After living for the past year and half in unnormal circumstances, the whole world is asking the same question;” what is the new normal and has the work changed permanently and how?”
No one has a crystal ball to give the answer, but there are some tools in our use to predict the future. These are facts combined to our imagination.
Megatrends help us design the future
Urbanization will keep on growing. Approximately 85% of all world’s population is living in cities when we reach 2100 (YK). This means bigger cities, more traffic jams, more life balance hustle etc. Digitalization as another megatrend might be able to change the course of this development. From service designers’ point of view pandemics era opened many opportunities for designing new digital ways of working. This means abilities to work from wherever and whenever. There are also many opportunities in solving the growing challenges of big cities by designing human centric smarter solutions.
Environmental crisis keeps challenging us all. Global warming means raising sea levels, which means that 800 million people’s habitation is in danger. Environmentally friendly solutions are needed fast. From work point of view this means we need new kind of professionals to clean tech, rescue workers, to construction industry etc. But is there something we can do only by designing thigs better? Can we optimize the remote work so that we drive less and cause less CO2 pollution? Can office spaces be more space efficient and, in that way, more energy efficient (lesser need for heating, parking space, lightning…)? Can we create carbon sinks that also serve some communal purpose, to office rooftops and yards? Is there still something we have not thought out and something that opens also new business opportunities to someone?
Aging is one obvious megatrend that also changes our working life. In the future the need for many senior services is needed. There are also less and less working aged people to do all the work. We need more sophisticated digital solutions to help in this dilemma. WE also need immigrants. This means more multicultural workplaces. Designing workplaces for people from different ethnic background requires understanding from different cultures and their habits. Human centric empathy-based design is one answer to solving this problem.
So what is then the 1+1 (facts+ imagination) outcome to how work is changing. . .
Most probably we have more AI solutions to help us in many basic work tasks. Maybe the office building recognizes us when we walk in and prepares a suitable workstation according to the tasks we have in our calendar. Maybe even coffee will be automatically made ready. Who knows?
Probably many of our colleagues work remotely from various locations and join collaborative moments via virtual rooms and mixed reality solutions. Maybe all the technological development eventually connects us more back to nature. This I hope the most.
This Blog was a summary and reflection of Futurist. Elina Hiltunens presentation by SID MBA student Tarja Paanola, Laurea University of Applied Sciences
Too often the approach in the development of public services has been “This system has now been built for you, welcome, please use it”. Lately it has become obvious that to make services sustainable and attractive, this has to be changed. Hence, service design is increasingly applied also in the development of public services. In designing public services, it is the citizens who are the users group and need to be engaged in the co-creation.
Why and how users should be involved in public service design? This question was explored by Assistant Professor Jakob Trischler from the CTF Service Research Center (Karlstad, Sweden) on the 21 May 2021.
A key note from Jakob Trischer was that, contrary to popular belief, it is not only companies that are a source of innovation. Users are also an important source of innovation. According to a study Assistant Professor Trischler referred to, around 5-10 % of the population in western countries are innovating regularly. Yet, innovation policies are often very producer-centric: resources and funding go to companies far more often than to citizens as innovators of public services.
Secondly, users often innovate even before companies. In many cases, it is the users that first perceive a need and invent possible solutions to that. Later on, companies commercialize the innovation, a process which always takes some time. Some great examples given in the presentation of Jakob Trischler included a 20-year-old Indian high school student Anang Tadar, who invented in 2017 the G4B: special glasses for the blind. He created this device after a blind woman came to him asking for directions. Another inspiring example was about a British couple Naveed and Samiya Parvez, who founded their own company Andiamo, in order to produce and commercialize 3D printed customized orthosis. They set out to invent this device because their son Diamo had cerebral palsy and was quadriplegic, but the gadgets available for his well-being were not adequate and effective.
These two examples are from Patient Innovation which is a nonprofit, international platform and social network where solutions, treatments and devices developed by patients or caregivers from all over the world can be shared and improved in a collaborative way.
A third, and perhaps strongest, argument for the involvement of users in the design of public services was that users have access to “use knowledge”. They know what are the user needs, and have first-hand user experiences from the existing services. In the public sector, a user is most likely in contact with several service providers, not only one. A hospital patient probably uses also normal health care facilities, services for disabled persons, home help services, social services etc. The challenge is to understand the system surrounding the user`s activities.
Essentially, to promote co-creation of public services you need to allow users to be active in the provision of knowledge and innovation.
Carrot or stick?
The role and position of the user changes when we move from private services to public. In the public sphere the right of the user to get the service is highlighted, whereas in private services it is more about the availability of that service.
The motivation to participate and give one`s time to improving public services through service design comes generally from different sources: financial rewards, enjoyment, feeling of connection with others, personal reputation improvement and status. In short, there are personal, social, hedonic and cognitive benefits. According to one questionnaire done among library users who participated in a library innovation process, the main satisfaction came from getting their voices heard and needs fulfilled.
There are different types of users: ordinary users (uses the service a few times only), active users (more involved and more knowledgeable about the topic), and heavy-users who even try to create services for themselves. Some ordinary users might be very active and motivated to participate, whereas some heavy-users might be reluctant and suspicious. Just think about rehabilitation services for alcoholics or drug addicts, to put an example. Even though an addict might be a heavy-user of this kind of services, it does not automatically mean he/she insists in playing an active part in the development of those services.
When it comes to public services users can also include companies. How should the service designer treat and involve these very different groups of users? Could there be a risk of combining active users and low-engaged users in co-design activities?
It is a fact that active and highly motivated people tend to take over the discussion and promote their own needs over the others. On the other hand, there are also extreme users who have low level of engagement and motivation to participate. How to involve them? Jakob Trischler`s advice was to actively use local networks to find this group of people, connect with them, raise their awareness, and incentivize before the start of the co-creation process. During the process, it is important to continue informing, activating, and preparing this group, and make sure the process is well facilitated and inclusive to all. This will help in reaching expected outcomes: new ideas that help improve services for all users, as well as capacity to drive for change.
Users will need correct tools to participate in user-innovation. Using digital platforms has become a common method in getting users` feedback and engaging them in the service design. In many instances going digital helps the designers and facilitators, but not always the users. Within public services, there is big chunk of users who don`t feel comfortable using digital channels. On the other hand, it has been shown now during the pandemic that the participation of more timid users has been increased in digital settings, especially in politics.
In any case, a personal, targeted selection process of participants is needed to avoid self-selection and dominance of the most active users.
Ultimately, service design is a creative, human-centered and iterative approach to service innovation. With the appropriate space, motivation and tools, users can engage in and even take over innovation activities. As public services belong to all of us and are ultimately paid by tax payers, it is only fair that that the users are the main designers of the services they use.
During the Service Design Global Conference (SDGC) arranged in October, a workshop was held around facilitating future visions in large organizations. One of the goals was to learn how to support company empowerment involving leadership in the design process. A secondary task was to demonstrate suitable tools for aligning discussion and to synthesize focus areas.
The workshop was facilitated by two experienced service designers, Marcela Machuca (Nordea, Denmark) and Aleksandra Kozawska (BBVA, Spain), but also involved 30 participants from companies in different industries, countries and cultures. These experts, with a various spread of competences, actively contributed through co-creation and discussion. As an introduction, the facilitators thoroughly explained main concepts and rules of the session to handle expectations. They clearly stated that this would be a co-working session rather than a lecture.
As the conference was arranged entirely online, Miro had been selected as a platform for collaboration. To get familiar with other participants and Miro as a tool, a simple first task was to show personal superpowers (traits) in a visualization, including texts around our interests and competences.
After the introduction, two key tools were introduced; Strategic GPS and Future Scenarios.
Strategic GPS was explained as a tool to navigate and understand strategies (goals) of a company and to compare contrasts. By comparing radical opposites, the tool gives views on how a firm can develop its services and prepare for potential market (and industry) changes. In other words, it may help companies review and align its vision in a specific direction.
Future scenarios on the other hand, was defined as a tool that helps synthesize and bring transparency to how a business landscape currently looks like, and how it may look in the future. Additionally, it can provoke stakeholder thinking and stimulate minds towards challenging current views of a business landscape.
To further explain these concepts, workshop participants were divided in groups to work on a case introduced by the facilitators. Both methods above, that can be applied to any business, were utilized and put to action in two assignments. For example, was our group working on a concept around supermarkets, discussing and reflecting potential opportunities and outcomes through the future scenarios tool.
Through a divergent approach, plenty of ideas were brainstormed around this assigned topic and discussed within the group. When numerous thoughts had been considered, all ideas were converged towards three main themes that were prioritized, summarized and communicated to the rest of the participants.
Overall, the workshop session was eye-opening. Even though involved participants had no prior working experience with supermarkets, many insightful areas were touched upon. By utilizing a global network of experts and understanding emerging trends, these convenient, yet practical, tools increased our knowledge on how co-working functions in practice to develop innovations.
Written by Thomas Djupsjö MBA Student at Laurea, University of Applied Sciences
The international community, Service Design Network (SDN), founded in 2004, arranged an online conference focusing on service design in October of 2020. The conference was planned to be held physically in Copenhagen, but due to the global pandemic, all keynotes, workshops, and other events were held online utilizing convenient tools for collaboration.
This year’s theme was embracing change, a topic strongly reflected in all presentations. Keynote speakers this year were employees of big corporations and experts in service design from different cultures, countries and time zones.
In this blog post I summarize two intriguing presentations and ponder service design trends and opportunities for value creation in companies.
Embracing change and service design today
Birgit Mager, one of the founders of the SDN community and the first Professor in Service Design globally, has attended every SDGC conference since the beginning. In a short introductory presentation, Status of Service Design Today, Mager explains current transformation in operations of companies and how the roles of service designers have changed over time. Although service designers by default are optimistic, the “new normal” (due to Covid) has largely impacted ways of work, she says.
Mager emphasizes that the important of technology substantially has grown, but the future lies in utilizing both new technology and data to create services. Currently, we already are using a lot of technology and conduct research online, but a change has happened in agencies, where e.g. data scientists are involved as new roles in service design, Mager explains.
In addition to these, ethics has been put as a focus when creating services. Other equally relevant areas are sustainability, accessibility, and participation, Mager mentions.
Designing aviation future through design
The Dutch aviation company, KLM, founded over a hundred years ago, has recently been facing challenges due to the global pandemic and how it has changed the aviation industry. The complex industry is naturally very regulated and evolves rapidly as consumers are becoming extensively environmentally aware.
In a jointed keynote, Ryanne Van De Streek, project manager at KLM, and Anouk Randag, service design consultant at Livework, presented a sample of methods through which KLM has introduced new ways to innovate and develop services.
As a company, KLM has already for some time put efforts on design and has also started design initiatives that currently are in use. KLM, however, wanted to continue developing these new methods with a goal to activate ~1500 employees, to develop competences and to involve innovation in a system by the end of 2023.
According to Randag, high impact can be created by utilizing, developing and scaling current initiatives. In her presentation and new model was presented that had been co-created iteratively within KLM as an organization.
Although KLM drastically have had to cut budgets due to Covid, Van De Streek explains that certain areas still are being put in action. For example, are their new service design principles and process (”KLM X way of working”) shared with new employees to foster agility, as this continuously is needed in their industry.
To summarize, we can conclude that although service design is quite a broad principle, it can work as a great way to develop internal working methods and sustainable business in organizations. By being open to new ideas, utilizing current competences and starting initiatives, with a focus on building custom ways to work, organizations can achieve innovation and test new business models.
Written by Thomas Djupsjö MBA Student at Laurea, University of Applied Sciences
The International AIDS conferece, AIDS2020Virtual was organized 6-10 July 2020. Thousands of scientists, activists, policy makers, people living with HIV and others came together to share the newest information on HIV and AIDS. I attended the virtual conference and in this post I will discuss one of the sessions on human centered design.
Innovation has fueled medical advancements
Innovation has shaped the course of the whole HIV epidemic. In the 1980s getting an HIV diagnosis meant a certain death. Since then we’ve come a long way through several crucial innovations in HIV treatment and prevention, one of the most crucial ones being antiretroviral medication. Today thanks to effective treatment, a person living with HIV can live a long and healthy life.
Through further innovation, we can reach the end of this epidemic. There is much research in the pipeline around an HIV vaccine, a possible cure and preventive treatment, such as different options for PrEP. PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, which is a medicine that people who are at a high risk of HIV can use to prevent infection. Read more about PrEP here
Reaching the most vulnerable through human centered design
Although medical advances have been made in the treatment and prevention of HIV, the development has been unequal and many people have been left behind. Therefore, HIV service provision is now gaining more attention, so that the ones that have been left behind during the past 40 years of HIV work, can be better included in the response in the future. This is where I believe that human centered design can play an important role.
During the #AIDS2020Virtual conference I attended a discussion on human centered design and how it can be utilized in HIV prevention and testing. Throughout the conference, the importance of empathy came up in discussions with people living with HIV, key populations in terms of HIV, activists and specialists. As human centered design is grounded in empathy and since it puts the person at the center of the service that is designed for their benefit, it brings a lot of value for designing HIV services and programs. Human centered design does not only take into consideration what people say, but beneficiaries of services can actually impact the final service through their actions, based on their needs, motivations and desires. The session included speakers from USAID, JSI, Matchboxology and Ideo.org. They all introduced case studies in advancing HIV treatment or prevention through human centered design.
Designing an HIV prevention program with and for young women
I will share with you the case study introduced by Matchboxology. The case study focused on young girls in South Africa, as women and especially young girls have a higher risk of HIV infection than men in the country. (Avert 2020)
A multidisciplinary team came together to develop the methodology, conduct user research and in the end develop a concept and brand to increase PrEP use among young girls in South Africa. One of the main successes in the human centered design project was that they flipped the script and redefined the patient as the consumer. Through the user research they found that the young women did not see themselves as patients and they did not feel like they needed medical interventions. Taking a strictly medical approach to preventing HIV would therefore be challenging.
The team redefined the paradigm of HIV prevention as something that focuses on self-empowerment rather than on the message of not getting HIV. They collaborated with young people across South Africa and the private sector to create a brand that presents PrEP as something equally as fun and desirable as makeup and fashion. The successful project developed the brand V, which included visuals, messaging, packaging and brand ambassadors to help young women protect themselves from HIV by using PrEP.
When you understand consumers better, you can disrupt, innovate and generate behavior change!
When asking one of the participants in the design process what she thought the best part of the human centered design process was, she fittingly described the process as follows: “It’s about what I like, how I define myself, not about how others define me.”
Last week the city of Rotterdam (NL) hosted the latest edition of the International Design in Government Conference.
Previously hosted in London (UK), Oakland (USA), and Edinburgh (Scotland), last week’s edition was already the third happening in 2019, suggesting that the interest in the topic is growing world-wide.
Hosted officially by Gebruiker Centraal (User Needs First), a Dutch knowledge community for professionals working on digital government services, the conference took place between November 18th and 20th and its participation was completely open to anyone.
The International Design in Government Conference aims at sharing best practices, takeaways and discussing common challenges so that they can be tackled through a collaborative approach. In facts, established by Government Digital Service in 2017 as an opportunity to bring together design-minded people that work in, for or with the government all over the world, in the last two years the international design in government community has grown to over 1500 members from 66 countries. In addition to participating to face-to-face meeting occasions such at the conference, community members engage every month in sharing knowledge through calls and other collaborative digital tools, contributing to keep the discussions alive and make some steps further.
I attended the conference on Tuesday, November 19th, where the morning was entirely dedicated to keynote speeches, whereas the afternoon had a more dynamic connotation as participants could choose to attend a wide range of talks, workshops and breakout sessions.
Below a summary of the morning keynote speeches and their related visual notes I made on the spot:
Measuring service quality – Willem Pieterson
Willem Pieterson is a researcher focusing on the intersection of data, technology and their orchestration with the aim of helping organisations become more innovative and data-driven. Presenting his work on how to better assess the quality of governmental services, he introduced a quality model based on 20 dimensions of quality, which helped defining a service evaluation model that suggests “satisfaction” as the biggest predictor of quality.
Designing digital to meet user needs – Francis Maude
Francis Maude is the former Minister for the UK Cabinet Office. He was responsible for the establishment of the Government Digital Service, with the aim of reinforcing internal IT and bringing all government services onto a single web hub: GOV.UK. By telling the story on how the UK moved from having its digital services spread across more than 2000 government websites to winning the award as “world leader for online and digital public services”, Maude suggested that leadership, capability, and mandate are the three elements to implement a functional reform. Additionally, the implementation of horizontal, cross-silo functions (by ensuring the commitment of several Departments to redesigning all existing Government services) as well as building a critical mass of technical capabilities were pointed out as the key to execution of such an ambitious strategy.
Maude’s office estimated that moving services from offline to digital channels could save approximately £1.8 billion a year.
Digital social innovation – Audrey Tang
Audrey Tang is listed number 3 in the World’s 100 Most Influential People in Digital Government in 2019. She took office in Taiwan as the “Digital Minister” on October 1, 2016, and was assigned the role of helping government agencies communicate policy goals and managing information published by the government, both via digital means.
Through her talk, Tang stressed the importance of implementing “radical transparency” in all governmental processes, and highlighted how Taiwan is promoting presidential hackathons as a means to co-create solutions around several topics related to the SDGs.
Although I could only attend one day, my brief participation to the International Design in Government was very interesting and it triggered a few considerations that I summarise below:
The understanding and recognition of (service) design is skyrocketing
If only five years ago it would have been unimaginable to have designers in a municipality, now designers working in Government are thousands and, based on the networking I did, most of attendees either knew what service design is or had service designers in their teams. In this landscape, the NL and UK are commonly acknowledged as the two countries in Europe who are the forefront of design and innovation in their governments.
Inclusion and diversity are not an optional in government services
Although public and private sectors are facing similar challenges (such as defeating a siloed mindset), the public sector must deserve some extra attention to designing for diversity and inclusion: in facts, governmental services need to be used by all citizens and therefore must be accessible to all kind of users. Of course, diversity and inclusion should not be considered as an optional in the private sector. However, they often are shadowed by other commercial priorities.
What is designed for some users might be very well received by other users
The story of Gemeente (Municipality) Rotterdam, who prototyped and tested visual letters for citizens with learning disabilities in the attempt of delivering a more engaging way for these users to read important communications, tells how this solution turned out to be a success for other citizens too. What we can learn from it is that at times what is designed for a specific target of users might very well apply to other kinds of users too.
Disclaimer: These thoughts, opinions, and observations are mine, and mine alone. They are not the thoughts of my fellow Dash team members, only myself.
had the immense pleasure of participating in the 2019 Dash Hackathon in
Helsinki (organized by the Aalto Entrepreneurship Society – “Aaltoes”) which is
the largest design hackathon in Europe.
In this hackathon there were over 220 participants from 40+ different nationalities that came
together specifically for this event.
I knew that this hackathon was going to be a gigantic time commitment to squeeze into my full-time work and full-time student schedule. I imagined that I would meet countless new people and possibly make a new friend or two. As time crept closer to the event, I ruminated over the design process and wondered how the actual act of designing would unfold over the course of the event.
the event is over, I can reflect that the element of this hackathon which took me
completely utterly by surprise was the profoundly visceral and emotional
rollercoaster of a ride this journey took me on.
For this post I do not want to focus on the specifics of the design process or what my team ultimately created. What I am taking away from this experience is far different than what I had initially imagined. What I am left with is a list of existential questions for myself about who I am as a person, and what kind of service designer I want to be.
As we all know, the cornerstone of service design is empathy: the ability to put yourself in the shoes of others, see the world through their eyes and then walk a mile in those shoes. I also realized this weekend this crucial element could be what drew me to service design in the first place. All while keeping this perspective in mind as you create whatever amazing user-centered design solutions we service designers will ultimately come up with.
that empathizing with the user is an integral part of service design and it is
very important to lay this as the foundation of everything we as service
designers will do, however after this weekend I have come to realize that everything
has a limit; empathy included.
It is not possible to design a solution that suits everyone. This is a fact of service design every designer must accept, and it is also how I am approaching this post. This post is not for everyone. This post is written for those of you who may have a propensity to over empathize. For those of you who can relate, please read on. For those of you who can’t relate, if you read on anyway, maybe you will notice this trait in a fellow designer and send them this post.
I decided when I signed up for Dash that I really wanted to be part of the challenge for Startup Refugees. This is a Finnish NGO that has made it their mission to match refugees and immigrants with jobs here in Finland. They were only founded three years ago, but they are already having a significantly positive impact on the employment situation of refugees and immigrants in Finland. They currently have two offices; one in Helsinki and one in Oulu.
wanted to be a part of this challenge more than any of the other challenges
because this issue really speaks to me on a personal level. I am a black American immigrant who has lived
in Finland for the past six years. I am
very happy with where I am now in life both personally and professionally, but
it was not an easy journey. I know how
hard I had to work to be where I am now, and that I did not get to where I am
now on my own. Sure, I have a good work
ethic, but I also had a great network, a bit of luck, and people who were
willing to take a chance on me. I was
really excited to see if I could somehow find a way to help other immigrants
and refugees (whose situations coming to Finland were/are infinitely harder and
more complicated than mine) find a way to become employed in Finland.
that through gainful employment an immigrant or refugee can have dignity,
community, and a purpose for life in their new country of residence. This feeling of comfort and belonging is
something I genuinely wish I could give to anyone and everyone who wants it.
mentioned at the top of this blog, I do not want to go into specific details of
the design challenge because I want to focus on my emotional journey and
findings related to that. For the sake
of brevity let’s just say the challenge was related to Startup Refugees’ larger
focus of helping to find refugees and immigrants employment in Finland. This is what we in the realm of service
design call a wicked problem.
In Richard Buchanan’s report “Wicked Problems in
Design Thinking”, he refers to a report by Rittel (1967) that defines a wicked
“A class of social system problems which are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision makers with conflicting values, and where the ramifications in the whole system are thoroughly confusing.” (1992, 15)
Wicked problems are manifested in the major issues and
systemic failures of our society today.
Issues such as climate change, poverty, multicultural integration,
healthcare, and so forth are problems so prolific in nature that there are no
single solutions or tangible ends to their plight.
That being said, with this challenge being quintessentially wicked, there was no way we would possibly be able to fix this challenge in a 48-hour hackathon session. To be fair and very clear, this is not what the challenge was asking of us. It was asking for ways to help improve a small part of the issue so that they could more successfully match their clients with work or help immigrants and refugees better understand the foreign job market in which they are attempting to enter.
However, with an issue this complex where do you even begin?
As a team,
on that first day (Friday) we began the hackathon creative, upbeat, and ready
to tackle the world. On the second day
(Saturday) that emotional rollercoaster shot full speed out of the launch
bay. The day started well, but by the
middle of the day that upbeat and playful attitude was all but dead. Our mentor repeatedly asked us where our
playful attitude had gone and eventually encouraged us to go get some air
together outside the venue to try to regain the spirit from the day
before. We got a bit more playful after
that, but something personally inside me had shifted that I never could quite
reset. By later that night we had a
working solution concept, and after starting again early Sunday morning we were
able to finalize our idea and proudly present it later that afternoon as a possible
solution to their challenge.
I was very
proud of the solution we came up with as a team and although some people may have
thought that my closing lines of the pitch were sappy and maybe just for show,
I honestly meant every word I wrote, rehearsed, and delivered as a
closing. The event ended later that
night and I went home feeling happy, physically tired (this I understood- the
hackathon was long), but also incredibly emotionally exhausted. I felt like my inner child had just run an
ultra-marathon through a mine field. I
felt acutely emotional and I wanted to figure out why. I had been emotional since the second day of
the challenge and those feelings just kept compounding until the challenge was
over and I could finally go home. Would
I have felt this way if I worked on any of the other non-wicked problem
challenges? Was I too close to the subject? Probably.
I began a search where all great internet searches begin (google) and stumbled across a blog that pretty much summed up the personal issue I faced during this challenge. It is post is titled “The Dilemma of Designers’ Empathy Delusions” by Jason Mesut (2018). In it he states:
“I have three challenges to the importance of empathy. To strengthen designer performance by battling what I feel is an ideal that is often delusional and misguided.
Two of my challenges are likely to be unpopular, and the third will probably be appreciated by many:
1.Most designers are not actually that empathic to end users
2.Empathy isn’t that valuable and unique a quality for designers
3.We should care more about people beyond users”
I will link
the entire article because I think it is a really good read. However, I would
like to focus on the 2nd and 3rd points he makes in this
article. In his second point that
questions the value of empathy, and he gives a good example of the dangers of
over empathizing with the following example:
“Imagine a doctor. Imagine if she had high empathy. She would struggle to make decisions for the population she helps. If one of her patient(s) suffered, she would suffer. The pain would impede the process of resolution. It’s why many healthcare professionals build up barriers to the emotions and the pain of the patients they serve. It helps them make better judgement calls.
I’m not saying a designer shouldn’t care. Often, they should. But I’m not sure that empathizing over every user they meet can really be that productive or helpful.”
Now I know
this for some people may sound a little over the top, but I think that this is
a real danger for some designers that work specifically with wicked problems,
or any other issues that are highly emotional, in which putting yourself into
the shoes of others may elicit extremely deep feelings of empathy and
compassion that are much deeper than what is productively necessary for the
purposes of service design.
goes on to talk about what happens when your over empathizing can cause you to
lose sight of the larger picture. In
your compassion driven quest to create real change for the end user you run the
risk of losing empathy and sight of the other players in the game; the other clients
and stakeholders in the relevant network who are all a part of the challenge
you are hoping to solve.
proposes a framework for an empathy map where you consciously adjust your
feelings up or down as necessary while also keeping in mind other players
besides the end user:
I wholeheartedly believe that empathy must exist for
great service design. However, I now
believe there is a spectrum. A spectrum
of levels of conscious empathy every designer must have, and this
spectrum should be personally re-evaluated during all phases of the design
process to ensure it is evenly distributed across all people the new design
will affect; users, clients, and stakeholders alike.
I could not
imagine being as deeply emotionally connected to an issue that I would be working
with for a prolonged period of time without emotionally burning myself out. Though I did not appear to be overly emotional
or stressed during the event (and I did have a lot of fun too), I took mental
note of how exhausting this challenge was, and wondered how I would deal with
this kind of problem if it was my everyday job.
That is what lead me on this introspective journey and critical
evaluation of the weight of empathy in service design.
I am fully
aware that had I done a different challenge, I would not have had the emotional
response I did. However, I am glad I experienced everything exactly as I
did. It gave me time to reflect on my
emotions and myself.
I had an amazing time at Dash and would like to thank
the organizers for the opportunity to be a part of this great event. I would also like to give my deepest thanks
to Startup Refugees for all of the great work they do and wish them nothing but
the best in the future. Most of all, I
would like to thank my amazing team members for all of their hard work, and I
am very happy for the new friendships I have made.
By: Johanna Johnson
Richard 1996. Wicked Problems in Design Thinking. In Margolin, V. &
Buchanan, R. The Idea of Design. A Design Issues Reader. Cambridge: The MIT
During Gdynia Design Days and Design Talks Business Summit, I had a chance to participate in a workshop about Holacracy run by Ewa Bocian – a partner at Dwarfs and Giants, an innovation company which is organized in a holacratic way and its mission is to help shape the future of work.
Source: Harvard Business Review
Source: Harvard Business Review
For those who are not familiar with holacracy, let me introduce you to it shortly. It is one of the alternative ways of managing a company by replacing the hierarchy. Holacracy makes everyone an entrepreneur. Everyone is a partner in an organization with dynamic roles to take and a purpose to realize instead of a static job description. The company is organized around circles (projects) which consist of people with supplemental roles.
In holacracy, nobody can tell you to do something. You are your own boss and you decide how you would realize your purpose as long as it does not violate the common rules.
Together with other participants we took part in a simulation of a tactical meeting. We could see the IT system used for managing projects. We had a few volunteers who played a few roles at the meeting. There was a secretary of the meeting and a facilitator (Ewa) who helped to moderate the discussion. The rest of the workshop participants were able to observe everything. Ewa (facilitator) took us through the tactical meeting, one of the two types of meetings which is arranged in every project circle.
It usually takes a few weeks to get accustomed to holacracy as people have lots of habits to change during job meetings. For example speaking whenever you feel there is a need for it. In holacracy you speak at your turn and otherwise leave the stage to others. We could observe how the participants were struggling with it.
We did not have enough time to go through the process in detail but this short sample gave us a chance to experience it on our own.
If you would like to see the example of tactical and governance meetings, check Springest company videos on YouTube e.g.:
I must say I was impressed by the order holacracy brings to the meetings, how it gives space to everyone and enables meetings to move forward even if there is a strong need of some participants to give advice and digress. From my experience, the latter is usually the main reason for unproductive meetings.
Whether you implement holacracy or not, there are certainly things which you can take from it. For example how you organize your meetings. Creating common rules and nominating a meeting secretary, as well as having a facilitator, really help.
If you are searching for examples of companies who use holacracy, a fascinating example is Gore: https://www.gore.com/about/working-at-gore Interestingly, Gore is also one of the most innovative companies. Does an innovative way of working mean that innovation flourishes? Or is it the other way around, innovation provokes an innovative way of working?
To fully understand and work in a holacratic way takes weeks or even months but I am really glad that I had a chance to try it and would recommend you to do the same. You can find more information on the HolacracyOne website: https://www.holacracy.org/holacracyone
Additionally, check this TEDx video with the founder’s story to get a quick understanding of how it works:
My main take-away, if you are about to start your own company or you are already an entrepreneur who is willing to share the profits with others, holacracy is definitely worth considering. However, if you are working in a hierarchical organization with bosses who would love to have full control over its finances, I do not believe that this approach will have a chance of being successful. One more thing is definitely needed in order to apply holacracy, it is trust in your employees’ competencies to get the job done. If you do not believe that anyone in your company can play their role independently, there is no point of even trying holacracy.
Gdynia Design Days is a one-week design festival in Poland at the seaside.
It offers unlimited possibilities to explore the newest trends and good design practices via exhibitions, speeches, meetings or workshops. Among the events, there is also an extraordinary two-day conference, Design Talks Business, created to discuss the contribution design can make towards business, give opportunities to learn and try different practical tools, listen to tips from design experts, and share your own experience with others at networking sessions.
The conference started with an inspirational session by Fjord Trends 2019, a purpose – driven guide for the future by IDEO and design for circularity in IKEA.
What is particularly interesting is that this year there is one theme which links all the trends together – people are searching for value.
Among trend summaries I would recommend having a closer look at the Fjord one as the authors said that they managed to spot lots of possibilities to innovate within it and in the next 1 to 5 years the upcoming changes are going to be spectacular.
Here is the mentioned overview of Fjord trends 2019:
Charlota Blunarova from IDEO München, took us on a cruise towards the future. As IDEO does best, she taught us through storytelling the importance of purpose as a guiding North Star. The company’s purpose is the reason to exist beyond profit. Why is it worth having it clarified? The purpose can improve our vision. It can accelerate our strategy and foster our values. It also powers performance, attracts talent, and builds edge. The purpose builds company culture which is a competitive advantage that cannot be copied. Purpose exists on three levels: organization, team and self.
She left us with a small task to do. She asked us to think about the purpose of our team: What do we enable?/ What do we serve?/ Why does it matter? and then write it down:
I would recommend using this task at the beginning of our personal or work-related projects and have it visible throughout it.
During the 30-minute break, there was a chance for networking and discussion at the theme-focused tables . For example, the participants could take part in a signal analysis session from which I took away the interesting example of a signal flashcard:
The next block of talks was built around case studies. Slavo Tuleya from a Slovakian agency, kiuub studio, told us about the adventures of building in-house innovation labs. Usually, the need for innovation starts with the need for becoming agile. 96% of companies realize that they need to be agile. They got inspired by some examples such as Uber, Airbnb or wework and then decided to give it a try and arrange some budget for it. However, this traditional approach is not always successful. Although there is a team of business, design, and tech people with lots of money, there is no execution, skill, or stakeholder buy in.
Slavo emphasized the need for an alternative approach called Skin in the game. This approach is outcome driven (not activity driven) and is based on objectives with the risk of ruin. There should be some money and time constraints put on the Innovation department as well. He also admitted that the agency might bring help here. However, if the company thinks seriously about innovation, it should make it its own competence.
Alistair Ruff from PDR International Centre for Design and Research told a story of how they helped Kenwood create the Internet of things thanks to research: starting with technology, market, trends and themes analysis to participatory research, ethnographic observation, context driven observation and questionnaires.
Mikołaj Molenda from Tylko.com shared with us the story of how he created his innovative furniture company by changing the currently dominant business model and linking designers with customers directly. They even go further allowing customers to design their furniture on their own. Thanks to this, Tylko is able to meet client needs better.
Design Talks Business Summit also offered workshops. I was able to take part in two workshops. I will share my take-aways from one of the workshops with you in my next post as I didn’t find the second workshop very inspiring.
The next edition of Gdynia Design Days and Design Talks Summit is planned for next summer but the organizers promised more opportunities for design meetings throughout the year so it is good to stay tuned and check the website: http://gdyniadesigndays.eu/en
POLISHOPA is the biggest Design Thinking conference in Poland, two days of interesting lectures and two days of workshops, 16 experts from different fields and 4 speakers from abroad. It was the sixth edition. You can find more details on this page: https://polishopa.pl/
I recommend signing up for the newsletter to get information about the next edition in advance.
It was the fourth time I attended this conference and this time I had a chance to participate in the lecture days, so-called Revolution & Innovation Days. I will share my key take-aways with you.
Year by year I see an increase in the quality of this conference showing that the knowledge and interest about Design Thinking is growing. However, as one of the presenters (Dymitr Romanowski) showed, although the popularity of Design Thinking grows, web searches for the term “Service Design” decrease. It seems there is still a lot to do regarding educating people on what service design is in Poland.
This year the healthcare and financial sector was highly present. There were representatives of Santander Bank and mBank as speakers. Piotr Sałata from Symetria spoke about how they created a more user friendly vindication platform by Kruk. Adrian Chernoff from Johnson & Johnson spoke about how they solved the challenge of helping patients with diabetes improve adherence and outcomes thanks to patient-led innovation and user centricity. They developed the first diabetes app in the US – OneTouch reveal app.
The participants also had a chance to listen to the story of creating a restaurant in Krakow – Handelek by Socjomania. Silke Bochat told us about implementing and scaling design and design thinking in FMCG companies. Piotr Chojnacki from Allegro (“Polish eBay”) told us how to scale the UX in a large organization without losing the consistency of user experience. Radosław Ratajczak from SHOPA explained how they designed the user experience of Olivia Garden – 8270m2 in one of the skyscraper offices in Gdynia. Tey Bannerman from McKinsey & Company shared a story of disruption at Pizza Hut. Olga Bońka from Motorola Solutions Systems told a virtual lesson of empathy for a dog.
Among all of the mentioned lectures, my key learnings are described below.
If you want to introduce Design Thinking to a company, don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. In Santander Bank, Andrzej Pyra and Jakub Tyczyński simply started organizing Design Thinking workshops. The more people took part in it, the more they wanted to work using Design Thinking methods. What is more, product owners started to ask for their help in managing the whole process in the end.
Empathy is key for making a change. Empathy also makes the transformation last after the Design Thinking project finishes.
Design Thinking is just one type of method used for innovation, it is good to be familiar with other methods such as business model innovation (more in the picture below) as well and juggle with tools and methods depending on the project and its phase, company, and situation.
Once introducing Design Thinking, there is usually a phase of skepticism which takes up to 2-3 days, it is good to simply overcome it. We also need to understand the cognitive biases and “stamp them out for innovation’s sake” as Mike Pinder from Board of Innovation advised.
Mike Pinder also had an interesting definition of MVP: “ MVPs are a way of asking questions about critical assumptions within the features of your concept and business models”.
Piotr Chojnacki from Allegro (a company with 20 million users and 100 million offers and over 150 processes) listed three key points to successful scaling in such a large organization:
Diffused structures of teams who work in agile way
Local innovation within the global structure
Consistent user experience
Silke Bochat presented John Maeda’s list of the top 8 skills that designers need to understand in business as well as the top 10 emerging trends that have the biggest impact on design published in Design in Tech Report.
The Top 8 skills that designers need to understand are the following:
Product Roadmap Strategy
Retention/ Engagement metrics
Funnel Acquisition Metrics
Financial Metrics (i.e. Revenue margin etc.)
In terms of the top 10 emerging trends with the biggest impact on design, here is the list:
She advised to start implementing Design Thinking with a small project with a limited budget and low risk. Deliver value from it as early as possible. Then promote it if it becomes a success. This gives more chances that it will persuade the decision makers to scale it.
This is how the project is explained on the website: “Human Behind Every Number is a non-governmental organization that provides research, insight and education on the first-hand experiences of patients involved in clinical trials. In today’s active research industry, our results deliver clear information to industry professionals that will help shape the development of clinical trials around the globe.”
This website gathered patients’ stories throughout their patient journeys which might be helpful for designers working in the Health Care sector.
From the story of creating Handelek, a restaurant in Poland, I walked away with a feedback tool – a physical one in the form of a board in the restaurant as well as a virtual one on Instagram. They called it the card of transparency with Your opinion, Status and What we changed. It obviously helps to deliver real value to customers.
Here is the POLISHOPA summary by professional illustrator, Agata Jakuszko.
I would recommend this conference to any DT enthusiast. See you in 2020 in Bydgoszcz, Poland :).
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