Start of a journey in service design

Reading time: 5 minutes.
Written by Joonas Koski

As I walked through the doors of Laurea UAS for our first contact session I was both nervous and exited at the same time. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, how would we be learning to be creative. I had read about Learn By Doing teaching method before and I was super positively surprised about our first session. We weren’t cramming through books or just listening to a monologue. Instead the day progressed from introductions to working in small groups around the topic at hand. We were already learning new methods right there, on the very first day none the less!

The first contact sessions focused on design thinking. What it means and what kind of processes and mindset’s are necessary for innovation. After the contact session I’d say one of the most important skills for a good designer is being able to facilitate workshops, guiding the creative works while also understanding what nudge’s can do. I noticed that all our group’s work were very similar in the end and possibly (most likely) guided by the introduction to Laurea, studying and the school environment.


For me one of the biggest breakthroughs of the weekend was seeing how we need to open up our minds for creativity and innovation, and that there are ways to do that for everybody. The exercise that was writing down all the usages for a common everyday object, a pencil, was another eye opener. I got a bit over 10, but I noticed some hitting 20 different ways to use one. I think one of the more memorable workshops we did were Mood Boards, Service Blueprint and the Service Roleplaying. You can find our group’s version filmed on Vimeo. Pitching of the service idea and empathy exercises in the end were also very nice. I have certainly learned to appreciate group work a lot more than in my previous studies, I now look forward to it!

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Evolution 6 (E6) model presented during the first contact sessions.

Katja Tschimmel explains in her study that Design Thinking has recently broken through of its former chains and is now seen as a complex thinking process of conceiving new realities, expressing the introduction of design culture and its methods into fields such as business innovation. Design thinking is now used in multidisciplinary teams not only consisting of designers but a broad spectrum of different roles. It is an effective tool kit for innovation.

Design Thinking sometimes feels like a paradox and you can truly understand it only after trying it. It feels weird first because it requires designer to be emphatic and analytical on the same time, sense and feel emotions but being able to rationalize and also to have a methodical mindset but be intuitive. We are also often constrained by plans yet have to be spontaneous.

It is important to recognize the problem space you are working in and also understand the meaning of visualization. It makes a ton of difference when presenting and managing workshops. After the ideation part Design Thinking puts a big emphasis on prototyping the ideas and using different methods to do it, like the ones we did on our first contact sessions.

We are also seeing the shift from designing to users moving to designing with users. The study also compares the mindsets of Design Thinking managers and Traditional thinking managers.

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Many processes for ideation and Design thinking are listed in the paper. IDEO’s Human Centered Design (HCD):

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IDEO’s 3 I’s:
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Hasso-Plattner Institute’s design process:
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Double-Diamond of Britains Design Council:
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The Book I chose to read for this blog post is Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley.

It resonated with me after the first contact sessions. The book is all about how to get over the fears that people have about creative thinking. What makes executives leave the room when someone brings up the word mood board. I’d say fear of creativity is like a fear snakes of heights. Once you start experiencing them in a guided safely felt way (guided mastery) you can get over them. It often feels the world is divided into creative and non-creative people, but I don’t think that is the case. The book conveys a thought that everyone can be creative, it is something you can practice, like we did during the contact session with the pencil usage idea practice.

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The book also contains some practices how to enhance creativity and resolve locks people might have from past experiences. For an example imagine what kind of difference it creates for a child experiencing criticism instead of re-assurance and couraging when drawing or working on something. These sort of blocks are not easy to unwind. You need to break challenges down into small steps and then build confidence by succeeding on one after another.

Another important note is learning to let go of your ideas. It is important to have confidence, but holding on to something that has been prototyped and found inadequate is also a skill. Do not fall in love with your ideas.


2nd and 3rd  September Design Thinking –session in Laurea, teachers Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valença. See also:

Tschimmel, Katja 2012. Design Thinking as an Effective Toolkit for Innovation in Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation from Experience. (

Kelley, David and Kelley, Tom (2013) Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business. (





5 thoughts on “Start of a journey in service design

  1. I enjoyed reading this. The picture in the beginning is an excellent choise because it really catches the eye and in a way invites you to read the text.
    I also liked the part where you said that you can not divide people into creative and non-creative. That in fact everyone is creative and can practice to come more creative, too. I think that encourages people.

  2. I agree with you about the the service designer’s primary role as facilitator. Design thinking principles all revolve around people and collaboration. Good group dynamics and efficient guidance are probably the most important factors in this model for innovation. In fact I think we should have even deeper understanding of people, and that’s no coincidence why so many design researchers are diving into the field of psychology.

  3. This post had a nice personal touch and a vivid description on how you have experienced those 3 first days in SID program. I tend to agree with you that the context in which we were completing our tasks has in a way influenced the final outcome:in a way results were homogeneous.It might have been something we heard upon description of the tasks or just the visual stimulation of the class surroundings that triggered this. In any case, it highlights the importance of the facilitator and the context in a service design procedure. I could write more, but i don’t want to bomb your post with a comment larger than the post itself, so keep up the good work!

  4. Great stuff, Joonas. I was also really struck by the comparison of the traditional manager and the design-thinking manager. When I got to that part of Katja’s article I read the two columns while thinking about myself and several of my colleagues at work. I was fully expecting to put myself towards the design-thinking side and my colleagues toward the traditonal-thinking side. Well, I was right about my colleagues, anyway! But it was a real wake-up call for me to realize what a traditional-thinking manager I am in most ways. Long way to go these next 15 months!

  5. Hi Joonas, enjoyed reading your post. You have captured very well your learnings from this course. I agree with you that this course took group work to a whole new level! You also nicely highlighted good points from Kelley’s book. Makes me want to read it!

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