Tag Archive | service design

Service Design Capabilities

Does possessing service design tools make you automatically a service designer? Or does a person need to have special capabilities in order to be a service designer? This question was examined by Nicola Morelli, Professor of university of Aalborg, Denmark, and co-writer of a recently published book called “Service Design capabilities” in a workshop that was organized 15 October 2021 by the Swedish Experio Lab. According to Professor Morelli, the ethos has been that proper tools made a service designer a designer. However, if you have all recipes, ingredients and kitchen utensils, does it make you a cook?

The answer is obviously a no. In order to be a cook you also need technique, skills, and understanding of how different ingredients mix together. In short, you need special capabilities.

The same applies to service designers.

Who designs?

Perspective is important. The famous scientist and Nobel laureate Herbert Simon argued back in 1969: “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones”. Meaning that each time a person finds new solution to an everyday problem on the basis of her/his own knowledge and competences it is about design. But, if everyone is a designer, what is then the role of designer training, professional designers and design agencies?

There has been a significant change in how services are perceived. Some decades ago, services were something that products were not, and the value was seen to be in the good itself. Whereas now the value is seen to be defined by the beneficiary, and it is based on the interaction with users. A bank is nothing but an office space before a customer starts using the banking services. Or, a bus is just a box with wheels, unless a customer uses it to move from place A to B. Physical artefacts and products are only tools for value creation, and value is produced when the beneficiary of a certain service interacts with the service. Producers and service providers don`t offer value itself, but only a value proposition which must be made concrete by the beneficiary by aggregating resources and hence being a co-producer of value.

In comparison with the Goods Dominant Logic, in the Service Dominant Logic the value is perceived and determined by the customer, not by the producer.

A service designer is hence the link that facilitates value co-production by providing a logical infrastructure in which the customer then aggregates resources to create value. If the designer personally participates in the value production process, the interaction is direct, but it can also be indirect. In that case the designer designs products or services that engage the beneficiary.

Professor Morelli linked the GDL with a project-based approach, in which the circle is closed: the process has a beginning and an end. While SDL can be seen as infrastructuring approach and the duration of the process depends on how the customer aggregates the resources that are made available. In the infrastructuring approach also the results are controlled by the customer.

A Map

If service is seen as an interaction and the value of it comes from the co-production, then what is the roadmap for designing better services and better problem solving? Professor Morelli saw three logical levels in seeing service as a systemic institution:

  • Value in use: Solving the problem by one`s own devices and based on own knowledge, or asking a friend for help. The key is interaction and exchange. But does service design have any role on this level?  
  • Infrastructure: Interaction with experts, expert design, organization.
  • Institutional systems: for example access to health care system, rules, legislation etc. System design implies that replication and scalability are embedded in it.

The first level can affect the second and third levels, albeit not directly, but by changing patterns and practices step by step.

Navigation tools = service design capabilities

What capabilities should a service designer then be able to sell to the potential client? According to Nicola Morelli, the needed capabilities depend on the level we operate on. On the first level, Interaction, the designer needs to be able to address the context, build vision, engage stakeholders, model possible solutions and control experimental aspects.

On the Expert Design level, in addition to the requirements of the first level, the designer must be capable of building logical service architectures and engaging in open problem solving. Working on the System Design level requires working across different logical levels ja modelling in a bigger scale to make solutions scalable and replicable.

One example of a System Design level could be the 15-Minute City concept. This concept, created by Carlos Moreno and popularized by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, is designed to ensure that urban residents can fulfill six essential functions within a 15-minute walk or bike from their home: living, working, commerce, healthcare, education and entertainment. With its four components, the 15-Minute City would improve the urban experience and quality of life of its inhabitants, as well as boost community participation in the planning.

Image:  Every Street In Paris To Be Cycle-Friendly By 2024, Promises Mayor. http://www.forbes.com

Service design is always also political. The aim of design is to create something better. The question that inherently comes along is: can we provoke change with the design? And can we imagine the effects that this change would lead to? The core task of a service designer is to visualize something that is not yet there.

And that brings the focus on capabilities rather than tools. After all, it`s not the kitchen utensils that make a chef, but his/her capabilities.

– Laura Ekholm

For more information:

Morelli, N., de Götzen, A. & Simeone, L. 2020. “Service Design Capabilities”

Simon, H. 1969. “The Sciences of the Artificial”

15-Minute City. https://www.15minutecity.com/about

Empathy in focus: Design Thinking during disruption

Today, the uncertainty around us is overwhelming. The world is saturated with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA). However, we need to manage our daily lives, improve, create, and deliver. Design Thinking (DT) methods provide us with a chain of systematic approaches to tackle the novel beast head-on and conquer. The DT process takes us from identifying the customer problem, analyzing it, coming up with ideas, validating solutions via prototypes, introducing them to others to receiving customer feedback. Yet, under the disruptive global pandemic, customer empathy is the key. But why?

Customer empathy research creates a deep understanding of the issue at hand, especially when what we earlier knew is no longer valid in the VUCA environment. The new norm and related changes in customer’s pains and needs must be thoroughly understood. According to DT principles, emphasizing requires that the customers’ issues be approached both from the favourable and endorsing position and from the more constructive aspects – challenge the existing! There must be a dialogue and an interaction between the Service Designer and the customer. The empathic insights in design are derived from three types of knowledge, that of

  1. Customer needs. Deliver Design Thinking course remotely for the first time.
  2. Delivery language (culture, information media). English with international participants.
  3. Technological. Zoom and Miro. Which together provide a complete frame for knowledge construction and therefore enables empathy.
Design Thinking with Leonardo DiCaprio.

How did we manage in reality?

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Laurea Design Thinking Masterclass 2021 was organized fully online. Instead of chit-chatting with fellow students in the classroom with post-its and whiteboards, most of us sipped our coffees alone in front of the laptop screen – at home.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all methodology for bringing new ideas to life, empathy is a key feature in the human-centred design thinking processes. Several tools have been developed to support an empathic design process. We were able to grasp some of them during the two intensive sprint days.

Empathy in design means leaving the office and becoming immersed in the lives, environments, attitudes, experiences and dreams of the future users. According to Katja Schimmel, design students should become process experts with context-sensitivity and a human-centred systemic view.

Digital tools are not ideal for expressing emotions and for capturing various human traits such as empathy. In digital communications, empathy requires special attention.

We listed our key takeaways from the Masterclass, which can be useful when deepening empathy in remote Design Thinking processes.

Four takeaways

  1. Design Thinking online requires excellent planning and preparations. For example, ready-made Miro templates can make the process smoother if there are many first-time users.
  2. Use creative tools to enhance empathy. For example, we practised our listening skills by introducing each other to the group and did most of the exercises in groups of five persons to build closer connections.
  3. Keep the team motivated with digestible content and “learning by doing”. When one has a passion to learn, small technological challenges cannot stop them.
  4. Patience, humour and mutual support – oh no, a gigantic photo of Leonardo DiCaprio just invaded our Miro board! A good laugh (and solid technological skills) help to overcome most of the challenges.

Written by Anna-Sofia Joro and Jukka Kuusela

SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Inspiration, sources and references

Baird, Nathan (2020): MarketingMag.com: Why ‘Design Thinking’ is as relevant during COVID-19 as ever

Cankurtaran, Pinar and Michael B. Beverland, Industrial Marketing Management: Using design thinking to respond to crises: B2B lessons from the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic

Kelley, D. & Kelley, T. (2013): Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business.

Kouprie, M & Seeswijk Visser, F. (2009): A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of user’s life in Journal of Engineering Fesign, Vol. 20, No.5, October 2009, 437-448

Köppen, E., & Meinel, C. (2014): Empathy via Design Thinking: Creation of Sense and Knowledge. Design Thinking Research, 15–28. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-06823-7_2

Smith, Laura (2021): Tampere University of Applied Sciences: Empathy in remote work communication : a qualitative case study

Thakur, Anupam MD, MBBS; Soklaridis, Sophie PhD; Crawford, Allison MD, PhD; Mulsant, Benoit MD; Sockalingam, Sanjeev MD, MHPE (2021): Using Rapid Design Thinking to Overcome COVID-19 Challenges in Medical Education

Tschimmel, Katja (2022): Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – a human-centred ménage à trois 

Tschimmel, Katja: Design Thinking (remote) Masterclass, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Purpose and unity as a corner stones of future work

Antilooppi and Alma organized a seminar called work life 2022, where operators and influencers from different fields of business shared their vision of the future of work. The topic is interesting and If something, it’s definitely current.

Before Covid19-pandemics flexible working was already every day living for some, but pandemics made it reality for all. We adapted to digital tools and ways of working very fast. Faster that anyone could predict. Sure, we had some problems. We are all already used to kids crashing into Teams-meetings and some have even more dramatic examples of meetings that didn’t go exactly as planned.  People also adapted to the freedom that working from home offered them, and they loved it. The work-life balance became easier to control, at least for those who were not hanging in 14 different Teams- meetings per day.

The need for collaboration has not disappeared. People feel that when working from home from “silo sized for one”, they need more interaction with others and quite soon also in different channels than only on-line. Elina Kiiski Kataja from Ellun Kanat pointed out that companies should focus on thinking and communicating the purpose, why they exist and do what they do. This is due the fact that people in the future are more interested of the shared values and why things are done. This might become even one of the most critical recruitment assets. Ellun Kanat have studied mega trends in business life and the companies ability to change from inside reflects to their success. 

Photo: Päättäjä Foorumi: Työelämä 2022, Ellun Kanat, study findings

Panu Liira from Reaktor pointed out in his speech that employee experience was before pandemics a critical business factor and it is even more critical now when companies are planning their “return to office”. Physical contacts and interactions are in big role when talking about well-being in the future and many companies renew their offices to better answer to this need. 

But is it this simple? Can we, or is it vise to force employees back to office? Do we really need rules and remote policies? Can’t we just trust people to know, what is best for the job and best for themselves? From service designers’ point of view, co-creation and iterative transparent discussion would be in order in many places. Instead of setting up “return the office teams” and “return policy- groups” should we let people to decide? What would happen if we would explain the goals, set up the frame and then see what happens? This was also the deep message and learnings from Reaktor.

Photo: Päättäjä Foorumi: Työelämä 2022, Reaktor, Employee experience 

IN the end of the seminar was a panel discussion where Timo Lappi from Heltti Oy, Alex Nieminen from N2 Helsinki, Anu Eiro from Intrum and Tuomas Sahi from Antilooppi debated of hybrid working.  Well, debate is quite far from how the discussion went. All agreed that there is a lot of need and will for meeting people face to face. Collaboration is important for both company success and as well to well-being. 
Panelists said that empathy and good eye for the game is now needed. Too big changes and one-size-fits-all thinking might cause difficulties. We need to remember we are again facing a change situation and adapting to change takes time and needs support. Hybrid work, or how ever we finally end up calling it,in the future, is more flexible than work before. 

During the seminar, I heard the words empathy, co-creation, discussion, working together, agile etc, at least twenty times. This makes me smile and gives me hope. The world is changing and there is more and more need for designers working in various roles. Service designers can help in so many change situations by bringing their skills and tools into table. Let’s co-design a better work life together.

Source: Työelämä 2022- tapahtuma, Antilooppi ja Alma Talent

24.9.2021

Duration: 2h

Tarja Paanola, SID MBA Student at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Diving Into the World of Design Thinking

“Now I want you all to introduce yourselves, but this time you will do it differently.” – this is how our Design Thinking course started and little did we know what will follow afterwards. To present ourselves we were divided into groups, where each of us had to first, speak about her/himself, second, count one minute, third, draw the speaker and fourth, listen. What a mindshake on a Friday morning! 

In this blog we will tell you what else we did during our workshop. But first, let’s focus on the definition and purpose of Design Thinking.

Our Portraits Created by Our Teammates in Miro

What is Design Thinking?

Historically design has not been a key step in the developing process. Designers came along at the very end of the process to make the product look aesthetically desirable or have a nice package. Due to the shift from industrial manufacturing to knowledge work and service delivery, the objectives of innovation are no longer physical products, but they can be services, processes or applications.  (Brown 2008)

Design Thinking today is understood as an effective method with a toolkit for innovation processes in multidisciplinary teams in any kind of organization (Tschimmel 2021). User-centric perspective and empathy for gaining a deeper understanding of the user’s needs is essential in the design thinking process (Kouprie & Sleeswijk 2009). 

Motee (2013) emphasizes the role of business leaders in creating a design thinking culture within a company. In his opinion, future business leaders should practice disciplined imagination to formulate problems and generate alternative outcomes, look beyond the limits and enable collaboration in the company.

Mindshake E6² Model in Practice

Professor Katja Tschimmel introduced us to the Mindshake Evolution 6² model, which we will describe below and explain how we used it in the workshop.

To begin with, we were given a topic of “Inclusion at work”. We started by identifying challenges and opportunities of the issue. At this stage, we created an Opportunity map and formulated an Intent statement (Emergence). 

We planned and conducted short Interviews in order to gain Empathy with the target group and filled the results into the Insight map.  

In the Experimentation stage, we used Brainwriting for ideation and learned to come up with as many ideas as possible since the first ideas are always the obvious ones. 

The purpose of the Elaboration is to figure out how to transform an idea into a tangible concept. We utilized Rapid Prototyping to visualize our concept. 

Collaborating in Miro / SID Design Thinking Master Class Autumn 2021. 

In the Exposition stage, we created a Storyboard of our concept for presenting the key results of our innovation process and the benefits of the new vision.

At the Extension stage, we collected feedback from our classmates to potentially develop our idea-solution. Normally, at this stage, the team has to think how to implement the solution in practice. Because of the time and resources frames we couldn’t fully experience the Extension stage, however, we went through the whole cycle of the Innovation process and understood the main principles. 

The Key Points Learned of the DT Process

  • Human-Centeredness and Empathy  – We need to step into the user’s shoes.
  • Co-creation and Collaboration – Include as many stakeholders as possible throughout the process.
  • Creativity – Every idea is welcome.
  • Creativity can be developed through practice.
  • Visualizations help to communicate ideas with others.
  • Experimentation – Playful thinking and making mistakes are an important part of every creative process.

Written by Sari Eskelinen & Lada Stukolkina SID MBA Students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Literature:
Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95. 

Courtney, Jonathan (2020). What Is Design Thinking? An Overview. YouTube Video.

Kouprie, M & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009) A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life (Links to an external site.) in Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2009, 437–448 

Mootee, Idris (2013) Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley. 

Tschimmel, Katja (2021): Creativity, Design and Design Thinking – A Human-Centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II. Ed. Springer “Serie in Design and Innovation”. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79879-6.

Tschimmel, Katja (2021). Design Thinking course lectures, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

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Self-organizing organizations and well-being

Tampere University and The Finnish work environment fund has studied self-guiding organizations from occupational well-being point of view. The study drilled into topics like: On what level is employee’s well-being in organizations that have no management? What is the common stress factor in self organizing companies? Which ways of working would support employee’s well-being? 

Study group found seven development areas that should be taken into consideration when developing self-organizing teams. 

  • Clarification and management of work itself
  • Adjusting workload
  • Know-how and growth (as individual, – team and – organization)
  • Increasing the sense of community
  • Increasing / managing the information flow
  • Equal and functioning decision-making process
  • Managing organizational tension and solving conflicts

Picture by Heli Penttinen, source, Hyvinvoinnin seitsemän elementtiä itseohjautuvassa organisaatiossa- hankkeen keskeiset kehittämissuositukset. Webinaaritallenne 24.8.2021


All these seem like everyday problems or development areas to all kind of companies. Painting a clear vision of what the company is doing and making sure all understand the strategy at least on basic level the same, has always been a priority in companies. All companies also struggle with information and workload problems. Works does not distribute equally, and some get more load than other as the same time others get bored the same time. We also know that only organizations that learn to learn will survive in the futures faster and faster renewing business environment. 

To understand this study better, we need to also understand the typical features or descriptions of self-organizing company. In self organizing companies’ responsibilities and decision-making rights are distributed to the whole organization. Common goals and purpose guide peoples’ actions. Abilities to decide and influence your own work are high. Employees can choose the ways, time, and place where they work. In self organizing companies employees have power also to influence on the team structures, recruitments and rules.  The ability to influence on different issues in the company goes as high as the strategy that guides all actions. 

It seems that experienced well-being in self. Organizing companies is quite high. This is partly due the autonomy, freedom to choose and influence. When comparing traditional companies and self-organizing ones, it can be seen that work engagement is higher in self-organizing companies (Tampere University, 2021)


From service designers’ point of view self-organizing team structure seams more than right. By bringing everyone’s opinions and ideas to the table, I believe we are more able to solve more complex problems and create more innovative solutions. The idea of giving everyone a change to influence walks hand in hand with design thinking ideology.  
As the Tampere University study also states, this kind of model yet requires clarity in vision, common rules and guidelines, transparent communication and regular reviews and discussions of how we are doing and where we are going. When management is missing, leadership is needed more. I feel this will be the future, but before that, we have some rocky road ahead of us turning traditional organizations to more flexible mode. 

After listening the webinar and discussions followed, I stayed thinking which kind of design thinking methods and service design tools we could use to create tools to ease pointed development areas in self-organizing companies.

Text by Tarja Paanola
SID MBA Student at Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Source; Seven steps to occupational 
wellbeing in self guiding organization- Webinar

Tampere University and 
The Finnish Work environment fund
24.8.2021 

Once upon a time, there was a design thinker…

The first course in our exciting journey of Service Innovation and Design learning started with a deep dive into the world of Design Thinking. Our class has an interesting mix of different professional domains and backgrounds, which, as we learned from professor Katja Tschimmel, is a great foundation for a creative team. 

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on unsplash.com

…who believed in the power of collaboration

The two intense sprint days gave us an overview of what design thinking is and can be. During those days most of the learning was done in the form of practical teamwork. We were put into teams to find solutions to inclusion-related problems in workplaces. This is where we discovered what it was like to work intensively with other people, using Creative Thinking methods to find new ideas, doing mind mapping, brainstorming, and collecting data from real interviews. As teams, we first worked out solutions and chose one that we pitched to the others using storyboarding. During the class, we also saw the importance of warmups and wakeups and how they impact the atmosphere and create a safe, innovative space to work in.  

…who stepped into the life of others

Design Thinking is a framework embracing empathy in design thoughts. Design serves people best when based on real needs. The way to get optimal results is to have end-users be part of the process, from start to finish. To gain a deeper understanding of the users, the designer needs to step into their life, feel their emotional state and get to know their circumstances and experiences. On our intense sprint days, we had the possibility to try this in practice as we planned and conducted interviews with our potential end-users and collected good insights on how to proceed with ideating.   

Photo by Nicolas Hippert on unsplash.com
Photo by Javier Esteban on unsplash.com

…who found creativity all around

Professor Katja Tschimmel presented us with several ways to open our minds to creativity and think outside the box. We learned creativity is for all and can be found everywhere. It is a very comforting idea, that it is not just some supernatural gift, but a skill that can be practiced and improved. The Kelley brothers highlight the fact that the creative potential is a natural human ability that exists within us all, and if blocked, it can be released. They also point out that in order to gain your own creative confidence you have to believe in the ability to create change around you.  

…who wasn’t afraid to try, as there’s a lesson in every failure

Working in an iterative way gives the best results. One of the most significant learning out-come for us has been the “fail fast, improve faster” -approach. The earlier you fail, the earlier you can learn from the failures and improve what needs fixing. The key-idea is not to give up, but to keep trying and let the failures guide you towards the right direction. Both Tim Brown and the Kelley brothers have brought up Edison’s invention of the lightbulb as a great example of the Design Thinking process. Edison understood the importance of teamwork, the needs of people, and saw the possibilities to learn from each iterative step, and then managed to combine this with a market opportunity and a viable business strategy.  

The Design Thinking method and approach is for everybody, and it might just be the thing needed to find the right solution.  

And this is not the end, the story has just begun. 

Photo by Carmen Martinez on unsplash.com

Written by: Venla Knuutila & Marja Gorbinet 

Inspired by:  

Brown, Tim (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-95.  http://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/thoughts/IDEO_HBR_Design_Thinking.pdf (Links to an external site.)    

Kelley, David. & Kelley, Tom. (2013) Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Crown Business. (http://www.creativeconfidence.com/ (Links to an external site.))  

Kouprie, Merlijn & Visser, Froukje Sleeswijk. (2009) A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life (Links to an external site.) in Journal of Engineering Design Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2009, 437–448  

Tschimmel, Katja. (2022). Creativity, Design and Design Thinking - a human-centred ménage à trois for Innovation. In Perspectives on Design II: Research, Education and Practice II. “Serie in Design and Innovation”. Springer International Publishing. (in print)  

Tschimmel, Katja (2021). Design Thinking course lectures, September 3–4 2021. Laurea University of Applied Sciences (online)  

Waste does not exist

Many companies are facing the challenge of changing their linear business into a circular one. How to do that and at the same time gain more customers, loyal to your business? How to make this necessary change into a win-win situation for all stakeholders? And the bottom line: how to make sustainability into profitable business?  

Designers and innovators from three countries, Finland, Estonia and Sweden discussed circular design and transition to more sustainable living in an online workshop called Speed up transition with Circular Design on 29 March 2021. The webinar was organized by Design Forum Finland, Swedish Industrial Design Foundation (SVID) and Estonian Design Center. The seminar was part of the Eco-design Circle 4.0, an international project with the purpose to strengthen awareness and practical application of circular design and to enhance the capability of small and medium-size enterprises to make use of eco-design.

It is not only about recycling

While the linear business is based on the idea of “take, make, waste”, a truly circular economy relies on the notion that each step throughout the entire life cycle of a product or service is reviewed against a set of circularity criteria.

For many goods and materials, sufficient infrastructure exists for recycling them. But not for all. For example, there are no industry standards defining composition for plastics, and plastic goods are also added other substances to provide or improve performance characteristics. This makes their recycling very complex. Hence, the circular economy is not only about recycling the materials, but also keeping what we have already processed viable and in use for as long as possible, and reusing what we’ve already extracted and processed.

Picture: Picture: Michael Kirschner. https://www.eetimes.com/from-linear-to-circular-product-cycle

In circular economy, all materials should circulate and the circular loops should be as closed as possible, not allowing leaks of usable materials. Every time the loop leaks, you lose value. In a perfect circular economy, waste simply does not exist. Before recycling the materials of the product, we should try to find ways of using the waste product in an efficient manner. Thinking innovatively, this “waste” can be valuable material for either your own company, or to some other organization.

During the webinar the main areas of circular design and the benefits of using it were discussed. The participants were provided with tips on critical parts of the process, and a few tools to make one`s business become circular were presented. The most inspiring part of the seminar was the presentation of case examples from different industries that concretized the topic providing us first-hand experiences of the journeys that organizations had taken to become more circular.

From Product Thinking to Service Thinking

Astonishingly, 80 % of the environmental impact of a product is already determined in the stage of its design. Hence, it is very important that designers are familiar with the principles and possibilities of eco-design and circular economy. The first thing to do is to ask: do we really need this product or service? If the answer is positive, we have to make sure to give longer life to products – designing from the beginning how to make sure the product stays longer in use. In short, we need more service thinking instead of product thinking.

When designing new products or services, the materials should be selected so that their impact on the sustainability (environmental, climate, social etc.) can be minimized.

The distribution and packaging are another major issue when defining the sustainability of the product or service. It goes without saying that light weight helps reduce CO2 emissions. It is worth optimizing and designing well the delivery and packaging. An example given by SVID`s Project Manager Anna Velander Gisslen was about Kinnarps which managed to reduce their transport needs by 50 %, using old blankets in the packaging.

Service design thinking is a key strategy into circularity. Co-creation in the design process helps identifying the needs and possible ways of becoming sustainable. What should you prioritize, what areas are the most critical ones in your business, and how to measure change and impact? Participating in a design sprint, or other type of eco-design co-creation forum will provide insights on how individual companies can start to implement circularity, and what must change to achieve its widespread adoption and implementation in the company.

The importance of analyzing thoroughly customers` ideas, hopes and expectations was raised by several speakers. Going circular is not only about the company; it`s even more about its customers. Circular solutions should be user-tested and gain true user attraction. They should not be solutions that are OK: they should be the most desired solutions for both the customers and the company. Co-design is possible also through virtual means (Zoom, Teams etc.). Hence, it pays back to put time and resources to a proper co-creation in the design process.

Tools

Strengthening the circularity is not something you are expected to do alone. Guides and tools are available. The Design Forum of Finland has used a set of tools with organizations aspiring to become circular. These include for example Eco-design learning factory, Eco-design audit and Eco-design sprints. In addition, there are tools and services that help organizations to create strategy roadmaps, certification systems to guarantee circularity, and marketing and communication tools to tell the customers about the perspectives and steps taken. According to Aino Vepsäläinen from DFF, in the beginning the focus was more on products, while lately it has been mainly on services.

Design Forum has implemented several design sprints on circular design. The sprints usually involve coach, a client company and a design agency. Eco-design Sprints usually consist of 3 phases: Understand, Ideate, and Deliver. Understanding phase may include identification of the lifecycle of the product or service, circular value mapping, context analysis, and discovering possible circular strategies. Delivery phase normally comes a couple of weeks later and includes identification of next steps.

According to Estonian Strategic Designer Joel Kotsjuba, key takeaways from eco-design sprints are that they provide good ground understanding of circular design (its theory, concepts, strategies and methodologies), build momentum for change, find key opportunities, help engage decision-making structures, allow constructing a follow-up plan, give insights into implementation, provide numerous ideas to improve customer and employee satisfaction, and help in evaluating and selection of first ideas for testing. These small wins and proofs of concept will help “selling” the idea further.

The New Normal

One third of all food produced globally is thrown away, and the impact of food waste is 4 times greater than the impact of all flights in the world combined. These were some of the facts that inspired a group of young Swedes to create a company that focuses on reducing food waste. Through their Karma mobile application restaurants, cafés and grocery stores can sell their waste food. While helping them to sell the waste, Karma also advises companies on how much to produce. Less production means less waste. By now, Karma has rescued over 1,200 tonnes of food, saved more than 4 million meals and eliminated over 1,800 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Another concrete example of circular economy initiative came from Helsinki city. Think Sustainably is a new service that lets users select service providers that are committed to responsible operations. It helps consumers prioritise sustainable services and thereby motivates a wide range of different actors and service providers to focus on sustainable ways of doing business. This online tool covers services, transport and experiences: restaurants, accommodation, events, shops etc. There are now 130 companies participating in this initiative, and the criteria for circularity is a “fits all” model – the companies are committed to doing changes that require long-term commitment but are not extremely difficult to implement.

Changing linear business into a circular one must have tangible impact and at the same time be profitable. To be truly sustainable means being sustainable also economically. There`s a remarkable business value for companies to find and commit to new sustainable solutions. Companies have constant fight over consumers` time and money and by becoming more circular they will improve their competitiveness. From the consumer point of view, sustainable choices must be easily embedded in their daily life. Sustainability has to be effortless. As Karma puts it: “You can now save the planet by doing the simplest thing on earth. Eating.

Laura Ekholm

More information can be found:

EcoDesign Circle 4.0: https://www.ecodesigncircle.eu

Karma Sweden: https://karma.life

Think Sustainably Helsinki: https://www.myhelsinki.fi/en/think-sustainably

Future at work: What are the new skills service designers will need?

A webinar by Perttu Pölönen, futurist, inventor and author.

When thinking about the future, we might assume that the skills we need to have will be related to AI, Robotics, Coding, and everything involving technology, however, Perttu Pölönen has a different view on the skills of the future. The question he posed to everyone during his Thought Leaders’ Talk was:

“What can I get from you that I can’t get from a computer?”

This question immediately made me think of a future in which an AI could easily replace the work of a service designer.  However, is this thought something real or is the field of service design too human-centric to be replaced by computers?

Pexels Stock Image, Danny Meneses, March 2018

According to Perttu Pölönen, the working environment is shifting from an information era into a human revolution working environment in which the main skills will be our personality, our characters, and what we have to offer as humans. We will evolve from information professionalisms into creative problem solvers. Leveraging the silent knowledge computers don’t have, will be our main focus for future years.  

With all this in mind, one can only wonder: what will change in the field of service design?

In order to prepare for the future, we shouldn’t focus on the skills and professions which will change in the future, rather we should focus on the skills that won’t change at all. According to P. Pölönen, these are some of the skills of the future we should really start nurturing now.

List by Perttu Pölönen, December 2020 Online Webinar

However, how can we validate these skills, and most importantly when this change will start to happen?

No one can verify one’s levels of humility and spontaneity, however to develop and nurture these skills so that we can take them into use in the working environment, we need to update our mindset. Change is happening right now and we can see this with the younger generations. Instead of them being though by adults on how to use technology the tables have turned and the younger generations are teaching and guiding the older generations how to adapt to this new developing digital native era.

With the rapid evolution of technology and the future fast global internet connection, we will be able to bring online half of the global population and drastically increase the innovation happening worldwide. We have gained the potential power to change the world through our ability to connect, which was merely impossible 30 or 40 years ago.  Our creativity, courage, motivation, enthusiasm cannot be measured or achieved through a university degree, but it can be encouraged and showcased by easily connecting to people from all around the world from the comfort of your sofa.

Pixbay Stock Image, Tumisu 2014

Thus, to boost these skills P. Pölönen has envisioned a future curriculum that might be a bit different from what everyone might have thought for the future.

List by Perttu Pölönen, December 2020

Taking a closer look at this curriculum we can clearly see that the field of service design develops many, if not all of these skills. Problem-solving, teamwork, and curiosity are some of the core skills that every service designer should have when starting a service design journey. Adopting this future mindset and focusing on these human-centric skills to develop is already putting us on the right path for the future. 

Service Design might change over the years, and many tools and methods might be simply applied and executed by an AI. However, having in mind the five main service design principles: user-centric, co-creative, sequencing, evidencing, and holistic, we can discover, define, develop and deliver from all corners of the world at all moments in time.

Published on 11. 01. 2021

Written by Andreea Cozma on 12th of December, 2020

Refrences:

Thought Leaders’ Talk by Perttu Pölönen

Streamed live on Dec 2, 2020, Youtube videosharing platform

Current Topics in Service Design.

Designing a better life

South Africa remains among the world`s most inequal countries. High inequality is perpetuated by a legacy of exclusion, and the economic growth does not contribute to diminishing poverty and generating new, decent jobs. Inequality in wealth is striking: the richest 10% of the population held around 71% of net wealth in 2015, while the bottom 60% held 7% of it. Furthermore, inequalities are passed down from generation to generation with little change in inequality over time. (Worldbank.) The structural inequality and exclusion lead up to more fear and less trust among the citizens, and less participation in the community.

How does design fit in a reality, where so many people lack even the basic services: water, energy, shelter, food, sanitation, health care, transport and education?

Picture: getinstantdeals.com

This question was explored by Head of Department and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) at the University of Johannesburg South Africa, Angus Donald Campbell, as the keynote speaker in Studia Generalia lecture “Designing with the Underserved: An Exploration of the Complexities of Design in South Africa from the perspective of the SDGs” organized by the Finnish Design Academy on 17 November, 2020.

A time of crisis and protests contains within it the seeds for transformation and change. According to Campbell, philosophical and practical re-design of the society is possible in South Africa. While many feel helpless, small and collaborative interventions of change are needed.

Local and sustainable innovations can play a key role in the path towards the United Nation`s Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. Reaching high-minded and noble goals does not always mean million-euro budgets or heavy structures. Instead, a locally and culturally sensitive approach, combined with an immersion into the life of people can help the researcher or designer understand the small everyday challenges people face and thus identify appropriate opportunities to improve the quality of life in big scale.

“My face isn’t designed for glasses!” 

This was an exclamation of one project participant in a project that Angus Campbell`s student Marcha Naudè implemented during 2017-19. It reflects the way how underserved and excluded people, but also people living a middle-class life in European countries, can perceive services: they should fit the services, and not the other way round. Should eye-glasses be designed for the people, or people`s faces be designed for glasses?

Poor eye-sight often causes other problems, such as weak performance at school or work, difficulties in reading, doing manual work, driving etc. These in turn can deepen the exclusion and inequality. In South Africa, the challenges within the eye-care services include lack of sufficient private and public eye care services, and eyewear frames that do not consider the contextual needs. The majority of available eyewear frames are imported and most of them come from one monopoly organisation, which designs eyewear from a predominantly Eurocentric perspective. For example, there are currently only two types of eyewear fit, the “regular” fit, based on European facial data, and the “Asian” or “global” fit, which was developed in reaction to the inappropriateness of the “regular” fit. (Campbell 2020.)

Picture: ISTOCK/UBERIMAGES

However, the wide ethnic variety of people in South Africa caused that neither the “regular” fit nor the “global” fit suited well the facial features of huge numbers of south Africans. The nose pad did not sit well on the nose, the frame width was incorrect or the arm length was too short or too long. Improper fitment causes discomfort and leads to blurry vision and long-term vision problems. (Campbell 2020.)

The project focused on trying to solve the problem with frames, applying human-centered design. Naudè conducted a comprehensive field research about the needs and challenges concerning eyesight among the deprived groups. The needs of glasses wearers in local context were analyzed. The final outcome of the project was an adaptable and customatized eyewear frame that was of local design, could be produced locally and fit well the common facial features of local people. Local production helped make the frames more affordable.

Picture: United Nations

This well-focused design project shows the way in which small but smart interventions at local level can achieve visible (literally!) results at the lives of local communities, and at the same time help the country reach the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. This particular case contributed to the SDG 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) and 10 (Reduce inequality within and among countries).

When solutions to local problems are identified, they can be scaled up. A similar design research approach could be applicable in a number of countries in the Global South.

Laura Ekholm

More information can be found:

Campbell, A.D. Adaptable Glasses.  https://www.angusdonaldcampbell.com/project/glasses/

United Nations. The 17 goals. https://sdgs.un.org/goals

Worldbank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/southafrica/overview

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