Fjord Family

Live Innovation: How far can you get in 12 hours?

What would it take to challenge Fjord? How much can a small team learn, experiment, and innovate in 12 hours? To find out, we assembled a team of eight Fjord designers from around the world and asked our clients to set them a challenge to improve human life in some way. They chose public transit.

It all unfolded recently in Berlin at Equinox, Fjord’s annual learning summit, where we welcomed 150 clients to join us for the first couple of days. Woven throughout a schedule packed with thought-provoking talks, panel discussions and workshops were touchpoints with the team undertaking this Live Innovation challenge.

Design Approach

Comprising designers from Sydney, Stockholm, New York, Berlin and Austin, the team followed a classic design process:

  1. Immersion (research in the field)
  2. Service Concepting
  3. Storytelling

They split into teams and started out at Berlin’s Central Station with the intention of finding their way back to the hotel on public transport, each team being supported by different resources. While one had the benefit of a smartphone and Google Maps in their own language, the other went entirely analog. Based on their experiences, they started to build two personas through whom they’d work to understand how resilient the public transportation system is, and how it supports journeys made by people who don’t speak German as their native language.

The scope of their research allowed them to uncover how Berlin’s transit system might become more inclusive for all types of users across a range of accessibility and usage needs. Those without the economic means to carry a smartphone with full data plan must rely on a simple and clear system, even if they speak the language. Immigrants and travelers, (even those with smart phones and large data plans), can find themselves confused and under-served by transit systems that don’t provide seamless and holistic experiences across their touchpoints, from digital (including kiosks, ticket machines, smartphone apps) to physical (signage, paper tickets, brochures, etc) to human (transit workers, call centers, etc).

Three checkpoints

In their three brief checkpoints, the team presented updates on what their curiosity had revealed, the conclusions they had drawn, and the solutions they were starting to design:

1) At the first update, the clients learned about how the team immersed themselves in the transit system, quickly discovering how easy it was if you were smartphone-aided, (in your own language, too), versus relying on physical and human touchpoints alone.

One nugget they highlighted was the fact that the ticket machines and tickets themselves were not helpful in terms of enabling a traveller to better understand their options for getting from Point A to Point B. Passengers were simply expected to select options based on, presumably, knowledge they were expected to possess already.

2) At the second checkpoint, the team had developed a service journey that reflected the travel experience from Berlin Central Station to the hotel, across a variety of train types plus a walking option.

What was revealed were key moments when better context and suggestions could have been made available, particularly during ticket selection but also when on initiating your journey. For instance, if you’d just hopped on your first train and casually looked down at the ticket in your hand, you’d find it says nothing of value to you. Why not?

3) At the third and final checkpoint, the team presented their design solution, focusing on the ticket as a valuable opportunity to build in a thoughtful suggested itinerary for the traveler, based on their inputs during the ticket purchase process.

Tickets were customized with details for the journey determined by the traveler’s choice between two options: “I just need to get from A to B” or “I’m exploring the city”. They’d also started sketching out a digital point-of-sale system that solved “mind the gap” issues in the traveler’s own language.

This personalized ticket could appear in both digital and physical form:

  • In digital, it would be in your smartphone wallet, and push notifications could automatically come up based on your geolocation data, providing customized recommendations of things you might like to see and do.
  • On the physical ticket, the recommendations wouldn’t just be for efficiency’s sake, but could also focus on the kinds of things that enrich our experiences, from hidden things to see at specific locations you’ll be crossing, to trivia about how certain common edifices came to be, or what role they play today.

Clients were impressed by the small team’s ability to tell the story while simultaneously concepting. They also valued the opportunity to virtually go along for the ride and live the experience to some degree, through the team’s video showing how their service design process played out behind the scenes.

So, how far can you get in 12 hours? Further than you might think, if you’re open-minded and embrace the challenge!

Fjord Family

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