Tag Archive | public services

Wake up officer!

A scene from a random municipal office somewhere in southern Finland. One lonely planning officer sits behind her table. She has a computer and a cup of cold coffee in front of her. Her task is to plan a new customer service process for this small municipality. There are many problems in existing process: customers don’t find the right service, the service desk is not open when people need help, customers don’t get answers to their questions in decent time – just to mention a few.

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But how to come up with solutions that serve different kinds of customers in best possible way? If there would be a good solution for this problem, wouldn’t it already be invented?

After taking Laurea Design Thinking course (by Katja Tschimmel and Sanna Marttila 2017) I would give this lonely planning officer – who might or might not be my alter ego – a few advices.

Think holistic

First advice: take holistic approach. The service you are designing does not exist in a vacuum but is surrounded by complex variety of other existing and developing services, processes and artifacts. From the point of view of a customer these services and processes cross and blend and boundaries between them are fuzzy. Continue reading

A Library Paradigm Shift

Someone says “library service design”, so obviously, I am interested. And what a fascinating project it was, as part of the Service Design Achievements: the turning of a university library into a learning center – for real, not just in name. The recently formed, but with old roots, Aalto University Library, is really re-inventing itself. Given that libraries have been one of the areas where a move towards service-dominant logic has increasingly meant “let’s remove all sunk costs (e.g., books) as just sunk costs”, and a strong availability heuristic bias (“my kids don’t use the library, so it’s worthless”), this is an extremely positive move. As a library manager and a service designer, I applaud the project.

Leena Fredriksson and Valeria Gryada presenting.

Leena Fredriksson and Valeria Gryada presenting.

Now, what have they done so far, if the project is not yet finished? Plenty. It appears that both by themselves, and with Kuudes Kerros, they have not only charted current services (finding out that digital ones are eight times as used as the physical ones), they have gone for a holistic design. Taking as principle the fact that the traditional library almost solely caters for the traditional learning system – cramming – they went looking for other opportunities. Continue reading

Efficient Experiences

With current trends for downsizing and automation, it is easy to see why customers would find services to be impersonal, maybe even unpleasant. Vantaa City Library decided to turn the trend to a different direction. By systematically using codesign, and by at the same time opening up its service processes, the library managed to significantly increase both its ROI and its customer satisfaction. Details can be found in the OECD Observatory of Public Service Innovation (which is, by the way, a treasure trove of social innovation case examples), but I will discuss some of the key ideas here, too.

Aesthetic service visibility design in action

Aesthetic service visibility design in action.

The real innovation was in this case the systematic nature of making services visible to the customers, as it was carried throughout the process in all of its aspects. Continue reading

Learning in Action – How We Won the Second Place in a Service Design Competition

”Could you send a female inspector?”

This is how Jaakko started our pitch at Sitras’s Service Design competition on March 3, 2014. The competition was part of Sitra’s new security forum, and it intended to test how service design could help to improve public services and make them more user-centric.

The actual design goal set by Sitra and the Finnish Ministry of the Interior was to think of ways to lower the barrier of reporting a racist crime.

Statistics show that the amount of reported crimes has dropped significantly. This is not necessarily good news. As the amount of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds has rised in Finland, the question is whether the amount of racist crimes has actually diminished or whether people don’t just report them anymore. Is the reporting process clear enough for people of foreign roots? Do people have the skills and the motivation to bring their issue forward? Do they trust the authorities? Is there enough knowledge? Could service design help to improve the situation?

This was the challenge of our design team, comprising four enthusiastic first-year SID-students, Jaakko, Ida, Hanna and Mervi. In addition to our service design studies, we all have different educational and professional backgrounds and skills – a group of truly T-shaped people. For us, the competition was a great opportunity to test our newly learned service design methods skills in action. We wanted to learn in practice and do something concrete. Earning some course credits while we were at it didn’t harm, either.

We knew we were competing with professional agencies and experienced service design researches and that made us all the more motivated. Heck, we really wanted to win and show what we are capable of! It turned out that our motivation, determination and willingness to prove ourselves earned us a second place in a very tight competition. We played to win. ”The hungriest team” as one member of the jury put it.

Walkthrough of Our Design Process Background work

As soon as we knew we were accepted to take part in the competition, we started to work on the challenge. We did a lot of background research and dug as deep as we could. We read several reports and studies. We made phone calls to police officers and non-profit organizations that have a lot of experience in working with immigrants and minorities. Piece by piece, we found out important information related to our design challenge.

We also collected and discussed our own previous knowledge. The request for a female inspector, which started this story, was a true case that happened to Jaakko about a year ago. He was scheduled to make a fire inspection in an institution for immigrant women. If a male fire inspector might be too intimidating for them, can you imagine them to walk to a police station and report a crime, most likely meeting a severe-looking policeman behind the desk asking them all kinds of questions about the uncomfortable, maybe even humiliating situation they encountered? Can you picture her trusting him? We couldn’t. It became obvious very soon that we were dealing with quite a wicked problem that had to be approached holistically.

Personas and Stakeholder Map

We used many different service design tools in our design process. After a quick brainstorm and a lot of post-its in Jaakko’s living room window, we decided to create personas. They turned out to be a great starting point. “Ali”, “Cagri” and “Zahra” helped us greatly throughout the process. Their images in mind, we were able to empathize and hold a user-centric focus.

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Early on, we started also to create a stakeholder map including all the service providers, non-profit organizations, institutions, and facilities that were relevant for potential crime victims. We figured that since they already are in touch with our target group, they could act as “fixers” for victims of racist crimes.

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Benchmarking public service design and social innovations in Milan

A group of representatives of the public sector, service designers and the University of Lapland visited Milan from 26 to 30 November 2013 in order to benchmark how service design and social innovations are used in public services renewal.

Theoretical background: A meeting with Anna Meroni at the Politecnico di Milano

Our trip started from the Politecnico di Milano. Established in 1863, Politecnico di Milano is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. It is ranked as one of the most outstanding European universities in Engineering, Architecture and Industrial Design, and also regarded as a leading research institution in the world. Anna Meroni, Assistant professor of Service and Strategic Design, told us at Bovisa campus about the background of Service Science, service design master classes and DESIS network. The key reference disciplines of Service Science are ethnography, social sciences, management, engineering, behavioral sciences and computing.

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Politecnico School of Design offers two-year master classes in such areas as Product Service System Design, Product Design for Innovation, Communication Design and Social and Collaborative Housing. The goal of the Product Service System Program is to integrate the designer to the whole service system instead of an individual innovation. The goal of the Product Design for Innovation Program is to integrate creative product development into experimentation, design and enterprise activities. The goal of the Communication Design Program is to cope with strategic communication problems and provide innovative solutions and coordinate all the roles and competences needed in a complex communication project. The goal of the Social and Collaborative Housing is to design and manage private social housing and public or private forms of collaborative living.

Politecnico is a member of DESIS (Design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability), which is a network of design labs, based in design schools and design-oriented universities, actively involved in promoting and supporting sustainable change. The network was established in 2009 and today consist of 43 design labs around the world. The nearest labs to Finland are at Linnaeus University in Växjö and Malmö University in Sweden.

Social innovations in Practice

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The cooperative council in Lambeth, London

Derrick Anderson, the Chief Executive of Lambeth Council, who was voted as a Public Leader of the Year in the Guardian Public Services Awards 2012, spoke in the 7th Quality Conference in Vilnius about how citizens should be focus of the service development and how civil servants and local politicians should support them and thus provide new opportunities for localism. The other reason why citizens should be in the centre of the public sector transformation is that they are new resources in service delivery.

There is a need for a radical transformation in the UK, because public sector has 50 per cent less spending between 2010 and 2016 at the local level.  There are three strategies to cut public spending: salami slicing; asset disposal, rationalization, pricing services; and radical transformation of service delivery linked to citizens. Anderson voted for the third strategy. Citizens should be the ones who determine polities and deliver services.

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Derrick told us a story about how he involved citizens in cooperative commissioning of public services in 2009 after he realised that local states should make cuts and old ways didn’t work anymore.  Local states needed to renegotiate the relationships between the citizens and the local government. As a result of these negotiations they issued a policy paper introducing new ways of co-production. This paper introduced service design concepts as key policy principals: collaboration, building networks and loving your place were pathways to a better future. Lambeth Council worked out in workshops how the council and citizens should work together and how citizens could be encouraged to be a part of a cooperative council. Local states also engaged 3000 citizens in making surveys, interviewing stakeholders and becoming members of a citizen council.

Lambeth Council found out that the local state needed support and a strong voice; that they should let go off the traditional ways of producing services and give the local state some money to do this and that they should build infrastructure (= community based management) to make this transformation happen.  Council also found out that this transformation needs strong motivation, innovation methods, creative citizens, social capital and networks. The local state should facilitate this change process with interaction, spaces, networks, learning, money and procedures.

Made in Lambeth: Local people and politicians as assets

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