A Morning About Facilitation

What facilitation is? That was the question addressed in a morning seminar by Grape People. The company specializes in facilitating trainings and workshops and offer consultancy services related to these things.

The mission of Grape People is to get organizations to facilitate themselves. The process is quite simple, and can be applied to any group situation, where participation and involvement is desired. Therefore by learning a few basic principles anyone can easily become a facilitator.

How to facilitate?

Miikka from Grape People defined facilitation as combining the knowledge of a certain group. It’s about bringing this knowledge to the surface, making it visible and grouping it to gain understanding and new solutions. Sounds simple, right? The aim is usually to make sense of a problem, an issue or a topic, with hopes of finding solutions or new ideas in the end.

The key elements of any facilitated gathering are clarifying the issue and/or goals, creating the solutions and summarizing the action points and what will happen after the workshop or meeting. By keeping this simple structure as a backbone to a discussion, the facilitator is able to ease the thinking process as the participants are concentrating on one piece of the puzzle at a time. Without a structure it is easy to jump directly to e.g. thinking about solutions even before clearly defining the problem.

Remember:

  • Get the participants talking within the first 30 minutes or they don’t open their mouth at all.
  • The solutions and answers are created together in the group and are not brought in by the facilitator.
  • Most problems that occur during group gatherings are related to the process. By structuring the gatherings and planning the meetings and workshops these can be reduced.
  • The ownership of the created ideas should remain with the participants. Therefore it should not be the facilitator’s task to summarize!

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Hack the Budget

Hackathons – modern versions of workshops – are now popular also in the public sector. These events follow the service design principles; experts from various fields, customers, entrepreneurs and members of other interest groups gather together for a day or two, form teams, discuss, ideate and develop various solutions for a certain wide and complex subject matter.

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Hack the Budget was held on 31.10.2016 at Design Factory, organized by the Ministry of Finance of Finland in cooperation with Open Knowledge Finland and Rapid Action Group. The aim of the event was to explore new approaches to government’s budget data and explore how it could be made more understandable and usable for relevant stakeholders. For example, could the budget data be visualized somehow so that it would be easier for the citizens to piece together where their taxes go? Or how the budget data could be utilized when evaluation of social impact is of interest? The state budget is especially interesting when the state has a monetary deficiency and an aging population – citizens may ask where their tax money go, now and in future.

Hackathons and Jams – what is the difference between them?

Hackathons focus on solutions. The organizers have described the subject matter and the problem which can be wide and complex – and new, innovative solutions are required. Therefore it is only good that the teams consist of experts from various fields. It is also good if potential product or service providers and customers join in. In the end of the day (or two days) the teams present various solutions for the problem described.

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Consumer Experiences From Theory to Concrete Examples – Suhde 2016

Consumer experience seems to be a hot topic in marketing seminars these days. It was also the topic of the day at Suhde 2016 seminar organized by MARK Suomen Markkinointiliitto ry. The afternoon was filled with speakers from different industries, who provided the audience with a wide range of viewpoints to consumer value and experience thinking. First speakers concentrated more on the theoretical frames on consumer experiences and how they create value to businesses. Towards the end of the day the speakers moved on to more concrete examples which then nicely summarized the day.
Elina Kukkonen from Alma Media walked the audience through the main points of her PHD about the value created by consumers online. Her main thesis was that the consumers create new kind of value to the companies in the digital world, and capitalizing on this value makes it easier for marketing to meet the risen expectations of measuring return on investments.

Through all kinds of subscription models companies are able to better engage their consumers and make the most out of the value they create. This feels very logical to me, but to me it seems that the biggest barrier that keeps the consumers for using any subscription based models is the quality of services available. Many services could really benefit from consumer centric thinking when developing their business models.

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Elina Kukkonen talked about the value the consumers create in digital channels

The role of emotions in decision making is critical, making emotions financially important. Understanding this and the role of the consumer experience was the topic of insight agency Frankly Partners’ Anna-Riikka Hovi. Even though brands and consumer experiences are strongly linked, Hovi stated that brands are overemphasized in marketing. The main focus should be in consumer experiences. Brands should therefore be built on clear, forward looking insights about the consumer. Relevant brands equal strong brand preference, which then creates more money below the line.

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NBF16 – my takeaways

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Last year I attended Nordic Business Forum 2015 thru the live stream and it was an amazing experience. I was so stoked that had to buy a NBF16 seminar pass right away –  I wanted to experience it physically, to hear the keynote speakers live, meet people and be part of the buzz.

Now, after digesting the whole experience for 2 weeks, I’d like to share some of my learnings with you. The four things that are still on my mind are:

Do, do, do =  Only action makes inspiration come true, execution is everything

Choose to matter = Everyone of us is the change, don’t wait for it to happen

Attention on solutions = Solve a problem, don’t concentrate on egos

Values & Trust = Employees 1st, customers 2nd

The main themes at the Nordic Business Forum 2016 (NBF16) were marketing, digitalization and culture . Two days, almost 6,000 people, tens of nationalities – the event was bigger than ever. And well worth the investment in time and money. Full agenda can be found at NBF16.

On marketing and change

Marketing is a service, an emotion and about making a connection. Today mass anything is dead, even niche groups are big enough to target. Scott Galloway continues:

  1. The young and healthy have left the building (=tv). 74% would cancel Netflix if there were ads. The price of freedom – adfree world – is a couple dollars.
  2. Store is the number 1 factor influencing the purchase decision – next come search, CRM and social.
  3. Ratio, heart and genitals drive the decisions. Technology helps reduce pain when you’ve first identified the actual pain points.
  4. Car is a service, Google is a spiritual guide and FB’s for love, empathy and sharing.

His final words were that “lots of things are happening that are not good for us”. Privacy issues and tax evasion are threats if you’re not transparent.

Peter Diamantes asked which problem do you want to solve. Solve and share it – like Uber. Everybody has potential to become extraordinary problem solver with latest tools around like sensors, 3D printing, virtual & artificial reality, genetics etc. But how to the unlock passion to do this?  Unfortunately our governments are the slowest to change as they are the most linear organizations on the planet. But even they can’t regulate against change in the end. We – the people – are the change, in the past citizens have started the biggest changes. And what’s not possible today, will be possible tomorrow.

Gary Vaynerchuk started his keynote stating that we’re still grossly overspending on stuff that we’ve done before. For example by using tv ads to interrupt storytelling. Everything should be about creating value. Communication drives everything and you can only learn by doing. Only action creates results, not inspiration. Do, do, do – test, test, test – and do it again. Try out all the new stuff and think how this could help your business. Create a culture where your employees are better than the competition and figure out a firing policy as well.

This was the first time I heard the godfather of creativity, Seth Godin of the Purple Cow, live. For him marketing is all about creating experience. So are you’re creating something worth mentioning? He focused on the value of teamwork, building trust, co-creation and sharing ideas – a connection economy. Sounds familiar to a service designer.   A few phrases of his that resonated with me:

  • There no such thing as a writer’s block – just bad habits and reluctance to dance with fear.
  • It’s all about creating marketing together, being fully human. Sow ubana – I see you.
  • There are not enough bad ideas to find a few good ones.
  • Do you want to make art or be a copycat?
  • Will you to choose matter?

And of course I have to share his picture of bats having a cocktail party. Certainly made me think of these creatures in a different way.

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Vineet Nayar on culture

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Design thinking as a magic wand for trainers and innovators. Role of facilitation.

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by Katarzyna Młynarczyk

 

Don’t oversimplify design thinking

What a challenge! – that was the strongest, eye-opener thought during my first Jam (over 3 years ago). I found myself as a trainer (future facilitator) and member of a team. In that moment I understood design thinking as process divided into couple of basic stages fulfilled by a toolkit. Since then I was trying to implement some of them and met a thousand moments of feeling like: I’m not so sure is it a good direction whe’re going (thinking about work of my teams), It’s not easy at all…, Maybe another tool…?, How to trigger my team, how to stimulate the process? 


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I’ve even reached for the popular book:  This is Service Design Thinking. Basics – Tools – Cases (Stickdorn & Schneider, 2010), but as Katja said it is not detailed enough to enable non-designers to work with these tools in creative processes without a professional facilitator. That reminds me about my role in the future. Role as a facilitator in the whole process.

New insights. Booms and wows

What I was thinking about our first classes in DT on Laurea was that I will somehow acknowledge my attitude that companies should apply the principles of design to the way people work, the way they create new concepts of services. Apart from many booms and wows moments during the workshops (again both in a facilitator and team member role) 
I gained valuable knowledge about origins of design thinking (my very basic, beginner sketches and souvenir from the first day attached below).

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Design Thinking, new superpower?

World is changing faster than ever before. Businesses are facing more and more complex issues. Management models from the days of Industrial Revolution are not so useful in the fast-moving world of today. No businesses are safe from change as world is going digital. Think about Uber and Airbnb. We want more, when we want, how we want it. Current management tools are focused on value capture but we should be focusing more on value creation. There is a need for something new.

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Design Thinking is a creative, logical tool that can facilitate innovation and transformation. Applying it to business problems empowers organizations and individuals to better understand their competitive and operational environment. It helps us to get back to the basics of human needs and human problems. Future business leaders need to be Design Thinkers. Design thinking teaches us how to bring intuition into the strategy process.

New skills are needs in the working life and therefore also education needs to change. We need skills as the ability to think creatively and critically, take initiative and work collaboratively for common goals. Design thinking offers enormous potential to improve the current educational system.

Our two-day course on Design Thinking led by Katja Tschimmel was based on the MINDSHAKE model Evolution 6, 2012 – 2016. Big part of Design Thinking is design doing and our course was exactly like that. We worked in small groups on the subject “Studying in Laurea”.

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Hi, is there anyone who likes yellow color and apple juice?

“Hi, my name is Lisa and I’ve started to study Service Innovation and Design at the Laurea University of Applied Sciences.” Lisa is walking in a lobby and sees other students. “Hi guys, is there anyone who likes yellow color and drinks apple juice?”

“Hi Lisa, we’re also students in SID program and we’re happy to support you and collaborate with you. And btw I like yellow color.”

Oh, that sounds wonderful. Thank you so much.”

No, problem, we’ll be here for you.”

Check what happens to Lisa next

 

Storytelling identifies key stakeholders, their needs and the big idea. Our team’s story was about Studying in Laurea UAS. It’s an inspiring way to familiarize with your stakeholders emotions. And the most important we had so much fun in our group during the process!

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