Designing Business at OP – thoughts from an excursion visit

I got the chance to participate in a company excursion visit to OP Financial Group organised by Ompeluseuran Palvelumuotoilijat. Ulla Jones, Design Culture Lead at OP was to give a presentation on and around the topic Business Design. What it is and how it was applied at OP.

I was really looking forward to this excursion for it interested me for various reasons of which few below:  

·       Company excursions are great way to hear and see how service design and design thinking are utilised and practised in companies also to learn about the current status of this interdisciplinary scholarship. As what is taught at Universities and what is written in publications, are barely ever the reality.

·       Business Design as a topic is extremely interesting and ever more relevant for current business environment

·       I am married to OP with my mortgage 😀

After we had gathered down stairs of the OP headquarters our host Ulla Jones took us to the second floor and gave a brief presentation on the building itself. It was nice to hear and see how the Finnish design and culture was present everywhere, in the architecture and materials used. And how the building was really designed to serve employees and provide inspiring and well-functioning facilities. I am sorry I didn’t take any photos to add into my blog but you can surely google-up some pictures -or pay a visit. As downstairs is open for everyone. 😉

Our mini-tour ended in one of the six cafeterias where we sat down and helped ourselves with some refreshments. Ulla started her presentation by going through her own career path and how she had ended up designing business at OP. Key take-away from this section to me was to understand and accept that service and business designers job as such and job descriptions are constantly evolving and working as one requires courage and ability to tolerate uncertainty. The role of designer is greatly influenced by the ever changing needs of business environment that again are shaped by various external factors. Tomorrow is different from today. But to what extend we cannot know for sure.  

The second part of Ulla’s presentation was more OP-related and concentrated on how design doing and design thinking were applied in OP. And what role does design play at OP in the current business reformulation in shifting OP from a systems centered to customer centered company able to serve customers better and more profitable way with serving them more coherent packages instead of smaller solutions (as stated in OP’s strategy since 2016). This reformulation is pushed by the need to survive in the constantly changing business environment, which in turn is caused by digitalisation.

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I have also tried to gather some key-notes from the part in which Ulla explained the current status of design and design function´s set-up at OP.

Design at OP is business development done in a holistic, customer-centered, co-creative and evidencing manner. In 2016 design was used in 79% of the projects from start to finish and to understand the fast growth in the importance of design, the percentage in 2015 was only 38%. Since 2017 design aims to be seen as strategy instead of process or methodology.

At current, OP has 90 in-house designers with various responsibilities and roles who all form a competence centre serving the whole organisation.
Design at OP is applied in following three levels and perspectives:

1. Strategic Design from customer centred and business perspective
2. Tactical Design from holistic service concept perspective
3. Operational Design concentration on touchpoints and user experiences.

Business feeds the needs and Business Designer as Strategic Service Entity Lead play an important role in keeping up with the dialogue within the company and departments to enable and maintain common understanding about the customer needs.

Designers also arrange strategical workshops and provides information visualisation to support decision making.

Short and sweet: Designers at OP build insights, deliver solutions and involve customers in the development processes.

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Design function is also responsible of the internal communication and brining service design more known within the company and among its employees:
Design practises are applied in all development processes and the design team organizes an annual Design Day to the whole organisation.

You can find out more on what design is at OP from this Youtube-channel.

At the end of the visit, we had a speed work-shop in which we used OP´s value formation tool with which they use to determine how and where value is being formulated to further define and decide where a company with their services would then be positioned. In other words, where to play and what to offer. We were given a task to work on the topic around “Food to home”. I am not going to explain this work-shop here in any more detailed but have a look at the pics below to hopefully get at least a vague understanding of our idea generations.

It was a shame that so little time was left for this workshop part for it certainly would have been interesting to carry on and compare the relatively various results of the speedy innovations.

Of course, we were invited to stay for longer to share thoughts and network, but personally I felt it was my time call it a day.
Coping with full-time work, Master´s studies and all these design-events can at times become mentally and physically challenging, no matter how interesting they all are.
😉

Jenny

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