Tag Archive | design

Habitare must listen to its users

Habitare 2019 is an interesting convention, but overall it could be so much more. A convention is a service and I approached this furniture, interiors, and product design event with a service design perspective. I was actively looking out for mentions of service design and observing what the experience of being a participant at the convention was like. I must note: I myself am not specifically a connoisseur of interior design. From a partially foreign perspective, when one thinks about Finnish design it is furniture and interior design which come to mind first and foremost. Finland is one of the leaders of elegant, minimal, and functional interiors. Whichever Finnish design field comes after interior design is surely a more distant second place. However, within the much smaller world of service design, Finland also shines. Finnish governmental, health and digital services are known within the inner circle of the service design community. Knowing this, I was keen to see if there was any possible overlap of service and interior design at Habitare 2019.

Admittedly, as I had predicted, there wasn’t much overlap between the fields. Or at least, the overlap was below the surface and one that if elevated could make the convention an overall better experience. There were interesting moments which could’ve been improved through the use of service design: through adding more interactivity into the convention and perhaps researching their potential convention attendees to see what exactly they would like from such a convention.

Upon first walking into the main convention I was greeted by a pleasant surprise: a slide going downstairs! What a wonderfully playful way to begin! In service journeys, just like job interviews or dates, first impressions really matter. There were other such moments of playful interaction occasionally scattered through the experience and they broke the overall passive experience joyously. My favorite example was the small table which allowed the creation of moodboards using different textures, props, materials and fauna. Moodboards are used by some designers to literally set or depict a rough atmosphere they are striving towards when creating a piece of furniture or an interior. This moodboard table allowed participants to experience a fun glimpse of a designer’s work in an accessible and (importantly for today’s Instagram generation) shareable fashion.

Personally, I would’ve liked to see even more of these moments. Habitare should strive to be more than just a large version of a Finnish design shop – it should involve its participants more. Many participants come to browse the beautiful interiors, yet fully knowing that the life on display in front of them is if not out-of-reach then at least overpriced. Assuming this, they should be provided a means to attain at least a hint of redesigning their own interiors through, for example, active co-learning of what a designer does or how to design.

There was one specific mention of service design, which took place at a talk given on Friday. Unfortunately, due to it being a talk in the middle of the day, I was not able to attend. It was a talk given by Virve Penttilä and Sini Ala-Nikula, who work at Rune & Berg. After a little research I was able to find Virve’s thesis from 2016 discussing the design of physical service environments and its effects on service delivery. Having looked at Rune & Berg’s work on their website, the thesis, and the title of the talk I can assume that service design was represented at Habitare – albeit for a very brief moment.

The talk’s title, Have you listened to your user? The importance of service design in the design of environments is a good generalism on my thoughts about Habitare. I was also surprised to see what I would call a lack of understanding of the participants of Habitare. To describe what I mean I’ll take sitting as an example. As is to be expected with Nordic design, there were plenty of elegant chairs with minimal lines and ergonomic curves in naturally reserved colours. These seats were pleasing to both my eyes and (from having walked around the convention so long) my feet. As I sat, I pondered: Who are these convention attendees who browse pricey furniture? What do they do? Well, the ones who can occasionally afford to buy into this lifestyle are most likely office workers of some kind who want to come home to a beautiful and comfortable home and rest. If that is the case, where do they spend much of their day sitting? Many do not work from home – most work at the office. And yet, at Habitare I barely saw any office chairs – or much office furniture in general. Where were the beautiful desks or elegant workstations? Where were the office chairs or where was the Nordic designed version of those big bouncy ball seats which your colleague persuades you will solve all your problems but you never end up using? Where, in short, was the office?

Perhaps the lack of a dedicated “office” furniture section should not come as a surprise, the name Habitare is derived from habitat or a place where one calls home and where one lives. Work, however, is an integral part of life. Working life was simply ignored at the convention. This omission underlines my fundamental issue with Habitare. For a convention dedicated to designing the interiors of our lives it takes a too narrow approach to what interiors, and perhaps even our lives, can be.

The power of design thinking

And why you should consider using it to innovate and solve business problems.

Rashpal Bhati


On the first weekend of September amidst the beginnings of Finnish Autumn, the SID class of 2019 gathered at Laurea’s Leppävaara campus for their first contact session in Design Thinking. As we listened to the energetic tutor Katja Tschimmel, we were introduced to the history of Design Thinking.

It all started in 1969 with Herbert Simon who pondered the science of design in his book The Science of the Artificial, investigating its problem solving logic and potential place in the workplace and professional disciplines. Between 1980-90 this earlier work was further developed into visual design thinking and the design process, by Bryan Lawson (1986) and Peter Rowe (1987).

Design Thinking as a term and discipline really gained business attention during the 2000’s with publications like The Art of Innovation by Tim Brown & Jonathan Littmann as well as a seminal article in HBR by Tim Brown (2008) where Design Thinking as a business term was first popularised. Tim Brown highlighted that “Design Thinking expresses the introduction of design methods and culture into fields beyond traditional design, such as business innovation”.

Thinking like designers

Storyboarding ‘Study Buddy’ concept

This theoretical foundation led us to form student groups and explore practical design thinking for ourselves. Through the goal of designing better services for Laurea and thinking like designers we ventured into using visualization, prototyping and holistic methodology. We looked at various visual design models which explain the design thinking process, before settling on the Evolution 6² model which was followed for two days of intense group work activities culminating in the presenting of our ‘Study Buddy’ visual elevator pitch to the rest of the groups and faculty.

Many of us found the creation process rewarding and I echo Tim Brown’s sentiment from his 2008 HBR article that “Thinking like a designer can transform the way you develop products, services, processes – and even strategy.”

Design Thinking by Tim Brown, HBR, June 2008

He tales the inventor Thomas Edison whom he describes as having broken the mold of the ‘lone genius inventor’ by creating a team-based approach to innovation. We experienced the positive effects of this multidisciplinary approach first hand within our own teams. I can also identify with Brown’s sentiment that innovation is hard, and requires countless rounds of trial and error – the “99% perspiration.”

Brown explored the potential of design thinking to create customer value and market opportunity and posited that asking designers to create ideas that meet consumers’ needs and desires is strategic and leads to dramatic new forms of value. In closing he suggested that “business leaders would do well to incorporate design thinking into all phases of the innovation process.” I think this is sound advice when we look at today’s increasingly digitised economy as well as shifts in societal needs and greater environmental consciousness; society and its more engaged citizens demand action and solutions to deliver sustainable modern living with greater empathy for our shared global responsibility, incorporating the human-centered and holistic design thinking frameworks could indeed play a greater role in delivering these strategic and value driven benefits.

Usefullness of design thinking

Design Attitude by Kamil Michlewski, 2015

Kamil Michlewski in Design Attitude, 2015 discusses the usefulness of organisations taking design inspired frameworks like Design Thinking or its sub–genre Service Design to unlock their innovation pipeline to achieve meaningful business innovation objectives. Although design is “still on the margins of interest of most business schools” he states “design ideas are starting to significantly inform public service provision and policies including UK, Danish governments, and more recently, the EU has been pursuing design-inspired innovation policies. He cites gov.uk as a great example of the impact of design inspired frameworks, and refers to it as a UK government digital service run remarkably like a service design consultancy with full focus on the user with great aesthetic dimension.  Or MindLab, the Danish Government’s innovation unit that involves citizens and businesses in creating new solutions for society.

These examples Michlewski says, highlights the power of following a design-driven approach, it empowers managers and business people to think more laterally, creatively and openly, and importantly to experiment and iterate solutions within the business environment they will be deployed. This resonated with our group and following the 2-day contact session we also felt more empowered by what we had learned, and experienced firsthand, about the potential and power of design thinking.

References:

Tschimmel, K. 2019. Design Thinking. [lectures]. Held on 6-7 September. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Tschimmel, K. (2018). Evolution 6² : An E-handbook for Practical Design Thinking for Innovation. MindShake.

Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95.

Michlewski, Kamil 2015. Design Attitude. Farnham, Surrey: Gower.

Published 25 September 2019

The key take-aways from POLISHOPA Design Thinking 2019 conference

POLISHOPA is the biggest Design Thinking conference in Poland, two days of interesting lectures and two days of workshops, 16 experts from different fields and 4 speakers from abroad. It was the sixth edition. You can find more details on this page: https://polishopa.pl/

I recommend signing up for the newsletter to get information about the next edition in advance.

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It was the fourth time I attended this conference and this time I had a chance to participate in the lecture days, so-called Revolution & Innovation Days. I will share my key take-aways with you.

Year by year I see an increase in the quality of this conference showing that the knowledge and interest about Design Thinking is growing. However, as one of the presenters (Dymitr Romanowski) showed, although the popularity of Design Thinking grows, web searches for the term “Service Design” decrease. It seems there is still a lot to do regarding educating people on what service design is in Poland.

This year the healthcare and financial sector was highly present. There were representatives of Santander Bank and mBank as speakers. Piotr Sałata from Symetria spoke about how they created a more user friendly vindication platform by Kruk. Adrian Chernoff from Johnson & Johnson spoke about how they solved the challenge of helping patients with diabetes improve adherence and outcomes thanks to patient-led innovation and user centricity. They developed the first diabetes app in the US – OneTouch reveal app.

The participants also had a chance to listen to the story of creating a restaurant in Krakow – Handelek by Socjomania. Silke Bochat told us about implementing and scaling design and design thinking in FMCG companies. Piotr Chojnacki from Allegro (“Polish eBay”) told us how to scale the UX in a large organization without losing the consistency of user experience. Radosław Ratajczak from SHOPA explained how they designed the user experience of Olivia Garden – 8270m2 in one of the skyscraper offices in Gdynia. Tey Bannerman from McKinsey & Company shared a story of disruption at Pizza Hut. Olga Bońka from Motorola Solutions Systems told a virtual lesson of empathy for a dog.

Among all of the mentioned lectures, my key learnings are described below.

If you want to introduce Design Thinking to a company, don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. In Santander Bank, Andrzej Pyra and Jakub Tyczyński simply started organizing Design Thinking workshops. The more people took part in it, the more they wanted to work using Design Thinking methods. What is more, product owners started to ask for their help in managing the whole process in the end.

Empathy is key for making a change. Empathy also makes the transformation last after the Design Thinking project finishes.

Design Thinking is just one type of method used for innovation, it is good to be familiar with other methods such as business model innovation (more in the picture below) as well and juggle with tools and methods depending on the project and its phase, company, and situation.

Innovation methods graphs

Once introducing Design Thinking, there is usually a phase of skepticism which takes up to 2-3 days, it is good to simply overcome it. We also need to understand the cognitive biases and “stamp them out for innovation’s sake” as Mike Pinder from Board of Innovation advised.

skepticism

Mike Pinder also had an interesting definition of MVP: “ MVPs are a way of asking questions about critical assumptions within the features of your concept and business models”.

Piotr Chojnacki from Allegro (a company with 20 million users and 100 million offers and over 150 processes) listed three key points to successful scaling in such a large organization:

  • Diffused structures of teams who work in agile way
  • Local innovation within the global structure
  • Consistent user experience

Silke Bochat presented John Maeda’s list of the top 8 skills that designers need to understand in business as well as the top 10 emerging trends that have the biggest impact on design published in Design in Tech Report.

The Top 8 skills that designers need to understand are the following:

  1. Product Roadmap Strategy
  2. Company strategy
  3. Retention/ Engagement metrics
  4. Conversion Metrics
  5. Funnel Acquisition Metrics
  6. Revenue Model
  7. Financial Metrics (i.e. Revenue margin etc.)
  8. Resource Allocation

In terms of the top 10 emerging trends with the biggest impact on design, here is the list:

  1. AI and machine learning
  2. Augmented Reality
  3. Virtual Reality
  4. Behavior tracking and modelling
  5. 3D printing
  6. Distributed teams and virtual workplace
  7. Democratization of design
  8. Algorithmic design
  9. Crowdsourcing and open source
  10. Facial and voice recognition

For those who are interested in the newest Design in Tech Report, here is the summary of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Czq2j4p924s

She advised to start implementing Design Thinking with a small project with a limited budget and low risk. Deliver value from it as early as possible. Then promote it if it becomes a success. This gives more chances that it will persuade the decision makers to scale it.

She also recommended to try this canvas in practice: https://www.xplane.com/designops

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Arian Chernoff from Johnson & Johnson recommended answering what, when, where, how and why questions once solving the challenge. In terms of their diabetes app, the answers look as below:

We…

why

…make diabetes easier to manage…

when

…to improve patient adherence and outcomes..

what

…placing the patient at the center…

how

…on a connective cloud ecosystem…

where

…by personalizing experiences.

Dymitr Romanowski explained the role of empathy in health care and shared the results of the projects Human Behind Every Number:: https://humanbehindeverynumber.com/

This is how the project is explained on the website: “Human Behind Every Number is a non-governmental organization that provides research, insight and education on the first-hand experiences of patients involved in clinical trials. In today’s active research industry, our results deliver clear information to industry professionals that will help shape the development of clinical trials around the globe.”

This website gathered patients’ stories throughout their patient journeys which might be helpful for designers working in the Health Care sector.

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From the story of creating Handelek, a restaurant in Poland, I walked away with a feedback tool –  a physical one in the form of a board in the restaurant as well as a virtual one on Instagram. They called it  the card of transparency with Your opinion, Status and What we changed. It obviously helps to deliver real value to customers.

Here is the POLISHOPA summary by professional illustrator, Agata Jakuszko.

Polishopa summary

I would recommend this conference to any DT enthusiast. See you in 2020 in Bydgoszcz, Poland :).

Author: Cecylia Kundera

Health Design 2018

Event: Health Design 2018, Experience Better Healthcare

Time: 29.11.2018, 9.30 – 18.00

Place: Aalto Learning Centre

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I need to start this post with a disclaimer: I happened to got a free ticket for this event, which I’m very happy of, since I don’t feel that the event was worth of the actual price of 150€. For a free event it was interesting, though, and provided useful information especially for those planning to enter the health tech field as a designer or an entrepreneur.

The event consisted of a panel discussion with healthcare professionals and several keynotes approaching the subject from different angles. I identified a couple of themes that were brought up by the speakers througout the presentations and will discuss each of the themes separately.

Clinical relevance

The key to success for any healthcare application that is quite unique to the field is clinical relevance. Products and services dealing with health need to provide 100% patient safety as the first priority. It is also good to remember that the primary users of many health tech solutions are actually doctors and nurses, not the patients. You need the doctors and nurses to trust the devices and applications they use as that provides trust to the patients as well.

In order to achieve the trust and relevance amongst medical experts a product/service needs to go through a number of regulatory tests and get medical approvals. This is not a straightforward process and needs strong support from influencial people from the very beginning.

Creating common language

In addition to the official approvals, you need to find a common language between the doctors and technology. You need to understand both what the doctors need and what the technology enables and combine those to provide added value.

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From random ideas to added value

In addition to creating a common language between the doctors and the technology, you also need to involve patients, their family and caretakers as well as other stakeholders. There are often strong opinions when one’s health or life is at stake, which is why designers need to carefully read between the lines to find the true needs.

Multi-disciplinary collaboration

In order to be able to create a common language between all stakeholders, you need to collaborate. Collaboration starts with finding the right collaborators: you need to have the right people in your team to do the right stuff. In the field of health tech you should include people with both clinical and technical perspectives as well as both pragmatic and visionary people.

It is not enough to have the right people in your own team but you also need to collaborate with the end users in an authentic environment. Testbeds in hospitals enable feedback and can falsify and stop dangerous ideas.

Health tech applications, such as the Oura ring, often aim for changing people’s behaviour. That’s not an easy task, especially if the actual change happens outside the product and the product only measures the change, and it requires experts on various fields, such as UX designers, behaviour change experts, storytellers and data scientists.

Active role of the patient

Every healthcare application aims for the best patient experience. This is achieved by bringing the patient in the centre of all activities. Healthcare is transforming from good-dominant to service-dominant logic, which requires co-creative approaches with the patients.

HUS Virtual Hospital aims for giving a more active role to the patient and putting more activities to the internet in order to save resources for quality care when it’s really needed.

Noona application for cancer care is designed for patients with patients, using user research, testing and user panels actively. Noona thinks that everybody in the team should interact with the patients, not only the designers.

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Noona brings cancer patients to the centre of their design.

In the end, all business goals, technological achievements and design efforts in the field of healthcare should aim for patient safety. This can only be achieved by true patient-centricity.

Other insights

I gathered some insights from the presentations that are relevant for health designers and entrepreneurs but for anyne else working in the field of design as well:

  1. Thing big, network and go global
  2. Be brave and believe in yourself
  3. Give people choices
  4. Provide a safe environment
  5. Ask for another opinion

More information and ideas:

https://www.healthdesign.fi/

https://experience.aalto.fi/

https://www.terveyskyla.fi/tietoa-terveyskyl%C3%A4st%C3%A4/virtuaalisairaala-2-0-hanke/the-virtual-hospital-2-0

(For, With, By) People

How to design work

Last week I had a change to participate to a full day and very interesting seminar co-hosted by Pisku-project and NewWOWCrafting -project. The event was held at the Aalto University Design Factory that was described as a sandbox that is open for testing and learning goals.

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Organisation consultants Annika Ranta and Matti Hirvanen, Humap.

Facilitators, quite skilled ones if I may add, were from Humap, which is a consulting company that creates new ways of doing strategic development. They offer small and courageus experiments that helps organizations grow into great results. Digital strategic development and redesigning the organization’s shared knowledge is at the core of Humap operation.

In the beginning the facilitators introduced us to digital co-creation space called Howspace. It was fast to work together with this platform and it quickly gave us visual information about our common responses.

 

 

I enjoyed the fact that we all were able to contribute fast and the questions were well thought. Easy to answer. In addition to the survey, there was also opportunity to discuss the topics on the go and the facilitators also added remarks and questions to the wall. It made sure that all the participants were actually able to co-create and contirubute to the common subject at hand.

 

Work crafting in Finnish companies

After the introduction and warm up the project managers and a reseacher opened up and explained the two projects goals and implementations. The aim of the NewWoW project is to offer information and insight on how people working in a mobile and multi-locational manner craft their working time, work habits and the various workspaces they use. This part of the NewWoW project will focus on people working at microenterprises and small and medium sized enterprises, as these groups are the most likely to individually make use of the benefits offered by mobile work in a manner that is healthy and safe. The goal of the project is to identify the practices of working time and workspace management crafted by employees involved in multi-locational work in order to balance their own resources with the demands of the job, thereby improving the well-being of the employees and the productivity of their work. In addition, the project aims to combine this information with co-creation methods in order to develop and try out modern methods for crafting work and to prepare coaching materials on the subject matter.

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Howspace view.

Project managers explained that there are three different perspectives for work crafting. Work tasks, which might be the most common one. How much one has work, how demanding work is, is there support, what actually is the work one does. I believe that the two latter ones are less explored topics: Work relations and work cognitions. These two try to reveal the social aspect of the work. Who one works with, how much they collaborate, who belongs to the work community, what is the meaning of work. Work crafting is developing the work through and by the workers themselves.

In the following moments the project managers from both projects guided us through the methods they are using and what the results have been so far. The work crafting methods are often in indivial methods, so it is good to ask how the organisation can support in the process. What kind of collaborative rules work places can develops and what kind of different time structures are needed for the work? In addition to operative time that measures the time to complete the main task, it is also important to realise the time for reflection and social interactions because these create collaborate learning and trust in the works places.

In the panel discussion following, there was a lot of good examples of small companies that have already been doing work crafting. It means designing the workload, workspaces and mutual work habits together.

 

Adapting to automation

After the lunch future reseacher and certified business coach Ilkka Halava guided us swiflty through the problems in the modern working world. According to Mr.Halava, the biggest challenges are in the understanding. We should end the structural wastage and start taking the pragmatic steps towards the solutions. He said that at the moment the change in the work is automating everything dull, dirty and dangerous to robotics so that in the future most essential work skills are in emphatetic interaction. The value is in the interaction and it is important to understand and foresight, This is a great place for design thinking.

 

The last activity for the day was to collaborate in groups and discuss about work time, work space and work habits. Great discussion and I truly enjoyed working with the people in my group.

 

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I want to write forth about the top three learnings from this seminar. Firstly, the seminar reminded me that there a alot of talented and enthusiastic people who are doing research and development regarding ocuupational health. I believe that designing work is important because work changes just like people and consumers behavior. As the services provided are more user oriented, I stronly believe that the work also needs to be crafted along the way. Secondly the days agenda showed me how good tools help you facilitate a workshop and how people can be motivated to be more inspirational. Third, but not the least reminder was that your own occupational healt is important and that is something you can desing yourself.

 

The author Siru Sirén is MBA student in Futures Studies and Customer-Oriented Services in Laurea UAS// Licenced social service professional

 

More info and ideas:

https://newwow.turkuamk.fi/in-english/

https://www.humap.com/en/

https://www.howspace.com

 

 

Designing social robots

Event: Social Robotics Breakfast

Time: 29.10.2018, 8.30 – 11.30

Place: Futurice, Helsinki

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Social Robotics Breakfast organized by Futurice brought together people enthusiastic about robots, design and plentiful breakfasts, so no wonder I was there as well.

Introduction to Social Robotics

The morning started with a panel discussion about social robotics. The panel consisted of human experts involved in social robotics research as well as Momo the Robot – Futurice’s very own social robot used for experimenting the different aspects of social interaction between people and robots. I had seen videos of Momo before and I knew that there’s a human behind the screens making Momo talk, but seeing it live was still an interesting experience. I somehow felt like it was Momo speaking despite knowing it’s just a “robot-shaped loudspeaker”.

What is a Social Robot?

The panel started by defining a social robot as a robot whose main task is to interact with humans, which is why designing social robots should be human-centric, not technology-centric. Human-centricity tends to lead into designing human-like robots even though that wouldn’t be technologically reasonable. However, human-like robots are often perceived as “slightly weird humans” having their own personality and characteristics, which may lead into unrealistic expectations towards the robot. Social robot designers definitely need to think about how to set the expectations to correct level and clearly express what the robot is capable of.

The New Era of Robotics

According to the panel, a new era of robotics is about to begin. Robots are no longer restricted in the factories but operate among us, which means that a new social layer is needed to enable safe and comfortable interaction between humans and robots. Even the infrastructure may need to change to accommodate the needs of robots moving around. All this requires cooperation between engineers, designers, UX experts and other professionals. People have traditionally divided things into three categories: non-living things, living animals and humans. Ultimately this new era of robots could even lead into a fourth category of robots emerging.

Social Robotics in Health Care

Niina Holappa from Prizztech, Mika Koverola from the University of Helsinki and Minja Axelsson from Futurice shared their experiences from designing and researching social robots in health care.

Ethical considerations had a strong emphasis in all presentations during the day. With more traditional robots used in diagnostics and logistics or for clinical and rehabilitative purposes, the traditional etchical criteria such as safety and price are sufficient. However, with new types of social robots enabling telepresence, assisting and accompanying the patients, new considerations related to e.g. privacy, fear, affection and confusion need to be dealt with.

Overall the attitude towards health care robots of both the patients and the personnel is tolerant, but there are also worries. The biggest worries of the patients are the lack of knowledge and the fear of losing human contact, whereas the personnel is worried about being replaced with technology and not getting enough technical support.

Summarized, a social robot is ethical if it is supportive and can be used voluntarily.

Creating a social robot

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The event ended with a quick workshop where we got to design our own social robots with the help of Futurice’s Social Robot Design Toolkit. The toolkit consisted of different canvases that guided us from defining the user group and their needs to thinking about different problems and solutions as well as defining our design guidelines and finally creating the robot design MVP.

The canvases loosely followed the double diamond process, though we of course didn’t have time for actual research or user testing. There were also elements specific to robot design such as thinking about the sensors and communication technologies, and defining the possible problems and solutions also from the robot point of view. Also ethics were strongly present on almost each of the canvases.

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Our team came up with Bud – a personalized companion for kids with chronic diseases. Bud welcomes the kids in the hospital and supports them during their patient journey, maybe even turning the unpleasant hospital visits into something cool and enjoyable.

Due to the limited time reserved for the workshop we unfortunately didn’t have time to go through all the canvases properly. However, the process brings a nice human-centric touch to designing robots and I would definitely like to try it again – though as a M.Sc. in automation technology I would only use it as an additional thought provoker to the technical design.

More information and ideas:

https://www.futuricerobotics.com/

https://spiceprogram.org/other-encounter/

Practical Design Thinking – Power of Fast Prototyping

The Course in Practical Design Thinking at Laurea was definitely a wow-moment. After two days of practicing design thinking we left inspired and empowered to take a new look of our life and work challenges. It f I would to choose the most powerful powerful tool I learned during this course it would be rapid prototyping.

What Fast Prototyping really is ?

Fast prototyping is a method often used by designers in Elaboration Phase (Tschimmel, K. 2012) or in Ideation Phase (Brown, T.,  2008)

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Tim Brown calls rapid prototyping ‚Building to Think’ (Brown, T., 2009) . According to Brown, prototypes are ‚quick and dirty’ way to generate understanding and access idea feasibility faster. Prototypes should consume only as much time and effort and investment as it is necessary to obtain the valuable feedback.

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How to Prototype?

Both mentioned authors give examples of different technologies/solutions for rapid prototyping. From Lego, paper, to 3D digital visualisation and mobile app mockup software. Some of these technologies are especially useful when designing services. Prototyping allows to act out the end-to-end service in order to make sure that designers will be able unlock the additional insights by transitioning back and forth in between theoretical and physical models.

High-Fidelity and Low-Fidelity Prototyping

In the literature we can find an ongoing debate on high vs low fidelity prototyping. The authors argue  how much the prototype should resemble the final product (Walker et al 2002).

  • „Low-fidelity prototypes are often paper-based and do not allow user interactions.  They range from a series of hand-drawn mock-ups to printouts.  In theory, low-fidelity sketches are quicker to create. Low-fidelity prototypes are helpful in enabling early visualisation of alternative design solutions, which helps provoke innovation and improvement. An additional advantage to this approach is that when using rough sketches, users may feel more comfortable suggesting changes.
  • High-fidelity prototypes are computer-based, and usually allow realistic (mouse-keyboard) user interactions. High-fidelity prototypes take you as close as possible to a true representation of the user interface. High-fidelity prototypes are assumed to be much more effective in collecting true human performance data (e.g., time to complete a task), and in demonstrating actual products to clients, management, and others.”

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A good balance of low cost and representation is a essential if we want to fully benefit from the power of prototyping.

10 prototyping Principles

Prototyping might seem simple, however to make it useful it’s good to know the basic rules. Alex Osterwalder his book „Value Proposition Design” (2014) gives us 10 principles of prototyping.

  1. Make it visual and tangible – moving from conceptual to physical in at the very essence of prototyping
  2. Embrace beginners Mind – don’t let existing knowledge to limit you.
  3. Don’t fall in love with the first ideas, create alternatives instead
  4. Feel comfortable in liquid state
  5. Start with lo fidelity and refine – avoid refined prototypes as they are difficult to throw away
  6. Expose work early – seek criticism. Don’t take negative feedback personally, embrace it as valuable information to improve the model.
  7. Learn faster by failing early often and cheaply. Avoid fear of fear of failure as it is holding you from exploring new territories.
  8. Use creativity techniques to break out of how things are usually done in your company
  9. Create „Shrek Models” – extreme prototypes not for building, buy igniting discussion
  10. Track learnings, insights and progress.  You might use them later in the process.

Prototyping in practice 

The course allowed us to unveil the power of prototyping ourselves by puting theory into practice. While designing a new learning experience at Laurea that would transform a school into world-renowned institution we found the fast prototyping with Lego extremely useful. Our low fidelity model represented a new Laurea education experience. We tried not to hold back to current physical structural limitations of campus and be comfortable with a liquid state of gradually refining the model. Exposing the work to our fellow students was especially revealing. It was hard not to discuss the feedback but to take it and use for model improvement.  Rapid prototyping once again proved itself to be a powerful way to transform ideas and deliver solutions.

Osterwalder, A. et all (2014) Value Proposition Design, Wiley 


Brown, T. and Kātz, B. (2009). Change by design. New York: Harper Business.


Walker, M. Takayama, L., & Landay, J. A. (2002). Low- or high-fidelity, paper or computer? Choosing attributes when testing web prototypes. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society: HFES 2002, USA, 661-665.


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. 


Brown, T. 2008. “Design Thinking.” Harvard Business Review. June, pp. 84-92


https://www.usability.gov/how-to-and-tools/methods/prototyping.html