Service Design Thinking for the “Jackalope Challenge“ or: “About Mythical Creatures and Innovation Processes”

Part 1

A short time ago I encountered a wolpertinger in the beautiful city of Retz.

A wolpertinger is a Bavarian mythical creature. To be precise: a hybrid creature. It appears in many different guises. As a squirrel with a duck’s beak. As a rabbit with deer antlers. Or – as experts would agree is a splendid specimen – all of this and more.

Wolpertinger frei nach Dürer

(c) Jeanot/

And yes, sometimes even as an allegory for a considerably complex innovation workshop involving multilayered challenges.

Many of us have definitely encountered such a wolpertinger at one time or another. And been faced with this or that challenge.

As happened recently in Retz.

That’s where I’ve just been, facilitating a 2-day innovation workshop with the AIT Center for Mobility Systems with about 70 people in the charming “Althof”.

Service Design Thinking for Innovation Processes

It started out simple enough. First of all, we studied the wolpertinger from all angles. “What does he need, exactly?”

In this case it was, for example, making the existing competencies more clearly visible. Breaking free from the organisational constraints, identifying possibilities for collaboration within the center, leveraging synergies.

And, finally, also improve the information flow, brainstorm new ideas for existing and new customers and draft first visions. As if that weren’t enough, the results had to flow into the coming strategy process.

To me it was clear that only one thing would do: Service Design Thinking.

And by the way, because I’m so passionate about this innovation process, I will soon even be allowed to officially call myself a certified “Service Design Facilitator” – after numerous workshops and an entire Service Design course (3×2 days) with Cplus (with the excellent trainers Barbara Weber-Kainz and Linda Kaszubski).

So why Service Design in this particular case?

Service Design offers the following advantages:

  • Journey into customers’ minds and sound their needs
  • Out-of-the-Box thinking
  • Prototyping to make ideas tangible and obtain early feedback
  • Think in terms of systems and not isolated applications
  • Utilise the knowledge and experience of EVERYONE (in this case, that of all employees; but it is also possible to involve the stakeholders)
  • And thereby think the future and try to sketch it

It is therefore an excellent means to facilitate innovation and strategy processes.

How did we proceed, exactly?

Based on the so-called Double Diamond Model: 1st Day – Exploration, 2nd Day – Creation.

Process: “Double Diamond”

On the first day, the “exploration day,” we first started with a values exercise (I’ve already briefly introduced you to this exercise in a blog article about the Fish Forward Inception Workshop. You will find it round about the middle of the blog article) on the question “What’s important to you about collaboration within the Center?“

Unlike in a classic Service Design process, we did not embark on a customer journey, but instead explored the existing, internal competencies (keeping the requirements mentioned above in mind):

The beginning resulted in very creative presentations (max. 10 minutes) visualising the competencies of 7 Units/Research Fields.

To help consolidate the contents, we furnished the participants with so-called transfer sheets on which they could make notes on given questions, e.g. “What surprised you?” or “What connecting factors to your unit do you perceive?” etc. The results were then immediately discussed with neighbours.

Marketplace meets Personas

We followed up with a “Competencies Marketplace“ in which the participants could leisurely stroll around to obtain more information and discuss the various connecting factors in more detail.

As a next step, in well-mixed groups, we created so-called PERSONAS of the most important, existing customers. PERSONAS are imaginary people in whose shoes you put yourself and try to see things from their perspective, mainly with regard to their needs. The goal is to see them in a less abstract way, rather more immediate and alive. Because the existing customers were already well known to most of the participants, we decided to do without the customary interviews.

The 1st day closed with an exciting Fishbowl discussion with external participants specially selected because they had once worked for AIT. This served the purpose of obtaining outside-in perspectives, along the lines of “So – you worked for AIT for quite some time, how do you now see – after watching today’s activities – some things from the outside, coming from a different organisational background?”

So much for the 1st part of the Service Design Thinking process with AIT. In the next blog article, I’ll be telling you how we wrapped up the learnings from the exploration day, and developed first prototypes and visions based on the personas. Stay tuned and read from me again next week!!!

And feel free to drop us a comment about YOUR OWN experiences with Service Design Thinking!

Best regards, Birgit