What is Service Design Sprint?



By : Kie Tsukamoto

iCubes Inc, a consulting firm in Tokyo that operates Asian Market Entry, organizes a monthly seminar for our freelance business consultants so that they can build stronger business networks and strengthen their business knowledge.

For our March 2018 seminar, we invited Felipe Pontes, a representative of HiveLab Japan, (http://www.hivelab.co/) and organized a mini workshop of Service Design Sprint in Tokyo.

© photo PB Journal

What is Service Design Sprint?

Service Design Sprint is a problem-solving program that utilizes the essence of service design thinking, design thinking and lean startup. The actual program takes up to 4 days and aims to uncover real insights, develop prototypes and test solutions to defined business, social or political problems.  These problems are defined by participants on day one.  Although often used in business, Service Design Sprint can be employed beyond business to solve complex social issues and more.  

Although the concept, structure and processes of service design thinking is widely popular, there are only a few people/companies who can bring this into practice to generate any successful solutions. Service Design Sprint was invented to tackle the above issue; designed to be brought into a real business practice easily and generate a specific solution to a specific problem in a short period of time.

It consists of 4 steps:
1. Predict
2. Grasp the Whole Picture
3. Create a Prototype  
4. Brush-up

Through these 4 steps, a specific solution to a proposed issue is to be created in a short period of time (8h/day X 4days= 32h).

© photo PB Journal

What did we do at the workshop?

Because our seminar was bound to a 2h timeframe, we designed this program with Felipe to fit into the limited time available. Thus, we extracted the essence of this program so that the participants could roughly understand how it is operated and applied.

First, the participating freelance business consultants were randomly assigned to a group, of which there were three.

Then, a preselected challenge (an issue that was to be solved within this workshop) was given, and each group started a discussion to generate a solution to the theme and visualize their points with post-its.  Normally, selecting and specifying the challenge is done by the participants but due to the time constraints of the seminar, Felipe prepared the challenge ahead of time.

The selected challenge for the seminar was: how to bring more international tourists to XXX, a remote part of Japan?

With this workshop, we undertook the following essential actions of Service Design Sprint:

  • Short Interview with Users
  • Setting a Persona based on the User Interview
  • Ideation: Solutions for the Persona (Ideation is driven by instincts to generate numerous ideas)

Each of the three groups followed the steps and discussed the ideas that were generated. The workshop (and also the original program) provided a good balance of individual and group thinking time; each participant worked on the challenge individually and also with a group to come up with a lot of ideas for the persona that they had created.

Then, each group selected the best solution and presented it.

Why is it Beneficial?

In Japan, lengthy and numerous meetings are often held to develop new business ideas. However, such “tradition” needs to change; otherwise, in this fast-changing world with continuously advancing technology a lot of businesses will be left behind.

To break this tradition, a time-framed approach like Service Design Sprint (8h/day x 4 days=32h) can help Japanese businesses to speed up the process of developing innovative services/products.

Together with HiveLab, Felipe Pontes also offers a Service Design Seminar for beginners. Rather than implementing the whole 4-day program right from the beginning, these beginner-seminars could be helpful to introduce the essence of Service Design approach into the “traditional” Japanese corporations first, and avoid culture shock!

<Profile of Felipe Pontes>
Felipe co-founded the service design department of Neuromagic (a Tokyo-based web design agency) and is a representative in Japan for Hivelab, a company that empowers clients to innovate by themselves, having clients as Cisco Systems, SoftBank, and Toshiba. Around six years ago, he co-wrote the first Design Thinking book published in Brazil, his country of origin. Felipe moved to Tokyo in April 2014 to study at Keio University Graduate School of Media Design (KMD) with a Japanese government scholarship. For his research, he conducted several service design workshops with refugees in Brazil and Germany.

Message from Asian Market Entry

We believe that a true professional business consultant is one who is always keen to think and absorb flexibly, beyond the boundaries of their professional field. Therefore, regardless of business backgrounds, we provide our freelance business consultants with opportunities to learn about and experience new technology, schemes, trends, business models and schools of thoughts, etc…

Asian Market Entry believes in the power of these local professional human resources when supporting international startups to succeed in this unique Japanese market. Without local professionals’ knowledge and networks, Japanese market and business operation is extremely harder for any internationals to handle. This is why we provide our clients with an opportunity to work with a skilled local professional consultant to support their market entry and business operation when entering into this unique Japanese Market.

What is coming up next month?

In April, we will welcome Yoshimasa Sakai, from the General Council of Regional Revitalization Promotion Office, at the Cabinet Office, to discuss and create a solution for socioeconomic problems faced by rural areas of Japan through using Service Design Sprint.

Source : PB Journal