Tag Archive | workshop

Designing remote working practices to improve employee experience (EX) in organizations

In recent years, remote working has become a hot topic as organizations are developing new working processes and modern collaborative platforms and technology emerge. At the same time, firms are moving towards human-centric approaches and working in multidisciplinary teams to stay competitive. Due to these rapid changes in several industries, recruitment, finding right competences and retaining well-performing employees has become crucial. 

With this in context, two Service Design students, Nora Ryti and Jenny Kurjenniemi at Laurea, University of Applied Sciences, arranged two online workshops. Their intention was to research how employee experience can be improved to retain talent. They we’re looking to include findings from this workshop (combined with e.g. qualitative data from interviews) in their Master’s Theses, that focuses on the following topics: 

  • What are the characteristics and trends in knowledge work? 
  • What skills, practices and tools are needed in remote knowledge work? 
  • What are the needs of a knowledge worker? 
  • What is the role of employee experience in employer branding? 

I attended one of the workshops and explain how it proceeded in this blog post. This workshop, arranged mainly on two platforms, Microsoft Teams for communication and Miro as a visual collaborative tool, was completely online. To ensure that all involved participants had equal opportunities to join, technical aspects were considered and all participants were sent guidelines on how to set up necessary tools prior to joining the session. 

The selected group of participants, consisting of ~10 individuals, was diverse, involving knowledge workers of different ages, locations and industries. Most cameras were turned on and it felt inspiring meeting strangers, knowing that you’d soon know much more about them and their views. 

To complete tasks in co-creation, Microsoft Teams worked as a channel for communication. Both chat and audio were activated all time, and groups were set into separate calls to deepen discussion in certain assignments.  

Miro was used as a collaborative tool, where most tasks were completed on a digital whiteboard. Access was granted through a shared link and no signup was required.  

Miro was used as a tool for collaboration
Miro was used as a tool for collaboration. Screen capture from workshop.

Workshop agenda

The workshop had a well-outlined agenda including breaks and different tasks (explained in detail below). In the beginning of the session, thorough information was shared on what to expect and strictly stating that no data was going to be shared outside of the research, thus leaving participants anonymous.  

Below the assignments chronological order: 

  • Introduction round (warmup exercise) 
    • To get to know all participants, participants answered a few simple questions:  Who are you, what do you do, how has your day been and what animal would you be? 
       
  • Task 1: Express your feeling towards remote working with one emoji 
    • This resulted in a visualized canvas with various emoticons in different sizes and shapes. This task was a suitable introduction to Miro and activated all participants. 
       
  • Task 2: Insert an image explaining what you miss during remote work 
    • A set of images were copied from the internet and explained what attendees miss the most in remote work. The canvas resembled a mood board.  

Divergence 
Through a canvas produced by the facilitators (based on a previous workshop), discussions were held in different areas related to remote working such as leadership, tools, ergonomics and collaboration.

  • Task 3: Add sticky notes with ideas/concepts that constitute to a good remote working experience
    • Participants were given the task to add as many ideas as possible, by placing one idea per sticky note grouped on the whiteboard.
  • Task 4: Produce more ideas!
    • After a small break and individual analysis of what was on the board, more ideas were produced.

Convergence
To combine, structure and analyze all produced ideas, participants were divided into two groups for further discussion. 

  • Task 5: Discuss, document and prioritize three main areas (per category)
    • Separate Microsoft Teams channels were created to give focus in group discussions. In the end of this session, ideas were condensed into three main topics that were explained briefly to the rest of the group including comments.

In the end of the session, ideas were converged into three main themes.
Screen capture from workshop.

Conclusions  

Although a three-hour workshop was quite intensive after a long day of work, there were many positive aspects. Firstly, Miro as a collaborative tool seemed useful, easy to grasp and I might utilize a similar tool in future workshops myself. 

Participants were open for discussion and I believe everyone got their say. In online environments, it’s crucial that the one in a facilitator role ensure that all attendees are active. It is, although, also important to give room for silence – especially as you do not see what participants are thinking. A few second of silence can potentially constitute to great reflection and new ideas.  

Overall, when arranging digital workshops, a culture of openness, respect and honesty needs to be embraced to fully utilize its’ potential and to get things done. 

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

Resources 

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

Djupsjö, T., 2019, “Key issues and strategies for implementing the Lean Methodology in organizations “, Arcada, University of Applied Sciences 

Keller, S. & Meaney, M., 2017, “Attracting and retaining the right talent”, McKinsey & Company 
https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/attracting-and-retaining-the-right-talent 

Küng, L., 2017, “Strategic Management in the Media – Theory to Practice”, 2nd Edition, SAGE Publications Ltd., London. 

Developing a Non-Governmental Organization’s operations in Zimbabwe through co-creation

Zimbabwe Aids Orphan Society (Zimbabwe Aids-Orvot ry.), founded nearly 20 years ago, is a Finnish non-profit association founded by Seppo Ainamo and Oili Wuolle. The association raises funds for welfare and supports education for orphans in the poor neighbourhood of Dzivarasekwa in Harare, Zimbabwe. 

Currently, roughly 500 members support almost 400 orphans (out of which 63% are girls) by financing a safe environment and daily meals at a private activity center, The Dzikwa Centre. 

The economic situation in Zimbabwe has for a long time been unstable due to political and economic issues and it’s estimated, that around 7 million is in need of humanitarian aid. Almost 50% of the population is also living below the national poverty line (< $3.20/day). 

Zimbabwe Aids Orphan Society support orphans living in poverty. (Photo: Djupsjö, Thomas)

In early October, a workshop was arranged at Töölö Library, Helsinki, where participants were gathered to solve key issues and challenges in the association’s operations through innovation principles. The goal was also to develop growth models and find new ways of acquiring sponsors for orphans. 

The diverse group of approximately 20 participants, in ages ~20 to ~80, were divided in three groups for an innovation exercise. All groups had a designated facilitator that took notes in brief 15-minute discussions, that focused on the following themes:  

  1. Acquiring sponsors and financing 
  2. Improving volunteering work Finland 
  3. Collaboration with schools and student communities 
The workshop was divided in three main areas for discussion. (Photo: Djupsjö, Thomas)

After lively, intensive and thoughtful discussions, the facilitators documented valuable points and summarized main findings from all groups. These were then shared with participants at the event, evoking discussion.

The association management gladly stated, that they were positively surprised to find so many practical areas to take action upon. In other words, the workshop was quite successful. 

To summarize this event, I honestly can verify that co-working and ideating for an NGO is very rewarding. Working in diverse multidisciplinary groups truly open up for good discussion and reflection. Although there always aren’t straight answers and solutions, the process of ideating certainly evokes new inspiring ideas. 

I’d be glad to participate in similar events in the future. 

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

Resources  
Zimbabwe Aids Orphan Society, Who we are 
October 5th, 2020 
https://zimorvot.org/en/who-we-are/

Wikipedia, List of countries by percentage of population living in poverty, 
October 5th, 2020 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_percentage_of_population_living_in_poverty 

Zimbabwe Aids-Orvot ry, Workshop and lecture materials
October 4th, 2020

Practise, practise, practise.

Michihito Mizutani from Siili Solutions held a short introduction to service design as a part of Design Track in School of Startups. Instead of inclusive theory lesson, he kept the workshop more hands on. His work history is strongly related to user experience and service design. Currently he is facilitating co-creation design workshops in different subfields such as Internet of Things, augmented reality, service design processes.

I enjoyed about having the opportunity to get hands on experience on different kinds of tools. I believe that practise is important in order to learn design process methods and facilitating workshops related in the matter. I also felt more confident after the workshop. Mizutani used a climbing metaphor to explain design process. You have a starting point and a goal where you want to go. The process happens in between and there is the work.

 

IMG_3733.JPG

The content of the workshop was well presented. After forming groups it was time to find a problem, create outcome (tomorrow headline) and between we used tools to solve the problem and figured out ways to illustrate and test the ideas. The problem ideating was well thought: first we all thought by ourselves general problems in everyday life and wrote them down to post it notes. After that we collected problems, clustered them and used three votes each to determine the ones that would proceed in the process. Common problems that got most votes were chosen to be worked with in teams. The reason I think problem ideating was well implemented was the level of work. Having common grounds helps the team to work with the solution. General identification is important because the team needs to be on the same page. In that sense problem finding was a good excerise.

 

Using tomorrow headlines, SAP scenes and Marvel POP for prototyping was good practise because you need to know the tools you use. It migh have been good to have a little bit more introduction to the tools, since some of us were using them for the first time. In order to use tools efficiently in short period time would require a short introduction to principles so that working would be more smooth.

 

 

For me the workshop gave opportunity to also reflect my skills as a facilitator and a member of a team. For example, I noticed that my team members had a little difficulty in defining the tomorrow headline in unison and what kind of prototype we would create. I tried to focus staying neutral and help teammates to collaborate. Some people have hard time to give up their initial idea when collaborating and co-creating. Making sure everyone gets heard isn’t easy, and I wanted to practise that also. It might have been good if the facilitator would have time to see each groups working process more. There were eight teams of three people going through the design process, which is a lot to juggle alone.

That juggling leads me to my key learnings when facilitating service design process. This workshop reminded me of my other course, where I’m currently planning and later executing a workshop. Some of these thing scame from this workshop and others are ideas that originated later. Firstly: timing. Timing is crucial factor for me when facilitating a design workshop. Having adequate time for all the steps in process ensures good results. Plannig tables according to aquired team sizes ready before the workshop, helps people to set up in the right places right away, so suffling tables around would’t be nececcary. In the beginning the whole group also might need support when narrowing down the options. For example  clustering might be done by facilitator to make things smooth. Clear instructions on diffecent phases are important, and I believe it is handy to leave them on display when working starts. People tend to forget easily.

For me it makes sense, that when organizing a design workshop, it might be a good idea to have two persons present. Then you have two sets of eyes and hands to help teams to work efficiently. Some teams need help from the facilitator in order to move forward. Having two people facilitating gives opportunity to keep everything in order: clear instructions, support for the teams, timing, handing out supplies etc. Nothing is more frustrating than running out of time just before it is time to present your results to the other participants. That would leave the workshop incomplete.

More info and ideas:

https://www.siili.com

http://www.servicedesigntools.org/tools/14

https://experience.sap.com/designservices/approach/scenes

https://marvelapp.com/pop/

 

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

I, Roadblock of Innovation

IMG_3885Creating new service in a established organisation is hard, very hard if you take the word for the speakers of last weeks breakfast seminar, Perkele! held at the Tennispalatsi movie theatre.

Unsurprisingly, the big two challenges are the onboarding of fellow employees and fighting the rigid organisational structures that are built to support the existing businesses.

When one is creating something new, one is bound to step on somebody’s toes, bend the rules, or work on the gray area, which all are likely to cause friction in the organisation. According to a speaker, the best indicator that one is doing something great is the amount of negative phone calls one gets from ones colleagues, saying that something one does is impossible or shouldn’t be attempted at all.

But why do we become such roadblocks of innovation and not embrace the change?

Having worked for more than fifteen years in the ict services industry, I’ve already witnessed first-hand the shifting priorities of co-workers from eager and opionated to playing it safe at the workplace.

The older we grow, the more time we’ve had to explore and refine our taste. Our life may focus more around the family. All this leads to the fact that we are spending less time discovering new things and more doing the things we love.

DiffusionofideasMy perception is that we all move in the Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovatios scale from innovators to laggards almost unknowingly, if we do not put conscious effort into exposing ourselves to new ideas. The less we are exposed, the more the new ideas start to frighten us and more likely we are to hold on to the facts and working patterns we already are familiar with.

So then, how to get colleagues out of their shells?

According to one of the Service design thinking luminaries, Marc Stickdorn, the best way to get people involved and cheer for the project is to create a safe place, where everybody can participate and fail without fear of losing face.

To create a safe environment the colleagues need to be led to forget rank, job description or competence and get to know the others personally. This might take time, but luckily there are plenty of methods that help to set the tone of the workshop or a meeting where new business is being innovated.

The simplest thing one can do is to hold a meeting standing up. This might not sound a big of a change, but standing up people are using their bodies more to communicate and it prevents them checking email or computer, making them present in the meeting. Better yet, hold the meeting walking outside. Some people even go as far as in Helsinki, where employees bring their colleagues to their homes to work for a day.

Another good tip from Mr Stickdorn is to start a workshop with a pair discussion, where either of the pair starts with a phrase “Let’s go on a trip together, I’d like to travel to X” and the another responds “Yes, but Y”. The original person counters “Yes, but Z”. After two minutes, do the exercise again, but this time, instead of “but”, say “and”. It is remarkable how the tone is different in these two discussions.

When ones colleagues get to know each other well, they are less likely to frown and reject new ideas.

And if there are something that have been proven time and time again, an enthusiastic person with an idea is way more powerful than any organisational hurdle, which is there only to keep the business standing still.

Are you a Designer?

I am a designer!

How many of you consider yourself as a designer? This was one of the first questions we were asked in our service design workshop at Lahti University of Applied Sciences on October 9th 2012.

Probably you can guess the answer, roughly half of the participants raised their hands. Then it was time to wake people a bit. We were asked to draw twenty different pictures, and for every picture there was 5 seconds time for drawing. After the exercise Bas Leurs, one of our teachers from Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences announced: Now you all are designers! Yes, he is correct, everyone is a designer.

Why and when do we design?

One student expressed well the reason for design: “We must design because we are not perfect”. Continue reading