Tag Archive | co-creation

Testing out the co-creation game ATLAS

 

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On 4th April a group of service designers and service design enthusiasts met up after work to play the service co-creation game ATLAS. The game was made as part of the research project ATLAS, a project executed in 2012-2014 by Aalto University and funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes. The goal was understanding, facilitating and planning co-creation. The game was introduced to us both by two of its makers, Päivi Pöyry-Lassila and Anna Salmi, as well as by the host of the evening Laura Virkki from city of Vantaa.

From a map to a game

According to Päivi and Anna, at the start of the ATLAS project the vision was not actually to create a game but something of a map to gather together co-creation theories and practices to facilitate co-creation projects. During the project the group had worked on bringing multiple information co-creation theories together, hence the game is heavily based on information co-creation theories. However it was noted that knowledge of these theories was not essential for playing.

atlasThe end result of the research project became a game instead of a map as the result of the iterative and thorough research/design process including several Sprints. The game could be described as one that helps people understand and learn about co-creation and, to some extent, service design. The goal was also to help anyone have open access to the game and tailoring it to one’s own needs e.g. by translations to different languages is encouraged – so long as credit is given to the original game when variations are made. The city of Vantaa had done exactly that and had both translated the game from English to Finnish as well as modified it slightly to better suit their user needs. The version we tried out was this modified one in Finnish.

Playing it out

After the intros we were divided into small groups and started to ponder on the topic to set as the theme of the game. Our group’s one was how to make service design as way of working in an organization. The game was then built around this topic and included discussing various aspects of the theme with the help of the game cards: motivation, project definition, participants, tools & methods, and so on. The cards facilitated discussion nicely, helping shape out the various aspects of the theme and arrive at an at least somewhat shared understanding of how one might continue working on this topic.

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At the end after testing out the game we had a brief discussion across all the groups present. Each group introduced their theme and some findings and discussions they had experienced while playing. We also discussed the various possible uses for the game and what would work better than other uses. City of Vantaa had used the game as a tool to make a project plan. This had suited their needs and as far as we heard was successful. However, one of the makers of the game mentioned that in their opinion it was not exactly made as a tool for project planning. Based on our game groups’ different themes around which we played the game, it seemed it could indeed also help as a project planning tool, perhaps more as a kick-off session for starting a project and getting everyone on the same page about it than as actual detailed planning tool. It was also discussed that another game session after this initial kick-off one could then again maybe yield different, more detailed or deeper results if there was an actual project in the horizon – in this session all but one team were working around a more or less vague theme not tied to e.g. a specific organization or setting making it hard to be concrete on a project planning level. The consensus seemed to be that the game was well suited for facilitating discussion around co-creation, and one of its strengths seemed to be that it was not heavy on jargon or did not require prior experience of knowledge on service design – therefore making it a great tool to be used also with people who might be doubtful about service design in general.

 

The author Kaisla Saastamoinen is a Service Design Masters student with a passion for human-centric design, co-creation, and coffee.

Bench of Awkward Conversations – Global Service Jam 2018

9th to 11th March 2018 teams around the world were jamming it up on six continents on the Global Service Jam.

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In Helsinki, around 30 participants and a mentor/organiser team met up on Friday 9th after a hard week’s work to immerse in a weekend of ideating, prototyping, and having fun. With some intros to the ways of jamming and getting to know our newly-formed teams we dived straight into the process.

Talk about a fuzzy front-end…

IMG_0788 The theme for this year’s Jam, revealed to us in the form of a video, was a little vague and mysterious to say the least. After the initial slight panic and confusion (disclaimer: speaking for myself here only) over the ambiguous theme, we set out for the first ideation session. From there we kept building on the ideas and moved on to grouping the generated post-it storm under a few headlines.

The ideation ran around themes that divide people, ranging from immigration to lonely people’s funerals. Despite, or perhaps because of, the somewhat morbid themes, right from the start our team had a few laughs and it felt surprisingly effortless working together. However a good night’s sleep was definitely necessary, so we had to call it a day to return the next morning.

Dragging a bench down the road

On Saturday morning we continued working on our ideas and moved on to some online and field research. With a strict deadline of having to submit and present a prototype on the following day, we had to move fast. Our idea started to formulate around reducing loneliness, potentially in the context of also facilitating easier immigration. One idea was a physical meeting place, a bench or so, where people previously unknown to each other could meet and have flash cards on funny or easy conversation topics. IMG_0791
Soon we were building our first prototype, The Bench, and taking it to the test – in the process carrying a physical bench from the Think Company to Esplanadi to observe and interview the people who were passing and perhaps connected with it. The results guided us to make some adjustments and modifications, with some more testing and iterating also left for the following day.

As in any old Design process, iteration did take a fair bit of our Jam time. Adjusting our prototype and validating our ideas or letting some go were a central part of the process, and although sometimes hard, it was good practise in letting the testing and users guide the results instead of the ideas of the designers themselves. This seems like a continuous lesson that one can’t think about too much!

Presenting: Bench of Awkward Conversations

IMG_0801On Sunday we kept improving our prototype and preparing for presenting it to the judges. The day ended with each team presenting their idea and prototype, all in their own way clever and unique. The judges’ feedback helped us to finalise our idea and change the ideas’s name back to the original working name, Bench of Awkward Conversations. The feeling at the end of the weekend was that of euphoria and exhaustion. Many left this Jam already looking forward to the next one, me included!

 

The author Kaisla Saastamoinen is a Service Design Masters student with a passion for human-centric design, co-creation, and coffee.

Design Kit: The Course for Human-Centered Design, by IDEO.org and +Acumen

Late last year I felt I could use a little recap on some of the things learned on the very first courses of the Service Design Masters degree. At the same time I was longing for some fresh thoughts and a push to jump start my thesis – a way to get creative and actually do some design stuff instead of just planning it. The free Human-Centered Design course by IDEO.org and +Acumen, mixing online and in-person teamwork, seemed like a good way to do that.

Described as an “intensive, hands-on learning experience“, the course description promised the participants would “leave this experience equipped and energized to apply the human-centered design process to challenges across industries, sectors, and geographies to generate breakthrough ideas.” Well, that sounds great, but would someone with quite some earlier knowledge and experience in Service Design and in general human-centered design projects get something out of it too, besides a repetition of things already known? I was also wondering how the theme and topics would feel, as the focus seemed largely to be in humanitarian and social welfare – a hugely important topic, however sadly not my forte previously.

Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation

IDEO mini challenge 1The course started in January and, thanks to all sorts of online groups and forums, it was fairly easy to find a team to do the meet-ups with. We ended up being 5 in our group, all previously unknown to each other. The course platform provided us with instructions on the different phases, “classes”, we were to go through to complete the course. The first meet-up went in a bit of a haze, getting to know each other while trying to follow the guidelines from the somewhat confusing set of material piles (for each “class” there being 2 separate packs of materials). Lucky we had a group leader of sorts in our group, making sure we had agreed on specific days for our future meetings so we could keep up with the course deadlines.

The course followed a set structure and timeline, with the design process following the steps Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation. The second group meeting was missed by a couple of us, but the ones attending divided the research between us all and we all managed to do our parts before the following meeting. And on the third meeting we finally got to a classic – you guessed it – post-it party!

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Latest at this stage it was fairly clear the methods and principles of the course were very familiar to a Service Design student, but doing research and ideating was in any case tons of fun and not at all that easy. It was great to work together with a group of people not previously familiar with each other, building on each other’s ideas and hearing about new ways to look at the same things.

 

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In the following meeting we moved on to How Might We questions – this brought us another interesting conversation, as some in the group had somewhat unknowingly used a similar approach to problem-solving. After that it was time for creating a story board and moving on to prototyping.

The course finished with an energising afternoon over brunch, making a pitch for our solution, followed by reflection and discussion on our learning.

 

To summarise the experience, here’s a little list based purely on my personal thoughts:

+ Nice and easy way to recap a human-centric design process

+ Practical and structured guidelines and tasks

+ Basic background info and examples on methods and process

+ Great to work in a new team and learn from others!

– 2 separate material packs for each class didn’t feel like the best way to go

– No new methods or insights for someone already familiar with Service Design

– End result and experience would depend a lot on the team: in my case it was wonderful but it could have been totally different if e.g. there was someone really bossy or other characters that can make ideation etc. difficult.

All in all, I was very happy with my experience. And the team proved to be so good that some of us have already met at a couple of other Service Design events, and we plan to meet with the whole group again soon!

 

The author Kaisla Saastamoinen is a Service Design Masters student with a passion for human-centric design, co-creation, and coffee.

‘People-Driven City’ – Co-creating the City

Have you ever thought about who owns the city where you live in? That was a striking question for many of us attending ‘People-Driven City’, the international seminar of the urban festival ‘Lähiöfest2017’ (‘Festival for Neighbourhoods’) at the University of Helsinki. Are the owners the ones who have the political power, the businesses, or are they the people who inhabit it, the citizens?

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The seminar brought together experts as well as activists involved in projects that interlace placemaking, city planning, entrepreneurship and community involvement, and it wanted to inspire broader discussion on urban planning and development by presenting varied initiatives from traditional structures to grass-root work. The aim was to look how and where “top-down” and “bottom-up” initiatives can meet, the emphasis being on the areas of the city in the midst of change.

During the day we learned about fascinating international cases. One of them was MakeShift (UK/FR) organization, which designs, builds and manages new public destinations that house communities of local, independent businesses. One of them is Peckham Levels project, which is transforming seven empty levels of a multi-storey carpark into an experimental cultural destination by creating affordable workspace for artists and entrepreneurs. Not to mention the cases of Lola Lik culture hub and The Movement Hotel (NL) run by refugees, both located in Amsterdam at a former prison. In those cases, the deserted places in a city are being taken over by an organization and the people are developing the city with the help of these organizations.

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What does it take to become a creative design thinker?

The world we are facing appears more and more complex to us every day. Many of us, including myself wonder how to keep up with the information flow. One thing is for sure. The concept of expertise is being challenged in a profound way. In order to tackle complex phenomena in the fast changing world people need general competencies that can be applicable to various fields. Design thinking is certainly one of these. Design thinking has potential to change the world if more and more professionals understood the value of it. But what does it take to become a design thinker?

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Will Design Thinking disrupt Education?

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Chances are if you didn’t go to design school (or don’t have a career in design) you believe you have absolutely no clue what Design Thinking is.

But when one starts analysing how they create solutions, they are likely to recognise similarities with this now superpop method. Innovation by Design Thinking follows patterns similar to other traditional methods, however guided by human-centric principles rather than business & technology requirements. Katja Tschimmel (2015) describes it as a way of transforming and innovating through human-centric approach. In other words, creative thinking with people in mind that leads to actually meaningful solutions.

Doing is the new Teaching

During 2 intensive days we had guests from Portugal, Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valença, lecture the Design Thinking masters course at Laurea SID. What stood out for me was their way of lecturing. They digested all those years of extensive research into easy-to-grasp exercises and a useful set of slides overviewing everything Design Thinking. It was interactive and inspiring rather than exhaustive. Quickly the lecture became practical with quizzes, ultimately becoming a workshop following one of the models presented, Evolution 6.

I’m more interested in observing how Design Thinking can change the way we teach/learn anything at schools in general. While performing the exercises myself I recognised at least 4 design thinking principles applied to the teaching&learning environment, described by Tschimmel in the latest Research Report D-Think.

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Embrace the mess!

Design Thinking – the challenge in daring to embrace the mess of non linear thinking.mindmap.jpg

I am quite new to the field of service design and the tools used in Design Thinking are not yet that familiar to me. Hence I didn’t really know what to expect from the first contact session at SID. I thought it was great that we were assigned to go through the process & use the tools of design thinking straight away.

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