Tekijä: <span>Sari Eestilä</span>


”Virtual Sprint was a new experience”

I enrolled the DWS sprint at the beginning of this year. At this point, the Corona pandemic took place in China, and the sprint was supposed to be organised live. A little later, the pandemic started, and I thought that the sprint probably will be cancelled. The idea that the sprint could be organized virtually didn’t even cross my mind, even though most courses were organized virtually. At the end of march I found out that the sprint will be organized this year 100% online. I must at admit at that point I was a little skeptical. For me the sprint has represented intensive live work at the classroom. I didn’t have any experience in organizing any virtual event. I decided to continue at this process, because I believed that it could be a really good experience for me. And I was right.

Then in April we started planning a sprint with other tutors. At this point our team had got smaller than originally. We were supposed to be 12 tutors, but at the end there were only six of us. It meant that there would be a lot of work to do. At early meetings we decided to be working in pairs. We divided days so that each pair would be running and organising three days, as this sprint would be six days. We started working with two pairs. Hanna and Pirjo would join to help us later, as they were mainly focusing on writing blogs at the event.

Sprint program and methods were based on Jake Knapp’s book “Sprint, how to solve and test new ideas in just five days”. For me this book was not familiar, but it seemed to give clear and good instructions, so I agreed using that for the program. Sprint needs to be well organized with clear structure in it. It could have been extremely hard if we had designed a program without the help of book.

We decided to use Mural as a digital tool for sprint. I had used Mural only few times, so I didn’t have any expertise on that. I pointed out that Mural could be difficult to use for someone, but we left the option that all the exercises could be done without it, for example drawing. Our digital platform was the Zoom which was familiar for everyone.

Planning was quite an intensive work and we did work hard for the program. We did very detailed program and timetable as well. The instruction was very clear, and I think that it needs to be so, that all the participants will know what to do. I think that the sprint should be that kind of event, where you can be able to participate easily for the first time. I think teamwork with other tutors went well: everyone could tell their views openly and freely. It was a really nice atmosphere to work in.

When the sprint started, it seemed like time has started to fly. Everything was happening fast. It was exciting and inspiring. I was nervous when I needed to give instructions for students, but it went okay. The evaluating and observing teams was the most difficult part. We divided that every tutor evaluates and observes few groups. Doing this virtually is hard. Basically, it means that we went between breakout rooms and asked if they needed help, or just silently observed their work. Using Mural did cause problems during the first days, but we managed to solve the issues.

How did this sprint go overall? I think this sprint was a success. Groups did amazing job in such a short time period. That’s the secret of successful sprint, it creates a creative circumstance where the magic happens, meaning people can find and use their creativity in a next. Although for participants it requires a lot of positive and curious mind and attitude. People are often very motivated to participate sprints and it’s important that participants are selected based on their motivation. The team that behind the scenes needed lot of problem-solving skills to able to make changes on short notice. Finding good companies that are willing to participate as partners and give challenges is one important thing as well. Good communication skills are definitely one requirement for organization team. In this case, I think we really managed as teams as everyone worked their best and we managed to create a very positive working atmosphere between us. I really enjoyed this project.

What to improve for next time? I need to improve my technical skills when it comes to using digital tools. I need to practice more that I can perhaps then give advice for using these tools. I think my communication skills are good, but I need to improve English, because sometimes it’s hard for me to find the right words, and some sentences might have a different meaning if using wrong words.


Digital Wellbeing Sprint 2020 – my key takeaways

This writing is to reflect on the learnings that I received when participating the Digital Wellbeing sprint organized by Haaga-Helia, Laurea and Metropolia universities of applied sciences. We had 8 sprint teams with 6 challenges from companies. My role as a tutor in the sprint was leaning towards writing blogs and articles. On top of this, I participated into 2 days as a facilitator. 

Sprint process

In the sprint, we used the Google sprint methodology created by Jake Knapp to give the overall structure for the sprint. My awesome colleagues in the sprint made a great work by putting all the pieces and tools together to finally give the form and shape to the sprint days. This was a heavy duty. Already in the first day, I realized that getting a group to innovate in an online setting is more demanding that in face to face meeting. I also wrote some thoughts on this to my previous blog, which you can read here.

The process of the sprint is straight forward and fast. Best ideas need to be selected and decisions on directions need to be made. Decision making is an important aspect of a sprint. Tasks are completed in a short time span and steps are following each other. From the end results and also feedback from our students, I could also see that the groups that were able to do decisions had the biggest rewards. This required the role of the decider to be clear. In most of the groups we happily saw that our commissioning companies were present and willing to help and offer those golden decisions along the way to keep the sprint moving smoothly.

On top of the sprint process, there was a clear emphasis to bring in good inspirational speakers to bring additional content and understanding from the health and wellbeing area. These were very successful and were well received by students. In the sprint, also communication was emphasized, and I wrote 2 blogs and 2 articles to LinkedIn. Additionally, a communications trainee wrote reflections about the sprint, and a tutor colleague made blog writings. For the future, it is important to have the writings to make this great project known and appealing to future students and tutors.

Tuula Tiihonen from Sitra gave the group an inspirational speech during the sprint

Business meets service design

Already in my previous writing, I took up the delicious crossroads of service design and business. Service designers are helping and consulting organizations and companies in innovating and improving services. On top of this, I feel that it would be important for companies to also have design thinking embedded in their organization. In the most cases, this would mean, having customer in the centre of their thinking. In companies, service operations should be seen from the perspective of the customer and the company. Embedding this dual thinking to companies would make a big difference in customer centricity and customer service in general. In my blog writing about Päivä Salo, ICT and marketing director of Pohjola Hospital, this view was taken up. Pohjola Hospital uses service designers in their projects but are also driving the customer centricity in their day to day work. This makes all the difference and has made Pohjola Hospital thrive. Read the blog from here.

Virtual facilitation

I have some experience in facilitating. When studying the area, I came across a list of to 10 skills that we need in the future to do our jobs. This list (below) is full of people and collaboration skills, and this is why I want to learn all that I can to be able to be a good facilitator. This is also a topic, like design thinking discussed in the previous paragraph, that should be on the list of all companies and organizations.

Top 10 skills in 2020. Source: Future of Jobs Report, World Economic Forum

During our sprint, yet I was present only for 2 days, I did feel moments of pondering. What do say to the group, where to guide the group and most of all, what are the right questions to ask the group to make them find the right path. These were times I would pop into our Zoom tutor -room and ask my colleagues for advice. To be able to practise the skills needed in the future was a great learning opportunity for me.

Thoughts about the sprint

Like all other group works, this also pulled the team together and made everybody feel to have a collective goal. Our tutor group consisted of 6 tutors and was very professional. This all created the tutor group and sense that they can focus on what they do best. The experience was a great learning opportunity for me in facilitating, design sprint and also writing.

I would like to thank the great tutor group Cecylia Kundera, Salla Kuuluvainen, Henriikka Tikka, Michelle Sahal Estime and Pirjo Valpas.  Also the teachers  Teemu Ruohonen, Päivi Mantere and Merja Lahdenperä who made this possible. Our project manager Heini Heinonen was excellent in her role and kept it all together

Writer of the blog is Hanna Lumenkoski, an MBA student in Haaga-Helia. She is a facilitator in the Digital Wellbeing Sprint 2020 and holds a position in marketing in the sector of information management solutions. She is also immensly interested in improving customer experience and success of businesses through design thinking.


Combining lessons from virtual and in person sprints

In the last week of May 2020, the Digital Wellbeing Sprint (DWS) brought together students and health tech companies to develop real life user-friendly digital solutions. The sprint is a collaboration between three Universities of Applied Sciences: Laurea, Metropolia and Haaga-Helia. This year, for the first time ever, the DWS was organized virtually because of the corona virus situation.

The Digital Wellbeing Sprint followed Google’s sprint methodology, as described in Jake Knapp’s book Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. The sprint week consisted of eight simultaneous sprints where 40 students in eight teams solved challenges from six health tech companies.

As a tutor, my role was to help design the process and facilitate the work of student teams, guiding the process and supporting along the way. These are my reflections and suggestions on how to make the DWS even more successful in the future.

Learning from virtual and in person sprints

The sprint has been organized four times in total, the first three face to face and this last one virtually. Both approaches have their strengths and I would suggest picking the low hanging fruit from both approaches in the organization of future sprints.

Teamwork benefits from face to face interaction

Developing a sense of community and building fruitful team dynamics can be quite challenging in virtual settings and benefit from meeting and getting to know each other face to face. This year, some students found it challenging to work in teams virtually, without ever meeting the other team members. As a facilitator, I noticed the same problematic in some of the groups, as conversations were not always flowing naturally. Upcoming Digital Wellbeing Sprints would benefit greatly from organizing at least the launch in person. Once the team has bonded, working not only becomes more efficient but more fun too. Friendships formed during the previous sprints, let’s aim for that in the future also!

Documentation of the process is easier digitally

Everyone who has organized face to face workshops probably recognizes the large amount of flap chart paper and post-its at the end of the workshop. What do you do with all that material? Take pictures and recycle. Digital documentation is much easier to work with and save long term. Depending on the tools used during the virtual sprint, you can keep the documentation of the complete process and export the data into more convenient formats. Mural for example allows exporting data to Excel, which makes it infinitely easier to sort, organize and work with large amounts of data after the sprint.

Virtual participation can make it easier to schedule time with external people

This year we had some amazing keynote speakers during the sprint week, you can read about some of them here and here.  Making it as easy as possible for external people to participate lowers the threshold to accept an invitation. This allows scheduling keynote speakers who would not have time to attend in person. Participating virtully also makes it more likely for company representatives to be available several times during the week. This is crucial both for the students in their design process and for the companies to get the most useful outcomes from the sprint. User testing is a key aspect in the sprint methodology and providing the option to interview virtually may make it easier to recruit testers.

Final thoughts

Being a part of this process has been an excellent, educational, whirlwind experience. It was great to learn how the sprint methodology works in practice, after having read about it in the past. For me learning by doing is definitely the way to go and the added challenge of running several simultaneous sprints gave me the confidence to use the sprint methodology at work in the future.

Much as design processes in general, the Digital Wellbeing Sprint is an iterative process. We live and we learn, we ask questions and change along the way. By combining learnings from the four previous years, from virtual and face to face, and the feedback from both students and tutors, the Digital Wellbeing Sprint develops and grows along the way. It will be interesting to see what DWS looks like next year!

About me

My background is in public health and communications. In the past few years I’ve grown increasingly interested in human centered design, social innovation and health innovation. I’m currently working at the Finnish HIV Foundation and I’m an MBA student at Laurea where my focus is on Innovative Digital Services of the Future. Read more about me and let’s connect on LinkedIn!


COVID-19’s effect on the accelerated use of AI in…

Day six in our Digital Wellbeing Sprint started with a digital lecture by Tuukka Vartiainen. He works as an enterprise architect in the Cloud and Cognitive -Unit of IBM. He guided us through some interesting cases in the start up scene which were made possible by the Watson Health Center.

The most interesting one was the case of a Finnish startup called All in One (AIN1 solution). The product contains a small censor that measures balance; in other words: how much you are moving when you are standing still in one leg. Balance is very important for humans and through its measurement we can learn a myriad of things. A censor can be worn in a band on your foot, around your waist, or a chest strap. The censor is useful for measuring the severity of sports accidents, like concussions, or elderly citizens capability to move around and function. Watson Health Center provided the company with the resources needed to get the project going, like connecting the firm with Suunto. The startup is currently doing well, All in One recently signed a deal with Jokerit, who use the product for concussion tests following ice hockey games. Within two years AIN1 managed to make a prototype and start selling the All In One solution.

Where are we currently in the field of AI?

According to Tuukka scientific society is now moving from mere digitalization to predictive analytics. Core AI is currently capable of machine learning, speech recognition and image analytics. In the near future biometrics and natural language generation should also be possible.

What kind of opportunities does this open for Finnish companies?

As always in the time of crisis, COVID-19 has accelerated technological advancement and paved the way for new inventions focusing our vision on the use of new and improved versions of technology. New project opportunities emerge for startups and larger companies as funding gets a kick in the international and national levels.

Tuukka introduced us the many ways in which AI technology has helped state and local governments manage individuals affected by COVID-19. The sudden increase in demand for services such as: Expanded telemedicine, contact tracing, data integrations, Virtual Call Center and Symptom- Monitoring Apps were all alleviated by the new AI-technology.

Last words on the digital sprint.

In our Digital Wellbeing Sprint we had challenges ranging from creating an app that improves workflow, creating a marketing plan for a startup, how to tackle trust issues in new AI services and how to address certain health target groups by app. The students did a good job completing the challenges with some projects proving so useful that the companies decided to adopt the projects into their work. All groups gave new ideas and certainly fresh perspectives for the companies. As one of the startup companies said, now we remember again why we started to do this in the first place!

Blog is based on a presentation by Tuukka Vartiainen and talks with start up companies in the venue.

Blog was written by Pirjo Valpas, M.Sc. / Facilitator in Design Wellbeing Sprint 2020. Pirjo is currently studying Service Design degree in Laurea University of Applied Science and has background in media.


Trends and visions in health and wellness

This blog is written based on an presentation given by Tuula Tiihonen from Sitra. She is a Senior Lead from Capacity of Renewal -unit of Sitra.

The sprint Tuesday got to a rocket start with an inspirational speech by Tuula Tiihonen from Sitra. Finns are familiar to Sitra and that they work in multiple sectors of the finnish society. In short, Sitra is working for a society with sustainable well-being for all. Sitra is also publishing content regarding megatrends and how do they affect our future and lives.

’A megatrend is a general direction of development, consisting of several phenomena, or a wide-ranging process of change’ – Mikko Dufva, Sitra (www.sitra.fi)

Tuula gave us a tour of the phenomena and megatrends in the area of health and well-being. The trend of societies getting older and at the same time fever people born to carry the costs, is creating pressure to communities and social welfare. Tuula made the notion that due to these major issues, it is important to move from sick care towards more preventive health care measures.

                         ’ Move towards preventive care is important in the future’ -Tuula Tiihonen

This move is in full speed already and a lot of good initiatives are on the market already. Also the design sprint 2020 is welcomed by Tuula to bring more innovations to this sector which is in great change as we speak.

Megatrends affecting us

Tuula introduced us to the megatrends affecting us from the point of view of health and wellbeing.

  1. Growth of life expentancy
  2. Urbanization
  3. Challenges in public sector economy
  4. Digitalization and development of logistics
  5. Genome technology
  6. Individual health and wellbeing
  7. Hyperconnective society
  8. Robotics

On top of these trends increasing the cost burden of the public sector, they also mean a lot more.  For example the need for individual health services will increase in the future and also the value of human care will be valued.

Where we are now?

The Finnish start up community is doing al ot already. Great innovations are being born regularly to the sector of health and wellbeing. A key future trend is that the patient will be more involved in the treatment and the interest that people have in their own wellbeing is seen in the innovations as well. The patient has changed over the years. More and more this will be seen in services and products that combine self monitoring with healthcare providers.

A great service of Omaolo is a good example. A service incorporating the services of healthcare professionals into one and accessible whenever from where ever. Omaolo has pioneered in the use of data to create a holistic view of a persons health and how to utilize that in treatment virtually. The data is incorporated to other data about the patient to create a view of the health and for example to predict the possibility of heart or other conditions. Already now companies, such as Oura, have peoples motivation to monitor their recovery and sleep in the center of their product.

What can be seen in the future?

In can be said that we are on the verge of a 4th industrial revolution. The characteristics are big data, AI, robotics and technologies we have not even seen. According to research institute Forrester the penetration of mobile phones is high and people want to have more digital services. A fundamental change is this new era is that people have changed and that they want to get services in a new way. Many private sector health care providers are already having for example chat services and virtual appointments.

It is important to focus more on prevention and prediction in order to save money. How can we do that? A lof of great applications of technology are already in the market and more are innovated all the time. The big questions are that how do we leverage them to the maximum and at the same time maintain the human aspect and importance of peer support. Also, the ethical questions are to be taken into consideration.

Technology has already made it possible that the data from a persons heart rate monitor is in the disposal of the treating doctor. Applications to make the lives of elderly people living at home easier to monitor are also already in the market. How to predict the future care need based on data of what is happening now? These trends also increase the need for personalized services to accommodate individual needs.

Even the first digital medicine has received an FDI approval. This opens new possibilities to track individually through a mobile application that how is a certain medication working in a patients body.

A trend in the future may also be that we have virtual medical assistants, think about an Alexa that would be able to tell you how you feel and what measures you should take to keep yourself in good health!

Think about the patient first

Having the patient in the center of solutions is a key trend in the future. Technology is evolving in a pace that we have never seen, but the human aspect has to be kept as the priority. Omaolo is a good example of how to make technology serve the patient. No robotics can ever replace the human connection.

Thank you Tuula for an extremely inspiring speech for our teams!

Writer of the blog is Hanna Lumenkoski, an MBA student in Haaga-Helia. She is a facilitator in the Digital Wellbeing Sprint 2020 and holds a position in marketing in the sector of information management solutions. She is also immensly interested in improving customer experience and success of businesses through design thinking.