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A complex conversation over the (business) world

A Helsinki Design Week’s Aalto University’s Designs for a Cooler Planet’s program Design Club talk on 10th of September about the topic “System Innovations for Business Sustainability” and how does the talk transfer into today’s global business environment with academic researcher Dr. İdil Gaziulusoy and business Dr. Heli Antila, the Vice President, Biobased Solutions at Fortum was highly interesting and complex. 

First İdil Gaziulusoy challenged us with her ideas of System Innovations for Business Sustainability. She shared us that the system innovation works in three levels aka Three Spheres of Transformations that are:  

Practical – > product, services, innovations, technology (technological responses) 

Organizational -> New business models (systems and structures) 

Socio-cultural ->  Zone of difficult questions, the role of businesses (beliefs, values, worldviews and paradigms) 

What is wrong in the current business world 

Normal businesses function in basic level and need to change to be able to keep in the run but to have the changes done in 5 years is too slow. Innovations are also done separately and system innovation for business sustainability is really hard to accomplish. Innovations happen in boarders, that might be only partly linked to companies strategies. Regulations work differently in different sections. Other problem is those multiple sectors and that sectors themselves are in silos .

A big problem is that we have imagination crises. We are in lack of time and lack of imagination. Innovation policy is made in short time frames in mind as well are political circles and decisions. One thing that’s holding us back is that there is only narrow idea of innovation, that is usually technological, when innovation itself is much more broader concept. We have the old models in our heads that also narrow the visioning. 

Transition to renewable energy resources could have been done earlier, but we have been keeping up funding the past world and old energy sources even though we have known for a long time that it’s not sustainable. Mainstream businesses work different because they have to undo their mistakes in the past.

We should not save the day, but save the future far away! 

We need to think not only if this is good for us but also for environment and society over all since no system innovation can be done alone. To built an ecosystem you actually need a huge network. Like university, regulation, non-governmental organizations, the state, government and so on. 

There is also need for innovations in innovation policy! And that is why we need strategic and creative foresight. That can be accomplished in cross-disciplinary vision workshops. We should get beyond the expert lines and to think over the boundaries. We need to have a real creative foresight! And have responsibility, take the initiative how can we make this happen. 

In circular economy for example new kind of business models are needed. From a company perspective it takes time, more than few years. You need to see what you can achieve from different perspectives and operators. In operational level we need new funding mechanisms, for example for research. University has an important role and should do also it’s basic research. 

Companies need be urged to think about business in a de-growth context. It’s companies who need to push for the regulations! We have to imagine how will our cities look like and have bold policy making since the businesses are ready for this. What companies should do then? Engage with researcher, connect with each other, push the policies, signal the market (like already done in mode) and have futures thinking.  

Some good examples 

To mention some examples of how different disciplines and sectors have successfully been brought together to jointly address global complex systemic challenges are already done in transition context and with collaboration, like urban and energy transition. One good example in Finland is also recycling plastic waste that has accomplished only in few years.

There are systematic changes in Fortum like in excess heat usage. Fortum also started to work for CO2 free products a long before it was regulated since it seemed “a good time to move to that direction”, already in year 2000. Even when the market didn’t support it. Fortum’s vision for the energy crises now is that in the future we will have a lot of solar and wind power and it will be cheap. But then we have lack of material that is hard even to imagine now.   

The micro enterprises are pushing the boundaries first. Nolla (a zerowaste restaurant) is a good example of that and we should not overlook micro enterprises and their power to make the change and create innovations that can be used in many sectors. 

We need innovations! 

Good news for service designers! The traditional role of designers isn’t diminishing. There are opportunities for designers, like role in transition concepts and other collaboration. We always need new innovators and innovations! 

Pic: How to participate in Design club talks during Covid-19. Photo by author.

Author: Iiramaria Virkkala, SD student.

To look for more info: 

Info of the talk
Information about Fortum
Nolla restaurant
Certified B Corporation

Two hours in pouring rain in the footsteps of Jane

On a Tuesday afternoon on the 8th of September a little group of people gathered together in front of a Aalto University building to walk two hours in a pouring rain among the Infrastructure of Otaniemi.

Picture 1: Walking in the rain. Source: Personal photos of the walk.

The walk was arranged as a part of Helsinkin Design Weeks Aalto University’s program Designs for a cooler planet – Race for the future and hosted by Eeva Berglund and Idil Gaziulusoy, of NODUS, the sustainable design research group in the Department of Design, Aalto University. The philosophy of the walk comes from Jane Jacobs (1916-2006), who was a writer, urbanist and activist who championed the voices of everyday people in neighborhood planning and city-building. The idea is to walk in cities to honor and activate the ideas of Jane Jacobs. Jane’s Walk is a community-based approach to city building that uses volunteer-led walking tours to make space for people to observe, reflect, share, question and re-imagine the places in which they live, work and play.

Stupitidy as a designer 

One of the points was to observe what works and doesn’t in Otaniemi, which originates in 16th century but is rapidly built in the last 10 years. Focus was also to discuss about sustainability and what choices to use when building new. The environment it self had a lot examples what not to do. Since it was raining it showed us clearly that water it self is an infrastructure and if the surfaces are not designed with thought, future and climate in mind the water does not go anywhere but creates floods, slippery roads and possible accidents, like seen in picture 2.

Picture 2: Water as an infrastructure. Source: Personal photos of the walk.

It came to me as a surprise that Finland which is often considered a pioneer in technical development is actually not only delayed in infrastructure and environmental design but also traffic and water engineering. Even though the half a year of November weather would definitely need the special environmental solutions. Often pointed out in service design one of the problems is people working separably in groups of experts. And that is also the case in landscape and infrastructure planning where there is a huge challenge of silos.

What to do then

There is a need for long vision workshops and people working together to solve the wicked problems like climate change and sustainability. Also Jouko Lampinen says in the Aalto magazine that radical creativity means getting out of the silos.

The good thing is that many the solutions already exist. There are plenty of Nature-based solution (NBS) for urban stormwater management with Low Impact Development (LID) Methods like Bio Retention, Vegetated Swale, Green Roof and Permeable Pavement (see picture 3).  So it´s only about the politics, city patterns and old restrictions that need to be changed. And not forgetting the hardest part, people, that need to change for example from car-users to bicyclist. There is movement of change and future seems possible for the young students but 30 years that it usually takes to make an over all change is too much time, the development needs to happen sooner. The point is not blame anyone but to find solutions together. The nature it self also has the solutions. Just by mimicking the nature we can built a sustainable infrastructure. It was also said that having just a little spots there and there are not enough but if there is 10% of sustainable building in an area it is enough to make a change. The key is to over all design. And to make effort, keep up the maintenance and care.

Picture 3: Example of a NBS. Source: Personal photos of the walk.

The other good news is that also the knowledge and skills already exist in Otaniemi, in the Aalto University and work in deed is in progress. There are development departments and open innovation house for example (see picture 4). The new designs and innovations of Aalto are done first in small scale and then moved to to bigger development and infrastructure. Just like in prototyping in SD is usually done!

Picture 4: Aalto Open Innovation House. Source: Personal photos of the walk.

Author: Iiramaria Virkkala, SD student.

References and to look for more info: 

Designs for a cooler planet
Jane’s walks
Department of Built Environment
NODUS – Sustainable design research group
Aalto University magazine Unfolded #4, Radical creativity

From ego to eco

I participated on 27.8.2020 in an online event hosted by Reach Network. The online webinar focused on the importance of life centered design, sustainability and ecosystem. The panel discussion consisted of Reach Network’s four design research experts: Bas Raijmakers from STBY in UK, José de la O from delaO Design Studio in Mexico, Rikke Ulk from Antropologerne in Denmark and Babitha George from Quicksand in India.

Photo from Unsplash

The resources of the planet aren’t endless and crises like climate change have changed design thinking from individual to ecosystem. It’s a shift in thinking: from not only focusing on how people can benefit to how the entire ecosystem can.

The event focused on the importance of looking beyond having the human in the middle of design and focusing more on the ecosystems that we largely depend on.

Shifting between the levels

The panelists discussed the complexity of the issue and the multiple levels that must be taken into consideration with life centered design. Rikke Ulk talked about shifting through individual levels, social levels and organizational levels, and understanding everything in between.

“The way we have been thinking about sustainability has been rather limited by not acknowledging all these levels. Especially in industrial design it’s been really focused on optimizing things and making everything more efficient but what we have forgotten is to look at how it all adds up.” – Bas Raijmakers from STBY

The designer mindset should be switched from “we have a problem that needs solving” to “how can we make better decisions for a sustainable future”.

Photo from Unsplash

The challenges

With the added dimensions, the challenges involved are also more complex. José De la O talked about the core challenges of life centered design and the expectations that people have from design researchers in general.

“Sometimes when people ask your help as a design researcher, they always want to have tangible solutions that has to work on the get-go. You have to be aware of the consequences of the solutions that you propose.” – José de la O from delaO Design Studio

The work may seem endless, but in order to be successful you need embrace the complexities, and to be always learning, observing and sharing knowledge. De la O emphasized that it’s not so much as theory learning but interactive learning.

The panelists discussed a lot about finding an overall balance, that sweet spot of all involved levels. You need to be more humble but also embrace much more complex thinking, for example in terms of biodiversity.

Community support

Photo from VisitSamsoe

Rikke Ulk talked about a life-centered project she has been a part of in a Samsø, Denmark. Samsø is an island that is completely self-sufficient in green energy after the building of 21 wind turbines that were mostly funded by the island’s inhabitants. Now all of the island’s electricity comes from the wind turbines and any excess is exported to mainland Denmark.

Samsø has become a pioneer community, being part of green energy counseling in a global scale. Ulk talked about a new project she’s involved in which is another community based project in Samsø, where they want to move one of their two schools into a forest area where the school would have more ability to experiment. The idea of being in the woods and having new kinds of teaching facilities is not just about teaching the children about sustainability but more so installing them the ideology of it and offering them better learning opportunities.

“We think children have the ability of being sustainable. It’s natural to children to be curious and know that they are a part of everything.” – Rikke Ulk from Antropologerne

Ulk emphasized the importance of community support and how Samsø residents have embraced all the new changes. The citizens had the option to buy a part of a windmill which is how the island was able to become energy-positive in the first place. Additionally Samsø is striving to be fossil fuel-free by 2030.

For more inspiration:

The art of design research

Photo by Unsplash

I participated on 20.8.2020 in an online event focusing on design research. The event was hosted by Reach Network‘s Bas Raijmakers and featured a panel discussion with two experienced service design professionals Geke van Dijk from STBY and Babitha George from Quicksand, both part of the Reach Network organization.

Both Van Dijk and George discussed their projects, the craft of design research and what it takes to succeed in their field, with an active participation from other participants.

Iterative process instead linear

The design research process of Reach Network is described as more iterative than linear. New ideas often come up during fieldwork, so quick adaptation is key. The process starts with immersion phase where they usually study people in their own environments. Afterwards in insight creation the design researchers identify problem spots and opportunity areas. Last phase of idea generation includes workshops, brainstorming and modeling of strongest ideas.

Photo by Unsplash

George started the discussion by explaining a project she had been working with which dealt with public healthcare in India. She discussed the difficulties of when dealing with an intimate, hard topic and how to overcome these obstacles. She mentioned that the ability to adapt your methods and getting people comfortable were vital, for instance using hypothetical scenarios instead of asking direct, intimate questions for a softer approach. She listed building trust and offering a judgement-free-zone as key to the success in her project.

Both George and van Dijk discussed the importance of design research. They were asked during the panel discussion on how to get clients to understand the importance of design research and pay for design research. They emphasized that when design research is done right, it is very informative and helps with implementation longevity. Engaging with stakeholders and having a thorough, mutual understanding and clear communication is vital.

Qualitative research vs. design research

The panelists briefly talked about differences of qualitative research and design research. With design research, you have creativity included and you’re always looking for opportunities. It’s rich in storytelling and bringing a design aspect via persona posters and images from field, for example.

A participant in the event asked for tips on how to transfer complex data to a more understandable, audience friendly format. George and van Dijk mentioned that having key insights, summaries and lots of illustrations is a good starting point. They emphasized finding a balance with complexity and clear storytelling because you also don’t want to lose the richness of your findings.

Photo by Unsplash

The art of the craft

The panelists discussed the craft of design research and what it takes to succeed in their field. Design research is about constantly reiterating and customizing your methods. It requires a lot of experience and openness to learn new. It’s about learning of complexities but also keeping things simple. “It’s about constantly zooming in and out”, one panelist explained.

The needed skills include observation, conversation, creative listening, ability to adapt, motivation to always learn new things, but also being reflective and self critical of own biases. It’s not just about learning tricks of different tools but learning the craft and adapting those tools to own projects.

During the panel discussion, it was mentioned that design research is much like the Netflix documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, which featured Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old sushi master in Tokyo and his relentless pursuit of perfection, who even after three Michelin stars was always striving to be better.

In a way, a design researcher is never finished with learning their craft but instead always reiterating and customizing their approach.

For more inspiration:

Trailer for Netflix documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

New values, who dis

I had the pleasure of participating in an online event on 20.5.2020 hosted by Design Forum Finland and Arctic Factory. The topic of the event was design and new values, with the focus on sustainability and the role of companies in creating new value. The topic is especially current now during an ongoing, global pandemic, which has only increased the need for a change.

Slide from the presentation of Design Forum Finland CEO: Petteri Kolinen

The idea of new value is not just about creating financial value to company stakeholders, but a new type of added value to employees, society, and environment as a whole. We’re in a new era where customers demand more from companies.

Design thinking has a big role in creating new value. Design thinking is essentially about understanding the needs of people, being innovative and solving challenges in an agile way. Companies can find business opportunities and create new value through design thinking, for example by utilizing sustainable products and involving ecological thinking.

Megatrends 2020

One important aspect of design thinking is understanding what is happening in the world, what kind of trends are taking place and how they are affecting people. By understanding your surroundings, can you be strategic and proactive.

Photo from Unsplash

Katri Vataja from Sitra talked about the future and the increasing need for having foresight. She discussed in detail the five megatrends of 2020 set by Sitra:

  • ecological sustainability crisis and the urgency of its reconstruction
  • strengthening of relational power
  • ageing and diversifying of population
  • technology being embedded in everything
  • the redefinition of economy

Vataja emphasized the importance of ecological reconstruction and stated that the key factor influencing the future is climate change and other ecological issues, and how we respond to them.

“The decisions we make in the next 10 years will impact the next 100 years.” – Katri Vataja, 2020

Vataja ended the segment with a great question to think: what kind of a future would you like to help build?

The bees of the business world

Sonja Lahtinen from University of Tampere discussed the new values and the changing culture. Her main focus was the importance of sustainability transition: a cohesive, long term change towards sustainable modes in society’s foundation, culture and practices.

Innovative companies are like the bees of the business world: they are the vital pollinators of the society without which sustainability transition would not be possible. Lahtinen stated that companies have the needed capabilities for this important change in resources and innovation.

Lahtinen highlighted the importance of companies’ role in the transition and more importantly why they should strive towards this.

“We’re now entering into an era of the unknown, the unclear, and the unfolding. Being in tune with what is emerging around, we can seize immense, but not instantly obvious, opportunities to better the world.” – Sonja Lahtinen, 2020

Photo from Unsplash

Those who adapt, thrive

The event couldn’t have had a more inspirational end than Kyrö Distillery’s segment.

Mikko Koskinen from Kyrö Distillery’s brand marketing talked about the evolution of the company from the first brainstorming session in sauna, to adapting to corona times by switching from rye whisky to hand sanitizer. Koskinen emphasized the importance of strategy and values in their company and how they are not just a slogan on their website but a tool in their daily work.

All in all, the event raised great points about new values and the role of companies in this change. It was perhaps Kyrö Distillery’s last slide that best described not only the inspirational message of the event but also Finnish “sisu” at its core:

Kyrö Distillery’s presentation slide

For more inspiration on the subject:

Ikea’s chief sustainability officer Steve Howard’s Ted talk

Overnight digital transformation – virtual facilitation to the rescue?

The black swan of our days, in other words the corona virus pandemic, has forced an accelerated digital transformation upon organizations around the world. This has included working from home for many, but also either cancelling events and workshops or restructuring them to be organized digitally.

This sudden push for digital transformation has been challenging for many industries. To support NGOs in this process, the umbrella organization for Finnish Development NGOs – Fingo has organized a few online facilitation sessions to support NGOs in fostering the quick move from face to face to virtual. I attended one of these workshops on April 29th, together with 30 other people who attended the fully booked session on Zoom.

We all can benefit from virtual facilitation skills

Facilitation is one of the pillars of service design and organizing workshops. A good facilitator can lead successful co-creation sessions even with difficult groups or contentious tasks. Virtual facilitation brings the art of facilitation to the online sphere. Over night, virtual facilitation skills went from something service designers and professional facilitators need to know to something that everyone working from home would benefit from. Organizing virtual workshops and simply co-creating online within the workplace have become increasingly more common in our new reality.

The virtual facilitation session I participated in was a tips and tricks type of session, where specialists shared very concrete examples on facilitating online work. After attending the session, I feel more confident in both using different online facilitation tools and leading a co-creation session virtually.

Top three takeaways

1) Preparation, preparation, preparation!  Preparing to facilitate an online event is even more important than preparing for a face-to-face event. Once you have chosen and created the tools you will use during the event, make sure to try them out. Also do a test run of the technology, divide breakout rooms and practice moving between these. It is a good idea to share some information and materials with the participants before the session, to create shared understanding of the technology and tools to be used during the event.

2) Schedule more time for the beginning. In addition to the regular warm ups and getting to know each other, virtual events require doing a technical check. You should also agree on how participants can ask questions, whether it is by writing in the chat or any other way. If you intend to use the chat, it would be useful to have a co-facilitator who could keep an eye on the chat while you are presenting. It is a good idea to have your camera on and make some time for casual chit chat, to help set the mood for the event.

3) Activating and engaging participants is more important than ever! Long monologues and uncertainty about the tools are sure ways of losing the focus of your participants. Make sure that everyone knows what is happening, do not assume and use the chat or polls to activate participants. You could also keep tabs on which of the participants have contributed to the discussion and address quiet participants directly by name.

With these simple tips and tricks, even a less experienced virtual facilitator can lead a successful online event. Personally, I will try these out already next week, will you?

Useful virtual facilitation resources:

Online facilitation tools catalogue

Virtual Facilitation Finland – Facebook group

Remote Design Sprints – Facebook group

The forgotten fuel for business – Emotions

Photo from https://www.pixabay.com

Kuudes Aisti hosted an event in the end of February 2020 where Camilla Tuominen talked about do we destroy businesses by forgetting our emotions. She spoke how to lead and understand feelings and the importance of consequences of these intangible factors and invisible behavior at the workplace.

Today organizations are focused on data knowledge and pure facts. We take it as default that feelings and difficult thoughts don’t belong to work. But this is against biology. The reality is that instead of logic, most of our decisions are based on emotions and appealing to our feelings but not knowledge. Emotions affect every cell in the human.  We are messaging to ourselves and to others though our emotions. At work our emotions impact upon people’s relationships, teamwork, customer satisfaction and employee retention. And of course, all this influences how we make decisions, how we plan,  how we negotiate and show that there is a place for creative thinking  within the organization. We all have emotions, even the C-level management. Emotions drive people and people drive performance and business. 

Imagine if

  • people at work could communicate and connect effectively and feel confident in uncertain situations, 
  • people would be more present and make conscious choices rather than automatic reactive ones,
  • people received critical feedback from others in a non-defensive manner,
  • people had more empathy towards others,
  • in challenging and stressful situations people were able to manage pressure and think rationally but at the same time be able to listen to what their own and colleagues’ feelings are saying  to them. 

Above could be a description of a workplace where people understand the power of emotional intelligence. Goleman (2018) highlights that our emotional and rational parts of our brain work in tandem and they need each other. What if we could consciously combine and manage the rational and emotional parts of our brain? What if it would be everyone’s duty at work to learn to use emotional intelligence?

How emotions and feelings influence us?

Emotions and feelings are crucial in impacting what we think, how we make decisions and how we behave. Our behavior is driven by how we think. Underneath our thinking, there is how we feel. Feelings are mental and they are sparked by physical emotions. Feelings are a subjective expression of emotions.  Emotions are physical, they contain data about ourselves, other people and the world around us. Emotions are the energetic stage on our body.  

We learn already from childhood that there are “bad, negative emotions” – sadness, anger, grief, and fear. We tend to push these emotions aside and say “stay positive” or “stop being so angry”.  We think that we are in control of our emotions when we ignore them but in fact, they control us and we lose the capability to see the world as it is.  When people are encouraged to understand their emotional truth at work there will be more creativity, engagement, and innovation at work. (David 2017.)

Tuominen explained in her presentation in February 2020, that for example, negativity in a meeting might create fear and loss of confidence, being cynical or unfair might create anger and frustration. Consequences of these might be that we decide that it is easier to keep our mouths shut in the  next meeting,  put our shields up and keep inside  one’s true self.

This might lead to worse performance, loss of work time and an atmosphere where ideas aren’t flourishing. Consequently, we might think that it is good to numb our painful emotions and continue working as normal. But according to Brene Brown (2010) “we cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

How to avoid pitfalls?

Many times we think we have made a rational decision, but the chances are our emotions made the decision first.  Reasons are then established to justify our instinctive gut feeling. We validate our decision by saying we had an intuition. Sometimes our “intuition”, that is based on emotions, might be true but the problem is that our emotions aren’t always reliable, and we might interpret them totally wrong. We also have a tendency to collect and repeat stories of defeats. We might get hooked by our feelings and thoughts and treat them like facts. Examples of these could be “It was the same in my last job, it’s not going to work out”,  “I don’t like working with strong personalities”, “I’m bad at multitasking”, “I don’t like to work with slow people”. We get stuck in these old stories and we start seeing only one perspective.

In the end, these stories start impacting on our daily decisions at work. We need to learn to understand why we think and feel this way and learn to detach ourselves to deal with real situations. (David 2017, 2018.)

How to get started in leading emotions?

We should never ignore our emotions. We should remember that emotions are here to tell us something and we need to learn to recognize what they mean. By learning to name and admit our emotions helps us to get a start with leading the emotions, this helps us to calm down and see things more clearly. Instead of saying “I’m angry”, we should say “I notice I’m feeling angry”. “I’m angry” sounds like you are the emotion but instead of this, we need to understand that emotions are a data source and we need to listen to them. By understanding our emotions we learn to recognize their causes and understand better why you and others feel and react the way they do. 

Managing emotions is about drawing data about yourself and trying to respond effectively rather than reactively. It’s about integrating emotions strategically to enhance thinking, reasoning, problem solving and creativity. Emotions don’t own us but we own them. We need to remember that emotions are also contagious. We have no right to put negative emotions forward. We should understand what kind of bad influence it can have on others. When we learn how to handle negative emotions, we open a door for positive emotions. (Tuominen 2020, David 2017, 2018.)  

So do we still afford to ignore our emotions and feelings in the workplace? Emotions have an impact whether the business makes it or breaks it.

**********

References:

Brown, B. The power of vulnerability. 2010. Accessed 27 January, 2020. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability?fbclid=IwAR1O28UsQaEqVutHwOpySu1nTbJ7UaN-U8Ny8AVGDrYexCXOFXPK2__If3g

David, S. The gift and power of emotional courage. 2017. Accessed 13 March, 2020.  https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_david_the_gift_and_power_of_emotional_courage?language=en

David, S. Emotional Agility. 2018. Accessed 15 March, 2020. http://bestbookbits.com/emotional-agility-susan-david-book-summary-bestbookbits-com/

Goleman D, 2018, Emotional Intelligence

Tuominen, C. 2010. Emotions management. [lecture]. Held on 29 November. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Watkins, A. Being Brilliant Every Single Day. 2012. Accessed 1 March, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q06YIWCR2Js

How to make a Service Designer’s Portfolio

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

IMG_1435

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

1. Show what you can do

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

2. Show who you are

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

3. Keep it short and simple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zooming in and out the journey maps

Journey maps on different levels

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Zooming in and out. photo: Raija Kaljunen

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

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

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

Service design as a management approach

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

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

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

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Building bridges between silos. photo: Raija Kaljunen

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

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

Insights from facilitation exercise

1. Warm-up creates a safe space

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

Danish Clapping, a video by Copenhagen Game Collective

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

2. Time is the tool for the facilitator

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

3. Three ways of working

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

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

This is Service Design Doing Methods’ library

 

The Design Possibilities in Redefinition

By: Johanna Johnson

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

Redefining a Library

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

-Anna-Maria Soininvaara (Director of Oodi)

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

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

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

Redefining Artificial Intelligence for Designers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Redefining Complexity and Wellbeing

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

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

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

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

Redefining the Future

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

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

-Stratos Innovation Group

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

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

Conclusion

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

Sources

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

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