Tag Archive | business development

Design Thinking for Uncertainty

The greatest learning that I got from the Design Thinking course was about uncertainty. Design Thinking as a concept and process was not new to me, but what really struck me during the course, was how Design Thinking can be used in a business context to manage uncertainty.

The future is getting less and less predictable by past data. For many in the traditional business environment the way to create new has been by careful analysis and research of the past and currents markets. In the modern ever so competitive business environment to really succeed this is not enough. New innovative solutions must be created. When you cannot trust the previous data and development methods you need something else to rely on. This uncertainty and need for innovation has given the rise of Design Thinking in the business world. It has brought the design process and mentality to the business context.

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Design Thinking – from brain errors to innovations

Have you ever been in a situation when you know your business isn’t going as smoothly as it should? You know that something should be done but you don’t know where to start or can’t identify the business problems or the customers’ needs? How do you feel about failure as a part of innovating? Have you ever thought about establishing an innovation process WITH your customers instead of old fashioned way, FOR your customers? Are you confused?

These are all questions that pop up when talking about Design Thinking (DT).

What is it and how can it help to develop your business?

Design Thinking combines human-centricity and design methods with problem solving and innovation process. It focuses in organization’s ability to produce new content, develop business and make development work cross sectoral and organizational boundaries. DT’s core is located somewhere between human-centered approach, collaborative way of working and co-creation with stakeholders and the end-users.

The work itself takes place in multidisciplinary teams that are facilitated by designers whose expertise consists of the ability to match human needs with technical resources, constrains and objectives of the project or business, and ultimately conversion into customer value and market opportunity by using different DT process and tools. In DT feelings and emotions as well as failures and mistakes plays big role when achieving the results like new processes, services and ways of communication and collaboration.

There are multiple different Design Thinking process models that can be used. The choice depends on various factors, e.g. the characteristics of the innovation project and its context, the team dynamics and the time available for the process. There’s no such thing as a perfect DT process model and pioneers in the field all have their own opinions.

Design Thinking in practice

We had two-day intensive DT workshop where we concentrated on Evolution 62 model developed by Katja Tschimmel in 2015. The name of the process model refers to the six phases that all start with the letter E:

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Design Thinking – just another buzzword?

Nowadays service design is a hot topic everywhere. What is behind the word design, that gets easily associated with luxury and high price. How is it linked with building better services?  Little ironically to the association, the roots of design lay firmly on the ground of functionality, simplicity and purpose. In the book Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation by Idris Moore, design thinking is defined as the search of magical balance between business and art; structure and chaos; intuition and logic; concept and execution; playfulness and formality; and control and empowerment. In practice meaning that Design Thinking is to be seen as a thinking process discovering new realities with the help of design culture and methods. Don´t let the lack of concrete in the definition bother you as the design thinking methods and tools are actually very tangible.

 

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Creativity meats processes

Two days spent on Katja Tschimmel´s master class clarified very well, that service design is actually a very structured process, where you proceed from phase to another to reach your goal. The process applies Design Thinking principles such as human centered approach, fast prototyping and co-creation. During the lessons we deepened our understanding by experimenting in practice the phases of Mindshake Design Thinking Evolution 6² model. Several other process models exist. Characteristic to the models is the alternation of divergent and convergent stages. I surely felt like being on a roller coaster ride as we were experimenting various tools of different phases in practice. As the theory was taught by doing, we were forced to innovate. Our process started with a mind map around the word studying and we ended up drawing visual business models. It surely was fun, but also very tough work as you experience such a wide range of emotions during the process. Ideo´s 3 I model explains this: You start from inspiration phase continuing to innovation and landing into the implementation phase.

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Women in Tech 2015 – match-making across industries to discover hot spots of innovation!

Women in Tech 2015 was arranged on 7th October in Helsinki with the theme “Make a difference!” and lured women of all ages with an interest in the future of business and technology to participate.

The guest speakers Stephanie Keller-Bottom and Tammy Noll motivated us as women to be the change we want to see.

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Besides talking on the issue of women in tech, Stephanie introduced current trends of which corporate venturing standed out to me – that corporations are developing startup mentality and launching projects inside corporations. Tammy encouraged us to have more tolerance for risk of failure and more resilience. We should “fall gracefully” and move on with our focus – with devotion.

After the speeches I participated a nicely organized and lead workshop by Tieto Experience Hub’s Ksenia Avetisova and Fanny Vakkila on the theme Industry match-making as a strategic tool for innovation.

Tieto is approaching innovation and design with strategy driven collaborative models, engaging in the strategic themes of gamification of health, medializing commerce and energizing economy. They believe that innovations with breakthrough potential can be discovered in the hot spots between industries, companies and cultures. The goal is to create maximum impact and superior customer experience.

In the workshop we were divided into 8 teams. We started off with sharing our “superpowers” .

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Open data and its potential – free information for all

What do we mean by open data? It is material which is created by public administration, organisations, companies or private persons and which is freely available and free of charge for the use of others. I attended a morning coffee event held by the Urban Academy, where launching of the open data of the City of Helsinki and its scientific implications were discussed. The Urban Academy´s main partners are the City of Helsinki, the University of Helsinki and the Aalto University. The Urban Academy brings together officials, policymakers, students, researchers and residents to share their experiences, knowledge and opinions with one another.

Tanja Lahti, Open data advocate and Project manager at City of Helsinki, Helsinki Region Infoshare

Tanja Lahti, Open data advocate and Project manager at City of Helsinki, Helsinki Region Infoshare

Tanja Lahti, an Open data advocate and Project manager at the City of Helsinki, gave an inspiring speech on how open data takes us towards a more democratic Helsinki. She stressed the advantages of open data: more effective public administration, improved transparency and democracy for residents and last but not least broader trade activity and more innovation for enterprises.

Mrs. Lahti talked also about one of the most important data openings this year – the Ahjo Explorer which is a free App providing residents with data on the political decision making of the City of Helsinki.The App is in a machine-readable form and brings openness and transparency into municipal politics and can be used in many different ways. The App allows the political decision making to be followed wherever and whenever with updates once a day. I found it very interesting when she spoke about an application that uses open data – the Blindsquare, which is the world´s most popular accessible GPS-app for the visually impaired and blind to help them move around the city using their smartphones. The app describes the environment and announces points of interest and street intersections.

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Lean Startup & how to test our most dangerous assumptions in an affordable and quick way?

Tuomas Mikkonen from company called Connection held a one evening course on agile product and service business development with lean startup method. I attended this course in the end of September as it was available in the series of events organized by IT-Ekonomit and Ekonomiyrittäjät.

We all in SID 2015 have recently gotten familiar with Lean Startup concept, as one of our basic DT courses (New Service Development) has the Harvard Business Review article by Steve Blank as compulsory reading. So, I will not present detailedly what Lean Startup as a methodology is based on but instead will pick the major insights of the training.

“If they come, we will build it.”

Building a new business model starts with understanding the customer and creating the right hypothesis of her/his problem. The problem has to be…

General

Repeating

Painful

Expensive

Specific

and not yet solved.

It is crucial not just to test the hypothesis and the solution with real people, but also to test whether they are WILLING TO PAY FOR IT.

“Do not pitch the solution yet!”

When in the stage of testing our hypothesis of a solution, we should define the most DANGEROUS ASSUMPTIONS about it and test them. The ones that can cause it to fail – and those ones usually relate to the ACTUAL BEHAVIOR of people, not on technical challenges or organizational problems.

We should not fall in love with our idea in this phase – so pitching the solution is not the way to go yet.

3 principles of MVP

Coming up with a minimum viable product presumes we are able to assume we are wrong in everything before we have tested and proved the solution works. The second principle guides to observing the real behavior – not what people say, but what they actually do. Third principle is that of virtue of laziness – testing the most dangerous assumption in the most affordable and quickest way.

So how to test affordably & quickly?

Smoke test: test the interest towards your solution with a web page. If people choose the solution, direct them into a newsletter or a waiting list for your solution. Measure the conversion rate – how many choose vs. do not choose the solution. (Tools: Wix, Unbounce, Launchrock, WordPress…)

Video MVP: create a video explaining the basic idea of the concept. Direct interested people to a waiting list or a crowdfunding site. (Tools: Moovly, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Youtube, Vimeo…)

Concierge: create a personalized automatisation to target group (or an illusion of automisation). Ideal for testing solutions that need a lot of coding or infra with small investment. Not easily scalable but works for learning – to validate which features are necessary and which not.

Wizard-of-Oz: automating or imitating service to the target customer. Service is embedded into other services or processes, not visible. Ideal for testing services needing plenty of automation.

Prototype / wireframe: physical product or software is prototyped, for exploring market potential and testing features. (Tools: Balsamiq mockups, Kinetisse, Axure…)

Lessons learned?

During the course we would work in groups on a hypothesis. Our group on my suggestion took the challenge of immigrant integration into Finnish working and civil life as a challenge to work on. At first we got along with the subject very well and the discussion was versatile, we could see that all the criteria of a relevant problem were fulfilled. The challenges started in the testing phase. The lean startup as a method is more suitable for ideas that have a strong web-service based element and for ideas that are very well and narrowly defined. But I did get a good repertory of ideas from the team!

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(This post contributes to the course of Current Topics in Service Design.)

Digitalization has to be lead in organizations – but how?

On 30th September I had the chance to participate an event organized by PRY (Projektiyhdistys ), which is the local Finnish association belonging to IPMA (International Project Management Association). IPMA is known for its project management certification system.

The purpose of this theme event of digitalization was to get introduced to methods and lessons that can be of help in advancing digitalization development in organizations in Finland and thus lead us as an economy back to the growth trend.

I think this as a current issue in design thinking as service designers participate in design projects involving digital concepts and their skills are also needed in transforming an organization’s mental mode towards design thinking (DT), due to the growing pressure to digitalize processes or entire business models that requires DT approach.

Why is everybody now talking about digitalization?

Vesa Ilmarinen, the founder of Katalysti company, probed us first on our perceptions of digitalization. He defined it as an operative change that needs leadership. Currently, digitalization is a hype term in the media and it arouses both concerns and hopes. Concerns in that it destroys many jobs and hope in that it creates new kinds of businesses and job opportunities. One could imagine service design to be one of those new opportunities. Vesa mentioned trends leading to digitalization being rapid technological development that affects consumer behavior patterns, shift of power from service and product providers to consumers and thus the increased demand for rapid responses, honesty and transparency from organizations.

Finnish success stories of digitalization

Vesa has recently published a book together with Kai Koskela on challenges of digitalization in Finnish companies, called Digitalisaatiohaaste – Yritysjohdon käsikirja. The first edition was sold out in a month and second one is coming soon. There are plenty of examples of Finnish success stories in the book, here a few he mentioned:

  • Kalevala Koru – 3D-printable plastic jewelry
  • Finnmatkat – travel agency online services
  • Enevo – optimizing disposal of garbage with garbage bins containing sensors

Elementary in making digitalization a success story

according to the authors is not solely the technological capabilities,

but introducing new kind of leadership and ways of working to the organization.

Digitalization often requires renewing strategy,

operative model of the company and the company culture.

How to proceed with this change?

Vesa introduced four lessons on how an organization can take leadership in the digitalization development. They are grouped on the following image with related activities specified further.

4lessons_digitalize_organization

During the remaining part of the event, project manager Pirjo Saksi from Ministry of the Environment shared her experiences on stakeholder management as a tool for leading change. Her project is the first joint development project in the public administration (national register for housing company shares of stock) involving diverse public actors. Thus stakeholder analysis is of great importance to engage everyone and to enable decision making.

(This post contributes to the course of Current Topics in Service Design.)