Archive by Author | kaisaspilling

Agile piloting Jam in Open Living Lab days


Smart Kalasatama: Agile piloting engages the urban community

In 2013 the City of Helsinki decided to make Kalasatama as a model area of smart city development. Today Smart Kalasatama innovation platform run by Forum Virium Helsinki, has hit the headlines with engaging the urban community for the development of a smart district: it is a laboratorium for smart and sustainable urban everyday life and for developing methods to engage the users and other stakeholders.

During 2016 -2018 a total of 21 “agile pilots” have been run and facilitated in Kalasatma. Agile Piloting is a facilitated co-creation process that focuses on experimentation, it combines methods from service design, lean development, user research and fast prototyping and adopting these to the needs of urban development. 

The process for co-development and experimentation offers startups, SME’s and other innovators a chance to get the first learnings from the user feedback. Purchasing small pilots ( 1000-8000 euros) has proven to be an interesting means for the cities to have alternative ways for public procurement, but the model can be also run without compensation, as entry to the city is also valuable. The model  has been widely adopted in Helsinki and in a number of other major cities in Finland. Over 60 agile pilots have been run in Finnish cities following the model created in Kalasatama.

Our experience shows that the programme format, instead of individual pilots, provides synergies when several pilots are carried out simultaneously. This also boosts new collaboration beyond the pilots. A good pilot always provides value for the end user, uses technology in an innovative way, and is truly novel. Furthermore, the pilots offer valuable insights for the decision makers on user cases of the future. The greatest value is provided by the learnings from the process; even good failures can offer valuable insight to develop smart services of the future.

Sharing best practices in Open Living Lab Days

During Open Living lab Days 22.-24.8. in Geneva our team hosted a workshop with the aim to communicate our learnings for living labs and city developers. We planned a hands-on-session that provides concrete tools and understanding on how to tailor the method of Agile piloting programme to the needs of different living labs. 

The aim of the  “Agile Piloting Jam” was to make the guidelines from Smart Kalasatamas Cookbook for Agile Piloting tangible, to communicate what’s needed for experimentation in urban environments. During the session we shared concrete examples of how Agile Piloting can accelerate the development of a neighbourhood or city and showcase the potential of new resilient solutions.

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Introducing the theme: Value Creation Throughout the Process

The participants of the workshop were to get familiar with the process of designing an Agile Piloting Programme for the needs of their urban lab. The session started with a 20 minutes introduction to the subject, opening the benefit of a programme format and how to get started.  In the introduction we aimed to open the essential:   running an agile piloting program requires understanding the value for all stakeholders. The objective is always solutions-focused and the iterative process that can also provide alternative new starting points along the way. The first market references and integrating the service to the city infrastructure is also invaluable. The program has proven to provide a neutral platform, or safe space for co-creation and collaboration. And it is all about learnings!

Hands on workshop to pilot your way!                                                         

After the Intro we continued with the workshop. We introduced two templates for the exercises: identifying stakeholders and filling the Agile Piloting canvas to mix and match the elements of a Piloting Programme to achieve own goals.

We had organized the  tablegroups by inspirational wider themes such as “smart cities” or “social inclusion” , and the participants could join a theme  based on their own interests. Once in groups, and after brief introductions the groups were able to discuss and define a more specific theme for a piloting programme.  The stakeholder canvas helped to identify the different levels of collaborators, organisers, co-creators needed, and whom should be influenced and shared the learnings. The agile piloting canvas served as a framework for discussions on what the premises of a programme can be. Within half an hour the groups had 5 initial programme themes ready.

Learning by doing

The same workshop was run two days in a row for different audiences. During the first day we opened a concrete case in detail as an example. This led the audience to concentrate on the subject way too much. Therefore in the second workshop we decided to give more detailed briefings, instead of examples. This helped the participants to work with their own contents. We experimented with the format the first day, and applied the learnings, based on the participant feedback, on the second one. “This is well structured and clear” was our feedback from the participants in the second session. And yes, something to be used in their own labs, too, confirmed the participants leaving the room with their Cookbooks.

Download the Cookbook for Agile Piloting here!


The author Kaisa Spilling is an urban interventionist, innovation accelerator with a passion for smarter cities.


Co-creating healthcare – improving customer interaction



Customer interaction is a key element in healthcare services. Laurea  students from the nursing degree program have been working on an intensive project with Suursuo Hospital in Helsinki. Kirsi Ronkainen, leading the project from Laurea University of Applied Science offered the chance for SID2017 students to participate as facilitators in a workshop with about 40 healthcare professionals from the hospital as well as Laurea nursing students. I volunteered to join Johanna Waal and Pia Rytilahti in the facilitation team for the workshop organized in April.  For us this was an opportunity to experiment the fresh learnings from Marc Stickdorn’s Service Design Process workshop, and we were eager to try in practice the different service design tools and methods for facilitation.

Improving customer interaction

The aim of the project in Suursuo Hospital is to improve the quality of interaction between the personnel and customers: patients as well as the relatives of patients. In addition, the quality of interaction may also improve the image of the hospital. As result of the workshop, the objective was to identify concrete themes of development to be further elaborated together with the personnel and the group of students.

The group of Laurea nursing students had already been working closely with the hospital staff and patients, interviewing and observing the life in the different departments of the hospital. Based on their insight they had worked on several user profiles with positive and negative customer stories. These stories served as an introduction for the groups.

The first task for the groups was to work on a customer journey map as well as an emotional journey and really think about the different steps from both customer and personnel perspective. This was a great way to put the teams to work.  Here we used a method with one paper many pens to get the all of professionals to participate.  This wasn’t easy in all groups. I tried to focus on the helping the groups to move along and not letting one group member to dominate. Next the groups chose a challenge to work further with and then ideated solutions focusing on one of the challenges identified. Here the teams were using 10&10 method. Thereafter the teams got to select a most prominent concrete idea with positive impact to customer interaction. The selected idea should also be easy to implement. The third part of the workshop needed some warm-ups, Johanna run some breathing and body movement exercises to get our groups ready for the creative part. and to use drama to present their selected development ideas.

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Learning by doing

I have been working as a facilitator in my work – but almost always, more or less in the content owner role. We had the chance to focus on how to get the teams working, and evaluate our  own role as a facilitator.  There were some professionals first reluctant to participate in the workshop session, but as the work moved we managed to get them along. I learnt a lot on how to help the teams further and what can I do better when briefing the teams. And we also saw in practice how impossible timing gets the groups moving.

Thank you – an intensive afternoon! It was a great learning experience to collaborate with Kirsi and the nursing students, as well as the committed individuals from the hospital staff.  Not the least, we had a great team spirit in this intensive project and Pia was a great project manager for us facilitators. Looking forward to hear how the development work in Suursuo hospital proceeds!

The author Kaisa Spilling is a Service Innovation & Design Masters student who has a passion for design, experimentation  & smarter cities. 

Starting a deep dive to Design Thinking

This fall, my SID studies in at Laurea started with a crash course on Design Thinking.  The two fully packed days served as a first introduction to the theme – and not the least, getting to know the multidisciplinary team of international SID students.

Design Thinking has been recently understood as way of thinking, leading to change and innovation. More than a motor for innovation, or a mindset, Design Thinking is offering models of processes and toolkits that can be used in every creative process by multidisciplinary teams, connecting creative design approach to traditional business thinking. Today, it is much explored in the fields of innovation management and marketing, helping to bring some of the abilities of designers to solve and to visualize problems in a creative way. It is also widely used in the public sector, by cities and governments as well as by social entrepreneurs.

img_7441.jpgKatja Tschimmel acted as our guide to lead us further to discover creative thinking, fluidity in ideation and exploring the design thinking process and use of E6 Toolkit by her design company Mindshake.  There is no one and only best process or tools, she states, it is up to the companies and innovation managers to choose the best models that suit the individual needs of their projects and organisations and context.

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