Experiment on experiments

In a recent Inland blog post “The results from Inland’s spatial interventions,” we described the results of our spatial interventions focusing on the interest in the culture of experimentation in Migri. Perhaps the best-known example in current public discussions is the basic income experiment. This experiment has gained interest worldwide, along with the government’s key project Experimental Finland (“Kokeileva Suomi”), which aims to enhance the culture of experimentation in all levels of society.

Instead of seeing experimentation in a scientific sense, experiments are also seen as interventions with a goal of innovating learning or gaining experience (Laakso 2017, p. 9). Image source: Flickr

Another good example is the series of experiments in the city of Jyväskylä, Finland in 2013, analysed in Sitra’s report, “Towards experimental culture” (Berg et al 2014). The aim of the experiments in Jyväskylä was to find everyday solutions for reducing the use of natural resources and promoting a wise use of resources. 15 different experiments were done, including one that focused on reducing waste food from the municipal central kitchen. Later other localities started initiatives based on the Jyväskylä model (p.20). These Jyväskylä “resource wise” experiments are examined through four operating mechanisms: learning, participation, public debate, and challenging existing structures. The focus is on strategic experiments, meaning: actions that are new and concrete, limited by time, space, content and/or actors, and can possibly change the society (p. 9). Again, the culture of experimentation means a social environment that encourages experimentation and accepts the features of experimentation, such as light planning and such as light planning and the risk of failure (p.14).

On March 1st, 2018, Experimental Finland kicked off a morning coffee session series on evaluating experiments (Arviointiaamukahvit-sarja). During the first session, Senja Laakso and Annukka Berg gave an introduction to experimental culture. One question of evaluation that was discussed among many others was: when not to experiment? The next session will take place on April 14th, 2018, and more details can be found here.

In order to answer the question when to experiment, as a service design intern, I take part in ongoing Inland projects to understand what kind of experiments other designers in the team are working on and kick off some new one as well. In Inland, we are also conducting user research to better understand what kind of possibilities we have for experiments. I am interested in what role service design has in developing the culture of experimentation, and I wish to find some answers or ideas related to this question through participating in experimenting. The goal is to develop models, that make it possible for people in other units to continue the development or do another experiment and cherish the possibility of failing.

Here you can read more about the spatial interventions (1) and the results (2). https://medium.com/inland/spatial-interventions-why-12470c29b5e5


Author: Anna Kokki

Contributor: Kristin Swan and Mariana Salgado


Annukka Berg, Mikael Hildén ja Kirsi Lahti (2014) Kohti kokeilukulttuuria. Analyysi Jyväskylän resurssiviisaista kokeiluista strategisen kehittämisen työkaluina. Sitran selvityksiä 77. Retrieved 6.2.2018 from https://www.sitra.fi/julkaisut/kohti-kokeilukulttuuria/

Senja Laakso (2017) A practice approach to experimental governance. Experiences from the intersection of everyday life and local experimentation. Doctoral dissertation. University of Helsinki. URN:ISBN:978–951–51–3252–9 http://hdl.handle.net/10138/185419