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Future Service Design: Designing Solutions for Systemic Problems

What kind of future is waiting for us service innovation and design students? How service design is transforming and what kind of skills are needed when working in the service design field in the future? These questions were discussed from several perspectives in the super interesting Palmu Society 10 + 10 event organized in Tennispalatsi.

Many interesting points were pointed out  from new job descriptions to how companies should organize themselves in such way that creativity is easy to release to pace up innovation. Perhaps the most relevant takeaway was that service design is “scaling up” from improving existing single services designed for the obvious user, and that it is going beyond the mere interaction of people and services. Due to the shift in focus, also the designing will change.

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From designing services to changing people’s behavior

When exploring future service design challenges, we are merely not talking about improving the quality of single services. In future, service design will be solving more holistic problems and tapping into systemic changes that require changing people’s behavior. As good services are already mainstream (a fact that rightfully can be argued by many), service design in moving from designing services to designing people’s behavior. In the future, service designers are designing solutions to societal issues of larger scale, for instance immigrants’ adaptation to a new country or helping people to survive exhaustion. In many cases, there are no services yet to improve, so they need to be innovated and designed.

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When designing solutions to societal issues, there is always also business potential to be discovered. It is about finding the link between changing behavior, new habits and business. One fictional example showcased how a health care business could partner with a gym and together they create business opportunities when tapping into the exhaustion problem.

New KPIs and even deeper customer insight to support “super moments”

When dealing with more more holistic and systemic problems with the aim of changing human behavior, the objectives and goals of a design process also change. The KPIs should be connected to the change of people’s behavior rather than the mere interaction between the customer and the service. Therefore, more attention should be put into getting even deeper customer insight, when trying to understand people’s behavior and reasoning as well as trying to find ways how to support that change.

For instance, when solving problems regarding people’s exhaustion, service designers should go way deeper in people’s behavior, to go in the homes and dig into the daily life of the exhausted people in order to be able to find ways to change people’s behavior – and eventually find (business or humanitarian) solutions for those problems. Somehow this did not sound so alien to me as a service innovation and design student at Laurea. But I guess, in practice, getting truly deep customer insight can be easy to overlook by the clients as it is very time-consuming and expensive.

The concept of “super moments” was mentioned several times playing the most important role in understanding the customer. A “super moment” is the point where the behavioral change can be accomplished and when a person is finding and adapting a new thought. People need support in taking a new direction, and service designers need to find the tools for them. This will also have an effect on the actual designing of a service. It will be further explored, how new technology and AI, such as machine learning, can be used to support the “super moments”.

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Picture: Palmu

New Skills are Required from Service Designers

As service design, or whatever this field will be called in the future, will go even deeper in the people’s behavior and reasoning, and new technology such as AI will be utilized more and in more creative ways, new skills are required from service designers. When technology is exploited even more, there will be even more need for people who are dealing with the technology.

For instance, it needs to be carefully considered which tasks can be given for algorithms to solve and how the machines and AI need to be “taught” and “coached” how to see and understand human behavior. This can only be done by people. Even more skills from different fields such as psychology, behavioral sciences, ethnography and technology, but also business skills are even more required in the service design field. Service designers will specialize more, one good example is the trendy “business designer” job title.

IMG_3192The result of voting the future job titles in the service design field.

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The event got me thinking a lot about the issue of ethics when it comes to changing the human behavior. We, the future service designers and innovators, need to be even more aware of the motives that drive and biases that affect us, the design projects and the clients, as future service design will play an important role in making more impactful changes in the society, even changing culture.

UX and Service Design: are they essentially the same thing?

Since service design started gaining ground in business conversations, it is not rare to come across questions or comments like: “what do you mean by service?”, and “Ah, it’s basically UX design” or “Ok, but can you make wireframes?”.

In facts, considering the increasing intangibility of products in the digital age, the distinction between products and services nowadays is subject to frequent misunderstandings and many people, both design and non-design practitioners, struggle to see the differences between design disciplines like UX design or product design.

After seeing some patterns in these conversations, I got triggered to make some reflections on the role of service design in relation to other design disciplines, and particularly UX design, and I decided to share them on October 18th at one of Amsterdam’s most popular events in the design field, Ladies That UX.

This post aims as summarising my thoughts about this topic and share them with the dedicated and passionate network of Laurea SID students.

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A snapshot from my talk at Ladies That UX Amsterdam

Beyond tangibility

According to the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, nowadays the services sector accounts for almost 70% of global GDP, as in the index which is globally used to measure the market value of all the goods and services produced in a certain period of time. I find this pretty funny, considering that GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product, but also very representative of the world we live now.

In facts, whether we are aware of what a service is, services are all around us and we experience them everyday. And yet, the word “service” is still very little understood.

Back in time, the traditional distinction between a service and a product was seen as lying in physical evidence: as opposed to a product being something we can touch, smell, and see, a service is difficult to assess. Now, considering that in the digital age that distinction breaks down substantially, if nowadays our job as product designers, UX designers and service designers is about designing intangible experiences, are we essentially all doing the same thing?

My answer is no.

This is because the distinction between a product and a service goes beyond the physical aspect of the experience.

As opposed to a product being something that the customer purchases as a one-off, a service is an intangible experience characterised by an ongoing relationship with a service provider, who offers access to a solution that delivers value.

To put it in other words, the difference between a digital product and a service lies in ownership. If products, once purchased, are owned by the customer, services instead offer access to a solution without implying the ownership over it. Think about Spotify: it gives us access to a vast library of songs, and it’s no longer asking us to buy them one by one.

If we take the distinction in these terms, a service mindset doesn’t only lead to longer term, stronger relationship with customers but often also to a different business model. For these (and more) reasons, the design of a product (be it digital or analog) and a service require different focuses.

 

“A service is something that a customer uses but does not own.”

Mat Hunter, CDO at UK Design Council

 

What UXD and SD have in common

Now that we can agree upon the fact that these two disciplines have a reason to be called with different names, we should start from acknowledging that, as both falling under the design umbrella, they do have a few aspects in common.

1. Designing experiences

One of the reasons why the term user experience (UX) design can be confusing is that all design disciplines should be directed towards designing meaningful experiences. The distinction lies in the fact that some will have a strong focus on the digital environment, some will not.

2. Designing for people

Whatever the type of experience we are busy designing, the ultimate goal of both UX and Service (as well as other types of) designers is to make sure this experience adds value to someone’s life. We aim to understand our user’s needs and design solutions that will help overcoming their main challenges.

3 Drawing from similar tools and methods 

To address design challenges, we arguably go through the same creative process and draw from a very similar set of tools and methods. Whatever the design output, at the end of the day sketching, conducting surveys, facilitating workshops, and mapping stakeholder are our daily supper.

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A summary of aspects Service and UX design have in common, from my presentation at Ladies that UX Amsterdam

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A map of UX and Service Design tools by Clearleft

 

The main differences of a service design approach

In my experience, there are three main aspects that mark a different approach between Service and UX design.

1. Addressing the design challenge from a different height

The most fundamental difference between UX design and service design lies in the nature of the design problem that we are trying to solve. While UX designers typically zoom into designing very detailed experiences which are often confined to an individual “touchpoints” within a service, service designers zoom out and aim to understand the bigger picture.

2. Looking beyond and across single touchpoints

While service designers are interested in users’ experience of individual touchpoints, they are also interested in how those touchpoints are connected, how people interact with a service, and what the experience of that journey is. Provided that UX designers and service designers all start from asking themselves the same questions: “Who are we designing for?”,  “What are these people’s needs, goals, and ambitions?”,  UX designers will focus on identifying the most important tasks a user would want to complete within a website and an app, and turn them into a seamless digital experience. Service designers instead will look into the end-to-end experience across and beyond digital touchpoints. That could concern other touchpoints, the brand, and anything else that altogether forms an experience in the eye of the user.  

3. Bridging the voice of different stakeholders 

In UX design, when we talk about “users”, we are almost always talking about customers, or at least an end-user who will be experiencing the service. In service design instead, the approach is again a bit wider. As aiming to understand systems, or rather ecosystems, and connect products and services into a unique experience,  gather the experiences and needs of not only the customer, but also of other users behind the service visibility line, as in behind the front stage. They identify stakeholders and work together on both the customer side and service side to co-create possible solutions and service improvements. This is because the staff, as well as other possible stakeholders like suppliers and so on also interact with touchpoints and the quality of their experience using those touchpoints—as well as the ease of their own journey around the service’s “backstage”—will have a strong impact on the eventual quality of the customer experience.

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Another shot from my presentation at Ladies that UX Amsterdam, summarising how a service design approach differs from a UX design approach

 

UX and Service Design to improve patients’ experience across the health continuum

In the attempt to provide a practical example on how service and UX designers can and should collaborate to design greater experiences, I will share some insights on a project I am currently working on in the field of healthcare. In facts, services in the healthcare industry are systems where many stakeholders with different needs interact and share value one another, therefore requiring a thorough understanding of the context not only to deliver value to end users but to improve the experience of different players within the same ecosystem.

In this case, the project goal is to empower patients in having a better control on their health data and take a proactive role in their health management.  

Below a short summary of how we are addressing the complexity of the project from a service (and UX) design standpoint.

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The health continuum, known as patient lifecycle

 

Designing beyond in-clinic experience 

Usually the peaks in a patient’s journey concern their clinical experience: in the best case scenario, that particular experience might involve professional trained staff, good and prompt communication with the patient, short waiting times etc. So, overall, a great experience. However, research shows that between one visit at the clinic and the next one, there seem to be experience gaps where patients have needs that are not catered to, such as feeling in control over one’s personal health status and being reassured. Essentially, in between one touchpoint and the other, there is often nothing in between. Building on this insight, our efforts are currently focusing on analysing the end-to-end patient journey, or life-cycle, to identify experience gaps and better frame unmet needs. We believe this will help building a solid baseline to support patients in being better informed and proactive about their health.

Identifying new opportunities by listening to different stakeholders’ points of view

 Starting from the fact that this project is aimed empowering people to take active ownership on their own health, one of the main goal we as a team have is to make sure people stay healthy. After starting from framing patients needs we figured out that, if we wanted to understand the context properly, we should not only look beyond touchpoint but also understand the perspective of different stakeholders who are part of this system. As an example, by including pharmacies in the conversation, we found out that people who are prescribed with medicines very often don’t show up at the pharmacy to pick up their drugs. This suggested that, even by designing a great in clinic and home-care experience, if we didn’t cross other (major and minor) stakeholders’ insights we would have failed, somehow, at reaching our ultimate goal and missed out on some good opportunities.

Aligning different visions through service design

When I started this project, it was already at an advanced development stage. On my first week, my team members shared a link to a high resolution interactive prototype of the service we were there to design. Though, as soon as I started reading documents and talking to other team members I figured that there were many contrasting opinions about what the service proposition would be about. People would stress different aspects of it, and as a result, give quite different definitions of the service value proposition. Hence, by zooming out from the digital prototype and taking some time to visually describe a patient’s experience, we brought together all team members and kicked off a conversation that eventually led to an alignment of different points of view. By taking a step back to look at the bigger picture, we are now more confident that the experience on and across touchpoints is clear and complete and that really meets users needs, other than business goals. And mostly, we figured that neither a UX design nor a service design approach wins over the other: in order to deliver an experience that is both good at a high and low level we simply need these two design disciplines to work hand in hand.

 

Fiamma Degl’Innocenti

 

Sources

World Bank, World Development Indicators, http://wdi.worldbank.org/table/4.2 

 

Innovating and Designing New Organizations

By Salla Kuuluvainen

I participated in the Social Tools Conference organized by Pixelache Helsinki, an artist collective. I have been taking part in Pixelache events for a quite a while since I feel that they are a great source for finding out about ”weak signals” conserning the future and trends.

Decentralization as Trend

This time the topic of their event was decentralized organizations, which is a topic that has been discussed and debated a lot in more forward thinking management business circles. Teal organizations and Frederic Laloux’ book Reinventing organizations has sparked a lot of interest – even in Finland there is an active Teal organizations community.

There has been lots of more or less successful companies taking the organization more towards decentralization and selforganization, as a successful example could be mentioned Buurtzorg from The Netherlands and as a less successful Zappos, which suffered from an attempt at selfmanagement.

Learnings from Founders of Loomio and the Hum

At Social Tools Confrence I attended a workshop by Nati Lombardo and Richard D. Bartlett, the founders of Loomio and the Hum, which help organizations and groups becoming wanting to become less hierarchical, Loomio by offering software for organizing and the Hum through consultancy and workshops.

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At the workshop I thought especially about how design thinking could be applied towards social organizing. The Hum team had created a system of 12 principles that should be applied when designing for decentralization, but the principles were not formulated as tools or a timebound process, instead more as a framework.

The principles included things like decisionmaking, creating trust, planning for communications and discussing power relations in the organization. I could easily see how some of those principles could be combined with a a Design Thinking tools to provide a timebound process for designing a decentralized organization: e.g. for creating psychological safety in a team, some tools that are used in Design Thinking process in the empathy phase could be used, like creating empathy maps of team members.128763AA-1EF7-47DD-94F9-5A348C2A304B

What Do You Need to Take Into Account?

Generally I learned at the workshop that when designing an organization there are lots of things that need to be taken into account – it’s not only about structures, but also about culture and those things that are often either taken for granted or not spoken about, e.g who is doing care work at the office, like organizing birthday gifts for collagues or seeing to general well-being. An organization is never a given, but an entity that can be purposefully designed, like a service or product, and decentralization is a way of designing organizations in a new, very contemporary way.

I thought the workshop was simply great, one of the best ones that I had attended in while, and can heartily recommend Nat and Richard for anybody who is wants to learn in an engaging way about decentralization in practice.

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An exercise in team skills and attributes – what are we like to work with? 

Design Process Three Ways

By Salla Kuuluvainen

I participated in Dash Design – an event that was preparation for Europe’s largest hackathon DASH.
In Dash Design we heard from three companies and their take on design process: Smartly.io, Pentagon Design and Iittala.

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What became quite clear at the event was that the design process can look very different and still be creative, effective and produce great results. At Smartly.io, the process is very well defined and clear structures exist. Same could be said about Pentagon Design, who brought an example of rebranding licorice for Fazer. At Iittala, there was no structured process, instead the new designs were created with a much looser approach of experimentation.

Designing with Clear Roadmaps at Smartly

Smartly.io helps companies with automatized online marketing solutions. It’s a fast paced tech company that prides in innovating fast. Smartly has a very clearly defined roadmap for product development, with a clever side process for more experimental innovation. All solutions are created close to the customer and tested internally and externally.

3 takeaways from Smartly

• Everyone at the company is involved in the design process, not just designers.
• Rapid prototyping and early release of new features is crucial.
• It’s important to work very close to the customer.

Deep Diving with Pentagon Design

Pentagon Design is a consultancy that helped a very well known, old Finnish company Fazer in rebranding some of their most classic licorice products very successfully towards a more premium category product. Pentagon Design used a very thought through approach that was based on the Double Diamond and included lots of testing with customers and feedback, and for example a process called Deep Dive that investigated the environments and user and even employee perspectives of the products in thorough manner.

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An example of Pentagon Design’s analytical approach to design process

3 takeaways from Pentagon Design

• For a design agency, it’s good to have a strong, tried out framework for the design process, which can even be adapted to the client company’s own processes.
• It’s important to let the customers in the design process from early phases to get the right feedback.
• The design team should have the right mixture of competences.

Experimenting at Iittala

Iittala is known for every Finn, it is a very traditional interior design brand. Jeremiah Teslin from Iittala talked about the different approaches he had used when rebranding and redesigning some of Iittala’s established product categories.

Personally for me it was interesting how much Teslin talked about needing to convince the organization to support the new designs, and how he used visual rebranding, creation of attractive images of the new products and setting up spaces to showcase the products as well as organized different kinds of internal innovation events to create engagement in the company for the new products. So in a way the design process for him was much more about change management than just about coming up with new products.

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An example of visualization of products

3 takeaways from Iittala

• Work with the right people.
• Make the ideas visible and tangible for the whole company.
• Facilitate behavior change with design: We don’t need new mugs, instead we need better coffee moments.

Generally what all of these three companies had was passion and awareness for the process of design, even if they worked in quite different areas and with different kinds of tools and methods. That enthusiasm is also my main takeaway from the event!

A beginner’s guide to Design Thinking

by Jenny Kurjenniemi

Simply put, Design Thinking is a process for creative problem-solving.

This means solving any kind of problem, from how to secure clean water supply in developing countries, to how to create the kind of service that people will be interested in and gain financial value for the innovation.

It’s good to understand from the beginning that there is no design thinking without design doing. Super artistic skills are not required but sketching, visualizing, and prototyping are an integral part of it. We all need creative problem-solving and yes – we can all do the creative hands on part with some practice.

 

I will take you through the design thinking process and the text is divided into four chapters.

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Utopia or Dystopia? How is the Future Looking like in Service Design?

By Salla Kuuluvainen
I recently attended two events which made me think about futures thinking and it’s relation to service design and innovation. Innovation, by definition, is an act that reaches towards the future, and and engages the innovator in creating a future that may be something they wish for.. or not. How can we as innovators and service designers engage in creating those desirable futures?

50 years from 1968

I attended an event in Tiedekulma where the year 1968 was discussed. I went there, not because my studies of service design, but because I’m interested in changing the world, and when younger, also identified as an activist. One of the speakers, Johanna Vuorelma, a historian, claimed that politics in today’s world no longer are utopistic. In 1968 there was a real sense of trying to build a better, different world from previous’ generations’ with a World War and its horrors.

I could agree on that. The revolutionaries and activists of today no longer reach for a desirable future, instead they try to preserve something of old: a somewhat habitable planet or a shred of human rights, or a homeland that looks like in 1950`s if they are active in the conservative movements. So activism today may look like the same thing as
in the crazy year of 1968, but actually the drivers and motivators behind the actions may be very different.

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Futurist as Designer

Another event I attended during Helsinki Design Week was Futures Talks, organized by Futures Specialists Helsinki. In the event we heard many different ideas and scenarios for future, some more positive than others. The idea that impacted me the most had to do with design thinking. The organizers discussed the idea of designing our futures, meaning that studies of the futures thinking is not just a passive act of trying predict what will happen – instead a we should see how each of our actions and choices creates the future in this very moment.
In conclusion of these two events I thought that maybe utopistic thinking does not happen in the realm of activism and politics anymore, but that sometimes more optimism and positive energy for change can be found around events that discuss design and innovation. Our final task at the event by FSH was to create a future wall with post-it notes about our personal utopias, dystopias or protopias – protopia meaning a world that is better by a small, achievable change. Maybe Service Design is actually just about that – creating a protopia for our everyday lives.

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What makes design thinking so appealing?

by Piia Hanhirova

Inspiration, encouragement and empowerment. In my opinion, those are the most important values and aspects, which design thinking offers, and the reason why it appeals to so many people regardless the field they work in or are busy with. Design thinking underlines the deep understanding of people – their needs, wishes and motivation – and gives voice to users and customers.

This year’s Service Innovation and Design (SID) studies started with Katja Tschimmel from Mindshake. She guided us through the past and the present of design thinking as well as introduced us the various design tools based on the Evolution 6² model.

Evolution 6² model

But most importantly, she simply made us do it, that is, work in multidisciplinary teams and use the design tools in practice. So, our team, coming from different backgrounds with multifaceted experience, moved from divergent to convergent along the way of design thinking process, and worked on tools such as the opportunity mind map, idea hitlist, vision statement, user groups, intent statement, prototype, visual business model etc.

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