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Using Design Thinking to Build a VR Study Experience

What do you get when you put together a group of Laurea MBA in Service Innovation and Design students and Mindshake’s Katja Tschimmel and task the group to innovate a service for international students as part of the Design Thinking course? A crazy lot of innovation, creativity, collaboration, and learnings. In this blog post, I will go through how one group utilised Design Thinking to create a service offering a full in-class VR experience to anyone not physically present.

Everyone has creativity in them – uncovering our creative confidence

First, we learned the theory and about the toolkit for practical Design Thinking, including opportunity mind mapping, intent statement and insight and stakeholder maps.

As innovation starts with idea generation, these tools were great for uncovering creativity and helped narrow down our focus. IDEO’s Tom and David Kelley discuss in their book Creative confidence: unleashing the creative potential within us all (Crown Publishing Group, 2013) how everyone has creativity in them and these tools are a testament to that. For our team, the creative confidence was really built up by brainwriting which brought us the collective brainchild of creating a VR in-class experience from anywhere.

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Fluency and flexibility demonstrated during the brainwriting exercise which finally lead us to cluster the ideas that had to do with VR

Presenting the prototype

Then it was the time to create a prototype to visually present the concept. This concept test gave us invaluable feedback from the other team which we then incorporated in the service (it was great that we had to listen to the feedback in silence as there was only the feedback, no defending of what we thought – making us concentrate on just what people want and need in their lives, also highlighted of importance by IDEO’s CEO Tim Brown in HBR back in 2008).

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A prototype of the VR in-class experience

 

The real test and the permission to fail

Then we moved on to the service blueprint which proved to be a bit more difficult than our team had thought. Now was the time we actually had to answer some tough questions and we realised that we may not have actually gathered all the information we thought we did.

In real life, we would have taken a few steps back and interviewed international students (and other stakeholders), and possibly decided that this service was not viable. Failure was an option, but for the sake of the learning experience, we decided to come up with some of the answers. Tom and David Kelley also discuss in their book Creative confidence: unleashing the creative potential within us all about the “permission to fail” which essentially means that you have to learn to embrace failure to come up with better innovations. For us, the service blueprint demonstrated well that failure is part of the innovation process and not something to be afraid of.

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Pitch perfect innovation and collaboration

We were then ready to pitch our innovation using storytelling. Overall, the tools really gave the framework for innovation, directing us to the goal of being able to pitch a concept.

What was also remarkable was how well we collaborated, even though we barely knew each other. Tim Brown also states in his HBR article from 2008 that the best Design Thinkers are not just experts in their own discipline but have experience from others. After working in a truly multidisciplinary team, I can fully see how much innovation benefits.

What do you think, how has your experience with practical Design Thinking been?

Can you learn to be creative?

by Kati Kaarlehto

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This question was asked from our lecturer Katja Tschimmel at the very beginning of our contact days of the Design Thinking study module. This question in my mind I chose to read  Creative Confidence – Unleashing the Creative potential With Us All by David and Tom Kelley as my very first book in my Service Innovation and Design MBA-studies at Laurea. I was soon to find out that the question of creativity is definitely one of the profound questions in the “Design Thinking Universe”.

Why and how to be creative is the core of the Kelleys’ book. We often perceive that only artists, and designers are the privileged ones to be creative. Too often parents, teachers or study counselors categorize us into the “uncreative” and blog our creativity. However, being creative is something more than just drawing or writing a poem and can be unbloged in all of us. What we really need are creatively thinking engineers, doctors and government officers who are creative in the way that they face their everyday life problems and challenges, in the way that they design new solutions and develop their services in their own work environment.

The Kelleys have a very simple solution to the question in the caption. At some point, you just make the decision to be creative. Then act according to your decision. And how is that done? Design Thinking methodology and tools are designed and develop to assist in that.

You should ask questions, especially Why-questions. You should leave your desk and office to observe your customers or end-users and thus learn true customer empathy. You should get surrounded with same-minded creatively thinking people and to keep up with all the possible trends and phenomena around you – a not just related to your own field of business but beyond.

In her article Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation Katja Tschimmel also concludes that Design Thinking is not merely the designer’s mental ability, but can be developed and trained by anybody who wants to solve problems in a creative way, who wants to conceive new realities and who wants to communicate new ideas.

The Kelleys emphasis open mindedness and liberation from your preconceived ideas and assumptions. They quote Mark Twain who once said “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t so”.

I recognized that too well during the work shop sessions led by Katja and where the Design Thinking tools of the Mindshake Design Thinking Model were applied. Our task was to perceive the Laurea world through an International student´s eyes with some chosen Design Thinking tools. As I have worked with international university students, way too often in the group I captured myself thinking or even saying “this would not work or this has already been tried out or this Laurea would not support”.

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If I felt a slight shame about my narrow-minded, not-so-creative thoughts during our work shop, I also felt that something truly different could take place in this class with these tools, some familiar and some new to me, and with these mates representing so different professional backgrounds and experiences.

While reading “Creative Confidence” I also felt splashes of joy and confidence – by applying and starting these studies I have definitely taken right steps to unleash my creative potential. I have definitely made the decision: I am creative (always been!) and want to shake my ways of thinking and perceiving this world and my work – with the help of Design Thinking tools but also of all my lecturers and wonderful class mates.

Let the journey begin!

 

What is Customer Journey and why others besides sales and marketing people should be interested about it?

What is Customer Journey and why others besides sales and marketing people should be interested about it?

 

Customer Persona

Before starting to formulate customer journey, it is important to define customer personas, to whom these journeys will be created. A while ago, I wrote about what Customer Personas are and why those are useful. Below you can find short definition and through the link complete blog in Finnish.

 

”Customer Persona (Customer-Avatar) is a fictional character, which presents ideal customer of a certain company. Unlike definition of a target segment, which classifies large group of people, customer persona defines one person’s character, values, personal information, challenges and goals. It even goes so far, that this person is given a name and a profile picture, by which an attempt to try to make the person alive is done.”

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/asiakaspersoonat-ja-mit%C3%A4-hy%C3%B6ty%C3%A4-niist%C3%A4-voi-olla-lauri-eskelinen/

 

Customer journey

Challenge during this digital era is, that many do not know when and where the first contact happens. If you do not know where this happens, it is very difficult to provide value to customer on that specific touch point. It can even happen so that customer has already made the purchasing decision even before contact with the company has happened. During this modern age, customers want to search for information about the product or service beforehand and understand what they are buying. For that reason it is important, that companies are acting as trusted advisors who are helping customers to move forward on their journey. Helping works a lot better than pushing also in this case.

 

Customer journey is a journey of all touch points between a company and a customer towards what the customer wants to achieve, and what they are doing to achieve that. It begins from awareness when customer discovers a need, continues by engaging with company and leads to purchasing. These touch point types vary a lot, and are not just contacts with sales, marketing and customer service at the customer interface, there are also many touch points with the systems behind the curtain. Journey does not end at the purchase, instead customer needs to be taken care of also after the transaction. Company has created value propositions before the purchase, but after the purchase company needs to fulfill these promises. Service delivery should be easy and effortless for the customer. Also it is important to understand that for example HR-, logistics- and finance systems affect to how smooth the customer experience is as a whole.

 

One tool called Service Blueprint is helpful in defining customer journey. It can also be used to test new service process prototype. We learned how to use this tool with Katja Tschimmel during the class Design Thinking. With the help of this tool, physical customer journey can be described and below every touch point, customer action is listed. By using this tool, contacts between customer and the company can be reviewed, both direct and contacts happening at the background. Also it is important to list out the required supporting processes and resources like IT. Below you can find a picture about what our group came up with.

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What are important aspects of effective customer journey mapping process?

It is very important, that it includes customer-centric point of view, in which a solution is formed through customer requirements with the objective to solve their needs, instead of creating a new product/service without asking customers if they need it. It is also very important to have support from management and focus on customer insight. Support is required from many different levels of organization, because customer interacts with many different parts of the company. Therefore units, which are working behind the curtain must support the process. And if cooperation and data collection are not taken into account in the early phases of the process, there is a big risk that the process ends up into nice visual exercises which nobody utilizes in practice.

 

Every time new product/service is developed, developers should step into customer’s shoes. By using the tools which design thinking provides, discussion can be limited into what needs to happen so that the idea is applicable. You can always make fancy plans, which seem to work on paper, but when a real customers tests the prototype, some very surprising issues can be discovered. Because of this reason, feedback should be requested as early as possible during the process. There is a risk, that when only looking at your own point of view, you might forget some important aspects, which are important to customers, and which the planned product does not fulfill. At this phase it is a lot easier to make modification, it could be late and very expensive to make those changes when the products is finished. So, remember to request feedback as early as possible and Fail Fast!

 

Some tools, which are good for testing new product or service are Desktop Walkthrough or Role Play. During our classes we were allowed to play with Legos J This relates to Desktop Walkthrough –tool, which is used to outline proposed solution in 3D, which makes it easier to define. After we made our first version, we presented that to other group to receive feedback. With the help of this feedback, we made some modifications and combined two different options into one solution. Some pictures below.

 

Why it is important to understand these concepts?

The customer rarely follows the buying process which the company has independently defined. From the perspective of marketing and sales, it is important so that companies can create value adding content to every touch point of the journey and can help customers move forward. Instead that company trying to raise common interest and reach the entire crowd with one same content. Many times this results into creating content, which does not raise any emotions in anyone.

 

After the customer journeys have been formulated, marketing automation can be utilized in order to deliver content, which provides additional value to customers in every touch point and when they are moving forward on their journey. This is one reason why the background systems need to function. It does not give good image, if value creating content has been created, but interested customer cannot open it. For this reason, cooperation inside the company is very important, so that IT-unit understands the process. Then they can make sure that the systems work as required and by doing that, making the customer journey as easy and effortless as possible.

 

#servicedesign #designthinking #customerjourney #contentmarketing #sales #marketing #latenlorut

I am on a path to somewhere! by Annamarja Paloheimo

Two days of learning by doing, experimenting, prototyping, role playing and presenting under the tutelage of Katja Tschimmel has certainly guided me on a path to something new.

Katja put her research into work as she introduced the Evolution 6 -Innovation & Design Thinking Model to us. In the model 36 different tools are introduced with the purpose of guiding us through the innovation process from identifying the challenge to presenting and implementing the solution. We worked through nine tools and created a presentable solution to the identified challenge.

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During the workshop it was comforting to understand that creativity and design is all about listening to customers, understanding their needs and getting feedback. Based on these observations and with the help of Design Thinking tools in an organized, interactive and iterative manner it is possible to transform existing conditions to something better.

After this experience it is easy to agree with Katja Tschimmel that Design Thinking methodology and tools are an effective way to find new perspectives, make sense of various phenomena affecting life around us and to innovate.

Design Thinking methodology and tools make the innovation process understandable, workable and approachable. The tools give a framework to work within, and the rules and assignments related to each tool will guide us to the next step on the process. With the help of the process and the tools the outcome is likely to be desirable, feasible and viable.

The two-day workshop with Katja Tschimmel gave me two true learning experiences.

First was understanding the value of listening to feedback. In order to benefit from feedback, it is necessary to have an open mind and understand that there is no need to defend the work, but to listen. Feedback gives an opportunity to improve the quality of the work. Feedback is a gift.

Second is the importance of presentation and visualization.Every solution or new product needs to be sold; both to the end-user but also to the organization producing it. Ideas need to be pitched to management and boards. In pitching the idea visualization and the presentation of the idea is a key to success. The pitch needs to be comprehensive but short, descriptive but simple and easy to digest both visually and verbally.

Gijs van Wulfen’s approach in presentation is very appealing. He recommends the usage of Business Model Canvas. It is a clear, strategic, commercial, professional and financial plan for a new initiative. By making a business case of the new initiative the persuasiveness of the case gets stronger as it highlights the strategic, commercial and financial aspects of the plan. In business context the initiative must always either increase revenue or decrease costs.

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After the work-shop I truly feel that I am on a path to somewhere. I like the idea of structured thought process and the tools to support it. I like the usage of analogies and semantic confrontations in the process. I am convinced that quick prototyping, roleplay and feedback will increase the quality of the outcome. Finally, it all boils down to presentation and storytelling. Doesn’t everyone just love a good story?

Learnings from Facilitation-as-a-Service

I had a possibility to facilitate three workshops for two different projects (2 ws + 1 ws) in this spring. The projects were related to improve empathy in health care, facing the patients and their relatives in new ways and find development ideas in the workspace. The participants of workshops were personnel and students of health care. I was a “hired” facilitator for these workshops with my fellow students. While still learning the magics of facilitation, I would like to share my early key findings and learnings. These findings are from my perspective and do not form any comprehensive list. I had no former background from health care at all. The workshops located in a hospital and a health centre premises in Helsinki, Finland.

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Keep the focus

The most important thing to start when planning a workshop, whom contents and themes are not familiar to you, is that you need to understand the target of the project and this specific workshop. To have a workshop is not the reason itself, it should create something valuable. Ask targets from different perspectives, clarify them to yourself and make sure, that you have understood right. And make sure that the subscriber of the facilitation, the person who has hired you, understands you. Actually, it is not so important to understand the subject matter (for example the daily life of a hospital department).

Choose right methods and language

When the target is clear to you, choose right methods and tools for the workshop. You need to understand the backgrounds and expectations of participants. A lot can be done in few hours’ workshop, but too much is too much. Always. What are the things which can or need to be done in advance? For example, in my cases, the basis work was done by health care students. Source material for the workshops were personas and stories. It was quite easy to start with those.

We modified the name of the methods. Customer journey paths were used in workshops, but we used a word “patient path” instead of “customer journey”. Respectively, the empathy map was called “emotion path”. It would have been nice to ask the participants to create an idea portfolio, but we asked participants to prioritize ideas like picking up “pearls”.

Timing, timing, timing…

A big part of planning was the scheduling of the workshops. It was important to imagine the whole workshop from the very beginning to the end. How much time is needed for introduction of the agenda and facilitators? How many breaks are needed? How much time needs each new method or part of the workshop? And their instructions? Still, you need to make the schedule slightly flexible – some surprises happen always! One tiny thing, which can totally ruin your wonderfully planned schedule is the IT-equipment of the premises. Please ensure beforehand, that your laptop fits to displays and other devices. Be prepared for that nothing works except papers and pens. Have a lot of those!

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And finally…

After all careful planning, take a deep breath and relax. Everything will go well – and if not, invent quickly something! Remember the target and find to way to achieve it. Good luck 😊

 Author of the blog is Pia Rytilahti, MBA candidate at Laurea University of Applied Science

 

Co-creating healthcare – improving customer interaction

 

 

Customer interaction is a key element in healthcare services. Laurea  students from the nursing degree program have been working on an intensive project with Suursuo Hospital in Helsinki. Kirsi Ronkainen, leading the project from Laurea University of Applied Science offered the chance for SID2017 students to participate as facilitators in a workshop with about 40 healthcare professionals from the hospital as well as Laurea nursing students. I volunteered to join Johanna Waal and Pia Rytilahti in the facilitation team for the workshop organized in April.  For us this was an opportunity to experiment the fresh learnings from Marc Stickdorn’s Service Design Process workshop, and we were eager to try in practice the different service design tools and methods for facilitation.

Improving customer interaction

The aim of the project in Suursuo Hospital is to improve the quality of interaction between the personnel and customers: patients as well as the relatives of patients. In addition, the quality of interaction may also improve the image of the hospital. As result of the workshop, the objective was to identify concrete themes of development to be further elaborated together with the personnel and the group of students.

The group of Laurea nursing students had already been working closely with the hospital staff and patients, interviewing and observing the life in the different departments of the hospital. Based on their insight they had worked on several user profiles with positive and negative customer stories. These stories served as an introduction for the groups.

The first task for the groups was to work on a customer journey map as well as an emotional journey and really think about the different steps from both customer and personnel perspective. This was a great way to put the teams to work.  Here we used a method with one paper many pens to get the all of professionals to participate.  This wasn’t easy in all groups. I tried to focus on the helping the groups to move along and not letting one group member to dominate. Next the groups chose a challenge to work further with and then ideated solutions focusing on one of the challenges identified. Here the teams were using 10&10 method. Thereafter the teams got to select a most prominent concrete idea with positive impact to customer interaction. The selected idea should also be easy to implement. The third part of the workshop needed some warm-ups, Johanna run some breathing and body movement exercises to get our groups ready for the creative part. and to use drama to present their selected development ideas.

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Learning by doing

I have been working as a facilitator in my work – but almost always, more or less in the content owner role. We had the chance to focus on how to get the teams working, and evaluate our  own role as a facilitator.  There were some professionals first reluctant to participate in the workshop session, but as the work moved we managed to get them along. I learnt a lot on how to help the teams further and what can I do better when briefing the teams. And we also saw in practice how impossible timing gets the groups moving.

Thank you – an intensive afternoon! It was a great learning experience to collaborate with Kirsi and the nursing students, as well as the committed individuals from the hospital staff.  Not the least, we had a great team spirit in this intensive project and Pia was a great project manager for us facilitators. Looking forward to hear how the development work in Suursuo hospital proceeds!

The author Kaisa Spilling is a Service Innovation & Design Masters student who has a passion for design, experimentation  & smarter cities. 

UX and Service design excursion at Eficode

This week I was again lucky to be able to get a seat to an interesting excursion hosted by Eficode. The topic of the excursion was User Experience and developing digital services and it was held together with VIMAPA and KäY (Frieds of the User), a cross-disciplinary community of students interested in usability, user experience, user centric methods and services.

At Eficode, we were first welcomed with fresh salads and selection of beverages. It was nice to find yourself sitting next to new acquaintance to discuss about the evenings topic –and off the topic. 😉

But of course, the main motive for me to join this excursion was not only to meet new faces and enjoy refreshments, but to find out more and understand in more detail what UX means and how is it applied in practise: How professionals nowadays test usability and users and how is UX linked to the overall process-ecosystem and design process? What are the roles of the relevant stakeholders (clients, service-providers, users etc.) involved in the design process? Also, the topic is spot-on for my kind of marketing professional studying service design and having a keen interested in human behaviour.

I didn’t have to leave disappointed from this excu-visit that offered a lot of discussion and talk about the UX and testing followed by an impressive presentation on Eficode’s strategy and way of doing business.

First part of the visit was about UX and the importance of qualitative research and codesign. The practise on measuring customer satisfaction merely by quantitative methods was challenges and the importance of qualitative research that is needed for deeper customer understanding was stressed. I fully agree on the above. What do you do with merely a numeric rating, no matter how good or bad it is, if you aren’t able to understand the reasons and arguments behind it? “Oh, our customer’s give us 4/10… Seems we need to improve the quality of our services… BUT how do we do that? What are our customers dissatisfied with?”

Qualitative research and testing play an important role in developing digital concepts and services and is needed to validate the work including such as concepts, ideas, goals and usability i.e. user interface.

Optimally, testing would be done throughout the development process to ensure the ease of use (usability) and concept interesting enough, both key factors behind a successful product or service. Poor quality user interface can ruin the whole product or service to succeed, no matter how interesting your concept is. Usability is the key success factor especially when competing in an industry with homogenous service offerings. Think for instance banks with very similar lone and insurance offerings: the ease and smoothness of use of the online bank accounts. (You can always check my previous blog post on doing Business Design at OP Group, a customer of Eficode. 😉)

It is also good to understand the difference between the two: Usability testing and User testing.

Usability testing is about testing the products’ usability to determing how well it works from technical perspective. Mainly done by the developers and throughout the development process.

User testing on the other hand focuses on User Experience (UX) and studying the people using the product to understand what they click and why and how well they find what they’re looking for, e.g. task oriented testing. User testings are made in focus groups and optimally testing can be followed by clients and stakeholders. Also, this is a good way to convince and justify to the client. And at times also the experts working on the product development.

Note! The above testing should be considered as service design instead of scientific study. No huge reports of these will be made and are to validate a project with a short time to go market.

Very often a product is tested during the development (go-to-market) stage, but once a customer launches the product, no one cares about testing anymore. However, in this rapidly developing digital ecosystem and business environment full of competitive offering entering the market, in order for your product to survive and be successful, you should not forget about the continuous testing and frequent follow-up. As seen also at Eficode, the launch is only the beginning of the journey.

Accessability testing was also briefly mentioned. at the end of Rainos presentationis important and will become more important. From September 2018 onwards our national legislation requires equal accessibility for all when the EU Accessibility Directive will be implemented in Finland. Meaning that service providers are required to create fully accessible websites and digital services to all users. Although this directive binds only the public sector, private sector cannot afford not to follow and develop to meet the requirements.

I have to admit I had a gap in my civilisation here. Hence right after the visit I had to go to google to update my knowledge on the Directive and its implementation throughout the EU. In case interested, check here to start from.

Second part was about Eficode’s Digital Building concept. Their way of developing digital services and products and supporting clients on their digital transformation and how service design methods (from gaming, cross-functional collaboration and cocreation) have been implemented in the development processes to ensure fast and cost effective go to market time and to enhance client commitment. Interesting topic especially to an SD student.

Eficode’s concept from a clear and transparent project starting from the 5-day innovation session with the prospect client from zero* to ready product in 4 weeks –and even beyond in terms of post-launch support sounded truly impressive. *point where not a single code exist yet but the coding can be started.

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Final part of our excursion was a visit to Eficode’s UX studio offering various techniques to test and follow:  Streaming, online screens, “interrogation rooms” that could be followed behind a mirror glass… We got to visit the testing rooms and the different techniques were explained to us.

Eficode had also created a Digital Building Toolkit -game for a one-day co-creation workshop to kick-start the client’s digital transformation initiative and to enhance the common understanding and commitment throughout the different stakeholders.
1st part of the DBT-game is on defining who and what is needed at different stages of the project whereas the 2nd part concentrates on the project purpose and actions needed.

We did not have time to play this game, but I am in the hope of getting an invite to an open gaming session that was advertised to us. Maybe I’ll post a blog on the gaming session if it is to happen…

Phew, this blog turned out longer than planned. Congrats for making it to the end, appreciated. Hope you also find the content interesting.

Jenny

Ps. At Eficode they surely understand what a customer support genuinely means 😉

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