“We needed a fresh approach, all our clients already know service design and how to use the tools”, starts anthropologist and service designer Veera Suomalainen her talk at October’s IxDA Helsinki meetup.
My first thought was what?! Every time I tell people that I study service design, I have to explain them what it means. I guess the clients of Suomalainen’s Exove are more enlightened.
As Suomalainen’s background is in anthropology, she got the idea to look at rituals and how they could be used in service design. Rituals are repetitive actions with a greater goal and bigger meaning than just the function. Examples of rituals are rites of passage such as the Finnish military service or penkkarit.
Veera Suomalainen explaining rites of passage.
When a person is performing a rite of passage they are in a liminal space, not here but not yet there. This liminality garners great fellowship with others in the same position. Liminality can be found in non-places such as airports or shopping malls as they do not have rich meanings.
Did you know that a person’s satisfaction can be observed from the way they are standing? Behavioural scientist Pelle Guldborg Hansen tells us that you can. If a person is standing on their dominant foot and resting the other one, they are happy. If they are annoyed they tend to sway.
Hansen’s research helps companies to improve their services. His company iNudgeYou has done a lot of work with airports. The scientists have sat for hours and hours at different touchpoints collecting data of how people behave and how they might be nudged into behaving differently.
Nudging is defined as any aspect of choice that should not influence behaviour in principle, but does in practice. He gives an example from the toilets of the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Men tend to splash urine around when using the urinals. It might not be a big problem for individual men, but it is a big problem for the airport, because it must clean all the toilets with all the urine on the walls and floors.
Let’s start with a thought experiment. You have been working in the same job for years and now you are tasked with creating a new service for your customers. Where do you start?
Probably where you already are. Your first ideas are what have always been done and how to improve them, but only slightly.
To innovate, you need an open mind. To facilitate the innovation process you can use Design Thinking. Katja Tschimmel writes in her article Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation that Design Thinking offers new models of processes and toolkits for every creative process. It can be used in any business or organization. When you open your mind, and let the crazy ideas out, you can find something new.
The Service Design students at Laurea got a crash course on Design Thinking with Dr Tschimmel in the beginning of September. The students were tasked to create a new service around the theme Studying at Laurea. Every group could do whatever they thought might be useful, but in the end most new service ideas focused on solving everyday problems with quite traditional approaches. Why was it so difficult for us to let our imaginations fly and go for something completely different?
My suspicion is that it is the Inner Critic who is to blame. Often innovation processes suffer from the innovators’ fear of failure. In companies, upper management controls the time and resources available for trial and error. In universities, the students’ grade depends on the teachers’ understanding of their brave new idea.