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The Rules of Innovation and Design Thinking

by Tiina Salminen, SID19 student

After the contact lessons in Practical Design Thinking I started to wonder the rules in innovating. Maybe this was because I was a bit surprised about the fact, how much rules there are in design thinking and innovating. When thinking of innovating, you don’t first think, that it is something that is done with strict rules. You may be thinking of Gyro Gearloose, who is always coming up with new ideas from zero and brings them to life in no time. Or as Tim Brown (2008, 88) says: “We believe that great ideas pop fully formed out of brilliant minds.”

The first signal about these rules was, when our teacher Katja Tschimmel in the Practical Design Thinking contact lesson, asked me why I wanted to use red post-its when others were using blue. Well, I liked that there are more colors on the board. How wrong could I go! Katja pointed out, that it is important, that the colors have meanings, if you use them. Also, there is a difference when to use a black marker and when to go with different colors.

These were minor rules but as we continued, I realized there are also bigger rules when innovating. At the end of our contact lesson, Katja highlighted that innovation comes when you are in a closed room in a closed time and you don’t have too much time before the deadline. Tim Brown (2009, 21) confirms the idea, saying that clarity, direction, and limits are vital to sustaining a high level of creative energy.

Our projects Stakeholders Map (MINDSHAKE model Evoluton 62, 2012 – 2016). This is where I would have liked to go with the red post-its. You can maybe see, there is no space for red ones!

I was a bit scared. I am terrible at following strict rules and processes. I was relieved from this by Katja Tschimmel. As strict as they say that design thinking project should be, Katja pointed out, that it is very important that you use the design models in innovative way. If you stuck on doing things with the way that your model presents, you could go wrong. You need to be innovative when using your design model.

After this, questions aroused in my mind. For example, how do you know when to be bold and innovative and not follow the rules and models? And when to stay in strict command? I got help from Tim Brown (2008, 88-89). He outlines that the design process is best described as a system of spaces rather than a predefined series of orderly steps. And the project passes through three spaces; inspiration, ideation and implementation.

At the end I realized that everything depends on the project. You need to go with the flow of the project. See what the points are, where to amend your model and when to stay at course. I have a feeling that this comes when you are really listening and noticing how people are going forward with the project and what kind of questions are coming along the way that needs to be answered.

Design thinking as a discipline is here, because otherwise we would just be bouncing here and there with our ideas and innovations. And at the end would not get anything done. With rules and models, we can achieve something, that would otherwise be unreachable and unidentified. Also design thinking is here to help everyone be part of the innovation process. It is not just something for the Gyro Gearlooses.

When doing the opportunity mind map, you can be more flexible with the colours. But I still wonder, if we got carried away with them..

Choose your model. Be bold, be flexible and innovative. But use the right colors!

References

Brown, T. 2009. Change by Design. How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review. June 2008. Brighton: Harvard Business Publishing. 84 – 92.

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking contact lessons. 6.-7.10.2019. Laurea campus. Espoo.

Tschimmel, K. 2018. Evolution 6² Toolkit: An E-handbook for Practical Design Thinking for Innovation. Mindshake.



Exploring emerging design for government

Learning about an expansive field through running a meetup

Gov Design Meetup London – February 2017 to now

Meetup-stickers

For the past several decades, the discipline of design has been mostly associated with the form-giving of commercial products. Only in the last ten years or so, the scope of design has expanded to strategic areas and the experience of intangible things. But even in 2019, design is most prominent in the private sector and barely exists in the public sector.

The state of design in government 

In progressive Nordic countries, almost 90% of designers work in the private sector (Nordic Innovation 2018). Only 1 out of 10 designers in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden works in the public sector. This includes the in-house graphic designers in theatres as well as the design professionals working in product development for public research bodies. Fewer than 4% of Nordic designers work on public services (Nordic Innovation 2018). That might explain why many interactions with government and administration are so cumbersome. The experiences that citizens have with filing their taxes or becoming a citizen aren’t as clear and straightforward as booking a flight or signing up to a movie streaming service. Very likely, there are significant improvements that can be made to services related to retiring or applying for unemployment benefits. Having more user researchers, service and experience designers might help change that. And in various countries, change is indeed underway (Bason 2017).

In the United Kingdom, government organisations now employ almost 1,000 designers. In the last few years, they have transformed renew your passport (Prince and Watson 2019) and register to vote (Herlihy 2014) into truly digital services that work as well as delightful commercial services. When I moved to the UK in spring 2016, I stumbled upon presentations from designers in government and their service teams every so often, mostly when attending internal government events. The quality of the work and positive impact on users was significant, but outside of government, barely anyone heard about it. While there was a vivid design meetup scene in central London, government services were nowhere to be seen. To satisfy my own curiosity and possibly the interest of many others, a few colleagues and I got together to initiate a dedicated Gov Design Meetup (Jordan, Kane, Izquierdo, Rebolledo, McCarthy and Delahunty 2019).

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Starting a meetup

In February 2017, we ran the first meetup at the Royal College of Art. From the outset, the meetup attracted almost 50 people. Exploring the breadth of design in the public sector, we invited three speakers from different organisations.

The Head of Experience at London’s public transit agency Transport for London, Hanna Kops, shared how she leads a team that works on improving the daily journeys of millions of Londoners and visitors (Kops 2017). She shared how they received a mandate to work on multi-channel services – going far beyond the web route planner the digital team is known for. There is a high degree of complexity when integrating the various means of transportation – from trains to buses to rental bikes – and multiple types of media in a location. In a single station, designers have to orchestrate digital displays, physical signage, public announcements and, of course, passengers and staff. What is more, the team does not only have to work on solutions responding to today’s passenger needs and wants, but also anticipate future growth of the London metropolitan area and the resulting challenges and desires. This very first of dozens of talks indicated what level of complexity designers in the public sector have to deal with.

The second talk by organisational designer Adam Walter, working as a Consultancy Director at the public sector consultancy FutureGov, echoed that. In his lecture, Adam reflected on how successful service design often requires instigating fundamental change on an organisational level to implement and deliver those service designs effectively and create the intended impact (Walter 2017).

Complementing the first evening, the third speaker – Lynne Roberts, then Head of Content Design at the Home Office – told the story of how designers came into her department, why different and more nuanced human-centred design roles exist in government (partially unknown in the private sector), and why change in government can be very slow. User research, interaction design, service design and content design are all separate roles, Roberts explained (Roberts 2017). The enormous scale they work on requires dedicated specialism. User researchers only focus on researching user needs and testing prototypes, while content designers entirely dedicate themselves to getting a large amount of content, words and descriptions in government services right. Besides specialisation, it needs stamina. Departmental silos, separation of professions and long-term supplier contracts binding service teams to legacy systems let government adjust only gradually to meet user needs.

After the success of the first meetup, the event series continued with a bimonthly frequency. So far, it’s covered more narrow themes like design for local government, large-scale infrastructure, design for data, healthcare and policy. Topics of the first meetup have been mirrored by later speakers and discussed more deeply. 

The format for each evening includes three talks followed by a panel discussion with all speakers. It encourages attendees to ask questions and participate in the discourse. The audience is mixed: designers working in government, in smaller consultancies or big companies, students, people interested in a career in the public sector and also people only interested in one of the specific topics. Some attendees went on to apply for open positions in government as they were so inspired by the stories that they wanted to work on public services themselves.

The fact that government work is financed by the taxpayer and not controlled by competitive shareholders makes it easier for public servants to talk about their projects somewhat openly. The UK Government follows a “make things open: it makes things better” approach (Government Digital Service 2012) which doesn’t require anyone to sign a non-disclosure agreement before joining a meetup. In recent years, more civil service designers have taken the stage at bigger conferences enabled by this rule.

Some of the meetup locations, like Houses of Parliament or the Ministry of Justice, required participants to undergo some security procedures, though. Surprisingly, some attendees expressed their excitement about passing a security door system in a Parliament building as this experience gave them additional context of the work discussed.

Panellists

After two years and thirteen meetups, particular attributes and circumstances of design in government emerged from the 38 talks. Even though the topics spanned broad areas—from developing a national roadsign scheme to enabling participation of people with learning disabilities—several insights went above these subjects:

Insight 1: Aim for fundamental change, embrace small gains

Designers in government regularly have to widen the scope of the briefs given to them (Fawkes 2018). By conducting user research and better understanding the context, existing systems, and support structures, they learn what user needs and organisational constraints are (Kane & Jordan 2018). When designing for the broader problem space, designers have to balance immediate business improvements and long-term organisational transformation. Both are important. Looking out for marginal gains helps to achieve early victories that provide the fuel for the long journey (Pocha 2018). Over time, the number of small interventions adds up to measurable effect and accumulates stakeholder trust, which is important for more ambitious shifts.

Talks to watch:
Darius Pocha on design tools for wicked problems;
Adam Walther on designing for the dark matter

Insight 2: Serve the most vulnerable to help everyone

By law, the government needs to serve all people equally. This includes everyone with access needs. Despite many organisations’ push of digital channels for service provision, they recognise that not every citizen can, wants to or will use digital public services. Under an inclusive services approach, other channels have to work equally well. The user research insights and learnings from building a new digital service can often inform and improve non-digital channels. In the UK government, service teams follow the Service Standard (Government Digital Service 2019), which demands them to test services with people who have access needs. The UK Home Office has embedded an inclusive approach into their usability testing efforts (Buller 2018). At least 1 in 6 people in every usability test has access needs. Including users with access needs, physical or cognitive impairments uncovers the weakness of services that affect many other users, too. In one example, deaf users did not want to share their phone number with the service as they would not be able to answer phone calls. An iterated prototype included the option to be contacted via text message. Shift workers, people working multiple jobs and parents with babies will equally benefit from this functionality (Buller 2018). The example shows how including people with a wide range of skill sets and capabilities in the design process and responding to their needs will make the service offering better for everyone.

Talks to watch:
Ben Carpenter on inclusive services;
Kirsty Joan Sinclair on putting people at the centre of their services

Insight 3: Favour renovation over innovation

Often, people want shiny new things – a piece of technology that can solve many of today’s problems at once. Senior leaders praise the impact of artificial intelligence, blockchain and big data without necessarily understanding them in detail. Beyond buzzwords, quite a few people in government look beyond what can be done and identify what should be done. In government, there is significant technical debt, infrastructure that needs in investment as it cannot be replaced. If well maintained, it can be leveraged; it can become ‘infrastructure commons’ (Adewunmi 2018). Also, even new projects will have to interact with existing infrastructure. By anticipating future use and reuse and establishing a healthy maintenance culture, government can reduce future costs, save time and reduce risks. One example is data. While services are places where data is generated in government, service teams spend too little effort on quality and reuse. With the right awareness, scope and funding, service teams can create data outputs highly beneficial for others that the immediate stakeholders of the service. Currently, only the direct internal and external users of the data are considered – caseworkers, end users, statisticians etc. But it is unlikely that general purpose data will be a natural by-product of a development project (Adewunmi 2018). It needs to be considered from the start. For designers and user researchers in government, it means recognising and studying not just current external users, but also future internal users. Future colleagues and the public will later be the beneficiaries. 

Talks to watch:
Ade Adewunmi on renovating and maintaining digital services and data;
Andrew Miller on your government wants to digitize everything?

Insight 4: Make yourself redundant, make it sustainable

Hopefully, design in government is here to stay. But unquestionably, the individual designer is not going to be around indefinitely. They often move around from project to project, usually before the desired end state is reached. Moreover, government still relies a lot on contractors. Equally, contracting designers want to make sure not all is lost once they are gone (Harshawat & Ni 2018). Working closely with other team members and potentially other teams is one way of making sure things will progress past departure. By partnering to deliver, ways of thinking are shared, and ways of working are experienced (Collier 2018). Mixing teams and enhancing communication – up to the degree of oversharing – spreads expertise and grows capability within. An alternative to bringing in another external person temporarily: look out for someone from inside the team who wants to step up and take on a design-related role, even though they might not have the formal background (Harshawat & Ni 2018). Investing in culture, hiring people with an open growth mindset and establishing quality standards for the work help make the creation of high-quality service much more likely.

Talks to watch:
Kavi Harshawat and Xena Ni on how to exit;
Jack Collier on why service design in gov isn’t doing enough

govdesign-posters-website

Since early 2017, the meetup series has had hundreds of attendees. More than 1,000 people have signed up to updates via the meetup page (London Gov Design Meetup 2019). More recently, the meetup has also been on tour, visiting Manchester and San Francisco. In addition, more than 3,000 people have watched the recorded videos of the talks. The breadth of topics and themes covered so far is substantial. Presenters have given an insight into a wide range of services, including becoming a foster carer, applying for residential parking permits, becoming a citizen, renewing a passport, moving from hospital to social care or reporting a complaint to the city. To all of these public services, human-centred designers have contributed and made a difference. Many of the challenges they faced on the way are similar to ones designers have in the private sector as large-scale organisations are much alike. The four insights should be evenly applicable.

For the foreseeable future, the meetup will continue to run. The growing list of prospective topics includes education, transportation, law enforcement, security & safety, and futures planning. People who cannot attend the evening events in London will be able to watch the talks soon after via YouTube.

 

Author: Martin Jordan helps create services that people value. He is Head of Service Design at the Government Digital Service where he leads the service design practices across the UK Government.

 

Sources

Adewunmi, A. 2018. Renovating and maintaining digital services and data. Gov Design Meetup, 24 October 2018. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/j8uacRZxc6c

Bason, C. 2017. Leading Public Design: How managers engage with design to transform public governance. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School.

Buller, J. 2018. Embedding inclusive research, design & testing in Home Office. Gov Design Meetup, 21 March 2018. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/dFR1HO5-2xw

Fawkes, A. 2018. Daybook: Designing with & for people with learning disabilities. Gov Design Meetup, 21 March 2018. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/cdpkvom1-1c

Government Digital Service. 2012. Government design principles. GOV.UK, 3 April 2012. Accessed 18 June 2019. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-design-principles#make-things-open-it-makes-things-better

Government Digital Service. 2019. Service Standard. GOV.UK. Accessed 24 June 2019. https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/service-standard

Harshawat, K. and Ni, X. 2018. How to Exit. Gov Design Meetup, 18 July 2018. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/p160VIjNl4Y

Herlihy, P. 2014. I fought the law and the users won: delivering online voter registration. Government Digital Service Blog, 20 June 2014. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2014/06/20/i-fought-the-law-and-the-users-won-delivering-online-voter-registration/

Jordan, M., Kane, K., Izquierdo, M., Rebolledo, N., McCarthy, S. and Delahunty, C. 2019. #GOVDESIGN. Accessed 18 June 2019. http://gov-design.com/

Kane, K. & Jordan, M. 2018. Scaling Service Design in the UK Government. Touchpoint, 9 (2), 36–39.

Kops, H. 2017. Futureproof Design. Gov Design Meetup, 22 February 2017. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/-kD8xJQzErI

London Gov Design Meetup. 2019. Meetup. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://www.meetup.com/London-Gov-Design-Meetup/

Nordic Innovation. 2018. Nordic Design Resource. Accessed 18 June 2019. http://nordicdesignresource.com/

Pocha, D. 2018. Design tools for wicked problems. Gov Design Meetup, 7 February 2018. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/rQ7-O0NfPH0

Prince, M., Watson, C. 2019. Applying for your passport online. Home Office Digital Blog, 13 February 2019. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://hodigital.blog.gov.uk/2019/02/13/applying-for-your-passport-online/

Roberts, L. 2017. Life beyond Ecomms. Gov Design Meetup, 22 February 2017. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/rdgUomOhDKw

Walther, A. 2017. Designing for the Dark Matter. Gov Design Meetup, 22 February 2017. Accessed 15 June 2019. https://youtu.be/-1fDcIW5KkU

Hackathons as Design Experiences

 

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

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

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Ideation process at Emotion Hack

Observations on Hackathon Process Design

The hackathons followed loose design pattern as following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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”.

Johannes
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.

***

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!