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Viivi Lehtonen talking about Lean Service Creation at Futurice

Viivi Lehtonen is senior service and content designer at Futurice. She talks about her work in service design, the organization culture and work methodology in a rich and inspiring interview conducted by our new team member Viorica Milea.

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your role in Futurice

I am Viivi Lehtonen and I am senior service and content designer at Futurice. I’ve been working here for six months only. Before that I was a content strategist and digital consultant at one of the biggest media agencies in Finland, Dagmar, working a lot with brands and content on social media, but more in storytelling and concept design. Before that I was a journalist at Yle, Finland’s national broadcasting company. In the last 3 or 4 years I somehow found the designer within myself. When people started to talk more and more about service design I realized I am a service designer by my heart without design education, but with marketing and journalism education. But I realized that’s the way I work, my way of solving problems. I always felt that I am an issued developer. So, I started studying service design at Lahti University of Applied Sciences. After my graduation I applied to work here because I met Futurice’s people at Slush and I knew about Lean Service Creation and I liked their way of working, methodology and process.

What is Lean Service Creation and how does it contribute to change?

It comes from the company culture. It is an open source material. It is tested with thousands of clients. Futurice thinks it is good to have a tool kit to start with. It is part of our way of working and I think it is one of our strengths, it is a brand product.
Lean service creation is interesting because we are all able to create more of those canvases and of course you take that package with you, apply it to your case. You use what you need, the tools you need or make your own tools. If you think about design thinking or design process I love the way we are following it, because we are involving the customer and the users from the beginning.

What is the main focus of Futurice?

We are thinking about the business objectives and we want to solve the problem the client is having. One of our slogans is “Love the problem”. I like this approach because most of the people are afraid of the problems, so we are taking the problems into our hands and get rid of them. We always bring in our culture, which involves continuous learning, transparency, trust. All companies are interested in culture transformation within the project.
If a client wants to work with Futurice, we are always making clear that we want to involve them, so it’s about co-creation. So, the projects I have been involved in, always start with a LSC (Lean Service Creation) workshop. It’s like a kick-off workshop where you define the scope with the client, you define the problem. Sometimes we start working with the customer journey tool or other tools. The kick-off workshop is for one day. The rest depends on the amount of work, the length of the project or the price that the client is paying. It takes a lot of time because you have to prepare, you have to do the workshop, and you have to do the analysis. The minimum would be to start with the kick-off workshop, follow-up, testing with the users and the last final presentation. It is about taking out the information from the client and working together. I think those canvases are really good tools – they are facilitation tools, not only for service designers but also for business designers.

What kind of projects do you work on?

Most of the projects in Futurice are software projects. I am involved in digital service development and product development. In these six months I’ve worked with quite big commercial websites renewal. We were working on the vision, UI, UX and visuals and also developing the quality of service that they offer on their channels. In other project, dealing with retail space and service, we went to the client service, observing them, interviewing them, and finding out the pain points. You have outside help coming in and checking what the situation is. Listening and observing, you find a lot of information. Most of the time the clients are involved in the workshops, we do co-creation, using the knowledge they have.

During a project is there a part where you notice client resistance?

I think it is the part of co-creation. They don’t know how much co-creation they can do. And you have to sell it in a way that is valuable for them because they will better understand their business or the business situation and the scope of the project. Some clients expect a ready solution. We don’t give them that kind of fast solutions, we do fast prototyping. Fail fast and learn fast. We approach fast into the scope but we are willing to learn along the journey. It is not only one solution. I think the clients can easily grow with us, while working with us. When working with insights from the customers, you get a lot of innovation ideas. The wise clients listen to their customers. Not only what we believe but what the customers want or need. The client needs to trust that the customer knows better. And then we just have to find a concept or a business idea to make that come true.

How do you measure the success of a project?

Of course, satisfying users.
There has to be KPIs, always. We set goals in the beginning of the project.

How would you define Innovation?

Something that solves a need, gives new approach or perspective. New design or new creation, but also a new way of solving a problem, that’s innovation. It’s not only design; it can be new kind of thinking inside the company. (innovation culture, more open-minded culture).

In your view what are the most valuable capabilities of the designer of the future?

Communication skills – are critical. You have to understand your team and your client. And you have to be able to communicate between different stakeholders and also to present your ideas. Then, I think empathy is crucial for every designer. We have to step into the user’s side. And also to follow-up trends, new technology, current issues, what’s happening in the world. Then, of course, you have to have that kind of open-mindedness that you are not only in your circles, but going out of the box thinking.
It is also good for designers to go and see different cultures.

How do you keep yourself open-minded?

Regarding me, I have a journalist nature in me, so, I am reading a lot, following social media and strange chat groups. I’m kind of an activist in my heart too, so I am a member in many urban culture and city development communities where you can read interesting opinions by different kind of people. I am also a board member at the Finnish Association of Design Learning so I follow up issues on education and design thinking all the time. It is a really good way to update yourself. I think I should be more active also in following politics, but that is not one of my favorites. I think one of the best things in social media is that you can follow medias and read people’s comments easily. But of course, we should remember we all have a certain kind of bubble.

Have you set any personal goals in Futurice?

I would like to develop our way of doing service design: to bring more tools, like design centric tools and bring these toolkits in schools. We are now having a lot of cooperation with universities. We also had really great coding camps for kids at summer, but I’d love to bring service design thinking and LSC tools to schools and kids, too. We are joining Oppimisen fiesta – Fiesta of Learning- held on the 1st and 2nd of November at Finlandia Hall. It is focused on people working in education on different levels. We are there speaking about LSC for teachers. It is a flexible toolkit. And if you think about primary school teachers, how they can use it, that’s a challenge.

How were the six months so far?

Interesting. What’s new for me is the “leading yourself” culture. My history seems related to very traditional organizations. I like that people are trusted. These days, companies should work like this. It was a surprise for me that the work environment is totally English. And I like the variety of the projects.

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