5 things I’ve learned from our specialist Katri Lahtinen during last weeks´ Design sprint


Whether creating an entirely new service or improving an existing one, service design focuses on what customers really want when interacting with a business. Understanding what the end user needs and likes is paramount in today’s economy, hence the importance of having a skilled service designer in the company.

Talent Vantaa team certainly benefited from Katri Lahtinen’s experience as a facilitator, as during last design sprint, she has guided step-by-step 18 participants through the design thinking process.

Here are my top 5 takeaways. Plus a Bonus one at the end. Enjoy the reading!

People working

1.    There’s no universal definition to Service Design 

´´ There are probably almost as many definitions for service design as there are designers. For a ten-year-old I would probably explain that service design helps in creating new services or developing existing ones in cooperation with the customers, employees and other groups that are involved in the service´´ said Katri. 

2.    Service Design is a mindset 

´´ For anyone who is serious in pursuing a SD career, I would suggest training in order to master the tools and processes. There are lots of short courses and self-learning materials available. One should get more than just a short course, besides reading everything that’s out there, books, blogs, articles, etc. ´´ Do you need specific training in order to be successful in this role? ´´ Hmm… this is a tricky one. The most important thing is to internalize design thinking, and in order to do that you might need more than a two days course. On the other hand, a Master’s isn’t absolutely required either. You can utilize Service Design in many different jobs, so I think one good way is to start implementing design thinking or Service Design in your own job´´ advised Katri.

 3.    Show, not tell!

´´ After you have acquired a strong theoretical knowledge, a good way of putting it into practice is through a portfolio. Creating a portfolio that shows your experience in SD is the best way of demonstrating your abilities. At first, it can be school or course projects or things that you have done in your own job. Specify your own role and the impact of the case or project to highlight the result. A lot of the development is then done in real work life where you learn by doing. ´´

4.    Transferable skills are valued in Service Design.

´´ Sometimes the employers don’t see the previous experience that people have gained before studying Service design. There are lots of transferrable skill that can be used in the process. Service design is a lot about co-creation, so I’d say facilitating skills are important. I like facilitating although I’m not I don’t consider myself very good, nor experienced at it yet. Lately, I’ve realized that you can facilitate with your own personality and you don’t have to be outgoing or extrovert (which I’m not) in order to be a good facilitator. As a consultant I did a lot of (non-academic) research which is indispensable in the first phase of a service design process, so the skill to acquire, analyze and triangulate information are also valued. Oftentimes, service designers are change agents in their organization, so change management and communication skills can make a difference. I’ve worked in various projects all my career, so I’m familiar with project management. Also, working in different cross-organizational networks is quite important and something that has been part of all my previous roles´´ concluded Katri. 

5.     Measuring impact can be difficult especially in the public sector. 

´´ You can measure success by using the frequent KPI’s within the business environment, like revenue growth, profit margins or customer satisfaction. Usually when you design services you also design new ways to work and new ways of doing things. You might be changing the whole organization or try to impact on things at a phenomenal level. These changes might be really slow and measuring impact might also be difficult. An important thing is that you don’t just design concepts. Implementation is just as important. If you can’t convince the organization and can’t implement the results of your design process, then the solution might be useless. ´´

BONUS: It’s all about the people 

´´ Service design is in service to people. Should come from the desire of making people’s lives easier and better, right? One of the best things about my job is cooperation and co-creation with people. The most important thing for a Service Designer is to keep in mind the people who will benefit from their product or service, the customer or end user. Of course, other aspects are important too, but if you truly have been able to keep the customer’s “side” throughout the whole process AND been able to create a desirable, feasible, viable (ethical and impactful) service that has been adopted both by the customer and the employer, you’ve done a great job in my opinion. That’s why, a complete Service Design Process requires a holistic approach. ´´

Logos of Vantaa, Laurea and Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment

´´ Kasvua Vantaalle kansainvälisistä osaajista – Talent Vantaa –project implements the targets of national Talent Boost Program and receives funding from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. Project is implemented in cooperation with the City of Vantaa and Laurea University of Applied Sciences.´´


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Amalia Arsenie

Talent Vantaa


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