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Testing out the co-creation game ATLAS

 

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On 4th April a group of service designers and service design enthusiasts met up after work to play the service co-creation game ATLAS. The game was made as part of the research project ATLAS, a project executed in 2012-2014 by Aalto University and funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes. The goal was understanding, facilitating and planning co-creation. The game was introduced to us both by two of its makers, Päivi Pöyry-Lassila and Anna Salmi, as well as by the host of the evening Laura Virkki from city of Vantaa.

From a map to a game

According to Päivi and Anna, at the start of the ATLAS project the vision was not actually to create a game but something of a map to gather together co-creation theories and practices to facilitate co-creation projects. During the project the group had worked on bringing multiple information co-creation theories together, hence the game is heavily based on information co-creation theories. However it was noted that knowledge of these theories was not essential for playing.

atlasThe end result of the research project became a game instead of a map as the result of the iterative and thorough research/design process including several Sprints. The game could be described as one that helps people understand and learn about co-creation and, to some extent, service design. The goal was also to help anyone have open access to the game and tailoring it to one’s own needs e.g. by translations to different languages is encouraged – so long as credit is given to the original game when variations are made. The city of Vantaa had done exactly that and had both translated the game from English to Finnish as well as modified it slightly to better suit their user needs. The version we tried out was this modified one in Finnish.

Playing it out

After the intros we were divided into small groups and started to ponder on the topic to set as the theme of the game. Our group’s one was how to make service design as way of working in an organization. The game was then built around this topic and included discussing various aspects of the theme with the help of the game cards: motivation, project definition, participants, tools & methods, and so on. The cards facilitated discussion nicely, helping shape out the various aspects of the theme and arrive at an at least somewhat shared understanding of how one might continue working on this topic.

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At the end after testing out the game we had a brief discussion across all the groups present. Each group introduced their theme and some findings and discussions they had experienced while playing. We also discussed the various possible uses for the game and what would work better than other uses. City of Vantaa had used the game as a tool to make a project plan. This had suited their needs and as far as we heard was successful. However, one of the makers of the game mentioned that in their opinion it was not exactly made as a tool for project planning. Based on our game groups’ different themes around which we played the game, it seemed it could indeed also help as a project planning tool, perhaps more as a kick-off session for starting a project and getting everyone on the same page about it than as actual detailed planning tool. It was also discussed that another game session after this initial kick-off one could then again maybe yield different, more detailed or deeper results if there was an actual project in the horizon – in this session all but one team were working around a more or less vague theme not tied to e.g. a specific organization or setting making it hard to be concrete on a project planning level. The consensus seemed to be that the game was well suited for facilitating discussion around co-creation, and one of its strengths seemed to be that it was not heavy on jargon or did not require prior experience of knowledge on service design – therefore making it a great tool to be used also with people who might be doubtful about service design in general.

 

The author Kaisla Saastamoinen is a Service Design Masters student with a passion for human-centric design, co-creation, and coffee.

Were we at our happiest 15 million years ago, and what’s happened to the lingo of design?

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On the morning of 20 March, Reaktor Design Breakfast event took place in Helsinki. Evolved from a small, mostly local and IT focused company to an international one of strategy, design and engineering, Reaktor is perhaps one of the hottest companies in Finland. Known for its flat hierarchy and multiple prizes won for best place to work, Reaktor also hosts an array of tech and design events for the public.

The main speaker of the event was Katri Saarikivi, a cognitive neuroscientist from Helsinki University and one of the leading researchers and speakers on empathy particularly in digital environments. As always, her presentation was delightful: nicely flowing from empathy as a survival skill for humans 15 million years ago to empathy online and in modern day work organisations. Starting from such ancient setting was not only interesting in order to learn about empathy and its implications for humans throughout our history but, as it was noted, some researchers think 15 million years ago was when us humans were at our most happiest: living in forests and focusing on survival, way before invention of the first tools. Makes one think how much we really have evolved and to what direction…

From there we moved on to the concept of work that Saarikivi describes as “solving the problems of other human beings“, responding to others’ needs besides one’s own. Hence, according to Saarikivi, the need for work done by humans continues to be constant, despite any and all changes that might be coming due to advances in technology such as AI and machine learning.

“Empathy might be at the very core of our best problem-solving ability”

A part of the presentation was around human-centric work and human-centric design: highlighting the role of empathy in understanding the differences between people and thus working better together as well as better responding to others’ needs. The importance of collective intelligence was highlighted: “Best thinking, best work is more often than not a shared activity.” And one of the factors greatly affecting it was non-surprisingly empathy.

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Based on studies, Saarikivi also argued that humans are naturally selfless, empathic, and look after one another. However according to research, being in a position of power can reduce your empathy; and the higher your economic status, the lower your empathy skills. The research showed that brains of people in a position of power did not respond as much to other people’s pain as others’ did. Hence one could claim that having artificial positions of power – such as hierarchy in a work place – is not the way to increase empathy in an organisation.

 

IMG_0884As an example of an organisation not at all encouraging empathy or collective intelligence Saarikivi humorously (or, sadly?) showed us a photo of the main hall of the Finnish Parliament: a setting that encourages competition, highlights monologue, and gives no equal opportunity to all to speak nor respond. Saarikivi continued that disregard of emotions can lead to detrimental effects on work, collaboration, and information quality. This is something to consider especially in digital (work) environments, as the digital tools we still have largely transmit emotions rather poorly.

Empathy: Understand, Act, and Experience

During her presentation Saarikivi also discussed what can be seen as the three sides to empathy: understanding, acting, and experiencing. All three parts are needed for empathy; any one of them missing would not result in the real thing. Empathy skills, however, can be improved by practice. Your imagination is an important empathy skill, Saarikivi reminded, and reading fiction has indeed been scientifically proven to enhance our imagination and empathy skills.

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She walked us through each of the three aspects of empathy, and also continued on the interesting themes while responding to some participant questions. She pointed out that empathy is not an inherently a positive personality trait but a cognitive skill or mechanism. When asked about any negative aspects of said mechanism, Saarikivi mentioned narcissists. This turn tied it nicely back to the earlier discussion on benefits of flat organisations, narcissist not being interested in applying for positions in flat organisations as they don’t want to be equal wanting to rather rise higher than others. The whole presentation and discussion it encouraged was an interesting dive into empathy – a skill often mentioned as one of the most important tools of a Service Designer.

“Design’s focus has shifted from user needs to business needs”

After Katri Saarikivi’s presentation it was time for Reaktor’s own speakers: Hannu Oksa, Vesa Metsätähti, and Aapo Kojo and Vesa-Matti Mäkinen. Out of those presentations, Reaktor’s Creative Director Hannu Oksa’s resonated with me the most. He discussed the evolving role and ways of design, recently seemingly moving away from designing with and for the user towards focusing on the business needs. He also gave some chilling examples on the rise of fake news and purposely addictive design, stating this has made him deeply consider whether he is part of the problem and making it worse for others. Responsible design in the field of tech is not a topic I’ve often heard about – especially introduced by someone whose career is in the field. IMG_0889

Oksa also discussed the trend of worshipping data without criticism, despite all data being based on history: after all, historical data is exclusive, divisive, and by definition looks back rather than in the future. This hit very close to home, as in many situations and settings even fairly clever people have loudly expressed wanting to e.g. base their entire product or service development on data gathered digitally about their users (or potential users). That can perhaps be all good and well when trying to understand the past situations and coldly follow one’s users’ steps on some platform etc. with for example the help of A/B testing, however how would that give you actual information on WHY they have been doing what they have been doing on a deeper level? Would that tell you what they are like or what they will do in the future? And will that tell you if that is what they actually need or want, or is it simply a representation of the current (well, past) offering – not necessarily having anything to do with the user’s ideal scenario or solution? This kind of worshipping of (past!) data always gives me the chills and certainly wakes up the human-centric designer in me. Often, unfortunately, it’s not a battle worth fighting.

Another thought-provoking, perhaps accidental point was made by Vesa Metsätähti right at the start of his presentation, when he introduced his presentation topic radiot.fi by describing it being “an old service, at least 3-4 years old now.” Indeed, what is the life expectation of a service nowadays, and how long do we consider a service new?

The last presentation by Aapo Kojo and Vesa-Matti Mäkinen was “From Design Vision to Reality”. They introduced a project done for Finnair with a mix of physical and digital services. This gave some practical examples on how to work on a multi-platform project with focus on the customer experience in both the physical and digital parts of the same service.

The breakfast event was definitely worth attending, and hopefully there will be equally interesting ones organised in the near future!

 

The author Kaisla Saastamoinen is a Service Design Masters student with a passion for human-centric design, co-creation, and coffee.

Motive based profiling in Service Design by Kuudes

Juha-Pekka Ahvenainen, Markus Alavaikko

We participated design breakfast arranged by Kuudes. According to their web pages Kuudes is Nordic insight, strategy and design agency. They have been doing motive based profiling of the customers for over ten years and they have published their latest studies last year. Kuudes has found eight different Finnish customer profiles based on different motivations. You can see those from the picture below.

 

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Source: http://theinformedconsumer.fi/finnish-study/

 

Different kind of profiles appreciate different kind of things. This comes close to different kinds of values of life. Profiles also get irritated about different things. They are categorized to x and y axis according to conservation vs. openess to change and according to being selfish or selfless. From the web-pages of the study you can find more detailed information about different profiles. There are insight about profile´s behaviour and demographic details. Moodboards and checklist are also used to visualize the profile.

 

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Picture: moodboard of the dreamer

 

You can also find videos from the web-pages that show you how different profiles choose their daily foods. There can be found many kinds of opinions which foods are healthy and which are not. Different profiles adopt services in different stages as you can see from the picture below.

 

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We found these studies very interesting, but what we can do with all the information and data about these eight profiles? We think service designers can really use this data to design personalised services and products for different profiles. Or at least we can use these ground surveys as a stepping stones to our own service design projects. Kuudes has done very nice work and their work encourages us as service design students to dig deeply those human insights, motivation and values in our own projects.

 

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Last but not least here are some guidelines how to do your own motive based profiles, shared by Kuudes.

  • Profiling must be done and seen as big picture because different profiles are related to eachother.
  • Profiles have to be based on deep customer insight: motives and values.
  • Clarify organisation´s inner needs
  • Clarify who are going to use profiles
  • Final results should be easily available to all members of the organisation
  • Profiles should be visual and inspiring
  • Co-creation in organisation supports implementing
  • You have to also understand the future, on which direction things are going in crucial fields

Designing Business at OP – thoughts from an excursion visit

I got the chance to participate in a company excursion visit to OP Financial Group organised by Ompeluseuran Palvelumuotoilijat. Ulla Jones, Design Culture Lead at OP was to give a presentation on and around the topic Business Design. What it is and how it was applied at OP.

I was really looking forward to this excursion for it interested me for various reasons of which few below:  

·       Company excursions are great way to hear and see how service design and design thinking are utilised and practised in companies also to learn about the current status of this interdisciplinary scholarship. As what is taught at Universities and what is written in publications, are barely ever the reality.

·       Business Design as a topic is extremely interesting and ever more relevant for current business environment

·       I am married to OP with my mortgage 😀

After we had gathered down stairs of the OP headquarters our host Ulla Jones took us to the second floor and gave a brief presentation on the building itself. It was nice to hear and see how the Finnish design and culture was present everywhere, in the architecture and materials used. And how the building was really designed to serve employees and provide inspiring and well-functioning facilities. I am sorry I didn’t take any photos to add into my blog but you can surely google-up some pictures -or pay a visit. As downstairs is open for everyone. 😉

Our mini-tour ended in one of the six cafeterias where we sat down and helped ourselves with some refreshments. Ulla started her presentation by going through her own career path and how she had ended up designing business at OP. Key take-away from this section to me was to understand and accept that service and business designers job as such and job descriptions are constantly evolving and working as one requires courage and ability to tolerate uncertainty. The role of designer is greatly influenced by the ever changing needs of business environment that again are shaped by various external factors. Tomorrow is different from today. But to what extend we cannot know for sure.  

The second part of Ulla’s presentation was more OP-related and concentrated on how design doing and design thinking were applied in OP. And what role does design play at OP in the current business reformulation in shifting OP from a systems centered to customer centered company able to serve customers better and more profitable way with serving them more coherent packages instead of smaller solutions (as stated in OP’s strategy since 2016). This reformulation is pushed by the need to survive in the constantly changing business environment, which in turn is caused by digitalisation.

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I have also tried to gather some key-notes from the part in which Ulla explained the current status of design and design function´s set-up at OP.

Design at OP is business development done in a holistic, customer-centered, co-creative and evidencing manner. In 2016 design was used in 79% of the projects from start to finish and to understand the fast growth in the importance of design, the percentage in 2015 was only 38%. Since 2017 design aims to be seen as strategy instead of process or methodology.

At current, OP has 90 in-house designers with various responsibilities and roles who all form a competence centre serving the whole organisation.
Design at OP is applied in following three levels and perspectives:

1. Strategic Design from customer centred and business perspective
2. Tactical Design from holistic service concept perspective
3. Operational Design concentration on touchpoints and user experiences.

Business feeds the needs and Business Designer as Strategic Service Entity Lead play an important role in keeping up with the dialogue within the company and departments to enable and maintain common understanding about the customer needs.

Designers also arrange strategical workshops and provides information visualisation to support decision making.

Short and sweet: Designers at OP build insights, deliver solutions and involve customers in the development processes.

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Design function is also responsible of the internal communication and brining service design more known within the company and among its employees:
Design practises are applied in all development processes and the design team organizes an annual Design Day to the whole organisation.

You can find out more on what design is at OP from this Youtube-channel.

At the end of the visit, we had a speed work-shop in which we used OP´s value formation tool with which they use to determine how and where value is being formulated to further define and decide where a company with their services would then be positioned. In other words, where to play and what to offer. We were given a task to work on the topic around “Food to home”. I am not going to explain this work-shop here in any more detailed but have a look at the pics below to hopefully get at least a vague understanding of our idea generations.

It was a shame that so little time was left for this workshop part for it certainly would have been interesting to carry on and compare the relatively various results of the speedy innovations.

Of course, we were invited to stay for longer to share thoughts and network, but personally I felt it was my time call it a day.
Coping with full-time work, Master´s studies and all these design-events can at times become mentally and physically challenging, no matter how interesting they all are.
😉

Jenny

Bench of Awkward Conversations – Global Service Jam 2018

9th to 11th March 2018 teams around the world were jamming it up on six continents on the Global Service Jam.

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In Helsinki, around 30 participants and a mentor/organiser team met up on Friday 9th after a hard week’s work to immerse in a weekend of ideating, prototyping, and having fun. With some intros to the ways of jamming and getting to know our newly-formed teams we dived straight into the process.

Talk about a fuzzy front-end…

IMG_0788 The theme for this year’s Jam, revealed to us in the form of a video, was a little vague and mysterious to say the least. After the initial slight panic and confusion (disclaimer: speaking for myself here only) over the ambiguous theme, we set out for the first ideation session. From there we kept building on the ideas and moved on to grouping the generated post-it storm under a few headlines.

The ideation ran around themes that divide people, ranging from immigration to lonely people’s funerals. Despite, or perhaps because of, the somewhat morbid themes, right from the start our team had a few laughs and it felt surprisingly effortless working together. However a good night’s sleep was definitely necessary, so we had to call it a day to return the next morning.

Dragging a bench down the road

On Saturday morning we continued working on our ideas and moved on to some online and field research. With a strict deadline of having to submit and present a prototype on the following day, we had to move fast. Our idea started to formulate around reducing loneliness, potentially in the context of also facilitating easier immigration. One idea was a physical meeting place, a bench or so, where people previously unknown to each other could meet and have flash cards on funny or easy conversation topics. IMG_0791
Soon we were building our first prototype, The Bench, and taking it to the test – in the process carrying a physical bench from the Think Company to Esplanadi to observe and interview the people who were passing and perhaps connected with it. The results guided us to make some adjustments and modifications, with some more testing and iterating also left for the following day.

As in any old Design process, iteration did take a fair bit of our Jam time. Adjusting our prototype and validating our ideas or letting some go were a central part of the process, and although sometimes hard, it was good practise in letting the testing and users guide the results instead of the ideas of the designers themselves. This seems like a continuous lesson that one can’t think about too much!

Presenting: Bench of Awkward Conversations

IMG_0801On Sunday we kept improving our prototype and preparing for presenting it to the judges. The day ended with each team presenting their idea and prototype, all in their own way clever and unique. The judges’ feedback helped us to finalise our idea and change the ideas’s name back to the original working name, Bench of Awkward Conversations. The feeling at the end of the weekend was that of euphoria and exhaustion. Many left this Jam already looking forward to the next one, me included!

 

The author Kaisla Saastamoinen is a Service Design Masters student with a passion for human-centric design, co-creation, and coffee.

Design Kit: The Course for Human-Centered Design, by IDEO.org and +Acumen

Late last year I felt I could use a little recap on some of the things learned on the very first courses of the Service Design Masters degree. At the same time I was longing for some fresh thoughts and a push to jump start my thesis – a way to get creative and actually do some design stuff instead of just planning it. The free Human-Centered Design course by IDEO.org and +Acumen, mixing online and in-person teamwork, seemed like a good way to do that.

Described as an “intensive, hands-on learning experience“, the course description promised the participants would “leave this experience equipped and energized to apply the human-centered design process to challenges across industries, sectors, and geographies to generate breakthrough ideas.” Well, that sounds great, but would someone with quite some earlier knowledge and experience in Service Design and in general human-centered design projects get something out of it too, besides a repetition of things already known? I was also wondering how the theme and topics would feel, as the focus seemed largely to be in humanitarian and social welfare – a hugely important topic, however sadly not my forte previously.

Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation

IDEO mini challenge 1The course started in January and, thanks to all sorts of online groups and forums, it was fairly easy to find a team to do the meet-ups with. We ended up being 5 in our group, all previously unknown to each other. The course platform provided us with instructions on the different phases, “classes”, we were to go through to complete the course. The first meet-up went in a bit of a haze, getting to know each other while trying to follow the guidelines from the somewhat confusing set of material piles (for each “class” there being 2 separate packs of materials). Lucky we had a group leader of sorts in our group, making sure we had agreed on specific days for our future meetings so we could keep up with the course deadlines.

The course followed a set structure and timeline, with the design process following the steps Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation. The second group meeting was missed by a couple of us, but the ones attending divided the research between us all and we all managed to do our parts before the following meeting. And on the third meeting we finally got to a classic – you guessed it – post-it party!

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Latest at this stage it was fairly clear the methods and principles of the course were very familiar to a Service Design student, but doing research and ideating was in any case tons of fun and not at all that easy. It was great to work together with a group of people not previously familiar with each other, building on each other’s ideas and hearing about new ways to look at the same things.

 

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In the following meeting we moved on to How Might We questions – this brought us another interesting conversation, as some in the group had somewhat unknowingly used a similar approach to problem-solving. After that it was time for creating a story board and moving on to prototyping.

The course finished with an energising afternoon over brunch, making a pitch for our solution, followed by reflection and discussion on our learning.

 

To summarise the experience, here’s a little list based purely on my personal thoughts:

+ Nice and easy way to recap a human-centric design process

+ Practical and structured guidelines and tasks

+ Basic background info and examples on methods and process

+ Great to work in a new team and learn from others!

– 2 separate material packs for each class didn’t feel like the best way to go

– No new methods or insights for someone already familiar with Service Design

– End result and experience would depend a lot on the team: in my case it was wonderful but it could have been totally different if e.g. there was someone really bossy or other characters that can make ideation etc. difficult.

All in all, I was very happy with my experience. And the team proved to be so good that some of us have already met at a couple of other Service Design events, and we plan to meet with the whole group again soon!

 

The author Kaisla Saastamoinen is a Service Design Masters student with a passion for human-centric design, co-creation, and coffee.

Lessons from the Master: Forget the Titles, Facilitation is Key

After a decent amount of lobbying we had the pleasure to have the Service Design guru Marc Stickdorn as our guest speaker at the Finnish language Service Design program.

Stickdorn has just published the new book This is Service Design Doing. He talked about what he thought Service Design was and what the crucial skills for doing it were.

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Marc Stickdorn

According to Stickdorn the reasoning for Service Design is simple. Experiences stick to customers, not products.

“Organisations lose money because of bad customer experience. Customers trust the stories of other customers and less what companies tell them”, he stated.

Therefore customers will pay more for better customer experience. And that’s what Service Design is for.

All this has to be explained to the managers. There is a business reason for better customer service and it has to be shown with money. One way of explaining new services are storyboards.

“Products can be made into mockups, but services are not tangible. We need to make it tangible to talk about exactly the same thing”, Stickdorn said.

Service Design, UX Design, Business Design…

In the cover of Stickdorn’s new book there is a quip to all the disciplines that have popped up but are doing essentially the same thing.

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Stickdorn thinks that Service Design is going to become a common language.

“Many disciplines are not trained to take little steps. Managers are often afraid to take decisions to start. Service Designers should create a safe space to come up with ideas”, Stickdorn said.

Therefore they key skill for Service Designers is facilitation. How can I create a safe space so that people are not ashamed to come up with really shitty first drafts?

Stickdorn gave us tips about how to be a good facilitator. First we need to have a huge toolbox of small warmups. If there is a hurdle, we should be able to take a method and apply it and see how the group changes.

“What makes a difference is experience. Don’t try to copy somebody else. There are a thousand different styles to facilitate”, Stickdorn said.

According to Stickdorn Service Design is not a silver bullet that can fix everything.

“Be open to other stuff. There is no clear boundary where Service Design ends and other stuff starts. It allows us to use methods from other disciplines. There is not one tool or method coming from Service Design. Personas are from UX, journey maps are from branding, etc.”

For me Stickdorn’s talk gave a bit more clarity about what we are aiming to as Service Designers. It is important to talk a common language and teach the language to the managers and others in the company. In order to facilitate the change into Service Design way of thinking, we need good facilitation skills.

The author Noora Penttinen is a journalist and a Service Design student who believes in creative chaos and thinks that best ideas appear at four in the morning.