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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.

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

Takeaways and reminders from SXC18

Service Experience Camp is not just another conference. Thought by service designers, for service designers, it is a 2-day “unconference” whose new edition always tops up the previous ones thanks to an amazing selection of design leaders as speakers, a passionate and proactive audience of practitioners, and a long list of carefully planned details that make participants feel like they don’t need to worry about anything else than just enjoying rich conversations and an inspiring atmosphere.

Gathering around 300 people from all over Europe on the first weekend of November, unfortunately this year’s edition – the fifth –  was announced to be the last. Perhaps this was the reason why its bar-camp, a grassroots format to provide participants with an informal space to run their own sessions, was so successful.  In fact, throughout the two days participants held a total of 30 open sessions, alternated by keynote speeches, networking moments, and delicious meals.

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One of the sessions run by participants

 

Before SXC18: Service Design Tour

This year, the conference program was preceded by a day-long Service Design Tour across 4 Berlin-based service design agencies. Having planned a longer stay in town, as soon as it was announced I immediately reserved a spot to discover different agencies approaches to service design and collect insights on how they overcome their most pressing challenges.

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The Service Design Tour kicked off at Service Innovation Labs

 

Starting the day with a breakfast in Kreuzberg, we first spent a couple hours at Service innovation Labs and then moved to Aperto by IBM. After a quick lunch on the way we visited Fjord, and lastly, Idean.

Here is a summary of my key insights from the Service Design Tour.

 

  • Impact beats enthusiasm

Whether we mean “impact” as financial, societal, environmental, or most often as the effect of our work on the client, the random and enthusiastic use of design thinking in business contexts seems to have come of age, leaving room to an increasing tendency towards making sure our service design efforts have a meaning and leave a long lasting, positive footprint not only on our users and clients but also (sometimes) on a larger scale.

 

 

  • The rise of new professional roles, a.k.a. what the heck is a business designer?

Something that really caught my attention concerns the rise of the new role of business designers, which just a bunch of years ago was not common at all. Perhaps due to the two world of business and design increasingly leaning towards each other, not only all 4 agencies we visited have business designers in the team, but they are actively recruiting more! Hence, upon investigation, I now understand a business designer is someone who is in charge of researching, testing, measuring and implementing a range of business related aspects into the service development process (like business models, service pricing, etc.).

In addition to business designers, another emerging professional role seems to be that of legal designers, as in those figures who take care of different legal aspects to take into account in innovation, and that are no longer engaged as an external party as in the past. In facts, it seems like almost all agencies we visited, regardless of stressing their core value proposition around service design, try to build a team of different professionals whose aim is to address and overcome challenges in the innovation journey from many different points of view.   

 

  • Team work

As opposed to the classic consultancy offering, most of these service design agencies seem to believe in building up (internal) multidisciplinary teams around a challenge, rather than allocating individual consultants to project. I really liked learning about this, as I strongly believe that sharing the joys and sorrows of a winding road with someone that has your same mindset leads to greater results.

 

Service Experience Camp 2018

Following the past edition theme “struggling for change”, this year focused on the topic of “crafting delight”, meant as the art of crafting experiences that delight users.

 

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Top 3 talks

Like in the past years, this edition’s content was very well curated from A to Z. Yet there are 3 talks that, in my opinion, will stay memorable:

1) Designing for Future life events  – Karolina Kohler, Lead Design Researcher @ Kaiser X Labs

Having never worked in the insurance industry nor bought myself an insurance, I had hardly reflected upon how different the characteristics of an insurance service are in comparison to any other service. Through her fun, engaging speech, Karolina Kohler walked us through her reflections on how aspects like value proposition, touchpoints and loyalty require a different approach in designing insurance services. In facts, in this context the purpose is not to delight users with enjoyable experience, but rather to provide concrete and efficient help whenever a tragic moment in life happens. And since that future tragic moment is something people prefer to not think about and that, by definition, is unexpected, insurance services are like “buying shoes that you receive yearly updates on, but never wear”, “or buying a movie by only knowing the title but without being able to watch it before the next 30 years”. Through a bunch of simple examples we all realised the design of insurance service runs on completely different premises than any other services!

 

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Karolina Kohler, Lead Design Researcher @ Kaiser X Labs

 

2) How making accessible services benefits all users – Alistair Duggin – Head of accessibility @ Government Digital Services UK

1/7 people in the world suffers from disability, and with an average of population age continuing to rise, it is likely that sooner or later disabilities will affect us – either directly or indirectly. With the mission of designing digital services that any citizen in the UK can use, Alistair Duggin reminded us how solutions designed for extreme users may positively impact other “less extreme” users. For instance, providing users the option to indicate whether they prefer to be contacted via written text only, they not only remove barriers for people with speaking impairments, but also for people who can’t answer calls during the day or that have very limited time to check their phone.  

 

3) Future-proof design for urban mobility in growing cities – Hanna Kops, Head of Experience @ Transport for London

Starting her speech with a blunt statement: “design is not about solving problems, it is about creating a space for people to experience something differently”, Hanna Kops set the stage in no time, walking the audience through a few important moments that marked the interesting story of the London tube. One of these is when the first pocket map of the tube was distributed in town: it was visual, tangible, and it helped people have a reference when defining London’s boundaries. By including all tube lines – from the central ones to those that touch upon the greater London geographical area, this first version of the London tube made people living in the most remote outskirts start feeling like they belonged to the city. “If the tube gets me home, I am a londoner too”. By redesigning the way people would experience public transport as a public space, over time London created a culture of public transport, by design.

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Hanna Kops, Head of Experience @ Transport for London

 

Cool hacks

During the conference I spotted a few practical example of cool workarounds that people have come up with to overcome their daily challenges.

  •  Lost in Jargon

The airline industry, like any other industry, is packed with acronyms and abbreviations. To deal with complex jargon, Maria Lumiaho and her team at Finnair created a Slack bot that, upon request, will suggest what these acronyms stand for whenever being lost in jargon during a meeting.

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Finnair team’s slackbot to navigate through acronyms and abbreviations

 

  •  Spread the news

To deal with complex stakeholder engagement, Frankie Abralind from Sibley Memorial Hospital hospital came up with the idea of making weekly postcard-like micro reports of his team work’s status updates and started distributing them on desks of key internal stakeholders, with the aim of informing them and making them feel like their involvement counts.

 

 

Takeaways and reminders

 

  • Stakeholder management goes beyond PR, a.k.a. design for perseverance

 

In a session about stakeholder engagement, we all found each other on the same page in facing lots of difficulties engaging with people in the organisations where we work. The conclusion drawn during this sessions was that we should apply some simple tricks like inviting people for coffee or having a smoke together to set up a space to communicate informally. I must admit, I was pretty disappointed about it. In facts, stakeholder engagement needs to push itself way beyond the basics of PR to really be effective. Thankfully, later Frankie Abralind reminded us during his talk that no matter the environment where we work, the only way to break through is to be persistent, make and update internal stakeholder maps on a regular basis, and create ownership over progresses by keeping everyone informed. In a nutshell: try, try again, and again.  

 

  • Will ethics in design ever go beyond recommendations?  

 

Two years ago I was sitting in the main room listening to a talk about ethics in design. In this edition, two years later and in the same room, here we go again. For how interesting it always is to listen to different people’s perspectives on the topic, I couldn’t do but noticing that in the meanwhile conversations about ethical design are still where they used to be, meaning they haven’t really moved beyond a set of general recommendations about aspects to take into account. So the question is: will they ever?

 

  • The measurement tension

 

From these two days, it emerged really clearly that nowadays everybody is busy measuring the tangible and mostly the intangible (yes, against all odds even More Than Metrics has fallen into the measuring trap), yet everybody is still struggling to prove the value of service design and having troubles showing that we are actually able to bridge concepts to implementation.

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A snapshot from a session of SXC18

  • Many in distress make the sorrow less

 

300 people is not a huge number. However, the audience at SXC18 was a very specific crowd of passionate people who are deeply involved in practicing and advocating for service design, from an organisational to a a global level. To this extent, the fact that that the service design community might not be enormous, but that on the other hand is very active, collaborative and dedicated was a good reminder. No matter how challenging our journey as practitioners can be, it made me feel like we are all allies in driving a disruptive, powerful mindset change.  

 

Let’s Play Participatory Budgeting!

Event: “OmaStadi” Participatory Budgeting Ideation Workshop Organized by the City of Helsinki, hosted by the city coach Antti Sarpo
Place: Vallila Library, Helsinki
Time: 13.11.2018

The latest Helsinki City Strategy sets the outlines for city decision-making in the years 2017–2021. The strategy emphasizes participation of the citizens and interaction between the citizens and the city. Having the foundations in the knowledge and know-how of the citizens, The Participation and Interaction Model of the City of Helsinki was created to guideline these efforts of enabling participation and interaction.

The idea is to invite City residents and its partners to join the development of the City, the services, and neighborhoods by enabling of spontaneous activities and creation of equal opportunities for participation with the aim of creating a positive city experience. The model states, that the decision-making in the city should be open and participatory. Helsinki also recruited 7 local workers, “city coaches”, to facilitate participation in each housing area. They help the residents to participate by promoting initiatives and development proposals, creating discussion and being present in their respective housing areas.

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Participatory Budgeting as a Concrete Means to Co-Develope the City

For the residents of the City of Helsinki, a concrete means to participate in developing the city is participatory budgeting. Some 4.4 million euros will be allocated annually to the initiatives ideated by the residents. Some 900 000 euros is allocated to the projects concerning the entire City of Helsinki, and to the 5 greater housing areas have been allocated money according to the number of residents they have. How the budget is spent, is being voted upon, based on the proposals made by the City residents. The voting age limit is 12.

During the autumn of 2018, the city coaches have been promoting the participatory budgeting project, which really kicked off on the 15thof November, when the online service for the resident’s ideas was released. The city coaches have been organizing also co-creative ideation workshops in each housing areas. To help facilitate the workshops, a participatory game called “OmaStadi” was created by the service design company Hellon.

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Let’s play!

I took part in the ideation workshop organized in my housing area Hermanni-Vallila. Some 20 people attended the workshop, everyone filled with enthusiasm to develop their own neighborhood. After the introduction to the Participatory Model and participatory budgeting in Helsinki, we were handed out the “OmaStadi” participatory game and explained how to play it. We had some 1 h 30 minutes to play the game, with the aim of resulting in 1 to 2 ideas we would then download in the “OmaStadi” online service.

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It was time to play! We organized ourselves in teams and prepared for the ideation game by choosing the instructor, the bookkeeper, the joker, and timekeeper. The game began by exploring “the City Corners” cards and choosing 1 or 2 areas on which we concentrate on ideating. Then we had a free-flowing discussion on the challenges of the areas chosen with the aim of choosing one challenge we want to solve. In the second phase, we had some help in ideation using “the Ideas & Solutions” cards. We brainstormed ideas first individually and then collectively. We also used “the City Residents” cards to open up new perspectives on our ideas.

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In the third phase, we used “the Precondition” cards to validate our ideas with the preconditions of participatory budgeting. We had to choose 1 to 3 most suitable ideas or further develop ideas to fit the preconditions. Next, we used the “Good City” cards to test which of the ideas work towards the City’s objectives and scored the ideas if they fitted the objectives mentioned in the cards. The more the idea was given points, the better possibilities it has to succeed in the process in the future. We had to choose the idea that scored best and was perceived best by our team for elaborating. Lastly, it was time to present the idea to the City of Helsinki. All teams presented their ideas and wrote them down to an idea sheet. The bookkeeper is responsible for downloading the idea to the OmaStadi online service.

The ideas varied from enhancing a playground nearby to taking over an old tram hall for creating community house and to a thorough concept of enhancing the Vaasa square in Kurvi including infrastructure changes, plantation of trees, organizing events such local food market and flea market, starting a community house, cooperation with local businesses, and hiring a community worker (“Talonmies”) for the square. We had such fun!

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How to reach people?

The OmaStadi cards are available also in Swedish, English and in plain Finnish (“selkokieli”). In the event, there was also a group of residents who didn’t speak Finnish. This group was facilitated by a voluntary organization Nicehearts and their Neighborhood Mothers division. The City of Helsinki organizes ideation workshops also in English, but this kind of organizations volunteer to help facilitation also in some workshops organized in Finnish. They said the experience was inspiring also for their group English-speaking group.

However, it can be asked how democratic the participatory budgeting actually is? Who are willing and able to attend open ideation meetings and workshops? Do they reach all the citizen groups, especially the ones with something hindering the participation? Has the message of participatory budgeting even reached all residents? A lot has been done to tackle these issues: the ideation workshops are normally open, but the City also trains some people to facilitate the game so that it can be played in housing cooperatives, among friends, etc. The City also brings the ideation game to different groups of people who have some hinders to take part otherwise, such as retired and disabled people, schools, etc. What can be discussed, is the communication about participatory budgeting in the first place. Many people do not know anything about it, at least this is my impression when I have talked to my friends and networks. So, this is one thing which the City of Helsinki needs to develop in the next round.

What’s next?

After the period of leaving the ideas to the online service, the ideas will be translated/modified into coherent plans in co-creative workshops and meetings organized in March-April 2019. The City residents are invited to the workshops. In addition, the budgets for those plans will be made during that period of time by the City of Helsinki. In May 2019, the voting of the plans will be organized, and in June the implementation of the voted plans will start. The people who have been crafting the initial ideas can take part to the implementation.

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Participatory budgeting is an interesting initiative, and the City of Helsinki has taken a significant step towards open and participatory decision-making, not so common even globally. Can’t wait for the next workshops elaborating on the selected ideas, and finally the voting in May to come!

 

Hackathons as Design Experiences

 

I participated recently in two hackathons, Emotion Hack Day hosted by YLE and researcher Katri Saarikivi, and Climathon by Climate-KIC, hosted by Urban Academy. Hackathons are events that generate solutions to a challenge, and usually the solutions are technical in nature, like applications or programs. It seems though that the idea of hackathons has broadened somehow to include all kinds of idea contests, since both of the hackathons approved of all kinds of innovations. In both events I was especially interested in process design of the events.

The challenge in Emotion Hack was about solutions for an internet for more joy, and for Climathon about creating sustainable food solutions for food hub at Teurastamo area in Helsinki. At Emotion Hack I participated as a team member, and at Climathon as an organizer with minor responsibilities.

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Ideation process at Emotion Hack

Observations on Hackathon Process Design

The hackathons followed loose design pattern as following:

  • Presentation of challenge
  • Inspiration talks related to the challenge
  • Team formation
  • Ideation
  • Group work on idea
  • Mentoring
  • Final presentations
  • Choosing a winner

At Climathon there was also an excursion to the challenge location site, Teurastamo, arranged.

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Climathon teams and mentors visiting the Teurastamo area and food entrepreneurs there.

The order of the different phases was little bit different in both hackathons, as well as facilitation support offered for the teams. At Emotion Hack there an ideation process was conducted before team formation, and at Climathon the teams were formed first. At Climathon the excursion to the area seemed to be considered important by the organizers, and at Emotion Hack Day a lot of emphasis was put on personal support by mentors.

In both of the hackathons the facilitators did not explain a how an ideation process works or offer tools for participants to work with. Also the teams did not have much time to get to know each other or go through their individual interests or skills, which I as participant found to be a major obstacle when working with 2 complete strangers. Of course the time is a very limited resource at hackathons, but I still would have felt working together with the team would have been much more efficient if there would have been time for getting to know each other. Also I think it would have been great to get some help on creating common understanding on the whole process of concept creation, which can be very different for people from different backgrounds. What I also found quite surprising in both hackathons is that they did not include any kind of empathy phase with trying to understand a customer’s viewpoint on the product.

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My team at Emotion Hack working with the our idea: an app that would remind you of things you are grateful for in life after too much time online.

What I liked about the facilitation at Climathon was that there was a lot of time to define the problem that the team was trying to solve, before diving into creating a solution. At Emotion Hack I appreciated the atmosphere with games and laughter, and really putting effort into having a fun day together as well as offering technical assistance with producing a video on the final solution, which I thought was a great way of showcasing the solution.

The winner of Helsinki Climathon was called Winter Garden, you can read more about it here.

You can see all the solutions created at Emotion Hack at YLE Areena. Sadly, I was not in the winning team, which was defined by newsreporter Matti Rönkä’s reaction – the one that made him smile most was the winner!