dealt with. It is the most challenging part of the service anyway.

We decided to do our report or pitching with Prezi. The reason for this was the fact that everybody else was taking a video. That was not actually true in the end. Many groups used storytelling and acting as a tool. Our brightest idea was to choose the person, who had never even heard about Prezi, to do the work. The result was not so inspiring. One of the judges said, that you should not use Prezi, if you are not good at it. No wonder, we ended up last in the whole weekend process. At least I think we did.

What are the lessons learned from this days long experience: First of all, you can learn the process without being good at it. Secondly, you should listen to our customers first, and decide based on that and only that, what you are actually going to offer. Thirdly, plan carefully your prototype. That is the only way to get proper feedback and be able to improve. And last but not least, if you are not able to sell your idea, you have wasted all the time and effort!

Good Future Prototyping Processes!

Anneli Manninen, First Timer in Global Service Jam
Team IceCube

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