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Exploring emerging design for government

Learning about an expansive field through running a meetup

Gov Design Meetup London – February 2017 to now

Meetup-stickers

For the past several decades, the discipline of design has been mostly associated with the form-giving of commercial products. Only in the last ten years or so, the scope of design has expanded to strategic areas and the experience of intangible things. But even in 2019, design is most prominent in the private sector and barely exists in the public sector.

The state of design in government 

In progressive Nordic countries, almost 90% of designers work in the private sector (Nordic Innovation 2018). Only 1 out of 10 designers in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden works in the public sector. This includes the in-house graphic designers in theatres as well as the design professionals working in product development for public research bodies. Fewer than 4% of Nordic designers work on public services (Nordic Innovation 2018). That might explain why many interactions with government and administration are so cumbersome. The experiences that citizens have with filing their taxes or becoming a citizen aren’t as clear and straightforward as booking a flight or signing up to a movie streaming service. Very likely, there are significant improvements that can be made to services related to retiring or applying for unemployment benefits. Having more user researchers, service and experience designers might help change that. And in various countries, change is indeed underway (Bason 2017).

In the United Kingdom, government organisations now employ almost 1,000 designers. In the last few years, they have transformed renew your passport (Prince and Watson 2019) and register to vote (Herlihy 2014) into truly digital services that work as well as delightful commercial services. When I moved to the UK in spring 2016, I stumbled upon presentations from designers in government and their service teams every so often, mostly when attending internal government events. The quality of the work and positive impact on users was significant, but outside of government, barely anyone heard about it. While there was a vivid design meetup scene in central London, government services were nowhere to be seen. To satisfy my own curiosity and possibly the interest of many others, a few colleagues and I got together to initiate a dedicated Gov Design Meetup (Jordan, Kane, Izquierdo, Rebolledo, McCarthy and Delahunty 2019).

Gov-Design-Meetup-Diverse-Audience-Smaller

Starting a meetup

In February 2017, we ran the first meetup at the Royal College of Art. From the outset, the meetup attracted almost 50 people. Exploring the breadth of design in the public sector, we invited three speakers from different organisations.

The Head of Experience at London’s public transit agency Transport for London, Hanna Kops, shared how she leads a team that works on improving the daily journeys of millions of Londoners and visitors (Kops 2017). She shared how they received a mandate to work on multi-channel services – going far beyond the web route planner the digital team is known for. There is a high degree of complexity when integrating the various means of transportation – from trains to buses to rental bikes – and multiple types of media in a location. In a single station, designers have to orchestrate digital displays, physical signage, public announcements and, of course, passengers and staff. What is more, the team does not only have to work on solutions responding to today’s passenger needs and wants, but also anticipate future growth of the London metropolitan area and the resulting challenges and desires. This very first of dozens of talks indicated what level of complexity designers in the public sector have to deal with.

The second talk by organisational designer Adam Walter, working as a Consultancy Director at the public sector consultancy FutureGov, echoed that. In his lecture, Adam reflected on how successful service design often requires instigating fundamental change on an organisational level to implement and deliver those service designs effectively and create the intended impact (Walter 2017).

Complementing the first evening, the third speaker – Lynne Roberts, then Head of Content Design at the Home Office – told the story of how designers came into her department, why different and more nuanced human-centred design roles exist in government (partially unknown in the private sector), and why change in government can be very slow. User research, interaction design, service design and content design are all separate roles, Roberts explained (Roberts 2017). The enormous scale they work on requires dedicated specialism. User researchers only focus on researching user needs and testing prototypes, while content designers entirely dedicate themselves to getting a large amount of content, words and descriptions in government services right. Besides specialisation, it needs stamina. Departmental silos, separation of professions and long-term supplier contracts binding service teams to legacy systems let government adjust only gradually to meet user needs.

After the success of the first meetup, the event series continued with a bimonthly frequency. So far, it’s covered more narrow themes like design for local government, large-scale infrastructure, design for data, healthcare and policy. Topics of the first meetup have been mirrored by later speakers and discussed more deeply. 

The format for each evening includes three talks followed by a panel discussion with all speakers. It encourages attendees to ask questions and participate in the discourse. The audience is mixed: designers working in government, in smaller consultancies or big companies, students, people interested in a career in the public sector and also people only interested in one of the specific topics. Some attendees went on to apply for open positions in government as they were so inspired by the stories that they wanted to work on public services themselves.

The fact that government work is financed by the taxpayer and not controlled by competitive shareholders makes it easier for public servants to talk about their projects somewhat openly. The UK Government follows a “make things open: it makes things better” approach (Government Digital Service 2012) which doesn’t require anyone to sign a non-disclosure agreement before joining a meetup. In recent years, more civil service designers have taken the stage at bigger conferences enabled by this rule.

Some of the meetup locations, like Houses of Parliament or the Ministry of Justice, required participants to undergo some security procedures, though. Surprisingly, some attendees expressed their excitement about passing a security door system in a Parliament building as this experience gave them additional context of the work discussed.

Panellists

After two years and thirteen meetups, particular attributes and circumstances of design in government emerged from the 38 talks. Even though the topics spanned broad areas—from developing a national roadsign scheme to enabling participation of people with learning disabilities—several insights went above these subjects:

Insight 1: Aim for fundamental change, embrace small gains

Designers in government regularly have to widen the scope of the briefs given to them (Fawkes 2018). By conducting user research and better understanding the context, existing systems, and support structures, they learn what user needs and organisational constraints are (Kane & Jordan 2018). When designing for the broader problem space, designers have to balance immediate business improvements and long-term organisational transformation. Both are important. Looking out for marginal gains helps to achieve early victories that provide the fuel for the long journey (Pocha 2018). Over time, the number of small interventions adds up to measurable effect and accumulates stakeholder trust, which is important for more ambitious shifts.

Talks to watch:
Darius Pocha on design tools for wicked problems;
Adam Walther on designing for the dark matter

Insight 2: Serve the most vulnerable to help everyone

By law, the government needs to serve all people equally. This includes everyone with access needs. Despite many organisations’ push of digital channels for service provision, they recognise that not every citizen can, wants to or will use digital public services. Under an inclusive services approach, other channels have to work equally well. The user research insights and learnings from building a new digital service can often inform and improve non-digital channels. In the UK government, service teams follow the Service Standard (Government Digital Service 2019), which demands them to test services with people who have access needs. The UK Home Office has embedded an inclusive approach into their usability testing efforts (Buller 2018). At least 1 in 6 people in every usability test has access needs. Including users with access needs, physical or cognitive impairments uncovers the weakness of services that affect many other users, too. In one example, deaf users did not want to share their phone number with the service as they would not be able to answer phone calls. An iterated prototype included the option to be contacted via text message. Shift workers, people working multiple jobs and parents with babies will equally benefit from this functionality (Buller 2018). The example shows how including people with a wide range of skill sets and capabilities in the design process and responding to their needs will make the service offering better for everyone.

Talks to watch:
Ben Carpenter on inclusive services;
Kirsty Joan Sinclair on putting people at the centre of their services

Insight 3: Favour renovation over innovation

Often, people want shiny new things – a piece of technology that can solve many of today’s problems at once. Senior leaders praise the impact of artificial intelligence, blockchain and big data without necessarily understanding them in detail. Beyond buzzwords, quite a few people in government look beyond what can be done and identify what should be done. In government, there is significant technical debt, infrastructure that needs in investment as it cannot be replaced. If well maintained, it can be leveraged; it can become ‘infrastructure commons’ (Adewunmi 2018). Also, even new projects will have to interact with existing infrastructure. By anticipating future use and reuse and establishing a healthy maintenance culture, government can reduce future costs, save time and reduce risks. One example is data. While services are places where data is generated in government, service teams spend too little effort on quality and reuse. With the right awareness, scope and funding, service teams can create data outputs highly beneficial for others that the immediate stakeholders of the service. Currently, only the direct internal and external users of the data are considered – caseworkers, end users, statisticians etc. But it is unlikely that general purpose data will be a natural by-product of a development project (Adewunmi 2018). It needs to be considered from the start. For designers and user researchers in government, it means recognising and studying not just current external users, but also future internal users. Future colleagues and the public will later be the beneficiaries. 

Talks to watch:
Ade Adewunmi on renovating and maintaining digital services and data;
Andrew Miller on your government wants to digitize everything?

Insight 4: Make yourself redundant, make it sustainable

Hopefully, design in government is here to stay. But unquestionably, the individual designer is not going to be around indefinitely. They often move around from project to project, usually before the desired end state is reached. Moreover, government still relies a lot on contractors. Equally, contracting designers want to make sure not all is lost once they are gone (Harshawat & Ni 2018). Working closely with other team members and potentially other teams is one way of making sure things will progress past departure. By partnering to deliver, ways of thinking are shared, and ways of working are experienced (Collier 2018). Mixing teams and enhancing communication – up to the degree of oversharing – spreads expertise and grows capability within. An alternative to bringing in another external person temporarily: look out for someone from inside the team who wants to step up and take on a design-related role, even though they might not have the formal background (Harshawat & Ni 2018). Investing in culture, hiring people with an open growth mindset and establishing quality standards for the work help make the creation of high-quality service much more likely.

Talks to watch:
Kavi Harshawat and Xena Ni on how to exit;
Jack Collier on why service design in gov isn’t doing enough

govdesign-posters-website

Since early 2017, the meetup series has had hundreds of attendees. More than 1,000 people have signed up to updates via the meetup page (London Gov Design Meetup 2019). More recently, the meetup has also been on tour, visiting Manchester and San Francisco. In addition, more than 3,000 people have watched the recorded videos of the talks. The breadth of topics and themes covered so far is substantial. Presenters have given an insight into a wide range of services, including becoming a foster carer, applying for residential parking permits, becoming a citizen, renewing a passport, moving from hospital to social care or reporting a complaint to the city. To all of these public services, human-centred designers have contributed and made a difference. Many of the challenges they faced on the way are similar to ones designers have in the private sector as large-scale organisations are much alike. The four insights should be evenly applicable.

For the foreseeable future, the meetup will continue to run. The growing list of prospective topics includes education, transportation, law enforcement, security & safety, and futures planning. People who cannot attend the evening events in London will be able to watch the talks soon after via YouTube.

 

Author: Martin Jordan helps create services that people value. He is Head of Service Design at the Government Digital Service where he leads the service design practices across the UK Government.

 

Sources

Adewunmi, A. 2018. Renovating and maintaining digital services and data. Gov Design Meetup, 24 October 2018. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/j8uacRZxc6c

Bason, C. 2017. Leading Public Design: How managers engage with design to transform public governance. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School.

Buller, J. 2018. Embedding inclusive research, design & testing in Home Office. Gov Design Meetup, 21 March 2018. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/dFR1HO5-2xw

Fawkes, A. 2018. Daybook: Designing with & for people with learning disabilities. Gov Design Meetup, 21 March 2018. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/cdpkvom1-1c

Government Digital Service. 2012. Government design principles. GOV.UK, 3 April 2012. Accessed 18 June 2019. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-design-principles#make-things-open-it-makes-things-better

Government Digital Service. 2019. Service Standard. GOV.UK. Accessed 24 June 2019. https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/service-standard

Harshawat, K. and Ni, X. 2018. How to Exit. Gov Design Meetup, 18 July 2018. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/p160VIjNl4Y

Herlihy, P. 2014. I fought the law and the users won: delivering online voter registration. Government Digital Service Blog, 20 June 2014. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2014/06/20/i-fought-the-law-and-the-users-won-delivering-online-voter-registration/

Jordan, M., Kane, K., Izquierdo, M., Rebolledo, N., McCarthy, S. and Delahunty, C. 2019. #GOVDESIGN. Accessed 18 June 2019. http://gov-design.com/

Kane, K. & Jordan, M. 2018. Scaling Service Design in the UK Government. Touchpoint, 9 (2), 36–39.

Kops, H. 2017. Futureproof Design. Gov Design Meetup, 22 February 2017. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/-kD8xJQzErI

London Gov Design Meetup. 2019. Meetup. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://www.meetup.com/London-Gov-Design-Meetup/

Nordic Innovation. 2018. Nordic Design Resource. Accessed 18 June 2019. http://nordicdesignresource.com/

Pocha, D. 2018. Design tools for wicked problems. Gov Design Meetup, 7 February 2018. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/rQ7-O0NfPH0

Prince, M., Watson, C. 2019. Applying for your passport online. Home Office Digital Blog, 13 February 2019. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://hodigital.blog.gov.uk/2019/02/13/applying-for-your-passport-online/

Roberts, L. 2017. Life beyond Ecomms. Gov Design Meetup, 22 February 2017. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/rdgUomOhDKw

Walther, A. 2017. Designing for the Dark Matter. Gov Design Meetup, 22 February 2017. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/-1fDcIW5KkU

How to facilitate a successful Circular Economy Jam event?

Jam

“As a facilitator, a lot of the success of the Jam relies on your shoulders. Not just helping the team deliver a good, validated concept, but their experience along the way.”
Jesse Grimes – Service designer & Jam’s special guest from Amsterdam

The quotation by Jesse Grimes goes straight to the point. The success of the Jam event is depending on the facilitation. Service Innovation and Design students in Laurea had a chance to facilitate in Circular Economy Jam 2019. The Jam was a two-day event and the purpose of the Jam was to discover new possibilities, share insights, and develop new circular economy solutions around university operations and campus life in Laurea.

How well the facilitation of the Jam went depended a lot how well the facilitators were prepared. I couldn´t participate to the Jam as a facilitator but I was preparing and helping my facilitation partner for the Jam. This blog post is about how to prepare for the Jam and that way facilitate a successful Jam event.

Introduction to the topic

The Circular Economy Jam was divided in seven different topics around circular economy challenges. Each challenge got two facilitators. My facilitation partner and I chose the challenge: “How to improve the efficient use of products or resources through Collaborative Consumption and Sharing Platforms?

Firstly we had to get to know the topic better. We started gathering information and reading several articles regarding collaborative consumption and sharing platforms. We learned especially millennials no longer want to own stuff and value experiences over owning things. In sharing economy and collaborative consumption individuals or organizations share resources like products, services, time or skill via a digital platform. In addition to digital platform sharing economy requires the culture of trust.

Part of the information search we started thinking about the research questions that are related to the topic: What can be shared? How to motivate owners and seekers? How to gain the trust among the users? What are the risks and how to minimize threats? These questions and articles we read helped us to understand the topic better.

Time-keeping is the challenge

When we were familiar with the topic we started planning the Jam structure. At first we realized the biggest challenge will be the time-keeping. From the experience we knew it can be difficult to stop the team during an activity when they feel they are not ready yet.

If one team is delayed, it may cause timing problems for all the other teams too. That´s why the most important task of the facilitator is to ensure that the team will achieve the goals of tasks in time. Facilitator should improvise during the Jam and friendly guide the team to the next step and also communicate that things don’t have to be perfectly complete.

Designing the Jam structure

When we were familiar with the topic and aware of the challenges with the timing we started planning the Jam based on the Design Thinking structure. We planned what tools and methods the team would use and how much time each phase and step would take.

The base for the successful Jam is that the facilitators and participants get to know each other. When everyone know and trust each other it is easier to create honest and safe environment to be creative and fail.

The plan for the first day:

  • #1 Framing insights phase was planned to consist of creating research questions around the problem, doing a short field research, gathering the findings into key insights and creating a customer journey map and personas. In our opinion it is easier to search for pain points and opportunities from the customer journey map and then translate the pains into ‘How might we…?’ questions.
  • #2 Ideation & concepting phase was planned to start with the `Three Brain Warm-Up` exercise. We thought it could be hard to be creative without an exercise, so the idea of the warm-up activity is to help the team get into creative mode. Next we planned to run a Crazy 8 exercise for quick divergent thinking as part of the ideation. Crazy Eight works great in the early stages of the ideation process to come up with a lot of different ideas very quickly. At the end of the day the team votes for the best idea.

The plan for the second day:

  • #3 Prototyping phase was planned to start with the discussion around the best idea and the team selects one concept to be prototyped. Next they create a scope of the prototype and a success criterium for testing. Eventually the team build, test and improve the prototype.
  • #4 Test & Feedback phase was planned to be the last part of the Jam and the team prepare a final concrete concept based on the prototype. Finally all the teams present the concepts for everyone.

 

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The Circular Economy Jam structure based on Design Thinking.

Trusting the plan leads to a success

Since I couldn´t participate to the Jam I don’t have own experiences how well our plan  worked for the Jam. According to my facilitation partner the Jam day was busy and all the things didn´t go as planned. This didn´t matter – the Jam was successful since we had a solid and adjustable plan on which she trusted and she let herself and the team have fun, be creative and open-minded!

Written by: Marianne Kuokkanen

What I stole from Marc Stickdorn

Event: The 12 Commandments of Service Design by Service Design Network Finland & Service Design as a Tool of a Consultant by myself

Time: 1.2.2019, 18-20 & 15.2.2016, 16-17

Place: Gofore Oyj, Urho Kekkosen katu 7B & Fraktio, Antinkatu 1

Fraktio does many wonderful things and one of those is Perjantaipresis, an event open for anybody to listen to presentations by talented people from various fields. I got the honour to speak about service design there, and since I didn’t want to copy all the service design presentation I’ve seen during this past year, I decided to talk about something I know, i.e. what does it require to utilize service design as a consultant.

I had my presentation pretty much planned and ready, when, two weeks before my presentation, I got the chance to meet my service design guru, Marc Stickdorn, at an event organized by SDN Finland and Gofore. I listened to him sharing his thoughts about service design and the 12 Commandments, and after the presentation all I could think about was “he actually said exactly the same things I’ve been thinking about”. So, on I went with adding some #StickInHel quotes to my presentation.

 

I started from bottom with “It’s all services”. You can’t access a product without touching the services around it, and you can’t offer a great customer experience without aligning the layers around your core offering.

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12. It’s all services.

The next commandment that suited my presentation was “Zoom in & zoom out”. As a service designer you need to both focus on the tiniest details and understand the big picture.

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11. Zoom in & zoom out.

I wanted to emphasize that service design is more about the right mindset than the processes and tools. As Marc said, we are not designing in order to create beautiful journey maps. So, the next commandment that I wanted to include in my presentation was “It’s not about the tools, it’s about changing the reality”.

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9. It’s not about the tools, it’s about changing reality. (And that’s not a walnut but the brain.)

I skipped a few commandments until I found the next one prefectly suiting my needs. Service design is probably 80% about figuring out the problem and 20% about solving it, since the more you know about the problem, the less options you have for the solution. So, “find the right problem before solving it right”. However, as a consultant you need to solve the problem your customer pays you to solve – or convince them that it might not be the problem the actual users would need to get solved.

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6. Find the right problem before solving it right.

As a consultant doing service design you need to accept the fact that the resources – money, time, people – are limited. But even as a service designer you can’t iterate to infinity being all “yes, and”. At some point you need to start doing some “yes, butting” and let go of some ideas. “Yes, and” takes you to new places and should be used before “yes, but”, but the latter is important as well if used wisely.

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5. Yes, but… & Yes, and… For a consultant, it is important to decide which cup to fill first and make sure the customer understands what it means to the end result.

Finally, I pondered the role of service designer and who can and should do service design. I came to the same solution as Marc that in the end, as a service designer “you are a facilitator” who knows a bit of everything but more importantly brings together the people who really know about something.

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3. You are a facilitator.

To me, service design is common sense that everyone can utilize, but if you want to succeed there should always be a purpose for it.

You can listen to my full presentation (in Finnish) through this link: https://fraktio.fi/perjantaipresikset/palvelumuotoilu-konsultin-tyokaluna/

I hope you enjoy it!

More information and ideas:

http://www.marcstickdorn.info/

https://www.service-design-network.org/chapters/finland

https://gofore.com/en/home/

Can Design Solve Everything?

Design Forum Talks: Design, Value and Meaning
Valkoinen Sali 28.11.2018

In late November 2018, I attended a seminar organized by Design Forum Finland, which, once again, discussed design and its overarching possibilities in solving complex problems in business, innovation and life in general. Many interesting keynotes were expected, such as Berlin-based phi360 consultant Arndt Pechstein’s “Hybrid Thinking” as well as cases such HEI School, which has successfully combined design and pedagogy. Yet, some very familiar topics and aspects were presented in the agenda: e.g. “Human-centric Design and Value”, “Designing Impact” and “Design Methods Supporting Social Innovation”.

Ville Tikka, the Strategic Director at Wevolve, described how the society has evolved from the 1950’s to 1980’s modern society to the post-modern society (1980’s-2000’s) and further to post-contemporary society (2010’s and onwards). In modern society, it was viewed that the world functioned like a machine and the “truth” could be found. Design was about designing products. In the post-modern society, the knowledge was critically questioned, and the world was viewed as socially constructed and where design created services. Whereas now, from the 2010’s onwards, the post-contemporary society is being viewed as a complex system of systems where design creates platforms.

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This complexity, as we know, makes planning extremely difficult and constitutes new challenges to overcome. As the problems are more complex and wicked, new ways of solving them are needed. As witnessed in this event, today, it is even more common to argue that design can solve many of these problems.

Many brilliant services and solutions embracing human needs and building on empathy were presented, and human-centric approach in designing services was emphasized.

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One of the most inspiring ones was the case of HEI Schools, a pedagogic concept which brings the Finnish preschool system to the whole world. An exiting example of what designing is capable of when practiced carefully and when it is guided by a clear vision and based on in-depth knowledge.

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Pechstein’s keynote about “Hybrid Thinking” was an extremely interesting way of seeing business design of the 21stcentury. It is described as “a combination of the four most powerful approaches of innovation and change management”: Agile/Design Thinking, Biomimicry, Neuroscience and Circular Design and Platform Business Modeling. Basically, Hybrid Thinking puts together different elements of thinking and doing, and intuition is embraced  to achieve trust, loyalty, and emotions. Biomimicry utilizes the power of evolution by mimicking nature in designing solutions. This was something new and interesting, I recommend watching his keynote on Youtube.

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While design as an approach to solve complex problems in people’s lives was presented from many different viewpoints and through various small or large-scale service or business solutions, the big questions were existent and discussed by many of the speakers. It was stated that “design should be everywhere” and that “design should be part of each and every work place, not just a separate department in an organization”. “Design affects everything what is done and how is it done” and that “systemic thinking should come actionable”. “Creativity is in all of us and it should be nurtured”, “and that “human being is the creative, innovator and visionary not only professional designers”. It was also suggested that “we should come out of the concept of design” because “that is also one silo”.

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My question is, how is this achieved? How can we extend design approach throughout our organizations and even stretch it to the level of strategy and leadership? How can we make everyone a visionary, innovator and creative, even those who do not have a slightest idea of design thinking or service design?

These questions are relevant in order to one day reach these declamatory visions, while the ordinary worker still seems quite small and unaware of these great plans and possibilities design hold. Even our managers and leaders have not all assimilated the idea of design as an enabler, let alone to conduct business.

Recently, it has been academically argued that the hype surrounding the concept of design thinking has resulted in a need to understand its core essence. It also has been argued that the concept is vague and that the effectiveness of the approach is unclear. (e.g. Hassi & Laakso 2011, Johansson & Woodilla 2010) Two separate discourses on the topic of design thinking have been identified: the “design discourse” and the “management discourse” the first having a history of about 50 years focusing on the cognitive  aspects of designing (“the way designers think as they work”) and the latter appearing around the change of the millennium which regards design thinking as “an overarching method for innovation and creating value” and focuses on the need to improve managers’ design thinking skill for better business success. (Hassi & Laakso 2011, 2) It is also argued, that the management discourse lacks empirical evidence on the usefulness of design thinking and that it’s not linked to a theoretical base. (Hassi & Laakso 2011)

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As service design students, it may be useful to acknowledge this ongoing academic debate around the concept of design thinking (if not familiar yet) and about the lack of academic evidence on the effectiveness of design thinking. This debate came into my mind when going back to these pleasant and declarative visions of design (thinking) taking over in every organization and in society heard in Design Forum Talks event.

To conclude, we do not know if design can solve every wicked problem in this everchanging world. Furthermore, there is a long way of making an ordinary manager a design thinker, innovator and visionary. However, design (thinking) indeed has the characteristics and capabilities built in to have the potential in drastically changing the course of thinking and doing things in the society – also in doing business.

All the keynotes can be watch on the Design Forum Finland website.

Laura Saksala

References

Hassi, L. & Laakso, M. 2011. Conceptions of Design Thinking in The Design and Management Discourses. Open Questions and Possible Directions for Research. Conference Paper. Proceedings of IASDR2011, the 4thWorld Conference on Design Research, 31 October – 4 November, Delft, the Netherlands.

Johansson, U. & Woodilla, J. 2010. How to avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water: An ironic perspective on design thinking, strategy, and innovation. 8thEuropean Academy of Design Conference: April 1-3, 2009, Lisbon, Portugal.

From a maze into a daze

Towards solutions via co-creation

 

On December 11th I attended an event called Redi*: Towards Solutions, in Redi*’s Vapaakaupungin Olohuone. Vapaakaupungin Olohuone is a open space for everyone who wants to hold an event, a workshop or just to be. It’s possible to organize events for free as long as they are free for everyone who participates. In this particular event was citicens, students, designers and Redi* workers who wanted to improve Redi*s services.

 

In the beginning of event the Director of Retail Consepts Patrick Sjöberg greeted us and explained that Redi* wants to be a place to meet friends ans spend time, not only for shopping. They hope to create a customer journey that is enjoyable and seamless. After Sjöbergs appearance Putte Huima from Palmu opened the concepts of this evening and why we all were there. Redi* is the latest addition to Helsinki’s shopping mall scene and it opened it’s doors in September 2018. According to the managers and designers Redi* is a wholesome concept, not just a shopping mall for shopping purposes. In addition to the physical spaces and shops Redi* also consists of interaction and encounters between people. Also the renters have their own goals, targets and numbers too that modify the needs of the Redi* concept.

 

näyttökuva 2019-1-9 kello 18.55.12

 

The beginning journey for Redi* hasn’t been as fair passage that everyone had hoped
though. This commercial centre has received quite a lot qritique from the customers and the renters.  The previous Director of Retail Concepts and the Main Architect were aware of the maze like appearance of Redi*. Later the Director of Retail Consepts got fired.

 

 

 

Related to this design process Palmu has started their own work that led to this event. They have even wrote a blog post about the designs of shopping malls that received an immediate response from Helsingin Sanomat in a form of follow up article.

 

Key learnings

The idea of this workshop was to create ways to ease the navigation process and help people to understand the whole concept of Redi*. In the next chapters I will try to unfold the things that I took up from the event.

Firstly, this event reminded me of that how important the right indicators are when you collect data in the beginning of a design process. Right numbers from rightly chosen variables can give you the crucial information for you to find out the problem at hand. Putte Huima and Tomasz Tracewski from Palmu explained us how they have used multiple different measurements and data collection methods to get enough information about the case they are dealing with.

 

Palmu uses double diamond method generally and in this case they have approached the situation in a form of design sprint. Palmu connects user experience with business measurements in aim for the right balance and better services. In this case they have collected information about peoples experience on how easy it is to patronise and navigate in Redi. They have done interviews with people about how easy they experience Redi to be, calculated info stand’s diverse questions, find out NPS’s and CES’s.. On the other hand they have calculated pure visitor numbers, because Redi expects to have over 30 000 patrons monthly. So fas the number has been around 20 000/month.

 

Second notice for me was that a lot of the times the issue is not about the design itself but the people using the service. One has to keep in mind at all times that to whom the design is made and why. Reima Rönnholm explained us that the problem might not be about the physical guidance itself but more about the doing business in Redi in general. People desire experiences that they are familiar with, can predict, sense feeling of the control and feel stressfree. In addition that one should be get things done in Redi, the experience ought to simultaneusly feel nice and hopefully rewarding.

 

Lastly and most surprisingly I learnt that co-designing process can be transferred into a competition! Instead of actually starting co-designing workshop in the end, Palmu revealed a competition regarding the matter at hand.

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More information about the competition you can read from below. Dead line is January 31st so everyone still has time to attend!

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The schedule for the competition.

 

 

The author Siru Sirén is MBA student in Futures Studies and Customer-Oriented Services in Laurea UAS// Licenced social service professional

 

More info and ideas:

 

https://www.redi.fi

https://ratkaiseredi.fi

 

Health Design 2018

Event: Health Design 2018, Experience Better Healthcare

Time: 29.11.2018, 9.30 – 18.00

Place: Aalto Learning Centre

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I need to start this post with a disclaimer: I happened to got a free ticket for this event, which I’m very happy of, since I don’t feel that the event was worth of the actual price of 150€. For a free event it was interesting, though, and provided useful information especially for those planning to enter the health tech field as a designer or an entrepreneur.

The event consisted of a panel discussion with healthcare professionals and several keynotes approaching the subject from different angles. I identified a couple of themes that were brought up by the speakers througout the presentations and will discuss each of the themes separately.

Clinical relevance

The key to success for any healthcare application that is quite unique to the field is clinical relevance. Products and services dealing with health need to provide 100% patient safety as the first priority. It is also good to remember that the primary users of many health tech solutions are actually doctors and nurses, not the patients. You need the doctors and nurses to trust the devices and applications they use as that provides trust to the patients as well.

In order to achieve the trust and relevance amongst medical experts a product/service needs to go through a number of regulatory tests and get medical approvals. This is not a straightforward process and needs strong support from influencial people from the very beginning.

Creating common language

In addition to the official approvals, you need to find a common language between the doctors and technology. You need to understand both what the doctors need and what the technology enables and combine those to provide added value.

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From random ideas to added value

In addition to creating a common language between the doctors and the technology, you also need to involve patients, their family and caretakers as well as other stakeholders. There are often strong opinions when one’s health or life is at stake, which is why designers need to carefully read between the lines to find the true needs.

Multi-disciplinary collaboration

In order to be able to create a common language between all stakeholders, you need to collaborate. Collaboration starts with finding the right collaborators: you need to have the right people in your team to do the right stuff. In the field of health tech you should include people with both clinical and technical perspectives as well as both pragmatic and visionary people.

It is not enough to have the right people in your own team but you also need to collaborate with the end users in an authentic environment. Testbeds in hospitals enable feedback and can falsify and stop dangerous ideas.

Health tech applications, such as the Oura ring, often aim for changing people’s behaviour. That’s not an easy task, especially if the actual change happens outside the product and the product only measures the change, and it requires experts on various fields, such as UX designers, behaviour change experts, storytellers and data scientists.

Active role of the patient

Every healthcare application aims for the best patient experience. This is achieved by bringing the patient in the centre of all activities. Healthcare is transforming from good-dominant to service-dominant logic, which requires co-creative approaches with the patients.

HUS Virtual Hospital aims for giving a more active role to the patient and putting more activities to the internet in order to save resources for quality care when it’s really needed.

Noona application for cancer care is designed for patients with patients, using user research, testing and user panels actively. Noona thinks that everybody in the team should interact with the patients, not only the designers.

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Noona brings cancer patients to the centre of their design.

In the end, all business goals, technological achievements and design efforts in the field of healthcare should aim for patient safety. This can only be achieved by true patient-centricity.

Other insights

I gathered some insights from the presentations that are relevant for health designers and entrepreneurs but for anyne else working in the field of design as well:

  1. Thing big, network and go global
  2. Be brave and believe in yourself
  3. Give people choices
  4. Provide a safe environment
  5. Ask for another opinion

More information and ideas:

https://www.healthdesign.fi/

https://experience.aalto.fi/

https://www.terveyskyla.fi/tietoa-terveyskyl%C3%A4st%C3%A4/virtuaalisairaala-2-0-hanke/the-virtual-hospital-2-0

Engaging customers in developing digital services

Event: Kuinka osallistat asiakkaat digipalveluidesi kehittämiseen? (How to engage your customers in developing your digital services?)

Time: 10.12.2018, 8.30 – 11.30

Place: Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce

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Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce has organized a series of events related to digitalisation, out of which this was the 6th one. I haven’t participated the previous events but will definitely keep my eyes open for the next ones now that I got to enjoy this free event where we were served with inspiring presentations as well as both breakfast and brunch. Perfect!

Introduction

The event was opened by Maarit Heikkilä from Digital Discovery. She gave us insights about why service design has become so popular lately and shared her experiences in the industry.

According to Maarit, we live in a time where the customer has finally been brought in the centre of all processes. This has happened mainly due to three reasons:

  1. Unlimited supply of products and services from all over the world
  2. Recommendations and transparency through social media
  3. Customer experience as a relevant competitive factor

Maarit also went through the service design process and the importance of its steps. Some key points from her were that if we don’t define the problem, we won’t get proper solutions, and that we should bravely put even the wildest ideas to test with customers as soon as possible in order to receive feedback and fix things based on that.

Service design at Kesko

The first keynote presentation was held by Kesko’s Lead Service Designer, Harri M. Nieminen. Even though the event focused on digital services, Harri wanted to point out that digitality is not a value in itself but rather a means of doing things. We should take advantage of the digital possibilities but not let digitality restrict us. It is also important to align the experiences in digital and physical channels as the customer won’t separate those two but will choose the channel that serves their current needs in the best possible way.

A project often starts with a request for an application. However, according to Harri, you should first create brilliant content and only then decide a suitable channel for it. A reponsive webpage can actually be a lot better option than an app – you don’t need to download anything or make room for another app in your already full phone. Especially when some content is needed only for a certain time period, you can do like Slush did and go for a webpage instead of an application.

The key factor in service design is a customer-centric way of thinking. The world is full of tools and methods but it doesn’t make sense to utilize them unless you sincerely want to make things better for the customer. If you are able to put yourself in the shoes of the customer you’ll also design the services more objectively. Often it also requires reading between the lines: if the customer requests a fix for a symptom X, it might actually be better to solve Y that is causing the symptom. Harri also presented us with the holy trinity of creating successful services: business for viability, technology for feasibility and design for desirability. If one of these viewpoints is missing, it will be difficult to succeed.

Like Maarit, also Harri brought up that solving problems is hard (and often takes a lot of money and resources), so you’d better be sure that you’re solving the right problem. It is important to empathize before defining anything, and you shouldn’t be scared of half-baked assignments – the assignment can and maybe even should change during the process. It is sometimes hard to prove the value of discovery to a non-designer, and it can be more difficult to get a 50k budget for investigating if something is worth investing into than the actual investment of 500k or more.

According to Harri, trying things out even just out of curiousity is always worth it. You will always learn something during the process.

Transformation at Yle

Mirette Kangas from Yle talked about their transformation towards a customer-centric, agile culture. Three key insights from her presentation were as follows:

  1. It is not enough to learn methods, tools and customs but you need to change yourself
  2. It is not enough for a leader to enable change but they need to promote it and lead from the front
  3. Culture of experimentation is not about senseless experiments but systematic doing

 

All in all the event was inspiring, and especially Harri’s presentation was a good overview of current trends and considerations in service design. I was also happy to notice that there wasn’t really anything totally new to me but I could feel myself as an equal expert in the audience, listening to a colleague.

More information and ideas:

https://digitaldiscovery.io/

Kesko’s customer community Kylä: https://k-kyla.fi/

Yle Lean Culture Toolkit: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NkGRe-YACIcxextpkZLD-HTydZ1ifPyY/view