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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laussegger

Hey there,

It's about time to recap the bigger picture of what we are doing at Silicon.Garden. I've been in the digital game for 25 years now, working in fields ranging from startups to banking to health. I can confidently say we have been making changes in the tech industry that are simply off the charts. We know what we're doing, and we're doing it right.

We've been advocating for revolutionary ideas like Lean, Agile, and Human-centered design for a long time. But we're not stopping there. We're ready to dive headfirst into an online world where location doesn't matter - and it never should have. The traditional approach was never fair. Additionally, we're preparing to harness the incredible shifts brought about by artificial intelligence - one of the two major forces of change in the modern world.

Nothing fires me up more than a group of bright people tackling a problem with the passion of saving the world. And the cool part? This isn't an exaggeration. The world needs fixing. We need to transcend our old ways of thinking, abandon outdated leadership styles, and stop getting distracted by agile theater and trivial matters such as home office policies.

We have some major challenges ahead:

  • We need to repair the planet.

  • We need to combat climate change.

  • We need to eradicate poverty.

  • We need to reform education.

I have a hunch that the underdogs and the creatives – the startups and corporate product teams – will be the ones to step up and enact the change we so desperately need.

Furthermore, we need to overhaul capitalism and democracy. This might sound strange coming from an entrepreneur, but there are countless people like me who view entrepreneurship as a driver of change and want to repair capitalism. One famous example is Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia. Just as sports aren't at fault for doping or injuries, capitalism isn't at fault for what we make of it. We urgently need to alter the rules of the game on a global scale, encouraging what’s good for the people and the planet and penalizing any damage to it.

I believe remote work is going to play a significant role in this shift as collaboration on a global scale will bring businesses and humans closer together. However, let's not deceive ourselves. Real change will come when the world's leaders start genuinely listening to the entrepreneurs outside the traditional power structures.

In the meantime, we'll keep doing what we do best. We're going to continue creating awesome digital solutions with our customers and partners. We're going to keep using AI to make healthcare safer and more affordable. We'll carry on innovating in the energy sector. And we'll persist in providing solutions that make life easier and more enjoyable for communities, families, and individuals. Plus, we will clean up any mess we leave behind.

Above all, we're committed to delivery! Let us help you stop the innovation theater and grow beyond the box.

Catch you later, Michael

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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laussegger

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Human-centered design is at the core of Silicon.Garden's philosophy. There's no doubt that many companies understand the value of building deep empathy with the people they're designing for. However, they might struggle with the practical implementation when confronted with various obstacles, such as aligning user needs with business objectives or overcoming their fears of speaking to customers. With that in mind, Silicon Garden hosted the We Are Online meetup on December 10, 2020, where we invited service design expert Nikita Savitskiy to guide us through a very useful company workshop: conducting a remote service design jam.

Oftentimes, when a crisis arises, companies try to extinguish fires as quickly as possible and come up with quick solutions rather than following the more productive approach of ideating. In a panic move, in the name of speed and efficiency, they sacrifice a critical approach to the problem for solution-oriented thinking, without understanding whether the chosen solution will solve the problem, let alone whether the problem they determined is the actual issue at hand or not. The point of any design jam, then, is to teach your team and company the value of ideation in human-centered design.

A service design jam is similar to a hackathon with three main functions: empowering and motivating employees, testing risky new ideas in a safe space, and increasing collaboration and teamwork. Most people who consider running a service jam might either think that it takes too long or that it's impossible to conduct remotely. Nikita Savitskiy demonstrated the contrary. He gave a very clear instructional overview of how to practically organize and conduct a virtual service jam that only takes up a day.

Nikita is a service designer and product manager, currently working as a service designer for DefinedCrowd, and is not afraid to speak truth to power. He started his career as a software developer and never stopped coding ever since. What matters to him is doing the work he loves the most - identifying problems humans are facing and supporting those humans to solve them in the most efficient and elegant way. We at Silicon Garden love this attitude and knew that Nikita would be a perfect match with our own focus on facilitating designing products for humans.

As Nikita demonstrated in his presentation, a design jam teaches you the value of divergent and convergent thinking. This is a diamond-shaped pattern switching mode of thinking, applied to both the understanding of the problem and the building of the solution. When it comes to determining the actual problem, you follow the process of an initial broad exploration phase followed by a specific, very concrete problem definition. This is then followed by the execution consisting of a first phase as a broad ideation phase where people are free to come up with as many ideas as they can, no matter how wild or crazy it might appear at first. In the final phase, only the best or most applicable idea(s) are being put to the test.

In the first part of his presentation, Nikita focused on the following aspects related to the general importance and relevance of UCD (user-centered design) and service design:

  • The inherent value of user-centered design and how a company can profit from that in the long run.

  • The value of service design and where to put service design in a corporate organization.

  • Why focusing on the problem first before starting to build a solution is so important.

  • How to convince your colleagues to talk to your customers.

  • How to prepare for a service jam, especially in a remote environment.

The second part of his presentation took a more practical approach as Nikita discussed how to run a remote service jam and covered the following points:

  • The 8 steps of a service jam, from framing the challenge all the way through ideation and final results.

  • A realistic time-frame of how to plan out an actual day doing a service jam.

  • How to organize teamwork and team contributions in an online environment during various stages of the jam.

  • How to carefully define the problem and, based on that, come up with Jobs-To-Be-Done statements.

  • How to run a productive ideation session.

  • Presenting the final results to the whole company.

  • How to keep the teams and individuals as aligned as possible throughout all 8 steps of the jam.

A service jam will help a company deal with various challenges and differentiate between problem and solution. First, the real problem should be understood, and only once the outlines of the problem have been determined, the work on solution building can start, with a constant focus on divergent-convergent thinking throughout both processes. Here at Silicon Garden, we feel that it's important to give these innovative design strategies a platform through engaging, practical, inspiring presentations like these because this is a method of working that every company, and every branch within it, can benefit from.

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Many agencies and companies who were used to in-person research, had to transition to remote user research over the last couple of months. However, the seeming lack of control over the user’s environment, their devices and any technical issues can make the whole experience quite frustrating. On July 22, 2020, Silicon Garden hosted the We Are Online panel consisting of four international speakers with highly diverse backgrounds and work experiences, discussed the risks and problems and explained the benefits and opportunities of remote user research and testing and why it’s such an essential step for any company that wants to build a healthy customer/user relationship.

We were joined by these four amazing speakers:

  • Max Scheugl, who has been working as a User Experience Consultant for over 25 years, reminded us that good user testing is important and that even user tests that went badly can teach us something valuable. You can only win.

  • Sonja Bobrowska works as a Customer Experience Researcher in Team Digital at UNIQA, a company which considers user research to be an essential step in building solid customer relationships.

  • Clo S., an independent UX designer, UX researcher and conversational designer, discussed how you can use cultural diversity when doing remote user research to your advantage and turn it into a major opportunity for creating a better product.

  • Evelien Al, who combines design research, content strategy and copywriting to help business owners reach their customers, emphasized that testing from the user’s home doesn’t necessarily only mean restraint or risk for technical issues, but also provides us with other valuable business opportunities and knowledge too.

Doing the user testing remotely means less control over your user’s circumstances, devices and technical resources with plenty of risks for technical issues, but it also provides you and your company with many possibilities as our experts point out:

  • Get a better idea of what it is that your customers want

  • Get a better idea of who your possible customers are and how they live

  • Develop a better customer relationship

  • Have a more successful end product

  • Become more aware of different cultures and customs as you get in touch with people from all over the world

  • Create a more universally accessible end product

Unfortunately, user research is still very much undervalued and underused due to a lack of understanding of the process and a fear of failure. However, do take into account that any user test, no matter how many difficulties there were, will always result in some type of data that you can use and will lead to a better user test the next time. These tests are essential stepping stones on the way to a better product and a more direct customer relationship.

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