Experiments on experiments — the outcomes
Approximately one year back I started my internship at Inland Design and simultaneously started to work on my master thesis. It was a journey with multiple crossroads, side paths and occasionally, getting lost and back on track again. Now in 2019, it is great to say that what I learned, I use every day.
In Experiments on experiments — service design explorations in the Finnish Immigration Service, I examine experimentation through the context of Migri. The main contribution of this work is to describe and explore different ways of experimenting manifests in the Finnish public sector. I examine this through three case studies, that focus on user research, presenting user research results and organizational development in Migri.
Experimentation is forms around the context and experimenter. In my thesis I conclude that experimentation is affected by hierarchical structure, experimenter’s connections and networks or capability to form new ones. Furthermore, as I look into public sector design and different approaches, I also recognise that the characteristics of the public sector set challenges for experimenting, as it aims to promote light planning and learning fast from mistakes. Adding to this, through my own experience and observations from experiment-focused events I took part in, I highlight that communication and vocabulary are crucial for experimenting. In communications, experimentation can be used to open doors, but the understanding of the word varies. Thus, it is essential to use the word wisely, build experimental approaches into projects in organisations and offer examples and stories to support understanding of experimentation as a tool for development work.
When I attended different events, I also saw that there have been many good experiments done, especially in the municipality level. Many of them now are faced with the challenge of how to pass good practices to others. This said, I finally suggest that design research could help to understand how to spread the learning results from experimentation. Furthermore, as language and communications are recognised as one of the critical features in implementing design, and starting experiments, it could be valuable to better understand how design is comprehended and experienced in the Finnish public sector.
At the moment I continue exploring possibilities of service design and design learning. The realisations from the thesis process and my time in Inland really support me in my current work, as I plan and facilitate different interactions. The experience has helped me as a designer to start developing my own approach and perspective, and for example, the practical experience has affected my ways to organise, plan and document — this process has been really valuable in learning new approaches and ways of working. In a way, small things, but coming from shoe design, important realisations.
If interested to read more, please see Aalto docs for full thesis file (PDF).
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