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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laussegger

Virtual service jams: A presentation by Nikita Savitskiy

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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