Facilitation for 100 people? How to cope that?


Photo by M. Jakubowska

Facilitation is the key of service design projects. According to Schein (1990) facilitation is a process of HELPING, putting more emphasize on inquiry of the problem, and combining methods that will help facilitator be enabler, not a leader of the process with the approach of owning the problem. In the last project I became a part of (with team of 7 other facilitators) I tried to follow this rule. Continue reading

Learning programming through the power of design and data



“Programming is boring”

With these words began a Design Lab lecture at Campus London. The two speakers Jenny and Regina were presenting a case study of developing NoobLab tool, an intelligent learning environment for teaching programming. The speakers had just concluded an eight month project at Kingston University, where the goal was to develop an existing service to improve student engagement and provide a better tool for students, through which they could follow their own learning path.

The speakers had researched how university students were learning programming and found that there were many challenges in the teaching.  Through research they found out that many students struggle with following and internalizing the teachings and only experience superficial learning. Many also suffered from the idea that “programming is boring”.

It was interesting to hear about this the development project where active learning was used as the framework. This is a form of learning in which teaching strives to involve students in the learning process more directly than in other methods and which mimics real life structures and situations.

Active learning is a process that has student learning at its centre. Active learning focuses on how students learn, not just on what they learn. Students are encouraged to ‘think hard’, rather than passively receive information from the teacher.” Source: Cambridge

Learning Experience Design (LX design), which was a new concept to me personally, was the design and research approach of the study. This holistic and human-centered design process focuses on the learner in order to find goal oriented ways of learning.


As research was done in three stages: Learn, Build and Deploy. In the image above all the different research aspects can be seen, but the speakers delved into just a few of the methods. The Learn stage included User interviews, Personas, User journeys, Learner Journeys, Learning analytics, Heuristic evaluation and Competitor analysis. Build stage included Content audit, Framework, User testing, Ideation as well as Wireframing and Prototyping. The research ended with the Deploy stage, where the service was piloted and tested. This data will be used for further iterations.

Learning experience design is the process of creating learning experiences that enable the learner to achieve the desired learning outcome in a human centered and goal oriented way.” Source: Learning Experience Design

Using Service design tools

During the lecture, the speakers introduced two of the service design tools, which they used in their research: Personas and Prototyping.


Personas were created based on the interviews with 23 students, aged 18 to 35. Within the programming student group the researchers developed six different personas: 1) The Follower, 2) Medal Hunter, 3) Coding Enthusiast, 4) Expert Coder, 5) The Helper and 6) Anti Persona. These personas were then put in a matrix based on their motivation and personal plan for learning and four user groups could be identified.


Prototyping was done in three different staged. First a low fidelity paper prototype was created of the improved tool, where for example changes in navigation were included. After that a wireframe was created which was tested with real programming students. Based on the feedback and comments received, as the last step, a high fidelity prototype of the learning environment, which was close to the final product in elements and visuals, was presented and tested with students.


According to the speakers, the feedback from the testers was extremely positive, and a future project for implementation and piloting was given a green light. The new and improved learning environment will be launched and tested with students in the future in hopes that the testing results will prove an increase in student engagement and enhancement in their learning curve.

Below are images of the NoobLab tool before and after the research. The new version is more visual with better navigation and different ways for students to engage and follow the path of their learning.

Read more: NooLab: An intelligent learning environment for teaching programming


Written by: Leena Salo, SID student


Customer experience and healthcare

From time to time you hear people understanding service design as something very strategic or too complicated to be applied for a development project. Purpose of this blog post is to show, applying service design can be practical and especially in healthcare sector, highly recommendable. Last week we organized an ideation workshop in a public hospital in Helsinki Finland in order to improve customer experience during the first 24 hours patients check in. Workshop covered 10 departments and over 50 participants representing hospital employees from nurses and physiotherapists to doctors.

Understand the reality and define the problem you´re solving.

Participants started by getting absorbed in the patient´s experiences collected by student observations. What did the patients feel, think, do, see and hear? Shared emotional understanding of the customer´s experience worked as a starting point for the workshop. In the next phase participants filled an emotional customer experience map, that is a process for discovering, how your customers feel as they experience the service through service touch points. With the help of the emotional customer journey, participants identified the pain points of the service. By identifying the pain points, participants were able to understand the reality and define the problem participants continued to work with.


From ideation to potential solutions

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Dog fur mittens?


What does the customer of tomorrow want? I was at the launch of futurist Elina Hiltunen’s new book and petification was the morning’s first consumer trend. Elina identifies and explains 18 consumer trends that can have an impact on you, me and on different businesses through us.

The trends already exist – it’s a question of how well we identify them and can we put them to use in for example developing new services or developing existing ones? Megatrends are the big changes that are already having an impact and have been taken into account in several business fields – population growth, digitalization, longer life expectancy etc. Trends on the other hand are changes of direction in behavior or situations. And weak signals are the first signs of change, the rising phenomen  (Hiltunen, 2017, 56).

The following are the trends that I picked up from Elina.

Changes of direction

Petification – digitalization is here as well. Smart devices are entering the pet industry –  – PetPace helps you observe your pet’s health and TailTalk sensor the feelings of your pet. In USA you can purchase the lazy dogwalker’s Pooper-service – the scooper will take care of picking up the organic waste for you for a price of 15 dollars per month. And you can buy a genetically engineered aquarium fish that glows in the dark as a Xmas present.

Hello Kitty business class on the airplane is all about the trend of  taking care of your inner child and the need to stay young, relaxed and experimental. The soft throwable mike belongs in theis trend as well. The perfect me -trend  includes sharing your own views and opinions with bigger audiences – hate talk is the negative side of this and brave acts the positive one. We are many –trend manifests itself in the  courage to be yourself – being different and non-perfect makes us more interesting.

There’s no typical consumer

Something for everyone – the positive side of this trend is that even a niche segment can be interesting for a company when in global scale. Stereotypes are breaking down  – in her book Elina Hiltunen mentions an interesting example  – the physical change of the barbie for a healthier and more real look. And barbie’s friend sits in a wheelchair.

Also the aspects of getting old are changing – at my hairdresser’s I stumbled across Ari Seth Cohen’s superb book  Advanced Style. Older & wiser – all the models are over 70 with an attitude. Continue reading

Hack the Budget

Hackathons – modern versions of workshops – are now popular also in the public sector. These events follow the service design principles; experts from various fields, customers, entrepreneurs and members of other interest groups gather together for a day or two, form teams, discuss, ideate and develop various solutions for a certain wide and complex subject matter.


Hack the Budget was held on 31.10.2016 at Design Factory, organized by the Ministry of Finance of Finland in cooperation with Open Knowledge Finland and Rapid Action Group. The aim of the event was to explore new approaches to government’s budget data and explore how it could be made more understandable and usable for relevant stakeholders. For example, could the budget data be visualized somehow so that it would be easier for the citizens to piece together where their taxes go? Or how the budget data could be utilized when evaluation of social impact is of interest? The state budget is especially interesting when the state has a monetary deficiency and an aging population – citizens may ask where their tax money go, now and in future.

Hackathons and Jams – what is the difference between them?

Hackathons focus on solutions. The organizers have described the subject matter and the problem which can be wide and complex – and new, innovative solutions are required. Therefore it is only good that the teams consist of experts from various fields. It is also good if potential product or service providers and customers join in. In the end of the day (or two days) the teams present various solutions for the problem described.

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Stages, more stages and the same stages all over again

The Design Thinking course on September 2nd-3rd 2016 was very illuminating. Doing Design Thinking by following a specific model really shows how much work should be put in design work itself from exploring to implementing. Doing the same thing over and over again with different methods (moodboard, brainwriting etc.) truly opens up new ideas during the process.

We started our service planning from one idea and through all the steps ended up in something different. Continuing the process further and with more time would have, in my opinion, led to another outcome. Doing so much work in such a short time really doesn’t give space for ideas to develop by themselves.

The difference in similarities

During the lessons we learned especially the use of the Evolution 6² model, which has more stages than other models discussed in class and in the paper Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation (Tschimmel 2002). Nevertheless, all the models can be, more or less, divided in three main stages: first you have to learn the problem (through observing, exploring, understanding, defying etc.), then you develop an idea/ideas based on your observations (through experiments, ideating, reflecting, elaborating etc.) and finally you’ll find a solution that can be made available to public (through prototyping, testing, implementing etc.).


Brainwrite instead of brainstormWhy? No need to feel ashamed of saying something idiotic out loud while you can write it on a Post-it anonymously.

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Learning Design thinking – did I do it right?


Katja and Mariana, our inspiring lecturers

That was my main concern during the Design Thinking course. Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valença familiarized us with practical Design Thinking. Katja gave us introduction to design thinking, its background, literature and visual models for design thinking process. We familiarized ourselves better with The Mindshake Design thinking model: Evolution 62. The two days of studying were full of inspiring activities to get to know Evolution 62 -model in action.


For some reason I had difficulties letting go of my result-oriented mind-set to complete the activities. I tried to convince myself to focus on simply learning the tools and getting to know my new classmates. But still having the “right” answers to exercises and following the given instructions precisely were my main concerns. It was frustrating and energy-consuming. My goal to have the right answers was preventing me from actually embracing the full meaning of Design Thinking. Because Design thinking is neither art nor science nor religion, it is the capacity, ultimately, for integrative thinking. Design thinkers need to have a holistic view of the problem (Brown), as in this case the holistic view of Design Thinking instead of predicting the answers.

It must had been frustrating also for my group member to have me continuously question what were we actually ideating during the Evolution 62 process. Tim Brown emphasizes that in Design thinking, failure is totally acceptable as long as it happens early and becomes a source of learning. Well, at least I got half of the failure right. After the study days I felt I had failed trying to be a design thinker but when I read more, my failure became a source of learning. Brown wrote that behaviour is never wrong or right but it is always meaningful. He of course refers to people´s behaviour when observed for insights. But I decided to use this on my own behaviour analysis. What if my result-focused way of learning was actually a coping mechanism to deal with the new situation? I have no graphic skills and as visualizing is key elements in Design thinking, this was a big source of uncertainty. And as Design Thinking is a new field for me, I needed to follow the given instructions precisely to stay on board.

Dealing with incomplete information, with the unpredictable, and with ambiguous situations, requires designers to feel comfortable with uncertainty. (D-think) This is a goal I need to keep working for, but luckily Brown wrote something that gave me hope. Don´t ask “what?” ask “why?” Asking “why?” is an opportunity to reframe a problem, redefine the constraints and open the field to a more innovative answer. (Brown) This made me realize that I was actually doing the right thing by questioning our group work, but I was asking the wrong question. In terms of learning and design thinking I should had been asking “why?” to have the answer to convince me for my worry of us heading toward the wrong result and to grasp a more holistic view of the process.

So to answer my question from the beginning – I almost did it right!

Written by
Aino Saari

Service Innovation and Design MBA Student

Brown, Tim 2009. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Tschimmel, Katja; Santos, Joana; Loyens, Dirk; Jacinto, Alexandre; Monteiro, Rute & Valenca, Mariana 2015. Research Report D-Think