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Designing together

Everyone can – and does – design . — Nigel Cross

Design thinking is a key part of what makes us human. This is how Nigel Cross described human ability and tendency for design back in 2011. The bold statement above is best explained by a few simple examples; design appears in everyday-like situations, by people from any nationality and age, whether that is finetuning a recipe for homemade pizza into a culinary experience that seems to pause time itself (yes, I like pizza) or simply changing the arrangement of your living room furniture.

When it comes to food there are endless ways of innovating and using design thinking, as our instructor for Design Thinking module, Katja Tschimmel, would tell us during our first days in the SID program. Katja used the world-renowned restaurant elBulli as an example and walked us through how elBulli’s head chef Ferran Adriá used design thinking in their creative process which actually lasted almost six months every year, the restaurant being closed during winter.

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image 1. elBulli’s head chef Ferran Adriá in front of design sketches

Teamwork is the main ingredient

ElBulli’s success and groundbreaking dishes weren’t the end results of a “lone genius inventor” as chef Adriá relied on surrounding himself with a team of experts even from outside the culinary world and worked together with industrial designers, artists and computer engineers, besides other chefs of course. They made 5000 experiments to create 125 new dishes a year which indicates failing often and fast would be a routine part of the daily design process. The story of elBulli is quite similar to the one of Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, who is considered as the creator of team-based approach in innovation. According to Tim Brown (in his 2008 HBR article “Design Thinking”), Edison’s approach was an early example of what is now called “design thinking” – a methodology that imbues the full spectrum of innovation activities with a human-centered design ethos.

Roles and relationships

Working as a member of a team introduces different problems such as conflicts but also opens a lot of possibilities in comparison with working alone. An obvious practical difference is that team members have roles and relationships within the team, some of which can be formally established, such as seniorities in the company hierarchy. Team leaders like Adriá and Edison would appoint team members in particular job roles in the design process. But as Nigel Cross points out, if there are no formal roles appointed, usually informal role-adoption is evident through repeated patterns of behavior. For example, a person that is good at drawing might usually end up using that skillset during the sketching and visualization part of a design process.

Hitting a dead-end

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image 2. Hitting a dead-end. Check out this video about shifting the conversation focus

One clear benefit of designing in a team is that a few bright minds put together usually produce more ideas, and more ideas develop versatility in design concepts which ultimately narrows down to the best solutions for problem-solving. But sometimes during the design process, even a team can hit a dead-end. This is what we, the fresh batch of Laurea SID students, faced during our first sessions in the Design thinking module, fall of 2018. We had proceeded with a design concept and felt it was going in the right direction but suddenly the team ran out of ideas. After a brief moment of silence the conversation shifted off-topic for a while and suddenly a new perspective arose to the entire problem at hand. Finding this detour might have been more difficult when working solo.

Brown suggests design thinkers pose questions and explore constraints in creative ways that proceed in entirely new directions. Our instructor Katja Tschimmel also reminded us that using any design thinking toolset is hardly ever linear. Some steps during the way need more attention by the designers and as Cross concluded, everything about the process can’t be planned. It’s necessary in design also for unplanned, ad hoc exploratory activities when they seem necessary for the design team.

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image 3. Prototype ready for testing

Design thinking and the methodology around it gives us a variety of useful tools for innovation and problem-solving. Whether you’re designing alone or in a team, it seems that the rules (if there are any) can be bent when keeping an eye on the big picture. The big picture at the moment being a good Sunday pizza with paper-thin crust, a homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan, pepperoni, red onion, strawberries and rocket, designed by our family design team. This time around the design process was quite straightforward and pleasant as it seems difficult to fail when designing a pizza.
References:

Brown, Tim. 2008. Design Thinking. Harward Business Review.

Cross, Nigel. 2011. Design Thinking – Understanding how designers think and work.

A beginner’s guide to Design Thinking

by Jenny Kurjenniemi

Simply put, Design Thinking is a process for creative problem-solving.

This means solving any kind of problem, from how to secure clean water supply in developing countries, to how to create the kind of service that people will be interested in and gain financial value for the innovation.

It’s good to understand from the beginning that there is no design thinking without design doing. Super artistic skills are not required but sketching, visualizing, and prototyping are an integral part of it. We all need creative problem-solving and yes – we can all do the creative hands on part with some practice.

 

I will take you through the design thinking process and the text is divided into four chapters.

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Hacking in the future

I participated for four nights to Digia’s API Hackatemia, the acronym API referring to Application Programming Interface i.e. how you can access either data or system of a company or system. The Hackatemia was a four-day event for technical and business development experts joining forces to learn about APIOps® Cycles, an open source method developed by Digia and in addition to learning, 16 teams were competing in developing products, services and APIs to meet the consumer or society needs.

The ideation phase was like service design, just ideating crazy ideas and then funneling them into a concrete service.  I would argue that with APIs you create services in the way service dominant logic defines a service. The physical object is just a mean to access the service being that formed of data and /or devices. As a matter of fact, the end user does not even need to think what the thinking process has predecessed the end-result.

The logic in API thinking builds naturally on loosely coupled networks. You can call the others as partners, service providers or clients but without ecosystem thinking it would be challenging to utilize or benefit of the APIs.

The API canvas has a lot of similarities with Business model canvas and Service Business Model Canvas. As the logic was easy to capture based on service design thinking it was also easy to start thinking about the business model to be created.

One thing I am missing or which I would like to learn more is how to illustrate or document the revenue stream on one-slider or as a picture. Of course, one can create an own picture, but a template would help. I would like to see this also on service business model canvas as that is needed to have a go.

Most of the solutions used artificial intelligence and varied from follow-up systems to elderly to remote health control and health personnel appointment. Our solution was called Google Fridge addressing climate change by diminishing food waste. By scanning the batch codes from the product, the fridge warns the consumer two days before the expiry date and proposes recipes to utilize the ingredient. The software does in addition the shopping and compares the shopping basket prices so that the consumer gets the best bargain.

Hackathon

I truly had fun during these four nights. I do not ‘speak’ the languages the coders do as I always thought that a python is a snake, but Java Python is hot in artificial intelligence scene.

To sum up the event a key learning is that you need a diverse set of people to work on APIs. The business developers need to be there to design the business model and the tech people to make it all happen. Diversity is truly a beauty.

 

 

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.

Service is the new value. Most interesting case studies from SDN conference (2017)

Service design is creating a new mindset. After SDN Global Conference in Madrid and case studies of new services we can acknowledge that this specific approach to build organisations and their DNA and offer for customers is spreading the word. In this post I want to show most interesting cases from SDN conference to memorise this time and SDN awards winners and those honourable mentioned.

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10 years of service design (in the eyes of Service Design Network conference, 2017)

Creating a common language, implementation as the key action, service design as a internal capacity and scaling the service design – these are 4 most important directions for the service design for the future after summary of 10 years at Service Design Global Conference which happened this week at Madrid.

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Scaling service design

Day one of 10th global service design networks conference kicked off today  by a presentation how to scale service design in government and was ended by the afternoon´s breakout sessions concentrated in social innovation and people power. Louise Downe started by going through themes emerged inside the last 10 years in the field of service design (SD).  Focus has moved from the legitimacy of service design and how to define, what service design is all about, into scaling service design. But still, even today, legitimacy of SD is still recognized as a common problem organizations face, when they start applying service design. Free tip Louise gave- don´t waste your time on this, focus on doing it.  kuva sdn

Louise  and other keynote speakers made really good points by highlighting that the fast pace of technology development has outstripped the speed of design. Design can´t keep in the pace of technology development. It´s not about designer´s ability to design services, but about the ability to scale the design as the transformation is never done. Therefore it´s critical to understand, there are no big fixes, but many little things to be combined. When you scale SD, all the little things become bigger and ultimately the end result and experience can go completely wrong. Continue reading