Tag Archive | business development

Embracing change at the Service Design Global Conference 2020

The international community, Service Design Network (SDN), founded in 2004, arranged an online conference focusing on service design in October of 2020. The conference was planned to be held physically in Copenhagen, but due to the global pandemic, all keynotes, workshops, and other events were held online utilizing convenient tools for collaboration.

This year’s theme was embracing change, a topic strongly reflected in all presentations. Keynote speakers this year were employees of big corporations and experts in service design from different cultures, countries and time zones.

In this blog post I summarize two intriguing presentations and ponder service design trends and opportunities for value creation in companies.

Embracing change and service design today

Birgit Mager, one of the founders of the SDN community and the first Professor in Service Design globally, has attended every SDGC conference since the beginning. In a short introductory presentation, Status of Service Design Today, Mager explains current transformation in operations of companies and how the roles of service designers have changed over time. Although service designers by default are optimistic, the “new normal” (due to Covid) has largely impacted ways of work, she says.

Mager emphasizes that the important of technology substantially has grown, but the future lies in utilizing both new technology and data to create services. Currently, we already are using a lot of technology and conduct research online, but a change has happened in agencies, where e.g. data scientists are involved as new roles in service design, Mager explains.

In addition to these, ethics has been put as a focus when creating services. Other equally relevant areas are sustainability, accessibility, and participation, Mager mentions.

Designing aviation future through design

The Dutch aviation company, KLM, founded over a hundred years ago, has recently been facing challenges due to the global pandemic and how it has changed the aviation industry. The complex industry is naturally very regulated and evolves rapidly as consumers are becoming extensively environmentally aware.

In a jointed keynote, Ryanne Van De Streek, project manager at KLM, and Anouk Randag, service design consultant at Livework, presented a sample of methods through which KLM has introduced new ways to innovate and develop services.

As a company, KLM has already for some time put efforts on design and has also started design initiatives that currently are in use. KLM, however, wanted to continue developing these new methods with a goal to activate ~1500 employees, to develop competences and to involve innovation in a system by the end of 2023.

According to Randag, high impact can be created by utilizing, developing and scaling current initiatives. In her presentation and new model was presented that had been co-created iteratively within KLM as an organization.

Although KLM drastically have had to cut budgets due to Covid, Van De Streek explains that certain areas still are being put in action. For example, are their new service design principles and process (”KLM X way of working”) shared with new employees to foster agility, as this continuously is needed in their industry.

To summarize, we can conclude that although service design is quite a broad principle, it can work as a great way to develop internal working methods and sustainable business in organizations. By being open to new ideas, utilizing current competences and starting initiatives, with a focus on building custom ways to work, organizations can achieve innovation and test new business models.

Written by Thomas Djupsjö
MBA Student at Laurea, University of Applied Sciences 

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.



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.

image image

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…






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!


(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.


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.)

Design Thinking helps you to move better when creating something new

We had two great mind shaking days on September when Katja Tschimmel introduced us to Design Thinking (DT), the concept and toolkit for creative processes. You can call DT also a mindset: “the way of thinking and doing”. It is meant also for organisations and businesses outside design field.


We had a concrete case and went through DT process using Evolution 62 model, which Katja has developed, as our guide through creative process. In different spaces of the model, there are several tools from which to pick up the most suitable ones. Those collaborative tools helped us on our way to get understanding and knowledge of the people and context, emerge and generate new ideas from the insights, define and evaluate solutions and finally prototype our value proposition.

It was a very good learning process by doing and we had fun!

Characteristics of Design Thinking

DT is human-centered approach. Multidisciplinary teams design product/services with users. Users are experts in interaction with products/services and their experiences are always true. When understanding other people you need to be able to empathize by stepping on your customer´s shoes (remember to take your own ones away first) to understand their mental state (emotions, feelings), motivations and hidden unstated needs in their context.

Visualising the problem and solution helps to build common understanding. Visualising is like “an external visual memory” for creative process. It frees space to dialogue, to thinking and to seeing all aspects between the problem and solution. Making abstract issues tangible and concrete is important. Early, cheap prototyping and fast failure belong to DT cost-effective process.

Design thinking is iterating and non-linear process although models are usually visualised in sequence order. What is common for DT models is that divergence and convergence phases follow each other. Design thinkers need to be comfortable with uncertainty, unexpected situations and incomplete information.

Using abductive reasoning, seeing new perspectives and future possibilities that do not fit on existing business models is typical.

DT is made for businesses

I see that Design Thinking concept helps organisations to think wider the innovation possibilities to develop existing value propositions, innovate new ones and solve problems to create better future.

Design Thinking brings to business people guiding structured model and helping tools to innovate and develop their businesses in complex, fast changing ecosystems where value chains aren´t linear anymore and you need to understand value networks with multiple actors when constantly developing your business. DT encourages organisations to experiment beyond existing products/services.

There is several good DT models to choose from and it depends on issues like existing resources, timetable, context, innovation field and of course which model feels to be the best for organisation`s purpose. I see this part also a challenge for DT concept as it is offered to business organisations which may not have experience from design models and tools before hand. The challenge can be that organisations do not have time to figure out which model to choose, they may feel confused about different models available and that way loose interest.

Build innovations through humans and experiences

I read Vijay Kumar`s 101 Design Methods book, which presents a structured, practical design thinking approach for building innovations within organisations.

Kumar raised the importance to understanding organisation as whole, its culture and processes, and what innovation actually is, before diving into the innovation process. In my point of view Kumar sees DT possibilities even wider perspective, not only as a concept for innovation processes, but change management tool to building innovation culture to organization`s DNA. In his book he raised four key principles that can be found from organisations, which have been successful innovators.

1# Build innovation around experiences

2# Think of innovations as systems

3# Cultivate an innovation culture

4# Adopt a disciplined innovation process

I see that the wider understanding about the humans, their experiences and context is crucial for building reliable innovations. Especially I like the first principle as it is really human-centered concentrating to user experiences beyond the product or services e.g. running shoes vs running. Reframing the perspective greatens the possibilities for innovation. Design Thinking process helps design thinkers to create this kind of experience-focused innovations.

Kumar`s easy to follow DT model for innovation processes is divided into seven modes. Every modes has their own goals and activities. Book practically guides to cultivate right kind of mindset in every mode. Right mindset helps being fluency enough to be creative and effective in the innovation process.

Vilay Kumar`s Design Innovation Process modelThe modes and 101 methods of Vilay Kumar`s Design Innovation Process model

Vilay Kumar`s Design Innovation Process model, seven modes and 101 methods.

The future and world we are living may seem to be foggy, but when you go out and observe world with empathy and then visualise your insights everything comes clearer. Design Thinking is there to help and guide organisations to better future.

Written by Marjukka Rantala – Laurea, Helsinki, Finland


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

Kumar, Vijay 2013. 101 Design Methods: Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New Jersey.

TOMORROW is being made today

Tomorrow conference

Tomorrow conference was held at Helsinki music centre on 10th of June 2015.

I as a student had the privilege to attend to this thought-provoking and networking event with world-class speakers from diverse fields. Thanks to Lauri Ahonen, the event organizer and the front seat guests that made the participation for students possible.

For those of you that where not able to participate, I share some of the messages from few of the speakers.


Pekka Haavisto, a Green member of Finnish Parliament and Member of Committee for Foreign Affairs, opened the conference. He encouraged us to know other continents cultures better by being open minded, exploring the world and stepping into the shoes of foreigners to see the world from the different angles. It was a good message to export field – knowing the culture and its people is the first priority to have successful business abroad.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of The Black Swan and Antifragile, raised issues like how companies that love errors are more likely to gain in the world where uncertainty is reality. When competition is everywhere the least expected happenings, the side-effects, can more often be the ones that lead to new business. Those that concentrate to lowering risks are also lowering their variability which means in the long run that their are dropping they ability to survival. Too centralized big countries, companies or projects are more fragile than the small ones.

For individual point of view I see that being always curious to new things, doing many things you love in life, having many incomes from different fields makes you strong and “antifragile”.


Write the futureTuuti Piippo, the author of Futuremakers, spread positive energy when describing the hero`s journey.

You do not need to know everything, but you definitely need to have the passion to learn. Everybody can be a hero. You need to have the courage to explore exciting things that you may be little scared off. Ask a lot of questions to learn and be humble to ask help. Then you need to be strong enough to go through the challenges in the journey where you are making failures and standing up again and again. I love her attitude.

I think her message raises a question for all of us: Are you the hero, the pilot, of your own life or just passenger?

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