April 8, 2017

Inclusive Design: learning with Rinnekoti during the Tieto Design Jam

Michiel Terlouw

Lead Service Designer, Tieto

The theme of Finland’s centenary celebration year is ‘Together’. As part of Tieto’s contribution to the Finland 100 celebrations, our international design community organized a two-days Design Jam with a strong focus on Inclusive Design.

According to gov.uk, Inclusive Design “aims to remove the barriers that create undue effort and separation. It enables everyone to participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities”. As the leading Nordic software and services company, Tieto has a big responsibility in making sure our solutions create better opportunities for equal participation.

As designers, we are well aware of the importance of Inclusive Design, and its value to society. Technology is developing ever faster; finding ways to make innovation available and beneficial to everyone, will be one of the key challenges of our generation. As such, we were thrilled to work with Rinnekoti on a real-life design challenge: how to gather reliable customer feedback from service users with mental disabilities.

Jamming with Rinnekoti

On March 23rd and 24th, approximately 40 designers – from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia and Latvia – came together for the bi-annual Tieto Design Jam. The Jam is an event in which designers learn from designers, about designing. Through short presentations and hands-on workshops, we share our knowledge of Design Thinking methodologies and UX trends.

During our most recent Design Jam, seven Rinnekoti employees and three of their customers came to the Tieto office in Espoo, to actively participate in a full day of research and ideation. Rinnekoti is a non-profit organization that gives personalized support to people with a long-lasting disease or disability. Rinnekoti is Finland’s largest and most diverse provider of health and social care services to disabled persons.

One of the challenges Rinnekoti faces, is how to get actionable feedback from their customers, many of whom have trouble expressing their opinions. In the past, many types of customer surveys have been tried out, with various levels of success.

In particular, it has proven to be very difficult to get reliable feedback from customers with mental disabilities.

  • Some customers can neither read nor speak well.
  • Some customers have never developed decision making skills; they usually choose what they think others would like to hear.
  • Some customer answer according to the order in which the answer-options are presented. For example, when ask “was the coffee good or bad?” they will answer “bad”. But when asked “was the coffee bad or good?”, they will answer “good”.

Putting our design skills to work

During the Design Jam, Rinnekoti and the Tieto designers worked together to tackle these challenges. We split up in smaller teams – mixing up people with different backgrounds and skills – and applied Service Design methodologies to first learn about the pain points, and then ideate solutions.

Empathize
In the morning, we interviewed customers and experts, to better understand the context and pain points. In parallel, one team held a Business Origami workshop, to create an overview of “a day in the life of a Rinnekoti customer”

Define
During the Insights Market, teams shared their most interesting research findings, and everybody engaged in ad-hoc conversations. Concrete sub-challenges were clustered on the “challenges” affinity wall. A subset was selected for the next phase.

Ideate
After lunch, each team took a sub-challenge and started brainstorming ideas. We used 3 ideation methods in parallel: Design Charrette, The 6 Thinking Hats and Design Studio.

Present
At the end of the day, each team chose their best idea, and gave a 10-minute presentation. The other teams asked questions and gave feedback.

 

Lessons learned

For me personally, the most important take-aways are these:

  1. As designers, we need to broaden our perspective on Inclusive Design. General accessibility guidelines are pretty well known (for example on how to make websites suitable for people with limited sight). But few of us understand the specific challenges that mentally disabled technology users struggle with.
  2. With proper planning and the right attitude, it is feasible to work through an entire Design Thinking iteration in one day. I was particularly happy we were able to cover two goals in such a short time: gaining hands-on experience with new design methodologies, and helping Rinnekoti generate new ideas for their customer surveys.
  3. Working with Rinnekoti has been a blast! Many designers I spoke with afterwards told me they would like to continue the collaboration. Let’s make it happen!

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