Tutor application for DWS 2021 open! DWS

Join us as a tutor in the DWS 2021!

Do you want to help create digital services of the future for the health and wellbeing sector? We are looking for Master students (University of Applied Sciences) to tutor and facilitate this year’s Digital Wellbeing Sprint. The DWS is being organized 21-28 May 2021, mostly virtually but Covid-19 permitting also partly face to face in Helsinki.

Your tasks as a tutor will include:

Participating in the 3UAS Digital Wellbeing Sprint intensive course as a tutor. During the DWS, multidisciplinary teams of students from 3UAS (Haaga-Helia, Laurea and Metropolia) create development ideas for healthcare and wellbeing service providers from the public and private sectors. Your task as a tutor is to support the development process and the students´ work. You can choose your own perspective as a utor: supporting the service design process, external communication, improving the group dynamics etc. As a tutor you will participate in shaping and designing the sprint before the course, facilitate the groupwork during the sprint and support in the evaluation of students after the sprint.

Read some of the experiences from last year’s tutors here: Salla, Cecylia, Hanna and Michelle.

What we offer tutors:

  • Experience in organizing a Google Ventures Design Sprint
  • An exciting and fun course, where you will develop hands on service design skills
  • 5 ECTS credits
  • The possibility to network with professionals in the health and wellbeing sectors
  • One of the tutors will be offered the part time position of project manager for the DWS 2022 next year.

We expect that you are capable to collaborate with different people and that you have some experience in development work. We appreciate a positive attitude, innovative and curious mind-set and willingness to learn new skills and develop the sprint with other tutors.

Apply to be a tutor at the Digital Wellbeing Sprint by 27 January 2021 through this link!

More information: Päivi Mantere, 046 856 7465 or project manager Michelle Sahal Estimé


”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.


Multiple remote Design Sprints – the agile way of…

Multiple remote Design Sprints – the agile way of solving challenges in times of pandemics (12 steps for designers)

Design Sprint Methodology was invented by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz to solve challenges and test new ideas in companies in just a few days. When the first Sprint book was published in 2016, the authors were not sure if the methodology would work remotely. A few years later, the remote version of Sprint was created. It seems like an ideal solution in times of pandemics for companies that operate fully remotely, but does it really work? Does it work for multiple sprints happening simultaneously and teams of people who have just met? 

Spoiler alert, we confirm Design Sprints can be done successfully remotely. What is more, it can be done on a large scale – you can successfully run 8 sprints simultaneously. In our case, it was 8 teams solving challenges provided by 6 companies from the health and wellbeing sector. Finally, design sprints, though designed for solving challenges by a team already familiar with the company and challenge, can also work for strangers new to the problem collaborating together. 

To make it happen however, the process requires some modifications.  Let me share some useful tips which may help you in organising your remote Design Sprint(s). I will try not to repeat key learnings and practices already listed by my colleague, Salla Kuuluvainen , which couldn’t have been better written and I highly recommend reading Key learnings from designing a remote multi sprint event. I will rather elaborate on some of them and add some more practical takeaways for those who consider organising multiple remote sprints. 

12 steps worth considering while designing multiple remote design sprints:

1.Give more time

The original Sprint is 5 days long. There is also the modification by A&J Smart, approved by Sprint authors, which lasts 4 days only. If you run 8 sprints simultaneously, participants are new to the challenge, and team building is required, even 5 days are not enough. You need more time at the beginning of the Sprint. This is why we split the first day program into two. Finally, we also added a Pitch day when teams presented their solutions to companies.

The original program of Sprint modified for the Digital Wellbeing Sprint needs. Original image from Mural Design Sprint template by Steph Cruchon (Design Sprint Ltd), Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Jackie Colburn.

The original program of Sprint modified for the Digital Wellbeing Sprint needs. Original image from Mural Design Sprint template by Steph Cruchon (Design Sprint Ltd), Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Jackie Colburn.

2. Have the right amount of remote design sprint team members.

It is said that the optimal amount of Design Sprint participants is up to 7 people. In terms of the online version of a Sprint, with team members who do not know each other and are unfamiliar with the company and the challenge, it is better to have teams of less than 7 members. We had a chance to observe the dynamic of 8 groups consisting of 4 to 6 participants and among them the most developed prototypes had groups consisting of 5 participants. It might have been due to each team’s challenge area of focus. Nevertheless, the online group dynamic is definitely different than offline. Particularly, if you need to include team building in the Sprint process, I would recommend having 5 members per team.

3. Have the right challenge – one per Sprint

The challenge at Design Sprint needs to be well-defined. Unlike other design processes, in the Google Design Sprint process there is no time to do research on the problem and empathise with users, so teams need to rely on company representative knowledge. This is why the company representative needs to be present, especially in the moments where the role of the Decider is crucial (defining a long-term goal and sprint questions, adjusting a map, picking a target, selecting a solution to prototype).

We noticed that teams who had company representatives involved throughout the process were able to produce results which were much more appreciated and valued by the companies. Not to mention that the companies also benefited from fruitful discussions and ideas which weren’t picked to prototype. 

4. Ignite the additional power of  innovation “stealing” and individual ideation

What I personally appreciate from The Design sprint methodology is the included time for finding inspiration, the so-called Lightning demo. When you look at all great innovation, you will notice that it is based on existing ideas. We equipped participants with an additional source of inspiration by providing keynote speakers from IBM, Sitra, Helsinki Business Hub or Proimpro.

Additionally, the Sprint authors understood the power of individual ideation instead of popular group brainstorming sessions. Group brainstorming sessions are proven to be less effective in terms of the amount and quality of ideas compared to individuals working alone according to research done by Yale University in 1958. This is why the Design Sprint authors introduced “brainwriting and drawing” (sketching) in their Sprint Methodology. Through this process you can be sure of the quality of ideas but you need some quantity as well.

Examples of Design Sprint ideas on Mural (Art museum)
Examples of Design Sprint ideas on Mural (Art museum)

If you have less than seven team members, which is recommended in terms of online Sprints, you will have less inspiring examples in the Lightning Demo part. In addition, you will have less examples in ideation later unless you increase the requested number of ideas per person in the instructions. I would highly recommend you do it.  

5. Instead of storyboards ask for user flows (if relevant)

Storyboards are usually associated with a comic story with heroes which is great for visualising an offline service or a customer journey. However, storyboards in the design sprint are a map and guideline for your prototype. If your prototype is supposed to be online e.g. a website or an app, which is more likely in the virtual sprint, it may be useful to simply call it a user flow from the user experience field. Otherwise it may be confusing. 

6. Have a tangible prototype which can be tested online

One of the Sprint Days is entirely dedicated to prototyping. It seems too short, but it is enough to develop a working facade of your solution to test it with users. This amount of time prevents you from spending hours on polishing the wrong solution. Instead, you will have a low fidelity prototype which enables you to collect better feedback. People are more willing to share their real thoughts once you show them the functional draft instead of a high quality version. There is one more rule you need to follow when doing the Design Sprint online. You need to have this prototype adjusted to online testing. It needs to be understandable and interactive online and you need to take this into account while developing it.

A woman carrying a phone and sitting in front of her laptop

7. The core of Sprint is testing with real users. 

The first challenge to solve here is to find the right testers. It may be tricky especially if you don’t know who your users are. You can start recruiting during a Sprint once you specify your target. However, whenever possible I would recommend asking companies to engage in providing testers. They are the ones who know their clients  best and they will be more willing to believe in results provided. It is proven that 4 testers allow you to have 85% of problems identified. However, having the 5th tester enables you to really spot those patterns (Nielsen et al., 1993).

For testing, you will need to use some online communication tool which enables a tester to share its screen and have the camera switched on at the same time for example: Zoom, Teams, Skype. It is better to use a different communication tool for testing than the one you use for the whole Sprint. A good practice for interview observers is to have the camera switched off in contrast to the interviewee and interviewer. 

Other than above, the rules of interviewing are the same as offline.

8. Have one common tool for communication

We used Zoom and Mural as well as Onedrive and Moodle for communication with teams. Salla tackled it in her article. We also allowed teams to self-organise regarding their communication giving them a choice to use any tool including Basecamp, a tool recommended by the Design Sprint authors. No team picked Basecamp but it turned out that having one common place where tutors can add materials and where teams can share their results could be very helpful. Basecamp could easily replace Onedrive, Moodle and any other tool used for internal team material sharing and discussions. If I were to run 8 sprints once again, I would definitely use Basecamp for all Design Sprint communication, especially knowing how intuitive it is.

Digital Wellbeing Sprint on Basecamp
Digital Wellbeing Sprint on Basecamp

9. Use diverse online energisers

Using the chat feature is a great way to energise your Sprint participants, but don’t overuse it. The core of energisers is diversity and novelty for your participants. Use breakout rooms when it requires one-on-one or small team interactions. The order in which your neighbours appear on your Zoom screen is exactly the same as everyone else sees it, so you may easily invent some interactions based on this. 

Design Sprint community
Group photo with our Sprint community

10. Tandem virtual facilitation work

It is always good to facilitate Sprints in a 2 person team as the second facilitator who is not giving instructions can easily spot group needs and be able to immediately jump in if any technological issue appears, for example, being on mute. The second facilitator can also follow the questions on chat and react to them while you are showing the Mural boards. This is why in the Digital Wellbeing Sprint tutors were divided into 2 person teams.

11.Overcoming a groan zone during the Design Sprint

If you don’t always  have a Decider  in the room, who helps at Design sprints to minimize the risk of experiencing a groan zone, you are more likely to encounter it. For those who do not have a clue what a groan zone is, it is a common moment in the design process where you feel overwhelmed and confused and are not sure how to proceed. 

If this happens, make everyone speak and share their concerns and ideas for a solution and clarify the purpose. You can name it and say that it is typical. Aim to find a way for a team compromise. Have your cameras switched on whenever possible, so that others know that you are present and listening to them.

12. Have a backup plan

If it is an event for 40 people you need to be prepared for any emergency from technical problems such as a slow Sprint Mural board template, explained in Salla’s article, to anything else that may arise. Use your imagination by asking yourself “what if” questions and prepare for it in advance. The more you have rethought, the better your Sprints will be. The rest is having a great team to enjoy your Sprint roller coaster ride.

Last but not least – have fun with the right team

We had the right team to take and really enjoy these multiple remote design sprint roller coaster rides and I would like to thank Salla Kuuluvainen, Heini Heinonen, Michelle Sahal Estime, Hanna Lumenkoski, Henriikka Tikka, Pirjo Valpas and Teemu Ruohonen, Päivi Mantere and Merja Lahdenperä without whom this couldn’t be successful. I have learned a lot from this program co-designing and facilitation experience. Thank you!

If you are interested in how remote sprints work in comparison to offline sprints, we have some interesting data to share.

The Digital Wellbeing Sprint has been organised by 3AMK – Haaga-Helia, Laurea and Metropolia Universities of Applied Sciences for the first time fully remotely this year due to the pandemic. Only two out of 40 participants strongly thought that the offline environment is much more suitable for a Sprint. It is most probably related to the participant’s experience with Mural as a similar amount didn’t enjoy working on Mural due to its slowness. The Mural team promised to make some improvements in the near future, so this may no longer be an issue. Despite the issues with Mural, 7 groups delivered solutions which were highly appreciated by companies who claimed to implement them in the nearest future.  

Stay tuned for upcoming events.

About the author:

Cecylia Kundera is a digital project leader and a service designer helping companies to design and deliver real value. She is especially fond of implementing a foresight approach and holistic mindset in design, because the Earth is not only for human beings. 

Ready to get in touch with you if you have any questions.


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!

Design Sprint community Yleinen

Key Learnings from Designing a Remote Multi Sprint Event

This is a reflection on learnings on designing the Digital Health and Wellbeing Sprint Event, a Remote Design Sprint. I should say sprints, since we actually run simultaneously 8 sprints with teams that were working with 6 different startup companies in the health and wellbeing sector.

The sprint teams were students of three universities of applied sciences in the Helsinki region (Laurea, Metropolia and Haaga-Helia). We were a team of 5 facilitators, a project manager and three teachers from the universities, and 40 students in 8 sprint teams. As we are in times of corona, the sprint which was originally supposed to be a face-to-face event was moved online.

A group photo of the design sprint participants
Group photo with sprint community

We used the Google Sprint methodology created by Jake Knapp – though we made some adjustments to timing, extending the sprint to seven days from the original five, added some inspirational speakers and a final pitching event for the sprint teams to present their solutions to the companies. The new Remote Design Sprint Guide was a very useful resource for us when designing. The online tools we used were Zoom for sound and video connection and Mural as virtual whiteboard tool. We also used a Mural template for remote design sprints (which doesn’t seem exist on Mural anymore).

Every day we congregated in Zoom, where the teams would get instructions about methods for the day and then work in their challenge in breakout rooms, on their team Mural boards. The teams had no facilitators, but worked in a self-organizing manner, and had help from the facilitator team whose members would pop in periodically to ask if everything was going smoothly. Some days the teams had more independent time and no support from facilitators.

A team’s Mural board with tasks for the sprint
Example of a sprint team Mural board with tasks

Main learnings from Digital Health and Wellbeing Sprint

Formulate the Right Challenge

Sprint as a methodology is different from some other human centric design methods, since it doesn’t allow much time for exploring and scoping down a problem. Also, the sprint is not an ideation method producing loads of out-of-the-box ideas, instead the beauty and efficacy of the sprint lies in the fact that within five days of working together you will have a functioning prototype of your solution, tested on real users.

This means that the challenge or problem for the sprint needs to be formulated properly. A too broad challenge won’t bring sensible results and will be frustrating for the team working on it. Some of the challenges we worked with were somewhat too broad, though I’m very grateful to my facilitator colleague Cecylia Kundera who did a lot of work in trying to make the best out of the challenges. The challenge needs to be formulated in a way that allows the group to start thinking about solutions right away – for example having a set target group or not having several different questions in the challenge.

A Sense of Community Doesn’t Just Happen Online

A sense of community doesn’t just appear in an online event in the same way as in a face to face event. There are ways of how a sense of community can be enhanced during the event. We had a Mural board that people would fill in with a few details and pictures about themselves before the design sprint. During the sprint we had a morning and evening one word check-in in the chat, which was a great way to gauge the feelings of the sprint teams. As expected, there was much excitement in the beginning and somewhat a slump in the middle

a warm-up exercise Mural to be filled before the sprint
The warm up Mural with presentations of people
An example of warm-up task

Team Collaboration is Key

In innovation events were strangers collaborate, it is very important to allow for enough time to discuss expectations and what kind of skills everyone brings to the team, in order to make the collaboration effective. The Design Sprint methodology itself doesn’t address getting to know each other in the sprint team, so that was added as part of our event. The teams had some time and questions during the first day to get to know each other. As such, the team constellations were made ahead the event with the idea of having people from diverse backgrounds in the same team.

In hindsight, we could have done more for leaving some room in schedule to discuss things like Yes,and… thinking, which is very crucial for a fast moving process like a sprint. Yes, and.. means that it is important to try to build on others’ ideas and try to be a productive team member in moving the process along.

Technology May Fail

When you are working with a complex setup like a Remote design sprint with 8 different remote teams, issues with technology can either make it or break it. If there’s a team member who has issues with internet connection or is less used to working with digital tools, the event may become not accessible for them and highly frustrating.

For as, the major tech issue occurred with Mural. There’s a readymade template in Mural specifically made for Remote Design Sprints. We used the template with a few modifications of our own, copied for all the 8 sprint teams. The unfortunate news is that the template is too big and therefore becomes extremely slow, basically rendering the whole template unusable and driving the sprint teams mad.

We solved this by making individual Murals for the different days of the sprint for all the teams, which was a lot of work during the event. In our communication with Mural they have promised some improvements which should help, but as the time for our sprint those were not yet functional. Other than the slowness of the template, Mural was a very useful tool during the event, and easy to use for the participants.

Information Needs to Flow Uninhibited

In the Remote Design Sprint Guide Jake Knapp et al. recommend using Basecamp as a tool for information exchange during the sprint. We did not use Basecamp, and for document storage for the teams we offered OneDrive folders and the students also had access to a Moodle LMS environment.

During the event it became very clear that especially for a multi-sprint event you do need a very solid structure for information sharing between all parties of the event – now the sprint teams kept forgetting about the OneDrive folders and how to access them, the facilitators were not able to upload anything to the Moodle environment, and the only way to communicate with sprint teams outside of Zoom was emails sent by the project manager, and in Zoom the communication from and to breakout rooms is not practical. It would have been very good to have a communication and file storage channel that everyone would have been able to access with questions or updates, since inevitably there will be all kinds of changes and needs to share information during a complex event.

One useful practice that we implemented was to create one breakout room in Zoom for the facilitator team. There we had privacy to discuss tech issues or any other problems the sprint teams were expressing, instead of having those discussions in the main room in Zoom.

The Decider Role is Important

The Design Sprint methodology is originally created for a team inside a company to work developing A solution. In our case, the sprint teams were external students who had relatively little time to discuss their challenges with companies, though we did our best to include the company representatives in several phases of the sprint. There are specific phases in the sprint where a Decider role is applied to make a final decision about which solution will go forward.

We noticed that the teams which were able to discuss their solution with the company during the sprint produced ideas that the companies found more useful at the end of the sprint. So, if you find yourself in similar setup with an external team sprinting for a solution, do try to engage the client in every phase where a Decider is needed, even if it may seem unnecessary.

Final thoughts

The process of facilitating this sprint was intense – and also fun! The complexity organizing it virtually is huge, and as a facilitator you have to stay constantly vigilant to make sure everyone stays on board. There’s also lots of work to be done ahead of the event. During the event one of the teachers, who was responsible for creating breakout rooms described it as feeling like working in flight control. But when you manage to pull it off it feels great – I also got the feeling the companies got some valuable solutions to their challenges from the 8 sprint teams.

I would like to thank the organizing team Cecylia Kundera, Hanna Lumenkoski, Heini Heinonen, Henriikka Tikka, Michelle Sahal Estime, Pirjo Valpas and Teemu Ruohonen, Päivi Mantere and Merja Lahdenperä for this amazing experience and all the hard work, as well as the companies and students who participated in making this happen.

About the author

Salla Kuuluvainen

Salla Kuuluvainen is a Service Designer and Facilitator working at Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Finland. She is interested in virtual co-creation and how innovation can be boosted through better collaboration. See Salla’s portfolio.


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 (

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.


Virtual and remote health care are here to stay

This blog writing is the second of the writings that are published before the digital wellbeing sprint takes place. The blog reveals the thoughts of central figures in the industry regarding trends and changes taking place in health care sector.

An interview with Päivi Salo, IT and marketing director at Pohjola Hospital took place to further understand what are the digital initiatives in healthcare and also to hear about her thoughts about the future.

Päivi has made a robust career in health care since 2014. Central to her career has been working with digital initiatives and projects.

Digital healthcare of today

My heart beats for digital health, she states. The world has changed after the outbreak of COVID-19, and the pace of digital health development will continue to speed up. Service providers in both public and private sector have provided virtual and remote health services for many years, but due to the upbreak of the pandemic, the demand for these services has advanced a lot. Since the demand has grown, also the use areas of remote and virtual health services has broadened. Now a wide range of health issues can be seen to virtually and remotely. It is not any more about treating the most simplest infections for instance. 

                                                    ‘Customers today are really accepting virtual health care’ –Päivi Salo

What has changed in health care to make these digital leaps possible? To begin with, technology to support remote and virtual health care has been developed already years ago. What really has changed is that customers are also more and more accepting virtual appointments with doctors. Customers are also getting used to discussing with chatbots in connection to other services, this is also making the adoptation of chatbots easier in healthcare. It has to be remembered that privacy is respected in the form of legislation very highly. This is also setting the pace of digital services in healthcare.

What are the trends in health care?

What does the future for digital health care look like? Päivi says that she sees a couple of things happening already in the international arena

  1. Artificial intelligence generating data to support health care professionals in clinical diagnostics and decision support. This enables the care providers to focus more on the patient. This is the area where most of the development is happening and new use cases are appearing frequently.
  2. Digital leap in remote and virtual health care services has already been taken and it is becoming mainstream in various areas of healthcare. There’s no turning back even after the pandemics. These leaps happen quite suddenly though. 3 years ago, we were not ready to use chat bots, now we love them. In health care as well in the future.
  3. Digital health applications give customers access to their own data. By getting access to all the information of your own health, patients are empowered to take care of their own health, which will bring better outcome of the care.

’Digital leaps happen very suddenly’

Päivi has a good view of the international arena. I asked her that how is Finland doing in the comparison. Top of the game, she says. Päivi is a part of HIMSS Future 50 community of leaders, and therefore has a solid understanding of international innovations and development in the health care sector.

Meaning of design in Pohjola Hospital

We also discussed the meaning of design for health care. Päivi states that being customer centric is in their DNA. Pohjola Hospital is rather a young organization and their culture is very patient-oriented. All development and process improvements start with the customer need and so do digital health initiatives as well. Service designers are utilized in these projects as to bring a holistic view about the problem that needs to be solved.  She reminds as well that in the middle of all development efforts, it is important to have a view of the bigger picture and make sure that you are not solving the symptom, but tackling the root causes.

Tips for the sprint

As a tip for a succesful sprint Päivi mentiones that the customers and health care professionals must be kept at the center. Always keep in mind that digital health solutions are used only if they add value to the users. So designing added value to the customer is the key to success. An above all, have fun and celebrate also the small wins on the way!

Päivi Salo.

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.



This blog marks the start of a series of Design Wellbeing Sprint blogs that introduce trends in the wellbeing start up field as well as companies that operate in that field. Later we will also give you insights of the Design Wellbeing Sprint which takes place May 22-29, 2020. First in line is Lauri Kuronen from Health Capital Helsinki.

Tell us a little about yourself and the company which you represent.

Hi, my name is Lauri Kuronen. I work as a Business Advisor in Health Capital Helsinki. We’re a publicly funded project and our goal is to build the greatest health capital: we boost collaboration within the Greater Helsinki health ecosystem, enable innovation-driven companies to grow and attract foreign companies to establish their businesses.

Before Health Capital Helsinki, I worked 8 years in MedTech and Health sectors in different positions in several SMEs providing new digital solutions. My heart beats for the start-ups and entrepreneurship. I work closely with start-ups and try to help them to grow bigger and better. I’ll try to open doors for them in our network and for example matchmake them with the right investors in Finland or abroad. I’m also an operative team member in Health Incubator Helsinki, a unique three-year incubator program for research-based health sector teams and start-ups.

What are the main technology trends in wellbeing field currently? In your opinion, what is the most significant of the trends? Why?

I want to highlight two trends that are rising at the moment. These two trends are often combined when developing new innovations. First is the digital health solutions where the healthcare transformation is usually done with a novel software solution. For example, many care processes can be renewed and done with application where the care pathway is digitalized and standardized. The user interface simplifies and intensifies the information flow between hospital, healthcare professionals and the patient.

Second is the usage of the healthcare data from biobanks, clinical data and genetic information. The data collected from different sources can be used to create algorithms that can identify risk patients with different illnesses and predict for example epidemics. The solutions and approaches will make treatments increasingly more cost-efficient, successful and affordable to patients.

What kind of opportunities these trends open to Finnish companies in that field? Do you have an example in mind?

Healthcare as a sector is quite old-fashioned and taking new solutions into the use will need time, validation and clinical evidence. The most successful companies collaborate and co-create their solutions together with healthcare professionals where the development is done from a need perspective.

One great example is Buddy Healthcare, a Helsinki based digital health company. Their solution is mobile care coordination and patient engagement platform which solves the most significant problems hospitals, clinics and patients are facing in surgeries: patient adherence to treatment, late cancellations and no-shows, administrative work and care quality. They platform is used from pre-hospital to post-hospital phase by patients, hospital and healthcare professionals where all the needed information and communications is done through the platform. Their latest version is used to track Covid-19 patient symptoms when the patient is at homecare.

Could you please give our DWS student participants three points for the development process in the design week.

Always start the development process from the need perspective, in the end this creates the most value. Unfortunately, the development process starts often from the solution point-of-view where during the process the customer needs won’t be taken into consideration. There are several ways of collecting customer information and how understanding of customers can be built through this. My experiences are that the sooner you involve the end-user to the development process, the easier it is to get the best insight and knowledge and, in the end, a happy customer.

Don’t assume, ask for a help! It’s very risky but so human to make assumptions for example of the customer’s need or market entry-strategy. There have been entrepreneurs forever and many have succeeded or failed with their business. Usually people are very keen on sharing the information and learnings to others, you just have to ask them. I’ve learned that opening your mouth and asking from the more experienced people would have saved me from many mistakes concerning how to run a company or starting a new product development project.

Be agile and be ready for pivoting. When developing a new solution or running a start-up company will be different compared to more stable business. Usually in some phase the development process won’t proceed as planned, this can be due to some technical difficulties or changed market environment. So, don’t be afraid to change plans and try something new if the old doesn’t work. Try to think the situations as a continues learning experience through The OODA loop cycle (observe–orient–decide–act).

And lastly, always stay positive and enjoy the ride! If there are not any new development projects or start-ups, the world won’t progress.

Lauri Kuronen will give a speech concerning further digital wellbeing technology/future trends in the Digital Wellbeing Sprints opening day May 22th, 2020.

Interview was done 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.