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Future at work: What are the new skills service designers will need?

A webinar by Perttu Pölönen, futurist, inventor and author.

When thinking about the future, we might assume that the skills we need to have will be related to AI, Robotics, Coding, and everything involving technology, however, Perttu Pölönen has a different view on the skills of the future. The question he posed to everyone during his Thought Leaders’ Talk was:

“What can I get from you that I can’t get from a computer?”

This question immediately made me think of a future in which an AI could easily replace the work of a service designer.  However, is this thought something real or is the field of service design too human-centric to be replaced by computers?

Pexels Stock Image, Danny Meneses, March 2018

According to Perttu Pölönen, the working environment is shifting from an information era into a human revolution working environment in which the main skills will be our personality, our characters, and what we have to offer as humans. We will evolve from information professionalisms into creative problem solvers. Leveraging the silent knowledge computers don’t have, will be our main focus for future years.  

With all this in mind, one can only wonder: what will change in the field of service design?

In order to prepare for the future, we shouldn’t focus on the skills and professions which will change in the future, rather we should focus on the skills that won’t change at all. According to P. Pölönen, these are some of the skills of the future we should really start nurturing now.

List by Perttu Pölönen, December 2020 Online Webinar

However, how can we validate these skills, and most importantly when this change will start to happen?

No one can verify one’s levels of humility and spontaneity, however to develop and nurture these skills so that we can take them into use in the working environment, we need to update our mindset. Change is happening right now and we can see this with the younger generations. Instead of them being though by adults on how to use technology the tables have turned and the younger generations are teaching and guiding the older generations how to adapt to this new developing digital native era.

With the rapid evolution of technology and the future fast global internet connection, we will be able to bring online half of the global population and drastically increase the innovation happening worldwide. We have gained the potential power to change the world through our ability to connect, which was merely impossible 30 or 40 years ago.  Our creativity, courage, motivation, enthusiasm cannot be measured or achieved through a university degree, but it can be encouraged and showcased by easily connecting to people from all around the world from the comfort of your sofa.

Pixbay Stock Image, Tumisu 2014

Thus, to boost these skills P. Pölönen has envisioned a future curriculum that might be a bit different from what everyone might have thought for the future.

List by Perttu Pölönen, December 2020

Taking a closer look at this curriculum we can clearly see that the field of service design develops many, if not all of these skills. Problem-solving, teamwork, and curiosity are some of the core skills that every service designer should have when starting a service design journey. Adopting this future mindset and focusing on these human-centric skills to develop is already putting us on the right path for the future. 

Service Design might change over the years, and many tools and methods might be simply applied and executed by an AI. However, having in mind the five main service design principles: user-centric, co-creative, sequencing, evidencing, and holistic, we can discover, define, develop and deliver from all corners of the world at all moments in time.

Published on 11. 01. 2021

Written by Andreea Cozma on 12th of December, 2020

Refrences:

Thought Leaders’ Talk by Perttu Pölönen

Streamed live on Dec 2, 2020, Youtube videosharing platform

Current Topics in Service Design.

Unnecessary office?

The global pandemic Covid-19 has changed a whole lot how we relate to work and specially towards workplaces. Since spring 2020 almost all office workers have been quided to work remotely from home offices. Long awaited freedom for some, and prison to those who need social contacts to stay sane.  First qualitative studies show that many employees globally feel they will work more remotely after the pandemic is over. When asked, majority feels 3-4 days a week would be the new normal for remote work. Where will this lead? 

Vitra, a well-known design company held their annual two-day Vitra Summit on 22- 23 of October, exceptionally online. The seminar was divided into four categories, “The Human and the office”, “dynamic Spaces”, “Design matters” and “Remote World”. All themes dealt more or less the changed situation we are facing and how it effects to the ways we are working. The message was clear. “We are living in a totally new world. The attitude environment changed at the same phase as the physical environment around was closed. As I work in a field of workplace development, I deal this theme in my text.

Vitra Summit 2020

What comes to working during these abnormal times, it is evident that many psychological or trust related barriers were concurred overnight. Things that were said to be impossible to arrange worked out fast and quite easily. Learning curve in adapting new technologies and online working methods surprised us all. We have seen a peak on efficiency when meetings have been taken to Teams and no time has been wasted on moving from place to another. At the same time the number of meetings during the workday has exploded, activity during workdays has crashed down, there is less recovery time between meetings and spontaneous ideation with colleagues has dropped close to zero.  Good or bad, the way we consider our offices has changed, probably for good. 

In a discussion “will we miss the office if it disappears? The participants shared a common vision that the offices as we known will change. They are too expensive and as many feels, also too dangerous. At the same time the speakers in many discussions raised up the fact that we people are social animals. We get energized when we meet other people. Ideation and innovations don’t happen in a vacuum. Co-creation is more fruitful when people share a physical space. 

It came clear that most of the speakers felt that offices will get more dynamic. We have spoken of dynamic offices for a quite some time, but it in real life we have still designed open platform and multifunctional offices that are quite fixed. To be able to narrow down spaces into smaller sections or connect them into bigger co-creation spaces in according to the needs and situations will be the future. Also the seamless interaction of physical space and digital environments will take over. 

Remote working has become to stay, if we agree with the summit speakers. This has an impact on environment, our health and also our homes.  If the companies won’t have such a huge offices in the future will they provide ergonomic home office systems together with all the latest digital tools to the employees.  Will homes work as an office hub for one or will we see the raise of small city block hubs or co-working spaces? How we ensure that the company goals are achieved if people don’t interact face to face? Does this mean shifting down the fast speed of business economics? Is this just a momentary phase that we won’t even remember in ten years? A lot of open questions that we can start answering with empathy and design.

Tarja Paanola
SID Student @Laurea

#officespace #workplace #remoteoffice #covid19 #newnormal


https://www.vitra.com/en-fi/summit

Let’s play!

In service design you stumble sooner or later in the use of Legos. They can be used in many different ways and stages. In Global CX 2020 Day which themes this year were CHANGE, Transformation and Future of CX, one of the keynote speakers Sirte Pihlaja, CX/EX advisor, community creator and global #1 best-selling author tells on her talk “Get ready, Get serious, PLAY!” us how to use Legos and how to play, seriously!

Its is said in her introduction that Sirte Pihlaja’s purpose in life is to make people happy and happiness is also what she first talks about. She points out that for three years in a row Finland has been selected the happiest country in the world, even though even her colleagues wonder that every year. The aim of the company Shirute is anyway to make people happy.

Picture 1. The happy emoji. Photo by author.

Why happiness is then so important?

You have to be happy to deliver happiness. The atmosphere of the workplace is important and how workers feel is vital for business. If you are not feeling well, the customers won’t be neither. One of the first researchers of happiness was Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who recognized and named the psychological concept of flow, a highly focused mental state of mind. Flow is important cause it raises your creativity and productivity, when you are in the highest mode of concentration. And why this interests also business life is that you can achieve more in one hour during flow than in one day in normal working state of mind. It was also said that boredom is the opposite of flow.

One way to feel happiness and engagement is playing. Play is the most fundamental human learning mechanism. It helps innovate new solutions that we need in business and life over all. Or as Stuart Brown has said: Play is like oxygen, once it’s missing, you’ll know it. Pihlaja says that also businesses should be more playful, because that’s how you keep up in the competition.

How do me find new solutions?

Pihlaja also says that we are born creative but the surrounding world and education system actually makes us less creative and it has also been tested. Already in 1965, 1600 children aged 4 to 6 years were tested and it showed that 98% of them were creative, after 10 years the creativity rate had sunk to 30% and after 15 years it was only 12%. The test was repeated with one million adults and the numbers were even more crucial, only 2% of them hit the genius level on creativity (see pic 2). Or as Esa Saarinen says it, the world is full of great philosophers, it is just that most of them are about 5 years old.

Pic 2. How your creativity “evolves”. Photo by author from the slideshow.

Let´s teamplay!

Playing helps us feel connected to our group of people, while you’ll also get to know other people better and faster. Teams grow sense of belonging when playing together. Members of a organization also feel then fresh and boosted! As Amber Case says, we have become slaves to our digital devices, when people’s primary task is not to be computing but being human. And what else is more human than interaction, or play? Imagination is actually the human superpower.

How do you built playful culture?

You have to change the ways of working, invest between your ears, not on material or equipment. And we should also accept, if not embrace failure, because it makes company more mature and open.

Pihlaja says that in a company we have to ask why we do something instead of what we do. You first have to get your employees know that “why” and then people will buy your product. But you need to think differently than everybody else. Pihlaja off course introduced us to LEGO Serious Play, a methodology that LEGO created for themselves when they needed to renew their business. It is a registered trademark for a catalyst for change (see pic 3).  It has different variations and applications like: Strategy, Beast, Cx play and Identity.

Pic 2: Lego Serious Play. Photo by author from the slideshow.

And as said before, imagination is the only limit what you can do while playing. Pihlaja says that with Legos you can for example do customer journey experience and mapping, customer management, built personas and so on. You can also corporate landscapes and make a shared model made out of individual models. And built future scenarios! In addition to everything mentioned in pic 4.

Pic 4: What Lego Serious Play can be used for. Photo by author from the slideshow.

One of Pihlaja’s teaching during the workshops is: Don’t think, just built! That is how you unleash your potential!

Author: Iiramaria Virkkala, SD student.

I´m not creative at all! And other experiences from the first workshop of SID-programme 2020

What makes a great designer? Who is creative enough? What is design thinking? Design itself is not anymore merely about aesthetics or product design, but about creating new kind of processes, services, interactions and collaboration. As new service innovation design students we all might worry that are we in the right programme; are we able to express enough creativity and generate new, bright ideas?

The definition of creativity has changed over time.  The term “creativity” derives from the Latin creare, which means “to generate” or “to produce”. Creativity refers to cognitive capacity to create something new.  (Tshcimmel 2020.) “The lone creative genius” myth is nowadays replaced by interdisciplinary collaborator (Brown, 2018).

Deep understanding of customers, their needs and emotions is crucial in developing more attractive offering. This is where the design thinking has a central role. Design principles can be applied to the way all people work, not just designers, which makes the role of design more central to businesses than before. Design thinking includes e.g. empathy with users, prototyping, tolerance for failure and embracing risk. (Kolko 2015.) Motee (2013) describes design thinking quite poetically as: « the search for a magical balance between business and art, structure and chaos, intuition and logic, concept and execution, playfulness and formality, and control and empowerment ». Design thinking can also refer to cognitive process, a mindset or a method with a toolkit for innovation process (Tshcimmel 2020).

A classroom full of enthusiastic collaborators, great designers-to-be, in the Design Thinking Masterclass were given a task to produce new solutions of the theme: Social distancing in the educational institutions. The 2-day workshop was lead by professor Katja Tschimmel from  Mindshake company. Our team selected to elaborate the theme of safe commuting to the campus, thus we developed an e-bike concept to Laurea. The process of development followed the workshop structure: team member introductions, sketching the ideas into the mindmap, selecting three project ideas, voting the most feasible idea, elaborating the idea, prototyping it with the Lego serious play -toolkit, testing the prototype by introducing it to another team,  modification based on the questions from another team, preparing for pitching; converting the prototype into story with a comic strip picture and finally pitching the concept to the SID -classmates. This was an excellent start of our SID programme;  two days loaded with intensive teamwork and theoretical knowledge of design thinking, key concepts and practical training.

I am particularly interested in visualization, team leadership and creative problem solving within multidiciplinary teams. Therefore I wanted to learn how different visualization techniques were used in the Design Thinking workshop. Power of visualization was used in the team building: through visual introduction; drawing pictures and writing notes about team members, making a prototype; it helped us to see the big picture, and identifying the missing points and failures in our concept and in mind maps; seeing the connections between different elements from which our e-bike concept was constructed and finally converting our prototype into storytelling with a story board. From the team leading learning perspective in mind, I also observed what kind of stance do our team members take on their own creativity during teamwork sessions and how will our team perform in decision making situations. All in all I learned most about the process of concept development and the core elements of design thinking.

It was indeed a pleasure to see the sparking creativity in action – especially of those team members, who themselves claimed not to be creative at all! I can not wait to see what we will develop in collaboration with each creative mind bubbling with new ideas.

Written by Tanja Saloniemi

REFERENCES

Brown, Tim (2008). Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95. http://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/thoughts/IDEO_HBR_Design_Thinking.pdf   

Kolko, Jon (2015). Design thinking comes of age. The approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture. (Links to an external site.) Harvard Business Review September 2015, 66-71.

Tshcimmel, Katja (2020). Creativity, Design ja Design Thinking – ménage à trios. In Perspectives on Design: Research, Education ja Practice II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. (in process).

Mootee, Idris (2013). Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation : What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/laurea/detail.action?docID=1358566

Design thinking as a unique fusion of tools and approaches to unlock innovative potential

As the pace of technological change is constantly increasing, we are spending more time consuming the constant flow of innovation rather than creating something new. Tschimmel (2020) suggests that “innovation is the driving force for the quality of life and economy”. However, how to unlock the hidden capabilities all of us possess to enable this contribution to the common good? Design thinking helps to use a broader range of tools and approaches to expand one’s creativity and enable innovation processes. Design thinking is built on the 7 key principles:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Human-centred approach
  3. Experimentation
  4. Divergence
  5. Visualisation
  6. Holistic perspective
  7. Prototyping

During a 2-days masterclass on Design Thinking at Laurea we were presented, and had a chance to use in practice, Katja Tschimmel’s Innovation & Design Thinking Mindshake model. The model includes a step-by-step process to design and create something new.

As part of the workshop, we walked through each of the steps and applied the methodology for solving a suggested problem. At first I was skeptical about the value of “another ideation tool”, but once applied in practice, the value has become more apparent. This design process enables the imagination to flourish and brings new perspectives by utilizing a fusion of techniques and approaches.

Motivated by inspiring discussions, I next approached one of the recommended books called “Change by design”. Tim Brown’s seminal paper on Design Thinking describes approaches that made a firm IDEO one of the leaders in design consulting. Tim emphasizes the human-centered aspect of design thinking arguing that empathy is the fundamental tool to grasp problems and perspectives the end users are dealing with. I ended up giving the book 3 on the scale between 1 to 5 on Goodreads due to heavy marketing implications of the included stories, however the paper definitely brought my understanding of the design thinking fundamentals to a new level and stirred up my interest in the topic further.

Coming from a professional services field where structural problem-solving is the key enabler, design thinking at first seems like a discipline full of “fluff” with unnecessary “poetic” or even esoteric implications. Luckily, I enjoy these genres. Like the “not-necessarily 100% scientifically-backed” works of Carlos Castaneda or Marshall Rosenberg at some point in my life gave me new momentums to start something new, I have high hopes for Design Thinking to expand the professional boundaries I’ve been locked into in the recent years.

Resources:

Tschimmel, Katja (2020). Design Thinking course lectures, September 4–5 2020. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.   

Brown, Tim 2009. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Tschimmel, Katja (2020 forthcoming). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centred ménage à trois 

Pereira, J.C.; Russo, R. (2018). Design Thinking Integrated in Agile Software Development: A Systematic Literature Review.

Can we feel someone remotely?

Stuck at home, we participated in Katja Tschimmel’s Design Thinking Masterclass through Zoom. And it made us think: Is it possible to gain genuine empathy remotely? Or is it the stuff of mind reading heros in Hollywood movies?

Xavier, the mind reading X-Man.
Photo from IMDB, Murray Close – © TM and 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Empathy is a core concept of design thinking. Indeed, it is fundamental in the phases of inspiration, observation, discovery, and understanding, depending on which process variation of design thinking is used (Tschimmel 2020). 

In “Change by design”, Tim Brown (2019) describes empathy as putting yourself in another persons shoes, seeing through the eyes of another, and as such gain a subjective understanding of their experience. Quite succinctly, this sums up the psychological process of empathy. But how can we make that happen with virtual interaction only, given that it’s possible at all?

According to Kouprie and Sleeswijk Visser there are two types of empathy: Affective and cognitive. Affective is an immediate emotional response, and cognitive is understanding the emotional state of another person. They state that “Motivation is crucial for an effective process”, but don’t mention Goleman’s third type of empathy explicitly: Compassionate empathy which he describes as “knowing, feeling and being motivated to help, if needed”. (Goleman,1995; Kouprie & Sleeswijk Visser 2009).

In order for compassionate empathy to occur, there are three neurocognitive processes that need to happen (Lieberman, 2015): 

  1. Mind reading – imagining someone else’s experience,
  2. Affect matching – imitating someone else’s experience and feeling what the other person is feeling and
  3. Empathetic motivation – being motivated do something about it, providing the two frist are in place.

Of course, these processes happen entirely in our brains and bodies. But they do require input, which should at least in some instances be possible to generate through remote communication or observation. Yet, full immersion in the non-digital experience of a person whom we’re trying to empathise with, seems to us quite impossible.

Gaining empathy is a tricky thing

Empathy doesn’t happen quickly and easily. It requires time, effort, and genuine interest (Kouprie & Sleeswijk Visser 2009). Lucy Kimbell (2009) calls for sound ethnographic research methods to be able to properly understand and serve people’s needs. So in order to be empathetic, there has to be a real connection with the person, which can be built through for example collaboration and co-creation.

In his book, Tim Brown (2019) is not convinced by what the internet has to offer in regards to empathy in design. But the book is over 10 years old (we listened to the revised edition from 2019). Today, we are much more used to working with online tools to create connections between participants and to co-create online. The problem in online setting can often be the time frame: we are still not used to long online sessions which makes it difficult to establish a real connection.

Feeling connected during the masterclass

Our mentalizing and mirroring abilities are heavily influenced and are more active with visual stimuli (Lieberman, 2015).

So seeing each other’s intimate home environments, with family members “bombing our screens”, can perhaps enhancethe experience of collaborating and co-creating remotely. At least, this was the feeling we were left with: Even though the two days spent looking at a screen with headphones on were very tiring, there was an underlying feeling of genuine connection.

Written by Ana, Neea and Erlend

References

  • Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84–95. http://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/thoughts/IDEO_HBR_Design_Thinking.pdf
  • Brown, Tim (2019). Revised edition Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. 
  • Goleman, Daniel (1996), Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, London. UK
  • Kimbell, L. (2009), Rethinking Design Thinking., Liverpool, European Academy of Management.
  • Lieberman, M. D. (2014). Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, Broadway Books. New York, US
  • Tschimmel, K. (2020). Design Thinking Masterclass held at SID Laurea.

Playfulness creates savings

I participated on the 23th of September in Helsinki Design Week’s Aalto University’s Design club online talk “Creative practices for transformational futures” with Tuuli Mattelmäki, associate Professor and Head of department of Design in Aalto and Zaynep Falay a Partner in Hellon design agency, that does collaboration with Aalto University.  They were talking about their new co-project Creatures.

Picture 1. Logo of Creatures.
Photo by author from the slideshow.

This talk was very popular and international. It was said in the beginning that there were around 70 people from 17 countries around the world, all the way to New Zeeland.  And according to the poll that was held first there were people from different sectors from design to business world.

First Mattelmäki talked about the project from Aalto’s perspective. Aalto is the coordinator of the whole project. The consortium is large and international and includes practitioners and institutes from North to South Europe. There was also a pilot of the project done in the University of Sussex.

The point of this EU funded project is to bring creative practices in to design and development in different sectors. Mattelmäki showed us some examples of the meta-projects done with for example soil and environment, see picture.

Picture 2. Department of Design. Photo by author from the slideshow.

Mattelmäki also introduced us to the keys of change when it comes to managing with the problems and issues that we need to change and solve in the modern world. The keys are collaboration and direct engagement. We need to bring people together, one way or another, as the Covid-19 situation has showed us. She also pointed out that the problems and also future scenarios are scary, which can block our imagination and thinking, so that is why we need playfulness and creativity that can help us overcome it. Other keys are experimental qualities and learning together as well as intervention and processes themselves, that can lead to new ways of feeling and being, and also create innovations and knowledge. In addition Mattelmäki shared some research data about the creativity that is linked below.

Falay continued about the subject matter and introduced us to Hellon, an award winning design agency. She said that opposite to many other service design offices that are digital, Hellon focus is not in digital development but human centeredness and they really bring the person in the center. In Hellon they like to do things differently and push the boundaries, see picture.

Picture 3. About Hellon. Photo by author from the slideshow.

They have a history of designing future scenario design game, that is also linked below. In this project they are developing a new game and firmly believe that playing and playfulness is the key to solve problems and develop future design, solutions and sustainability. Falay says that playing makes uncertainty more bearable and more fun. It gives much more than traditional work methods.

The upcoming sustainability futures game creates new ways of thinking and is based on experimental practice. In the game there is no need to win, it’s more about the atmosphere and playfulness itself that pushes our thinking and makes us creative. But developing the game is serious business, you have to have relevant content and the back work that needs to be based on research is essential.

They are already testing the game with different audiences and have had a positive feedback. But sometimes it’s also a challenge to get people to take the playing as a method and the game seriously. The route to get it work is through mature design process and especially prototyping! You also need to have some more enthusiastic and open-minded people in a test environment first on board and rest will follow.

The conclusion is that for the future world, we need hope, co-creation, cross board collaboration to get things move forward and developed. We need to have science and research, designers and people in the business world to work together to create the change.

In the session there was a final poll and the results were clear.  0% answered “saving time and resources” for what is important in their work in design. Which is indicative of one of the biggest hinder we face when bringing unusual creative practices into traditional contexts and that should be tackled with managers and leaders as well. Mattelmäki stressed that academia is in fact connected to the society. There has to be research behind the work. And one of her favorite things is collaboration, how research can actually help businesses and enterprises. Research brings credibility to development. It helps also to get implementations done faster. Which saves money in the end. Or as Hellon puts it, customer experience design is today’s number 1 driver of profitable growth.

Pic 4. Collaboration. Photo: authors detail of the slideshow.

Author: Iiramaria Virkkala

References and to look for more info:

Creatures
Creatures laboratory
Hellon
Hellon’s future game
Survey about creativity

Light et al. 2018. Creative practice and transformations to Sustainability making and managing cultural change.

Light A., Wolstenholme R., Twist, B. 2019. Creative practice and sustainability – insights from research.

New values, who dis

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

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

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

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

Megatrends 2020

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

Photo from Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

The bees of the business world

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

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

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

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

Photo from Unsplash

Those who adapt, thrive

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

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

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

Kyrö Distillery’s presentation slide

For more inspiration on the subject:

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

What if… organizations could prepare for uncertainty?

What if an organization would know what are the pain points of its future customers, which are emerging competitors and partners, what type of ecosystems organization should be part of, what type of legal, social or political issues are arising, what is going to be next industrial trend, how to disrupt the industry? “What if” is one of the most important questions in futures thinking. It enables stretching our thinking and imagine possible futures.

Photo from https://www.pixabay.com

Minna Koskelo, futures designer had a presentation about “What is futures thinking” on Waffle Wednesday at Wonderland in February 2020. According to Koskelo “you can’t control the future but you can have a sense of control if you do understand more the drivers that are affecting the future. “ We don’t know the future but futures thinking gives us a mindset and offers a systematic approach that combines, methods, and tools to explore alternative futures which can support organizations to make right decisions. Koskelo’s presentation made me think about how well organizations are actually aware of the powerful mindset of futures thinking and its methods? Organizations are doing customer insight, business insight but how systematically and continuously companies are conducting future-oriented insight a.k.a. futures thinking? Feels like many organizations are focusing more on what is already visible instead of investing on what is about to come. Research shows that future-prepared firms outperform the average by a 200% higher growth and were 33% more profitable than average!

From where to start Futures Thinking?

When talking about the future there are certain terms that we need to understand. These terms are: megatrends, trends, signals.

Megatrend is a dominant long-term phenomenon with a global impact. Megatrends can change slowly. Examples of megatrends are climate change, senior citizens, digitalization, and circular economy. Koskelo mentioned that many times it is said that companies shouldn’t focus on megatrends when finding business innovation because megatrends aren’t bringing any competitive advantage. Then again we could also ask how many companies are today actually tackling on helping senior citizens?

Trends are changes in people’s behavior, attitudes, and values locally and globally. They have an impact on the culture, society or business sector. Trends indicate which direction development is going. Trend has a lasting impact, but the impact is smaller than megatrends’ impact.

Signal is a phenomenon, the first expression of change or a new trend. Signal might be a weak signal that is very surprising and weird that forces companies to challenge current assumptions. So if a company would spot a weak signal and tries to develop it to a trend, it might offer a competitive advantage.

Tools for exploring the future

The more aware organizations are of the opportunities that the future holds, the more future-proof decisions can be made. There are various tools for supporting in future decision making. Four of them are described below.

What if an organization would get a holistic view of opportunities and obstacles in its future environment? It feels like organizations focus their future view heavily on technology and ignore other important trends. But in order to get a more holistic view, an organization could utilize a framework called STEEPLED that is an acronym for: Social, Technology, Economic, Environment, Political, Legal, Ethical, Demographics. STEEPLED offers a checklist for exploring external factors that might have an impact on the organization’s success – the organization could find signals that might turn into trends!

What if organization could really reach their vision? Backcasting would be the tool to be used in this case. In backcasting the organization defines first its desirable future and from there works backward to identify the critical steps necessary to achieve the desired future, the vision.

What if organization would be able to anticipate its future customers? By using future personas the organization would provide insights of future customers, anticipate what motivates them and what are their future needs.

What if organization would recognize the direct and indirect consequences of a decision, trends and events that might have an impact on the organization’s ecosystem? Futures wheel is a visual tool that supports to create a structured map of the future. When working with the futures wheels a particular trend will be put in the center after which the primary, secondary and tertiary impacts of the trend will be explored in a structured way.

Six business benefits of Futures Thinking

Based on Minna Koskelo’s presentation and my earlier studies in futures thinking I would sum up futures thinking benefits as below.

Futures Thinking
1. offers a safe space to consider and discuss unthinkable options,

2. encourages to think beyond the company’s current value proposition and reveal new business opportunities,

3. offers new innovative ways for decision-making processes and enhance decision making under uncertainty,

4. enables test ideas before translating them into business or innovation strategies,

5. helps to align the whole organization working towards a common vision in their daily work practices,

6. offers a roadmap for navigating complexity and reaching the vision.

Future does not just happen, it depends on today’s choices and is created through interaction and collaboration. What if we start to influence our future today?

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You might be interested in below links:
Megatrends 2020, Sitra
Futures Day 2020

References:
From signals to future stories
Futures Thinking
Ojasalo, Koskelo and Nousiainen. 2015. Foresight and Service Design Boosting Dynamic Capabilities in Service innovation. In: Agarwal, R., Selen, W., Roos, G. & Green, R. (ed.) The Handbook of Service Innovation. London: Springer. 193-212.

What’s the secret recipe to becoming an agile and customer-centric company?

Futurice hosted Service Design Network Finland’s event in Helsinki in January 2020 where Marc Stickdorn* talked about how companies can use journey maps as a management tool. Stickdorn explained three different situations where journey maps can be used: in workshops, projects or as a management tool. Workshop journey maps are used only once and they will not live after a workshop. Project journey maps are used throughout the project and they can be research, assumption or future based. Journey Map Operations is a management tool that combines different projects and business units in a company and supports companies to become agile: it builds relationships across silos, collects information and the most important – manages customer experience across departments.

Journey Map Operations, Marc Stickdorn

The reality in many organizations is that different departments are working with different projects and processes. There might be lots of handovers, various targets, expectations, practices and end solutions. This is because departments have different ways of documenting, they use different tools, terms, and language in their projects. The focus of the projects might be different depending on if it’s a legal, IT, sales, product innovation, marketing, or finance project. But in the end, all the internal and external projects impact also directly or indirectly on company’s customer experience. Many projects might also overlap and from the customer’s point of view there may be shared the same steps in the journey but then the journey continues for different directions which might be really confusing and frustrating for the customer. For a company it is difficult to operate and manage this kind of complexity.


How to get a shared perspective and language across departments?

Companies talk about being customer-centric and agile, but few companies really are because it is impossible to be agile in practice without a shared perspective and tools. According to Stickdorn journey maps would support companies be agile in operations by offering a common visualized language and understanding across different departments and levels in the organization. By mapping and combining different internal and external projects from customer’s perspective organization gets better transparency and understanding what’s going on in different parts of the organization that have an impact on customers or employees’ experience. This helps employees and management to see what are the ongoing initiatives where the organization needs to align? Is there an overlap in the processes? What ongoing and planned projects are around the organization?

I like how Stickdorn compares journey maps for maps in geography: by zooming in and zooming out it is possible to see different levels of the journey. By zooming in the company can see details and understand micro-interactions while zooming out helps to see the high-level journey, the bigger picture.

Different level of journeys zoomed in and out


A recipe for the secret sauce

Stickdorn proposes that there should be specific roles or teams in charge of the journeys. These would be called journey map coordinators. Coordinators are responsible for different parts and levels of the journeys. Somebody on the higher level, for example, CXO, is responsible for the highest-level customer journey. When zooming in the highest-level journey there might be different teams and departments responsible for other parts and experiences of the journey.

Journey map coordinators are split around the organization into different departments and they should meet regularly – once per quarter, month or once per week depending on how close the organization wants to be with the customer, how quickly they want to react and adapt to change. In these meetings, information is shared from microlevel customer interactions to higher levels. The power of the meetings would not only be in sharing information but they would help to see what kind of qualitative and quantitative information organization has from its customers on different levels. And when you add customers’ and employees’ pain points and KPIs there, soon a company might have a dashboard of customer experience!


The value for business

I think that Journey Map Operations is a perfect example of service design method – it brings people from different parts and levels of organization together, focuses on collaborative problem-solving, offers a holistic view, brings clarity in complexity, creates a common language by visualizing things and shares information between different departments with a common target – the customer. At the the same time Journey Map Operations provides a lean way of working and supports company to become more agile.

In overall, journey maps are helpful when company wants to get a holistic understanding of customer or employee experience, recognize their needs and pain points and seek opportunities for innovations. We just need to keep in mind that it’s not about the tool but what the tool can deliver for employees, customers and business. “Journey map isn’t a f..inkg deliverable” as Marc Stickdorn would say.



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You might be interested also:

How to co-create journey maps https://www.thisisservicedesigndoing.com/methods/journey-mapping

How to map journeys https://www.thisisservicedesigndoing.com/methods/mapping-journeys

*Marc Stickdorn is co-founder of More than Metrics, and editor and co-author of the award-winning books This is Service Design Thinking and This is Service Design Doing. He regularly gives talks and workshops on service design and innovation,and teaches at various business and design schools.