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How to make a Service Designer’s Portfolio

What are recruiters looking for when hiring a service designer? How can you showcase your skills in your portfolio? These questions were discussed at Service Design Network Finland’s Portfolio Evening on 9 March at Haaga-Helia. The event kicked off with a panel discussion with recruiters. After that, mentors offered feedback about participants’ portfolios in small groups. I compiled some tips from the event to help you make your portfolio stand out from the crowd.

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Lab8 is Haaga-Helia’s Service Experience Laboratory. Here’s a slogan on the wall of Lab8. photo: Raija Kaljunen

1. Show what you can do

Your portfolio is your sales presentation. It amounts to pitching material about yourself and is a summary of your main skills. It’s important to tell the recruiter about your experience in service design. You can, for example, depict your projects from various angles: the creative process, project results and your roles in them. You can also describe your failed projects and what you did at the point of failure and what you learned from it.

2. Show who you are

Hiring a new service designer is not just about the skills and knowledge of the job applicant. The recruiter is also hiring a new member to an existing team and wants to know something about you as a person: What do you like? What else can I talk with you about apart from work? So pay attention to what else you can say about yourself in your portfolio in addition to showcasing your projects.

3. Keep it short and simple

The recruiter is usually very busy: there are dozens of portfolios to go through. It is important to create a portfolio that is easy and fast to consume. The average time the recruiter spends on your portfolio is about three minutes at most. If your portfolio is unclear or has too much information in it, the recruiters won’t read it at all. So less really is more, as one of the panellists said.

When designing your portfolio, it’s a good idea to think about the wider context relevant to the likely recruiters. What is essential for them to know about you? Often several persons will look at your portfolio in the course of the recruitment process. They will check whether you are a cultural fit, team fit and supervisor fit.

portfolio evening photo Martti Asikainen Service Design Network Finland
Eliisa Sarkkinen from Haaga-Helia was the host of the portfolio evening. The panellists were (from left to right): Teija Hakaoja from Silver Planet, Zeynep Falay von Flittner from Hellon, Emma Laiho from Frantic, Viivi Lehtonen from HSL and Teemu Moilanen from Haaga-Helia. Photo: Martti Asikainen, published with permission by Service Design Network

There is no single right way to make a portfolio. I think one of the best tips from the panel was this:

“Treat the recruiting process as a service design process: think of the recruiter as a customer!”

First of all, you should do your research: check out the company you’re applying to and the job profile specified. When you’ve gathered the information you need and know what they are looking for, it’s time to think about the content and the form of your portfolio. Show both your experience and what’s unique in you. Find a balance between quality and quantity in your portfolio. And remember: your portfolio can also be minimalist if you are not a visual designer.

author: Raija Kaljunen, Master’s Degree student in Service Design at Laurea

Designing from linear to circular economy

Event: Circular Design Workshop, “Designing sustainable future”

4th of March, in Maria 01, Helsinki

I had a pleasure to participate in an interesting design workshop, which dealt with the topic that seems to be in the headlines everywhere – circular economy. More specifically, the workshop was about circular design, and from a service design student point of view, this sounded a chance too good to miss. The info about the event promised an introduction to circular design and practical guidance how to use circular design tools, especially from product and service design point of view. Definitely, this was something that I got, and a huge amount of material and tools to go through.

The workshop was arranged by Taival, a management consulting company which provides business, strategy and technology advisory services. The company was founded in 2017, and it currently operates in Finland and Germany. Taival arranges events related to circular economy under the title “Digitally Circular”. Workshop was facilitated by Tapani Jokinen, who works as a Principal Design Advisor at Taival and he has over 25 years’ experience in design.

As mentioned before, during the workshop we were introduced many practical tools that can be used in circular design. However, my aim in this blog post is not to go through all these materials in detail, rather than to discuss the themes and topics that I consider as my main takeaways from this workshop and what kind of thoughts came into my mind as I went through all the provided materials.

Circularity starts with design

From the circularity point of view, decisions made in the product design phase are very important. They affect enormously to environmental pollution, and also to the possibilities for example reusing, remanufacturing and recycling the product. These aspects are very critical from the circularity point of view and it is very challenging to make changes into those features later. That’s why it is important to take these dimensions into account already during designing – and that’s why we need circular design!

There exist terms, that are similar to circular design, such as ecodesign or sustainable design, which can be more familiar and understandable for many. However, the term circular design is nowadays often used, because it describes well that the focus of the design phase should be very holistic, in systems level, and it emphasizes the importance of “closing the loop”.

New mindset of circular design

In circular design, you must have a totally new mindset: waste doesn’t exist. This means that products and services are designed in a way that the waste and pollution are designed out. Waste should be considered as a resource that can be utilized. The focus of circular design is trying to retain the value, and this can be designed through different loops. This means that instead of just thinking about recycling the waste in the end, as in the linear economy, the focus is on how to retain the value the best possible way – through repairing, reusing, remanufacturing and finally, through recycling.

Loops help to follow and design circular flows

The possibilities how to retain the value and in this way extend the life of a product can be thought through following circular flows, which are presented as loops (Figure 1). The inner loops are preferred, as they retain value better than the final loop of recycling, which is important, but considered as the last option.

Figure 1. Four loops of retaining the value (Slide from Jokinen’s presentation)

Loop 1: Repair, maintain and upgrade

First loop describes how the products are kept in use as long as possible. This is done through design by making durable products that are easy to repair and maintain, and also easy to upgrade when needed. A good method for this is for example modular design, which makes it easy to change only a part of a product, if it is damaged. Additionally, modularity enables customising which means that the product is easier to modify to the needs of different users.

Loop 2: Reuse

Second loop focuses on what happens to products and materials after the first use. This refers to reusing products in their original form. Ways to do this are reusing, re-selling and redistributing. This has also increased the interest in sharing economy, which refers to the shift from ownership to access, “product-as-a-service”. Quite often people only need an access to a product for a short period of time, and after that the service provider is able to pass the access on to another user. This is seen to make better use of materials and resources, and through these kind of shared services the result is also that less products needs to be produced.

Loop 3: Remanufacturing

Third loop refers to remanufacturing process. If the remanufacturing is already considered in the design phase, the product is made in a way that all components are easy to replace, if needed, before re-entering the market.

Loop 4: Re-/Upcycle

Last loop is recycling process, where raw materials from the product are recycled. There can also be a process of upcycling, which means transforming for example waste materials or unwanted products into new materials or products.

For me, going through these loops helped to understand that there exists many different possibilities of retaining a value – circular economy is so much more than just thinking about recycling in the end.

As a final sprint in the workshop we prototyped circular system with Learning Factory Lifecycle Design Canvas (Figure 2). That sprint definitely was a concrete reminder of all the different perspectives that should be taken into account in circular design – so many different things, so many different stakeholders.

Figure 2. Learning Factory Lifecycle Design Canvas (slide from Jokinen’s presentation)

Time for redesigning

After this introduction to circular design I surely can understand that transformation from linear economy to circular economy is not an easy one – many things must change. I think, that from the service design point of view one of the most important things is changing the focus to more holistic level, because we have to know and understand how the whole circular system works. However, based on this half-day workshop, I can say, that circular design is definitely something that I warmly welcome to change the way we think about owning and using products. It will be very interesting to follow the future of the circular design – are we going to redesign everything?

Below are links to some of the reference materials provided in the workshop. There are many useful tools and informative materials for those who want to know more about circular design.

Author: Erika Niemi-Vanala

LINKS:

Sustainability Guide

Circular Design Guide

Ellen Macarthur Foundation

 

The future belongs to those who prepare for it today – Malcolm X

Wouldn’t it be great to know what the future holds for us? Particularly in the difficult times we are currently living, it’s easy to wish we’d know what the world looks like in six months or a year. This of course isn’t possible, but futures thinking provides a framework for us to foresee what possible futures might look like. In the words of Malcolm X – the future belongs to those who prepare for it today. So let’s prepare!

Futurice Scenario Co-Creation Workshop 5.3.2020

To learn how to use foresight strategically and to network with specialists in the field, I attended a scenario co-creation workshop at Futurice. The event was organized on the eve of National Futures Day in order to introduce the newly developed Futurice Lean Futures Creation toolkit.

Similarities between design thinking and futures thinking

Futures thinking and design thinking have some synergies and overlap, not only in theory but also in practice. Personally I have more experience attending and organizing service design workshops and only a bit of experience in futures thinking through coursework at Laurea. Although I am quite new to futures thinking, the tools and canvases used during the workshop felt familiar due to my experience in service design.

My Laurea coursework introduced me to all the futures thinking concepts discussed in the workshop. With this background, the workshop contributed to my learning and provided me with additional tools for my personal toolkit.

The future of workputting the Lean Futures Creation toolkit to the test

We started off with a brief introduction to the new toolkit and quickly formed groups of 6-7 and started working. The workshop focused on the future of work and all participants had been tasked with finding five trends or weak signals on what work might look like in 2030.  Based on these we filled in a PESTLEY table, which we used as the basis for our alternative futures. The PESTLEY table was the first canvas we used.

The first and second canvas: PESTLEY and futures table

The PESTLEY table guided our work in the next step; creating alternative futures. For this we used the second canvas. We selected seven topics, came up with alternative outcomes and finally developed three alternative futures based on this work. The team divided into pairs and used the third canvas to guide the development of the different narratives.

The third and fourth canvas: Creating the narrative and backcasting

The very last canvas we used guided the development of scenarios. My group had been so swept away by the previous steps that we didn’t have enough time to backcast and develop complete scenarios. We did still get to try it and as the facilitator kept reminding us – today was less about the substance and more about the process!

We got to practice using four canvases, developed a deeper understanding about co-creating scenarios and networked with likeminded professionals. The night was a great success in my books!

For everyone interested in creating scenarios, download the free Futurice Lean Futures Creation toolkit here >>

What’s the secret recipe to becoming an agile and customer-centric company?

Futurice hosted Service Design Network Finland’s event in Helsinki in January 2020 where Marc Stickdorn* talked about how companies can use journey maps as a management tool. Stickdorn explained three different situations where journey maps can be used: in workshops, projects or as a management tool. Workshop journey maps are used only once and they will not live after a workshop. Project journey maps are used throughout the project and they can be research, assumption or future based. Journey Map Operations is a management tool that combines different projects and business units in a company and supports companies to become agile: it builds relationships across silos, collects information and the most important – manages customer experience across departments.

Journey Map Operations, Marc Stickdorn

The reality in many organizations is that different departments are working with different projects and processes. There might be lots of handovers, various targets, expectations, practices and end solutions. This is because departments have different ways of documenting, they use different tools, terms, and language in their projects. The focus of the projects might be different depending on if it’s a legal, IT, sales, product innovation, marketing, or finance project. But in the end, all the internal and external projects impact also directly or indirectly on company’s customer experience. Many projects might also overlap and from the customer’s point of view there may be shared the same steps in the journey but then the journey continues for different directions which might be really confusing and frustrating for the customer. For a company it is difficult to operate and manage this kind of complexity.


How to get a shared perspective and language across departments?

Companies talk about being customer-centric and agile, but few companies really are because it is impossible to be agile in practice without a shared perspective and tools. According to Stickdorn journey maps would support companies be agile in operations by offering a common visualized language and understanding across different departments and levels in the organization. By mapping and combining different internal and external projects from customer’s perspective organization gets better transparency and understanding what’s going on in different parts of the organization that have an impact on customers or employees’ experience. This helps employees and management to see what are the ongoing initiatives where the organization needs to align? Is there an overlap in the processes? What ongoing and planned projects are around the organization?

I like how Stickdorn compares journey maps for maps in geography: by zooming in and zooming out it is possible to see different levels of the journey. By zooming in the company can see details and understand micro-interactions while zooming out helps to see the high-level journey, the bigger picture.

Different level of journeys zoomed in and out


A recipe for the secret sauce

Stickdorn proposes that there should be specific roles or teams in charge of the journeys. These would be called journey map coordinators. Coordinators are responsible for different parts and levels of the journeys. Somebody on the higher level, for example, CXO, is responsible for the highest-level customer journey. When zooming in the highest-level journey there might be different teams and departments responsible for other parts and experiences of the journey.

Journey map coordinators are split around the organization into different departments and they should meet regularly – once per quarter, month or once per week depending on how close the organization wants to be with the customer, how quickly they want to react and adapt to change. In these meetings, information is shared from microlevel customer interactions to higher levels. The power of the meetings would not only be in sharing information but they would help to see what kind of qualitative and quantitative information organization has from its customers on different levels. And when you add customers’ and employees’ pain points and KPIs there, soon a company might have a dashboard of customer experience!


The value for business

I think that Journey Map Operations is a perfect example of service design method – it brings people from different parts and levels of organization together, focuses on collaborative problem-solving, offers a holistic view, brings clarity in complexity, creates a common language by visualizing things and shares information between different departments with a common target – the customer. At the the same time Journey Map Operations provides a lean way of working and supports company to become more agile.

In overall, journey maps are helpful when company wants to get a holistic understanding of customer or employee experience, recognize their needs and pain points and seek opportunities for innovations. We just need to keep in mind that it’s not about the tool but what the tool can deliver for employees, customers and business. “Journey map isn’t a f..inkg deliverable” as Marc Stickdorn would say.



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You might be interested also:

How to co-create journey maps https://www.thisisservicedesigndoing.com/methods/journey-mapping

How to map journeys https://www.thisisservicedesigndoing.com/methods/mapping-journeys

*Marc Stickdorn is co-founder of More than Metrics, and editor and co-author of the award-winning books This is Service Design Thinking and This is Service Design Doing. He regularly gives talks and workshops on service design and innovation,and teaches at various business and design schools.


Journey maps and facilitation: my take-aways from Marc Stickdorn’s workshop

What a way to spend Friday evening it was: about 70 people hungry for Marc Stickdorn’s facilitation exercise and presentation on journey map operations! Futurice hosted this Service Design Network Finland’s event on 31 January. I’ll share with you in this blog post two insights about journey maps and three points from the facilitation exercise that I found most interesting.

Zooming in and out the journey maps

Journey maps on different levels

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Zooming in and out. photo: Raija Kaljunen

Marc Stickdorn states that for agile teams you need journey maps that contain all levels: these are high-level, detailed and micro journey maps. You can zoom in and out on these levels to get into the details of a certain touchpoint. In this way you can map the whole experience of the customer. It is also important to map the touchpoints not provided by your organization. As Marc Stickdorn put it: “The customers have a life outside of being your customer!”

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It’s the whole experience that matters. photo: Raija Kaljunen

You have to take into account the whole ecosystem where the customer interacts with your service. Finding all these touchpoints really requires careful work when creating the journey maps!

Service design as a management approach

“When an agile organization or team shifts to customer-centric management system, it actually brings design into management. For instance, journey map operations can serve as a dashboard for management including real-time KPIs and data”, said Marc Stickdorn.

I found the new roles needed in organizations using service design as a management approach particularly interesting. You always need to have someone at management level responsible for customer experience. Marc Stickdorn introduced a new role needed in organizations: journey map coordinators. These coordinators lead specialized teams who are in charge of different levels of journey maps across the departments. The teams meet in journey map councils weekly, monthly and quarterly and ask this important question:

“Has someone in our organization something that has an impact on customer experience?”

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Building bridges between silos. photo: Raija Kaljunen

This is how you prevent people working in silos and make all projects visible for all. Up-to-date journey maps also serve as a tool to visualize processes and align all ongoing initiatives.

“You get the same language, same tools and same perspective for everyone. This is how you build bridges between silos”, said Marc Stickdorn.

Insights from facilitation exercise

1. Warm-up creates a safe space

Marc Stickdorn gave us hands-on experience on co-creating journey maps for different touchpoints. But before kicking off the workshop, we did a warm-up with a hilarious Danish clapping game.

Danish Clapping, a video by Copenhagen Game Collective

“You need to make people move around and make the room their own. Also make sure that nobody sees from outside to your workshop room – it may be difficult to be relaxed if your boss is staring into the room! And get people to laugh in warm-up – positivity helps always to create a safe space!”

2. Time is the tool for the facilitator

Marc Stickdorn recommends giving precise timings in workshops: 7, 16, 19 minutes and not 5, 10 or 15 minutes – the latter only makes people relax and do nothing first. He also hides the time in the room: “Time is the tool for the facilitator, not for participants! This is called liquid timing.”

3. Three ways of working

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From one pen to many pens and from one page to many pages. photo: Raija Kaljunen

  • You get speed and diversity when you have all participants working individually with many pens and many pages.
  • At the other end of the line you get more completeness and shared understanding with one pen and one page.
  • Between these two you work with many pens on one page.

Hands-on experience is a great way to learn, especially when it comes to facilitation. I learned a lot just by watching how Marc Stickdorn facilitated the evening: how he gave instructions, what kind of materials we had and how he guided us through different phases of the workshop – not easy when you have 70 people in the room!

Thank you Marc Stickdorn, Futurice and Service Design Network Finland for a great and productive event!

author: Raija Kaljunen
Master’s Degree student in Service Design at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Further reading

Stickdorn, M., Lawrence, A., Hormess, M. & Schneider, J. 2018. This is Service Design Doing. California: O’Reilly Media Inc.

This is Service Design Doing Methods’ library

 

The Design Possibilities in Redefinition

By: Johanna Johnson

Futurice recently hosted an event at their downtown Helsinki headquarters titled “Futurice Design Presents: Redefining Meanings”.  During the opening speech given by one of the employees of Futurice, they encouraged us to redefine the meanings of things we think we already know and carefully curated the themes of the evening to illustrate this concept.  This event featured four different speakers exploring four very different topics converging around the central idea of design as a driver for transformation. 

Redefining a Library

“Oodi was designed together with customers for a long period of time. We received more than 2,000 ideas from customers to serve as the basis of the architectural competition. ALA Architects designed an amazing and unique building that takes all the elements most desired by customers into account. The customers immediately made Oodi their own, which is our greatest success.”

-Anna-Maria Soininvaara (Director of Oodi)

The first talk was by Antti Nousjoki of ALA Architects.  He was part of the team that designed the new Helsinki Central Library Oodi, which has recently won the award for 2019 Public Library of the Year.  I have visited Oodi many times since it has opened this past year, but I did not know the full history of how this space came to be.  I found this talk to be very interesting.  The main goal of this project was to give Helsinki residents what they have long desired and dreamed from a combination of a public space and a library.  In creating this new “urban living room” as Nousjoki affectionately referred to this space, the aim was to create a public area that incorporated as many of the public wishes for the new library (that had been collected since the 90’s) into this project as possible.

This project redefined what a library is by creating a space that challenged the traditional idea of what a library should encompass.  In an increasingly digital society that does not rely on colossal volumes of literature as the sole source of information, it was time for the modern library to get a facelift in order to remain relevant in today’s society.  This space was co-created by the community of Helsinki and has caught the attention of the world in its ingenious redefinition of what it means to be a “library”.  It has greatly widened the parameters of what a community library can contain, and with this project as the first of its kind, I look forward to how the public libraries of the future will continue to evolve.  

Check out this clip to see some of the other technological innovations and re-definitions happening at Oodi:

Redefining Artificial Intelligence for Designers

The next section was a closer look at the future of artificial intelligence (AI), specifically in the world of service designers.  This section was a talk by Annina Antinranta and Eeva Nikkari of Futurice.  In this talk we got a crash course about the history of AI and a glimpse into the future possibilities and implications of this rapidly evolving technology.  

At this moment in time, AI has come a very long way, but it is still somewhat limited.  The modern AI is currently capable of astonishing feats, and the sheer computational power has unarguably far surpassed that of the average human.  During this talk there was an example given of a computer that could create something like over a hundred (or hundreds) of visual banners in a matter of moments.  We are all aware of the new AI that is slowly replacing jobs in the form of assembly line jobs, self-driving cars, and other applications made to streamline various processes. In this current AI boom, we will eventually see this ubiquitous technology everywhere:

As exciting or scary as this advancement may seem, there are still limitations as to what AI can currently do.  I remember when I was in elementary school my first computer science teacher would repeatedly say “A computer is only as smart as it’s user”.  There are certain things that AI can not currently do:

This talk encouraged the designer to be aware of the advancement of AI and its place in the future society.  We were encouraged to re-think the designers’ position as sole designer in the process and think about the role of AI as an aid in the creative process.  This reminds me of the debate between quantitative and qualitative data.  A computer is 100% quantitative data.  It is up to the designer to insert the soul and human factor of qualitative data in the AI output in order to be able in tandem to create new concepts and ideas.

In the TED talk below given by Garry Kasparaov (the chess grandmaster who was beaten by the computer program Deep Blue in 1998), titled “Don’t Fear Intelligent Machines.  Work with Them” he says that “There’s only one thing a human can do, dream.  So dream big.” 

For now AI can’t dream.  Whenever it starts to be able to dream, I suppose we will be having a different type of conversation. 🤖 Until then, enjoy this TED Talk:

Redefining Complexity and Wellbeing

The next talk by Timo Hämäläinen was a deep dive into the history of civilization and the current state of our society.  In this talk he said that economic and social development is the main driver behind the development of civilizations and explored the theory that when society becomes too complex to be governed from the top it will collapse.  We have seen this in the past for example in the rise and ultimate fall of ancient Mayan civilization and the Roman Empire.

According to this lecture, before societal implosion occurs there is a bifurcation point that each civilization or society reaches where they can either achieve a breakthrough and continue to exist, moving forward by re-creating their existing institutions, or continue down the road of compounding complexity induced chaos that is riddled with conflict, polarization, and violence that ultimately leads to the previously mentioned societal or civilizational collapse.  He states that our current worldwide civilization is at such a bifurcation point. 

Over the course of this talk he talks about the challenges of this modern society and suggests that a possible solution to this complexity crisis could be found in the realm of cybernetic laws with William Ross Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety.  Applied to this type of situation, it implies that societal collapse happens when you have an insufficient variety of responses to deal with a variety of problems.  He proposes that the two main strategies to deal with our modern complexity issues are through complexity reduction and complexity absorption.

It was interesting to note that the speaker pointed out that currently in Finland mental illness is the number 1 reason of sickness pension in people under the age of 55.  This rise of anxiety and other mental illnesses in modern society could be a direct result of the current level of continually evolving complexity in modern civilization.  In order to combat this issue, we must look more deeply at our current ecosystems and their multitude of connections and deviations.  This talk challenged us to redefine what it means to approach problem solving and wellbeing in modern society. 

Redefining the Future

The final talk by Mia Muurimäki and Annika Hamann, they proposed the idea that every designer should be a futures thinker.  They challenged us to think about what it would be to not design just for today, but to expand our ideas and to think what could be possible 5 or 10 years down the line.  One way to do this is through provotyping:

“A provotype is a provocative prototype.  It is introduced in the early exploratory phases of the design development process to cause a reaction- to provoke and engage people to imagine possible futures.”

-Stratos Innovation Group

During this talk they described a case study from their organization that highlighted how provotyping can be a way for people to “feel the future” and for them to gather good insights and feedback about potential future solutions.   They also raised the debate as to whether or not our current design solutions are too short sighted and suggested that we could use futures planning to stretch our ideas into the future and beyond.

You can read more about the provotyping concept in the article here: https://medium.com/@thestratosgroup/moving-from-prototyping-to-provotyping-cedf42a48e90

Conclusion

This was an interesting evening of talks aimed at getting us as designers to think further outside the box, more critically, and imaginatively about the world around us.  As designers we can create new ideas and we can also choose to redefine paradigms.  We are limited only by our imagination. 

Sources

Helsinki Central Library Oodi chosen as the best new public library in the world. 2019.  Accessed 26 December 2019. https://www.sttinfo.fi/tiedote/helsinki-central-library-oodi-chosen-as-the-best-new-public-library-in-the-world?publisherId=60579873&releaseId=69863829

Stratos Innovation Group. Moving from Prototyping to “Provotyping”.  Posted 24 August 2016.  Accessed 26 December 2019.  https://medium.com/@thestratosgroup/moving-from-prototyping-to-provotyping-cedf42a48e90

You’ve Been Nudged!

What do you mean by “I’ve been nudged”? (Picture by @designwilde)

Whether you realize it nor not you have most likely been nudged if you have ever done e.g. some online shopping. Of course, you can be nudged in other environments too but in this blog I will for the most part concentrate on nudging in the digital environment. This is because I took part in the Digital Nudging Workshop hosted by Riina Salmivalli at the Central Library Oodi on the 9th of December 2019 and I wish to share some of the learnings I got from there. The workshop was part of events organized by Ompeluseuran palvelumuotoilijat which is a women’s service design networking group.

What Is a Nudge?

Okay I realize I have said the word nudge already quite a few times yet have not given any explanation on what it actually means. So here we go, according to Thaler and Sustein (2009, 12) a nudge: “… is any aspect of the choice architecture that alerts people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives.” Still confused? Let me give you some concrete examples.  

Picture by GETTY CREATIVE featured in BBC News online article “Have you been nudged?”

One of the most famous examples of a nudge is the picture of a fly added to the urinals in Amsterdam Schiphol airport. The spillage on the men’s washroom floors decreased by 80% helping to save on cleaning costs as users of the urinals were now aiming at the picture of the fly placed near the urinal drains. Thaler describes this as harmless engineering that captures peoples’ attention and alters their behavior in a positive way (Sommer 2009). Another typical example of a nudge is making citizens automatically registered as organ donors unless they choose otherwise. Spain has implemented this nudge in their healthcare system and thus it is a world leader in organ donations (Govan 2017).

Nudging in the Digital Context

By now you have probably gotten a better sense of what nudging is, so let’s see what it looks like in the digital context. I am going to give three examples of nudges used in the digital environment: default settings, social references and warnings. Obviously, there are more than just these three but I think that calls for a separate blog post. Without further ado, let’s get to it:

Default Settings:

This is to do with the status quo bias where individuals tend to stay with the current status as changing is seen to have more disadvantages than remaining with the current status quo (Mirsch, Lehrer & Jung 2017).  Take the example of Posti’s parcel service pictured below that instantly gives as a default setting the option “Postal Parcel International” (Posti 2019), which will make it the most likely option the customer will continue with.

Posti’s online parcel service

Social References:

This is about taking into account the factor that social norms influence human behavior. Social norms are described as rules and standards which are understood by members of a group that direct and restrict them in social behavior but are not enforced by laws (Cialdini & Trost 1998). At the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna website (2019) the customer can see the reviews of their desired products. The reviews show the reviewers age, region, skin type and tone (Fenty Beauty 2019) so that customer can be influenced in making a purchasing decision if a similar type of person has liked the product as well.

Product reviews for Fenty Beauty by Rihanna

Warnings:

This refers to the psychological theory of loss aversion where losses and disadvantages are presumed to have bigger effect on preferences than possible gains (Kahneman, Knetsch & Thaler 1991). When booking for tickets at the online service ebookers.com (2019), the website notifies how many people are currently searching for flights to the same destination. The site also gives a warning that there are only three tickets available for that particular price, creating an urge for the customer to want to avoid the risk of loosing the cheap tickets.

ebookers warning the customer that there are only three tickets left at £823

Next time you go browsing on a website, see if you can spot any of the three digital nudges being used. It is quite interesting to notice how much nudging is happening without you even realizing it.

Written by Lyydia Pertovaara

References:

Cialdini, R.B. & Trost, M.R. 1998. Social Influence: Social Norms, Conformity, and Compliance. In: The Handbook of Social Psychology, vol. 2. New York: McGraw-Hill, pp.151–192.

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