Finding the new in you and the things you do

Mirkka Länsisalo • Lead Service Designer, Culture Engineer

One of the great things about the Lean Service Creation methodology is the way it forces you to approach the things you might have done a hundred times before in a completely new way. It breaks old habits that may have prevented you or your team from discovering the essence of what you are working on. This provides new insights and helps people to learn and grow.

As a facilitator, watching this happen is one of the most exciting things I’ve done in my professional life.

This autumn I facilitated my first Lean Service Creation program, together with my colleague. We had five groups, all with an initial idea for digital service they would like to create during the program. Groups consisted of people with backgrounds in tech, marketing, design and business.

Afterwards I asked the participants how they would concisely describe the program.

“Intense.” ”Good vibes.” ”Yellow and pink post-it’s.” ”I love how much you achieve when you forget the laptops and phones, and for one day you just concentrate on one theme, with the help of post-its.”

The intensity I experienced during the program was something new. Seeing the people, groups, dynamics, information and concepts grow and tumble, shine and rise was amazing. In between workshops I realised I missed the groups and their pondering of problems worth solving.

”Feels like I found god.” “Light and inspirational.” “Exciting!” ”Interesting way to work that took us away from our customary routines.”

We met fifteen times as a group over nine weeks. The transformation of the groups and their concepts was stunning. In the beginning there were debates about why some exercises had to be gone through, again, as the groups felt they already knew what they should be doing and why. We had great conversations that challenged us all - participants and facilitators. Why is it important to rethink our target groups’ real needs? Why is it important to talk with them? To understand what others are doing in this field? And so on.

”Great conversations.” ”Floating.” ”Inspiring.” ”LSC is an efficient operating model for developing new things.”

As the program progressed, new segments were defined, new problems to be solved were discovered and new solutions appeared. Groups became more and more independent – to the point where we as facilitators sometimes felt we were more of a hindrance than an aid. Those were proud moments.

“A profound framework that steers us towards a higher level of quality.” “A work-filled, fascinating course that challenged us to think and do in a different, more customer-centered way.”

In between workshops we had three demo sessions where groups presented their concepts to various stakeholders and the winner was voted on. The teams prepared excellent presentations and remained cool when tackling with ever-present technical problems at the demo sessions. The sessions forced the groups to clearly define what are they up to and to explain it in simple enough terms that people who heard the story for the first time got it. It really isn’t that easy, but you have to do it to get people to trust and support your project.

”They still don’t get how big our idea is. Let’s go back to the drawing board to create a new story we can tell even more simply. Maybe they get it then and we’ll win the show.”

It is funny how all the descriptions I received reflect the groups and their members just perfectly. I believe that all of them found tools to utilise in their future projects, too. Being part of this program really emphasised to me how important it is for people and teams to find their own strengths - but also to lean on others. Then the magic starts to happen.

My words for this program is: "You rock!"

Some of the participants from this program will share their skills with us on 31.1.2017 at Finlandia Hall when AHTO’17 happens. AHTO'17 is a huge product and service development workshop that introduces Finnish companies to the Lean Service Creation product and service design methodology. The event is free-of-charge for attending companies and produced by Tekes and Futurice. Paritcipants will be coached in the use of LSC by experts from Futurice as well as major Finnish corporations that use the method in their business.

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