The power of “playing with hands” in Design Thinking

Photo by Vlad Hilitanu on Unsplash

I have been thinking about writing this article for so long that I haven’t yet found a proper start. I guess my fear of failing has been always too high in my personality, too many expectations about myself and from others and my natural inclination for perfection hasn’t really helped me in the past. 

In this moment I recall in my head the words of professor Katja Tschimmel, who held a lecture in Design Thinking at the SID Master Program:

Perfection is the enemy of creativity

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking course lectures, September 6–7 2019. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.

And also the words from the authors of the book “Designing for Growth”:

“Fail fast to succeed sooner is the essential paradox of design thinking”

Liedtka, J & Ogilvie, T. 2011. Designing for growth: A design thinking tool kit for managers. Columbia University Press. pag 150

Time is running and I want to succeed with my assignment so let’s get straight to the point.

What is Design Thinking for me

Design Thinking is a creative process that let you experience different phases, divergent and convergent alternatively, where you explore problems&needs of people and organisation, think about possible solutions and eventually solve problems by implementing a prototype. 

Design Thinking master class by Katja Tschimmel

All my understanding of Design Thinking was presented, during the master class, more in depth in the model Evolution 6², developed by Tschimmel. This model presents the DT process divided into six spaces inside one another.

Evolution 6² Model

The six spaces of the Evolution 6²Model:

  1. Emergence (E1)
  2. Empathy (E2)
  3. Experimentation (E3)
  4. Elaboration (E4)
  5. Exposition (E5)
  6. Extension (E6)

Professor Tschimmel gave us a case (Studying at Laurea) where our Team needed to explore and identify an opportunity to innovate (Emergence and Empathy Phase), generating and testing ideas (Experimentation and Elaboration) and finally present the final solution to the other students (Exposition and Extension).

For each step, she guided us through the most appropriate tool to use till we finalised the Storyboard of our solution: specific facilities that support well being at Laurea University.

Storyboard – Well Laurea

LEGO – Playing with hands

My highlight for this post is how powerful was the choice of using LEGO when it came to prototype our solution.

When you think about LEGO I bet you think about playing, having fun and nothing related to work and being serious with a project.

Yet, LEGO is an excellent tool used in Design Thinking to visualise ideas, create 3D models to spark conversation with partners, users and test those models with them and eventually co-crete a better one together.

When my Team started to prototype for our challenge – Well being at Laurea – we worked in couples to implement three solutions: Health & Sports Facilities, Nutrition Lounge and Relaxing Space for Laurea students.

Lego Prototype – Well Laurea

During this time – as I was already familiar with this prototyping method –  I observed how my peers were enjoying their experience of constructing bricks and situation, learning by watching others and being in the flow to externalise and produce what we had in our minds and written post-it of course.

This reminded me of what I learnt and read about the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method, an approach to help organisation solve complex problems and/or define their strategy and their vision by asking specific question and make them represent and storytell their answer using only LEGO bricks.

When we “THINK THROUGH OUR FINGERS” we release creative energies, modes of thought and ways of seeing things that may otherwise never be tapped […] and that most adults have forgotten they even possessed.

The Science of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®

The LSP Method takes many ideas from the field of psychology and behavioural science, specifically from Constructivism, a theory of knowledge developed by Jean Piaget, his colleagues and his institute in
Geneva, Switzerland and Constructionism, a theory of learning developed by Seymour Papert and his colleagues at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Those theories could be roughly summarised in the phrase Building Knowledge by Building Things.

The LEGO elements work as a catalyst – and when used for building metaphors, they trigger processes that you probably were previously unaware of.

Who approaches Design Thinking and prototyping for the first time is probably not aware of these more scientific background and here I wanted to share it with a tangible example.

Author: Francesca A. Frisicale, October 2019

References & Links

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

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking course lectures, September 6–7 2019. Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Espoo, Finland.

Tschimmel, K. (2012). Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation. In: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona.

The Science of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, executive discovery llc.
www.seriousplay.com

Liedtka, J & Ogilvie, T. 2011. Designing for growth: A design thinking tool kit for managers. Columbia University Press.

Mindshake, Portugal http://mindshake.pt/design_thinking

Unsplash, https://unsplash.com

Participation, participation, participation!

Conference: People-Driven City 2019
27th of September, in Dipoli Aalto University, Otaniemi Espoo

In the end of September, I had an opportunity to participate in an interesting conference, People-Driven City 2019. It was the main conference of Lähiöfest – festival of neighborhoods and this was the second time the conference has been arranged. Conference gathers together actors from different sectors of society – for example cities, companies, NGO’s – to discuss current urban topics. The purpose of the conference is to emphasize the local perspective and participation of local actors in urban planning and in solving different kind of urban challenges. Themes of this year’s conference were sustainability, participation, learning and democracy.

As a Service Design student with an interest in Economic Geography, I was very eager to hear how and with what kind of methods people are enabled to participate in urban planning and innovation processes. From this point of view the following presentations of the conference were in specific interest to me: Päivi Sutinen from City of Espoo, Amin Khosravi from urbz and Kristian Koreman from ZUS.

City as a Service

As an opening for the day, Päivi Sutinen, Services Development Director in the City of Espoo, gave an introduction about how to enable different actors to participate in the development and innovation processes of the city. From this perspective, Espoo is an interesting case because for many years it has invested into people-driven innovation and has also been awarded for its accomplishments. Last year, the city of Espoo won the international Intelligent Community Awards 2018 for ‘humanizing data’, which refers to the use of data for people-oriented service development. In addition, just recently on September 2019, Espoo was chosen as one of the top six cities in the European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) Awards contest organised by the European Commission.

From a perspective of Service Design student, this opening presentation offered an interesting introduction to how a city applies Service-dominant logic (explained more thoroughly in Lusch & Vargo 2014) in practice. Presentation introduced many concrete examples how Espoo accelerates City as a Service development locally: for example, Data, AI, Software & technology, platforms, networks, Living Labs, Experiments, Tools and methods and Financial resources. Based on Service-dominant logic, Espoo wants to enable co-creation in innovation, as presented in a video ‘The Zero Friction City – Dynamics of Innovation Ecosystems’.

Participation is a process

Amin Khosravi, urban strategist, presented the framework for participation of urbz in his presentation “How do we create truly participatory planning processes?”. Urbz is an international company which works with issues related to urban development and planning and is specialized in participatory planning and design.

For Urbz ‘residents are experts of their neighborhoods’ – and this was also the basis of Khosravi’s presentation. He emphasized the importance of locality and human scale in urban planning and sees participatory planning as a good opportunity to gain deep understanding of cities.

For me, the main takeaway from Khosravi’s presentation was that participation is a continuous process. In fact, the first step in a participatory process is “recognition” – which means that in the beginning of the participatory planning process, one must explore the current situation and everything that already exists, because the participatory process is already going on, it happens all the time among people. And, on the other hand, the last step in the participatory planning process is “participatory governance” – which means that the participation actually continues after the planning process, for example by activating neighborhoods in the matter.

From Instant Urbanism to Permanent Temporality

Kristian Koreman is an Architect and a Founder of ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensibles), which is a design office that works with projects related to architecture, urban planning and landscape design. He gave an inspiring presentation, which offered interesting perspectives especially from Design Thinking point of view: a holistic, human-scale approach and an experimental and participatory method to urban planning.

The main theme in Koreman’s presentation was that traditionally the perspective in urban planning and architecture tends to be too narrow, there is too much ‘top-down’ planning which takes poorly into account the human perspective. Thus, too often the results of this kind of planning, which is called Instant Urbanism are buildings and infrastructures that do not serve people’s needs in real life: too big infrastructures and too big offices that no one uses. Instead, more holistic and human-scale approach is preferred, which is called Permanent Temporality, which seems to have a lot in common with Design Thinking. This approach always starts from city’s existing forms and takes into account the whole context and city’s evolutionary character. Koreman summarized this idea simply: “keep the local, add the global later”. Also, Permanent Temporality includes experimental and participatory method of working: “plan, test, adapt”. In short, this means observing people’s behavior in the city, doing experiments based on that and then observing the reactions to the experiments and modifying it according to the feedback.

Koreman presented interesting cases from Rotterdam where ZUS has initiated or been a part of projects that have created a new image for Rotterdam: for example Luchtsingel, which is a 400-meter-long pedestrian bridge connecting different districts in the centre of Rotterdam and it is the world’s first crowdfunded piece of public infrastructure; and Schieblock, the old and vacant office building in Rotterdam which was transformed into a vital “city laboratory”.

Based on this conference I am happy to notice the increasing importance of human centricity in urban planning and development. It seems to me, that in addition to the old mantra of important things in Economic Geography, “location, location, location”, we are nowadays also able to acknowledge the importance of “participation, participation, participation”.

Author: Erika Niemi-Vanala

REFERENCES:
Lusch, R. F. & Vargo, S. L. 2014. Service-dominant logic: Premises, perspectives, possibilities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

What is Design Thinking and how to “design think”?

Modern world possesses bigger challenges and more complex problems with people in the centre. To tackle these and come up with a creative solution, we need to use an explorative approach such as Design Thinking to innovate and solve these problems.

I was familiarized to Design Thinking when I attended a course led by Katja Tschimmel, the founder of Mindshake. Katja introduced us to the Design Thinking process and mindset by leading up through the Innovation and Design Thinking model called Evolution 6² (E.6²). The E.6² model includes steps with questions and tools that help design thinker or innovator to find out what the problem is, who is the solution intended for, what is the best solution, and how to implement it.

According to Katja the principles of Design Thinking are 1) Human-centered approach: Products and services should be experienced from the user’s perspective. 2) Collaboration: As many stakeholders as possible should be included throughout the phases of the process. 3) Experimentation: Playful thinking, making mistakes and learning by doing are an important part of every creative process. 4) Visualization: Quick prototyping helps the learning process and improves the initial ideas by visualization. 5) Holistic perspective: The big picture (environment and context) behind the product or service that is being developed needs to be understood (Tschimmel 2019, p.10).

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Design Thinking and Business – the Yin and Yang !

In 1960, a MIT professor had found the fundamental mechanism of deterministic chaos, where one variable could have profound impact on the outcome of an entire system. This was the “butterfly effect”. This method was used in weather forecasting based on past and present data points. Similar, to what we are doing in business. Our society is rapidly changing, and we have a very dynamic, unpredictable and volatile value constellation. With our business leaders doing a linear fashion strategy creation based on past and present data – it can bring us to an edge of destruction. Business today, is disconnected from the global ripple. And I believe, this is why the importance of Design Thinking is growing.

Design Thinking powers strategic innovation and not strategic planning. Planning and vision statement does not re-invent business but only rejuvenates few top line management. It is the true beauty of Design thinking with it’s human-centered approach that can truly create value in a radically changing networks and in a world of disruptive technology.

The creative and qualitative world of Design Thinking perfectly marries quantitative realm of business world. It perfectly clicks !

For some time, strategic management leaders tried collaborating with scientists and studying behaviours in nature to replicate same models. Although they were successful in creating some compelling models for strategic management but these were not fail-proof. I believe that no strategic management measures can be full-proof at any given point – we are only devising the strategies based on past and present data. As Service Dominant Logic very well points out that every service is based on a galaxy of other services, which makes the mega-system very unpredictable and volatile. We can of course devise the best-hit strategies but always make room for unpredictability. And this where some organisation excels with their ability of intuition. Intuition has the subtle balance of quantitative and qualitative art which is often needed for all parts to click.

Design Thinking promotes such qualities which are rarely found in the business world. It is yin to yang. It is the perfect balance between the hard-coded world of business with the creative and intuitive part of Design.

Yin Yang – in Chinese Philosophy it is said that sometimes seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary and interconnected.

What are these qualities which makes Design Thinking so harmonious with Business – the yin to yang?

Firstly, Design Thinking supports going out in the field and talking to customers, uncovering needs, understanding the real value proposition which matters to customers, experimenting and prototyping. Design Thinking pertains to real doing whereas Business is more about talking – talking about great visions over powerpoints and pointing at numbers through Excel.

Secondly, Business makes prediction based on past and present datapoints. Moreover, they base their strategy based on stable world. But our world is hardly stable. This where Design plays a crucial role. Design Thinking thrives on uncertainty. Design allow us to experiment, fail and celebrate chaos.

Thirdly, the crucial and one of the most important factors why Design Thinking is an absolute necessary for Business for it’s obsession with understanding user, their needs and aspirations. Business does market segmentation based on demography which might not truly reflect a user’s actual experience and aspirations.

Insight Map which we used in classroom. It is a tool to develop a closer empathy for our user, understand their aspirations and empathise with their pain points.

Fourthly, Business Vision Statement and Strategy is a very top-down approach. Few leaders devise the strategy and the whole organization re-organizes and strives itself to achieve it. It is very far-off from the approach of Design Thinking, which is very collaborative in nature. It allows people from different background, stakeholder groups, expertise – join together and bring different perspective to table.

So how does Design Thinking works ?

Largely, Design Thinking through it’s different models evolved over years tries to answer these four fundamental questions

Design Thinking tries to understand the following questions :

What is

What if

What wows

What works

Largely, What is – starts with Discovery. In this phase we are trying to understand the user, their context, user needs, pain points and aspirations.

What if – coincides with the discovery phase where we are trying to understand what probable concept of Product or Service might work through Pain Point identification, Value Proposition, Brainstorming and Concept Development,.

The team at El Bulli doing rough sketches of their concept dishes. Picture available at : https://uxdesign.cc/how-elbulli-turned-dining-into-an-experience-38f1c015e9f6

In the third phase of what wows– we try to understand what can delight the user. We do so by rapid prototyping to learn what elevates the user experience of the product to WOW.

The team at El Bulli doing rapid prototyping of their concept dishes. Picture available at : https://uxdesign.cc/how-elbulli-turned-dining-into-an-experience-38f1c015e9f6

The final phase of what works– emphasise on going out in the filed with our prototype and testing with our real users. This step enhances us to get more real feedback, improve our concept and iterate back to actually build a wow experience.

Now, we might ask who is a Design Thinker? What makes a person – a Design Thinker?

The answer might lie in the ability to merge logic with creative intelligence, emotional quotient, ability to collaborate and celebrate chaos. Tim Brown in Harvard Business Review June edition (2008, 87) mentioned some characteristics of a successful Design Thinker. Design Thinkers have the ability to empathise, integrative thinking, optimism, experimentalism and collaboration. To me, the ability to empathise and collaborate stands out the most.

Wannabe Yogis 🙂 – my amazing team !

In our first Design Thinking Masterclass, our group had come with brilliant results because we were able to collaborate with each other drawing in our different backgrounds and experiences.

Ferran Adrià at El Bulli collaborating in the deep creative process with his team. Picture available at : https://uxdesign.cc/how-elbulli-turned-dining-into-an-experience-38f1c015e9f6

I find similar collaboration method was implemented by Ferran Adrià at El Bulli.

The world celebrated chef and food experience creator collaborated with all his colleagues and different stakeholders to strategies and create elaborative dining experience. His lab would go through several workshops, brainstorming and concept development phases before planning out experimentation. His team would welcome iteration and failure with enthusiasm as they believed nothing novel arises without chaos. Though, traditionally outside the realm of business world but he showed every attributes of a Design Thinker.

Posted by : Debarati Rakshit , 1st year SID student

References :

  • Brown, Tim 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95
  • The evolution of design thinking. Harvard Business Review. Sep 2015; Vol. 93 (9)
  • Liedtka, Jeanne & Ogilvie, Tim 2011. Designing for growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers, New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Mootee, Idris (2013) Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley

Sustainable Development Goals: this is the Service Design we need!

Event: Global Goals JAM Berlin, organized by 2030Cabinet, powered by SDG Investments and hosted by Fjord Berlin. In collaboration with: Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Digital Society School, Global Goals Jam, UNDP.

In middle September I took part at the Global Goals JAM Berlin, a 2-day series of small design sprints where attendees were asked to work on local challenges – co-created with local community and industries – related to one or more of the the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

History pills – What are these Global Goals?

Let’s take a quick step back in 2015 when the Heads of State and Government and High Representatives, met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and have decided on new global Sustainable Development Goals, known now as the Global Goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.

The UN set to achieve each Goal and target by 2030.

Back to present

The aim of this event was to create interventions aimed at short term targets in support of the long term goals. The themes of this year were:

  • Water and Climate Change (SDG 4, SDG 13)
  • Migration (SDG 10, SDG 16)
  • Electronic Waste (SDG 12)
  • Sustainable Development for People and Planet (SDG 1, SDG 8)

Deep dive into the Migration Theme

My Team was composed by Nataly Ramirez Arteaga, Muhammad Sumon Molla Selim and Michael Lausberg, facilitated by Güzin Goçer and we were supporting the local Sponsor “Asylum Advice”, a soon-to-be platform where refugees could seek legal advice.

We mapped out the cause and effects of Migration on a general level by using the Problem Solving Tree, we interviewed 2 refugees and a social worker with 10 year experience in the field.

The big lessons learned by using the Service Design Tools were:

  • asylum seekers tend to trust more what other refugees, that have been in their shoes before, would tell them.
  • there are a lot of services for migrants already existing but nobody knows them
  • fragmented information & lack of digitalized bureaucratic processes
  • migrants that succeeded in their first steps in a new country feel the need to help others.

Here we envisioned a need of trust and better information and at the same time the desire to offer help.

Therefore we decided to prototype a platform to connect different already existing resources and services for migrants, to collect official information from authorities but most importantly a platform to get in touch with other migrants that have gone through the same experience and to share help and knowledge to ultimately build community and trust.

Personal reflection – What can we do as Service Designer practitioners?

As a student of the Service Innovation & Design Master program I felt the urge to participate and contribute to the challenges of this year.

“Is there anything better than combining our own expertise in Service Design to serve people, planet and prosperity by helping achieving these SDGs?”

We, as Service Designers know best how important is to empathize with the user – in this case People and Planet –  and create that shift of mindset in society where Government and Businesses should sit together with citizens to co-create solution for our people and for the environment.

Here an invitation to reflect and perhaps to start spread the Service Design tools to our local Communities and give help for the cause that we feel more related to.

It takes tons of small initiatives, iterations (and failures too!) before we can see a visible impact on a larger scale.

But this means we have to start now. We have to care, share and Dare!   

And you? Are you ready to Design 2030 now?

Author: Francesca A. Frisicale, October 2019

References & Links

https://globalgoalsjam.org/

https://www.globalgoalsberlin.com/

https://twitter.com/2030Cabinet

https://twitter.com/GlobalGoalsBER/

https://sdg-investments.com/en/

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgsummit

https://asylumadvice.org/#!

Data Gives Insights, Design Gives Solutions

Service Design Network Finland

The New Buzz Word

“Data driven design” has become some what of a buzz word because data is considered to be the new oil. However, many companies struggle to figure out how to take advantage of data and so to speak “strike gold”. At the Service Design Network event: Data Driven Design, two companies K Group and Sanoma Media Finland shared how they have been able to develop successful services thanks to data.

Data Is a Compass

Interestingly both K Group and Sanoma Media Finland referred to data as a compass. Data is seen as a compass for a person who is lost. It gives a starting point where to start to look from. Data also acts as validator to see whether the adjustments made to the service have had a positive or negative effect or perhaps no effect at all. However, K Group noted that for them to say that data acts as a compass for them, it requires a lot of work.  

Collaboration Is Key

Both companies emphasized the important of collaboration. Sanoma Media Finland described well the challenge of a designer, an analyst and a developer working together (see picture below). All three have very different working styles and practices and yet all three are essential to develop the best service possible. To solve this issue, Sanoma Media Finland decided to change their way of working and started to follow Futurice’s Lean Service Creation process. It is not all smooth sailing yet, but they feel that they are on the right path.

Data Driven Services

K Group has great amount of data about their customer as they have 3,5 million loyalty members and 5 million customer encounters daily. Thanks to their rich source of data they have been able to create customer driven services such as K-Ostokset (K-Ruoka mobile app): “A service, that gives the user an overview of his/her grocery purchases and a better understanding of the impacts of the purchase decisions.” The other customers for K Group are their K store merchants. K Group has developed a service for the merchants that collects data about the merchant’s K store customers, the market and the area and puts the information in such a format that the merchants can make educated decisions on how to improve their store’s profitability and customer experience. Evidently, as shown by these two examples, data has become an essential part of service development.

K-Ruoka mobile app

Written by Lyydia Pertovaraa

Links:

https://www.kesko.fi/en/

https://www.k-ruoka.fi/artikkelit/k-kaupassa/mobiilisovellus

https://www.leanservicecreation.com/

https://sanoma.fi/en/

https://www.service-design-network.org/chapters/finland

What is Data-driven design?

Researching and understanding the user and their environment is the first, and arguably most important, stage in the service design process. Service design purists will insist on the usage of interviews, observation, shadowing, and other ethnographic research methods in order to acquire this understanding. These methods work well, but do they work when trying to understand the organisations with users who number in the millions? The service design event “Data-Driven Design” argued, that qualitative data alone cannot provide large organisations with the necessary knowledge. These organisations rely heavily on quantitative data.

This Service Design Network event consisted of speakers from two large companies answering the question: What is data-driven design? The first speaker, Iiris Lahti from the media conglomerate Sanoma, discussed how design can be data-driven in the current media landscape. The second talk was held by Jussi Mantere and Hanna-Reetta Lukkainen of K-Ryhmä, which together with S-Group controls practically the entire food retail industry in Finland and has branches abroad as well.

What is Data-driven design at Sanoma

Sanoma tracks their users in a variety of ways: from the ways they navigate their news website and the popular Vauva.fi forums; to their media consumption on the Ruutu app and physical subscriptions to their publications. It goes without saying, that Sanoma has a lot of data on its users. The key question is: what do they do with this data and how to they provide ever-more value with this acquired knowledge?

Iiris described perpetually trying to find the sweet spot between service design, data analytics and customer surveys. She mentioned how when these three areas work well together, then their users (and Sanoma) thrive. An interesting example mentioned was through qualitative interviews concerning the Ruutu media streaming app. Briefly: A user stated her need for being passively entertained after work whilst simultaneously wanting to be surprised and not wanting to watch the same familiar shows repeatedly. Out of this small insight, Ruutu created a “suggest something else” button, which essentially acts like a shuffle button after an episode or film has ended. This is exactly the kind of out-of-the-blue concept which can only come from qualitative insights and not from tracking data. Iiris summed it up as finding the unknown unknowns. To elaborate on this, quantitative data can be used to discover known unknows such as the likelihood that someone who likes Downton Abby will also like the The Simpsons. However, this kind of research cannot be used for unkown unkowns. Unknown unknowns would be more open-ended questions such as “How can Ruutu provide more value to user X”. Quantitative data can rarely be used to satisfactorily answer these deeper questions.

Iiris, herself a data scientist, has a slide which described an obstacle I am trying to overcome at work: How to integrate the working processes of Designers, Analysts, and Developers. These three groups operate with similar, but not quite the same, working processes. To solve this Sanoma uses the “Sanoma Development Framework” which Iiris admitted is still work in progress.

What is Data-driven design at K-Ryhmä

Jussi and Hanna used the analogy of the compass to describe how they use data at K-Ryhmä. They summarised their thinking as “data gives insights, design gives solutions”. Despite one speaker being a designer and one speaker being a data scientist, they considered quantitative and qualitative data as being just data. Only when asked at the end did they distinguish between the two and mentioned the benefits of combining them.

Perhaps the most interesting specific cases both of them mentioned had to do with how they use data to empower their customers. Rather than simply utilising tracking and other data points to accumulate information and insights on their customers they have created many ways in which the data can be put to use for the direct benefit of their customers and partners. The cases they mentioned related to the creation of a new drink, making their retailers more independent, and a customer-facing app.

They mentioned co-creating a new sugarfree drink with a leading drinks company. Using their data and knowledge of their customers they had spotted a need and used to it to co-develop an exclusive new drink sold only in K-Ryhmä stores. It is not uncommon for a new product or service to be created through the using of finding needs or holes in the market, in fact this is the basics of service design. What is unusual in this case is that K-Ryhmä was willing to share data on its customers for the mutual benefit of K-Ryhmä and the drinks company (and presumably the customers desiring the new drink).

K-Ryhmä operates what is essentially a franchise. Each store owner operates more-or-less independently but licenses the K brand and operating systems. This implies that the K-Ryhmä itself is an intriguing service ecosystem with many layers of co-dependent stakeholders all under one brand. As a brand it is of utmost importance for K-Ryhmä to keep its retail owning partners profitable and satisfied. Because of this the brand offers each retailer a dashboard of its own data and trains them in its usage. This empowers each retailer discover what makes their specific customers unique. At a deeper level it gives them even more freedom to take ownership of their slice of the K brand and to act on it for mutual benefit.

K-Ostokset is an app released in the last half year. It provides a dashboard to customers with a K loyalty card to see what they’ve bought, how much they’ve spent, and when. With this initial description it struck me as a quite standard customer-facing dashboard app. However, they have added additional functionality which I find truly interesting. Customers can use their personal shopping habits and set specific targets. This goes beyond simply spend X amount of money on food next month. Customers can set targets based on their personal values. For example, they can track and set goals to purchase more Finnish products and (before the end of the year we were promised) to reduce their impact on climate change. The speakers did confess to being initially hesitant, as data privacy is an understandable concern amongst many consumers nowadays and displaying how much they have been tracked may scare customers. However, I feel this is a brave move by K-Ryhmä as it displays a fundamentally deep understanding of their customers: people no longer shop based merely on price, flavour, or health. Today customers are values-based shoppers: morality, locality, niche-diets, politics, convenience and other factors all play a large role in why customers buy what they do. Considering the size of K-Ryhmä, this app has the potential to change the way a large portion of the Finnish population shops hopefully for the better.

The event as a whole tried to inspire new ways of seeing how data and design can not only coexist but thrive in large companies. The heavy usage of quantitative data at these organisations does not replace service design’s usage of qualitative research. Instead, companies the size of Sanoma and K-Ryhmä have learned to use the strengths of both research gathering processes in a manner which enhances the value they can provide to their users.