Archive by Author | Noora Penttinen

Lessons from the Master: Forget the Titles, Facilitation is Key

After a decent amount of lobbying we had the pleasure to have the Service Design guru Marc Stickdorn as our guest speaker at the Finnish language Service Design program.

Stickdorn has just published the new book This is Service Design Doing. He talked about what he thought Service Design was and what the crucial skills for doing it were.

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Marc Stickdorn

According to Stickdorn the reasoning for Service Design is simple. Experiences stick to customers, not products.

“Organisations lose money because of bad customer experience. Customers trust the stories of other customers and less what companies tell them”, he stated.

Therefore customers will pay more for better customer experience. And that’s what Service Design is for.

All this has to be explained to the managers. There is a business reason for better customer service and it has to be shown with money. One way of explaining new services are storyboards.

“Products can be made into mockups, but services are not tangible. We need to make it tangible to talk about exactly the same thing”, Stickdorn said.

Service Design, UX Design, Business Design…

In the cover of Stickdorn’s new book there is a quip to all the disciplines that have popped up but are doing essentially the same thing.

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Stickdorn thinks that Service Design is going to become a common language.

“Many disciplines are not trained to take little steps. Managers are often afraid to take decisions to start. Service Designers should create a safe space to come up with ideas”, Stickdorn said.

Therefore they key skill for Service Designers is facilitation. How can I create a safe space so that people are not ashamed to come up with really shitty first drafts?

Stickdorn gave us tips about how to be a good facilitator. First we need to have a huge toolbox of small warmups. If there is a hurdle, we should be able to take a method and apply it and see how the group changes.

“What makes a difference is experience. Don’t try to copy somebody else. There are a thousand different styles to facilitate”, Stickdorn said.

According to Stickdorn Service Design is not a silver bullet that can fix everything.

“Be open to other stuff. There is no clear boundary where Service Design ends and other stuff starts. It allows us to use methods from other disciplines. There is not one tool or method coming from Service Design. Personas are from UX, journey maps are from branding, etc.”

For me Stickdorn’s talk gave a bit more clarity about what we are aiming to as Service Designers. It is important to talk a common language and teach the language to the managers and others in the company. In order to facilitate the change into Service Design way of thinking, we need good facilitation skills.

The author Noora Penttinen is a journalist and a Service Design student who believes in creative chaos and thinks that best ideas appear at four in the morning.

Showcasing Nordic Service Design – Collaboration and Empathy as Strengths

How is Nordic Service Design different from other Service Design? This was a question that was answered at the premiere of the Nordic Service Design documentary hosted by OP, a Finnish banking and insurance company.

In addition to the documentary there were several presentations from leading Finnish Service Design firms. Tim Hall from Fjord brought in an outsider’s perspective and explained how he thought Nordic Service Design differed from that done in other countries.

Native of the UK, Hall had experienced the UK as the center of the world. After arriving in Finland he realized that the difference was that the Nordics were smaller countries with smaller populations that were eager to co-operate with each other and others. The command of English also comes to play.

Hall told that Fjord often gets asked for a Nordic Service Designer for projects. He said it’s not really about nationality but about perspective. There is more empathy in the Nordics.

According to Hall, at the moment people are starting to get the need for Service Design, because companies are struggling to connect with customers. Service Design has risen from the micro level to macro level – designing business.

Threats are the push for speed and the proliferation of Service Design.

“The less educated have a design thinking workshop and they think that’s the design done. That’s wrong”, Hall said.

Proliferation of Service Design is a threat because it might become a management fad.  Therefore we need to fight for craft.

“Underlying need and curiosity will prevail. We are bridging the gap of the digital and the physical world.”

For more about Nordic Service Design, watch the documentary below. The documentary was made by the Nordic chapter of the Service Design Network.

The author Noora Penttinen is a journalist and a recent Service Design student who believes in creative chaos and thinks that best ideas appear at four in the morning.

From prison design to asbestos abatement – Service Design is everywhere

How can service design be used in prisons? What about asbestos abatement? How about the gargantuan website of the Finnish Social Service Institution Kela? This is what we learned two weeks ago in a morning seminar. Watch the event in Finnish here.

Tarinoita digikiristä showcased several digitalization and service design related projects from the Finnish public sector. The event was organized by D9, a digitalization team working inside the Finnish State Treasury.

When signing up for the event myself and some fellow students joked about using service design in prisons. How could that work? As we found out, very well. Anne Sundqvist and Kauko Niemelä explained that the need for service design in Finnish prisons stems from the fact that there are a lot of prisons and a lot of space, but the prisons are old and the space is not used properly.

The new Hämeenlinna women’s prison is being planned with service design. The main aim is to reduce recidivism so that fewer inmates return to the prison after they have been released. Therefore the prison has to be designed in a manner that it helps the inmate to learn behaviours and skills that help them to keep on the straight and narrow.

This is also a huge saving for the society – within five years around 25 000 inmates get out from the prison and every year the taxpayer pays around 1,8 billion euros for their rehabilitation. If this number can be brought down with work done inside the prison, the society wins.

Many stakeholders have participated in the project. Inmates themselves have been interviewed and they have participated in workshops. The people working in prisons have also been able to give their input.

Kela wanted the customers to get a feeling of control

Every Finnish person uses the services of the Finnish Social Service Institution Kela at some point in their lives. Students get their study grants from Kela, new parents their baby boxes.

Kela has a huge website with enormous amounts of information on it. According to Päivi Bergman, the website had to be made better in order to give the customer a sense of control. Oftentimes customers used the website, but weren’t sure that they were doing things right so they called in anyway.

Because of the immense size of the website, it could not be handled all at once. Bergman told that they decided to roll out new material little bit at a time so that savings could be had while the website renewing process was still ongoing.

According to Bergman it is not important to have perfect material finished when publishing it online. It is enough to be going in the right direction. One must dare to try.

Bergman reminded us that Kela is not a service for early adopters but for everyone in the society. At the same time Kela must realize that it is not competing against government websites but against all other websites. That’s why it has to be as easy to use as any other website.

The purpose of the project was to give the customer a feeling that the website is easy to use, useful and it gives the user the sense of control. In Bergman’s view this has been achieved as after the new website has rolled out people have been contacting Kela with other means a lot less than before.

The event was clearly intended for people making decisions in the Finnish public sector and tried to encourage them to start working with their customers and use service design especially with digital services. Many of the examples we heard were the first of their kind done in that agency.

The people presenting their projects seemed genuinely excited about their projects so it seems that customer centricity and service design will be integrated more and more in Finnish public services.

The author Noora Penttinen is a journalist and a recent Service Design student who believes in creative chaos and thinks that best ideas appear at four in the morning.

Are we in the beginning of a bubble? – Digitalist Design Forum brought out the hype

The hype was there. Mr Digitalist himself, Ville Tolvanen, said in the beginning of Digitalist Design Forum that he had waited for the event for three years.

But did the event deliver? Not so much. In my opinion design was not really in the forefront of the forum as there were plenty of presentations about branding and marketing.

The four-hour forum was started by Andreas Roselew, who is a managing partner at Grow Partners. He shook the audience by stating that there is a hype around all the service design concepts such as co-creation, growth hacking and customer centricity.

“I think we are experiencing a silent bubble”, he stated and referenced the dotcom bubble of the late 90s and early 2000s.

According to Rosenlew, very few service designers manage to pull things together so that it actually creates cumulative value.

“There are a lot of service designers running around being evangelists”, Rosenlew said. In his opinion most of the current Service Design is generic.

“It’s based on generic insights and it results in generic solutions”, he said.

In Rosenlew’s opinion there needs to be a direction in all design and it needs to be consistent and continuous. That is the only way to create value in the long term.

In order to achieve that designers should concentrate on holistic design and take into account the whole customer journey and life cycle and also different senses such as taste, feel and smell.

Fazer decided to simplify to amplify

The most interesting case that was presented in the forum was in my opinion Fazer’s Head of Marketing Päivi Svens’s presentation on how design has become a strategic capability for the company.

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Ritual Design – A New Perspective or Sacrilege?

“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.

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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.

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Nudging: The Story of How Men Stopped Peeing on Themselves

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.

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Killing the Inner Critic – How Logic Can Destroy the Design Thinking Process

IMG-0504Let’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[1] 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.

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