• Bustling activities @ Service Design in Tourism Conference

    The Service Design in Tourism Conference in August 2012 was the 1st international conference on service design in the travel and tourism industry. Bringing together people interested in the practical application of service design thinking from all over the world to share their experiences, establish new relationships, discuss wicked problems and develop future opportunities, the event can only be called a great success.

    Among other, very insightful talks, we got to present our ideas on service innovation – using an analogy from the world of rock climbing!

    In addition to that, we set up a “Low-tech Social Network” in the main stage area, a community intervention letting all participants visualize and revisit their links to friends, colleagues and all those new connections made at the conference.

    One of the highlights was keynote speaker and singer-songwriter Dave Caroll’s talk about his devastating service experience with United Airlines, the implications this had on his career and life up to the creation of his now-famous song “United breaks guitars” – which he interpreted life, twice, during the conference, with the repeated effect of a very cheerful crowd.

    To us, the conference was an awesome experience  – gorgeous people, great talks and activities in the lovely city of Innsbruck. The hosts and their team of volunteers really made it a perfect event with a great service journey (of course!!), culminating in a great finale when everybody got to go up the ‘Nordkette’ peak having a schnapps and mountain cheese together surrounded by a superb mountain setting.

    You can experience a watered-down version through more great pictures at the SDT website, on Flickr and this video here:

    Watch on vimeo

  • Service Design for SMEs @ Designblick Symposium 2012

    Service Design for SMEs @ Designblick Symposium 2012

    The Designblick Symposium at Hof University’s Design Campus in July 2012 focused on service design as a strategic approach to innovation for SMEs. Embedded in a series of exciting talks and workshops Cordula and part of the research team at Hof University held a presentation on their research project “Service Design Thinking for SMEs”. Subject of the presentation was a brief overview about the project and an insight into recent service design work with the local company Intersport Frank in Hof.

    Watch on vimeo

  • Set your service innovation on fire! – Talking at SDT-Conference 2012

    How to innovate faster, safer – and make your services stick …
    Here is the talk we held at Service Design Tourism Conference 2012 at MCI, Innsbruck:

    Watch the video on vimeo

    With markets becoming increasingly transparent, customer experience has become a crucial factor of differentiation, making innovation in this area indispensable.
    This talk shows how service providers can speed up their innovation process and make it more reliable based on the iterative development cycle of build – measure – learn. With a metaphoric comparison to the world of rock climbing, the talk will clarify the working principle of this service design approach using short iterations of user research, ideation, prototype development and validation by user testing. You will learn why this process is a valuable alternative to relying on predictability and the honing of known processes to mitigate risk and leave you with an incentive to try it yourself.

    Visual recording of our talk by we are human

  • Global Sustainability Jam Muenchberg 2012 in a heartbeat

    Global Sustainability Jam Muenchberg 2012 in a heartbeat

    The Global Sustainability Jam is one weekend – 48 hours – of creative challenge to make the world a better place – making a difference together with jammers all over the globe! It’s goal is to bring people together to collaborate, experiment, have fun and learn from each other, all while developing real world products, services or initiatives for a better, more sustainable planet. Everybody can take part – the more interdisciplinary it gets the better the jam. And just like in a music jam – the participants make the sound!

    Moving through a whole design-led development process in one weekend sounds crazy? Maybe it is, but it happend several times by now. The idea for a global jam was first brought up by Markus Hormess and Adam Lawrence of Work • Play • Experience in 2010, and in March 2011 it became real with the first Global Service Jam – the Sustainability Jam’s big sister – which we joined in Glasgow, Scotland.

    The Jam idea caught on quickly, with about 45 locations worldwide taking part in the first Global Service Jam – and about twice that number in the second year.
    Now, after taking part in two Global Service Jams, we thought it was time for us to host our own jam! So on the first weekend of November 2012, when people in 58 locations all over the world got together – from Shanghai to São Paulo, from Melbourne to San Francisco – we hosted a Jam in Muenchberg – together with Thomas Schönweitz of Whitespring and Claudia Brückner of newthinking.

    On Friday evening a mix of design students, business graduates and business owners met at Hof University’s Design Campus in Muenchberg to discover, design and develop new ideas and concepts for sustainability.

    Since Münchberg is called “Bavarian Siberia” by the locals we made it our jam motto – so everybody was asked to wear at least one piece of warm clothes like tuques, scarves, gloves, moonboots etc. And they did because it was freaking cold outside – as usual in this city…

    After some initial warm-up games …

    … the hearts of our 30 jammers already beat faster when they got to watch the video intro to the global jam topic “heartbeat” provided by jam inventors Markus and Adam.

    The evening went on by brainstorming first ideas around the topic while having pizza and cold beer.

    Highlight of the evening became a video-chat with the jam headquarter and Adam lifting the veil on the importance of rubber chickens to a jam.

    A common breakfast on saturday morning prepared the teams well for the day.

    Task of this day was to gather deeper insights by doing research, develop concepts …

    … and build physical prototypes!

    Of course always in the presence of the chicken which even made it into one team’s final concept.

    Presentations of the teams’ status quo finished off the day, followed by a nice get together at a local bar.

    A hit during the jam was the warm-up Ninja game – a dynamic group game we used to re-charge the crowd from time to time.

    The final spurt on Sunday was filled with the teams elaborating their concepts in order to present the final results at 3 pm sharp.

    With outcomes ranging from easy-to-use TV-computers for retirement homes to self-powered festivals and recycled merchandise made from event flyers, it showed that everybody did a great job on this weekend!

    All in all a fun weekend with massive amounts of sticky notes, funny mock-ups and a lot of chicken input! As the hosts of the jam we like to say: We are proud of all our jammers giving us such a superb time and coming up with so amazing concepts. Jay!

    To learn more about the Global Sustainability Jam Muenchberg 2012 …
    … read the article published in CampusLife magazine
    … have a look at the jam’s official Facebook page
    … immerse yourself in by browsing through tons of pictures on flickr
    … watch Thomas’ video compilation of the jam
    … find out about “what was first: the chicken or the jam?”
    … admire the final concepts
    or get the big picture at the official Global Sustainability Jam website

  • Designing services for the federal garden exhibition Schwäbisch Gmünd 2014

    In January 2012 we were invited to run a service design course at Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) Schwäbisch Gmünd. The challenge to teach 3rd semester product design students the concept behind service design, its user-centered approach and iterative process in one summer semester sounded like a good one, so we naturally said ‘Yes!’. Sharing the gig with Thomas Schönweitz (Whitespring) made us a strong team and lessened the strain on our already tight schedule somewhat, too, so we were looking forward to an interesting couple of months in our new role.

    Teaching service design at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd

    Students doing research on the local farmer’s market to
    better understand customer needs, views and motivations


    As we are all big supporters of experiential learning – or in other words learning by doing – it was beyond question that we would initiate a practical project to work on with the students we would have yet to meet. By talking to Prof. Gerhard Reichert, head of the product design department at HfG, we quickly found our topic-to-be: In 2014 Schwäbisch Gmünd will be hosting the annual federal garden exhibition (Landesgartenschau) – an event held over the better part of a year that celebrates and showcases everything surrounding gardens, gardening, nature and the different kinds of cultural interpretations of it – like parks, playgrounds and so on – in all aspects.

    Teaching service design at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd

    Research data being synthesized into
    key insights and design principles


    Drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors, it is a serious challenge offering excellent service and customer experience that our project was aiming to add some value to. But with the kind of useful and attractive services that usually leave a lasting impression on customers regularly coming out of service design projects, we were confident to get our students to create something special. We established a cooperation with the organising company – the Gmünd2014 GmbH – making sure we had their support in exchange for the concepts our students would develop.

    Teaching service design at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd

    Paper prototypes


    And develop they did! In 11 sessions, each with quick introductions on the respective topic and methods, followed by practical works approaching the actual project steps and an on-location prototyping and user testing trip to the current exhibition in Nagold, our three groups of five drew up their concepts, each working on a different topic: ‘Playful Experience’ – how to make the ‘Landesgartenschau’ more interesting for kids, ‘Food 2.0’ – looking for innovative gastronomical concepts and ‘Landesgartenschau in the rain’ – tackling one of tourism’s oldest challenges, the weather.

    Teaching service design at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd

    Real-life testing of service ideas at the
    federal garden exhibition 2012 in Nagold


    The project became a great success. We even got the chance for our students to display the results at the Service Design in Tourism Conference 2012 in Innsbruck, while the Gmünd2014 GmbH is contemplating to realize two of the service concepts for the 2014 show.

    Watch on vimeo

    And for us – due to the positive feedback the students gave about us and our course, we have been asked to go on with teaching – so we’ll be there, running the next service design course in the winter semester, as well.

  • ECHTnacht Social Network – Co-creating a map of participant relations

    ECHTnacht is a regional networking event established by ‘ECHT Oberfranken’ magazine, where invited guests meet, exchange ideas and extend their business contacts in an entertaining and relaxed atmosphere.
    As a contribution of Hof University’s media design department to the ECHTnacht No.4, Cordula initiated a so-called ‘Low-Tech Social Network’ giving participants the opportunity to map their relationships on a large wall, supported by a group of her students.

    ECHTnacht Social Network

    Cordula and two of her student team members


    Over the course of the evening, the map grew with more and more of the guests ‘uploading’ their ‘identity profiles’ to the ‘network’ by placing cards with their names on the wall, subsequently drawing connecting lines to people they know and commenting on these relationships.

    ECHTnacht Social Network

    Connections were added the whole evening …


    As the evening progressed, participants came back multiple times to add newly made relationships, or find others added to their own mapping. Increasing participation saturated the map, quickly highlighting existing as well as new connections between participants – a realtime visualization of the growing network.

    The ECHTnacht Social Network opened up many opportunities to interact, connect and share. With all those connections made visible, participants would often go in discovery mode, finding new connecting points and conversation topics, people with shared interests and even connections to other peers in their existing networks.
    The best thing that happened was everybody having a fun time – all in all, it really was an intervention that successfully supported the goal of ECHTnacht – bringing people together.

    ECHTnacht Social Network

    … finally adding up to this impressive map.