Stefanie Brandt-Tallqvist // June 07 2019

Can children do service design?

Stefanie Brandt-Tallqvist

Head of Employee Experience at Digitalist

Peter Skillman did a test where he asked the participants to assemble a tower as high as possible by using twenty pieces of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and one standard size marshmallow. The kids did beat the adults, every time. At Digitalist we also had the feeling that kids can outperform adults in many ways.

We set out to create a summer camp for kids where they can experience firsthand what service design is. We invited kids from our clients and staff and when the camp started they were going to work with the same methods their parents use to co create and to design new services and business. Our goal was ambitious. Have the kids come up with a solution for a problem and make the demo and elevator pitch by during one week.

The kids jumped at the task. They didn’t hesitate. They immediately started collaborating, having taken away the initial shyness by doing some icebreaker games. The first day they went into discovery mode, they got to know each other and discuss about free-time and hobbies, as that was the broad theme for the camp. The kids talked about their own hobbies and mind mapped around free-time. By using a simple card game with pick one choices they then set the scope for the next task. The kids then got to make a persona, and they came up with amazing personas that reflected who they were and what their interests were. On the first day one group was already designing a clothing line and another group created a persona who had a headache from hitting herself with a hammer at work, and the third one coming up with a boy who only had one friend and played e-sports.

Mini Digitalist Camp workshop

On Tuesday they set out to create a timetable for the persona, identifying the personas highs and lows during the day based on what they were experiencing themselves in their own lives. After this they went into definition mode by pinpointing a problem that the persona was experiencing. The rest of the day was spent out on a scavenger hunt to clear the heads.

Day three was the day to start developing ideas for solutions. Everyone had to come up with solutions for the stated problems and then together put the ideas in categories and merge and blend ideas to make three proposals for different solutions. The kids then voted on what each team was going to work on. Coming down from about 30 ideas to 3 was a challenge, but the kids were amazing. As Daniel Coyle wrote in Culture Code: “The actions…appear disorganized on the surface. But when you view them as a single entity, their behaviour is efficient and effective. They are not competing for status. They stand shoulder to shoulder and work energetically together. They move quickly, spotting problems and offering help. They experiment, take risks, and notice outcomes, which guides towards effective solutions”

 Thursday was a big day! The kids had created a storyboard for the solution and started to validate the possible outcomes. This day we brought in the specialists, because we wanted the kids to see their solutions come alive. Our top designers came in and teamed up with the kids, helping them to create their solutions. Secretly I think the designers were even more excited about this than the kids. The teams made the most amazing things. One team came up with an app that helps kids (and of course adults as well) to find other activities instead of just playing games. The other team designed a web shop that sell clothes for young girls and the third team came up with an amazing smart watch to help out with remembering different tasks and a lot of other cool features.

Service Design brief

On Friday we made pitch decks for each team, so they could present their solutions. And who were they presenting to? Well, their parents of course. And then we had a party with popcorn and pizza. We had an amazing time with the kids. And coming back to my original question, oh boy, kids can definitely design!

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