Metoder Emma Patel

Understand behavioural drivers with service design

Emma Patel


Emma Patel är redaktör och skriver för Tjänstedesignbloggen.

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) recently teamed up with us in order to test a new approach for understanding what it is about cooking behaviour that blocks the uptake of improved stoves. SEI do a lot of research projects in low income countries and this project took us to Kenya and Zambia and next Thursday we are co-hosting a breakfast seminar talking about the project. One of the speakers is Marie Jürisoo, (researcher at SEI) so we asked her a few questions about the project

Please tell us about the project!
– This project is about learning more about what motivates people in Kenya and Zambia to purchase and start to cook on a modern cookstove. We also want to learn more about what kind of support and services people need in order to use a modern cookstove.

Marie Jürisoo  (researcher at SEI) talking to women in Zambia. 

Why did you want to work with service design?
– We realised that many of the “standard” methods for gathering information about people’s motivation and decision-making around new technologies were not adequate. Often, people cannot verbalise some of the most important motivating factors for switching to a new technology or service. For instance, if you ask someone if they like their stove, they almost always say “yes”. At the same time you observe awkward behaviour and also see a shiny, unused, stove sitting on a shelf.

What do you think of service design as a method?
– I have a lot of experience doing semi-structured and open-ended interviews. One of the biggest differences to me when working with service designers was the use of trigger material, such as pictures, pens, paper, and smiley faces, during the conversations. The use of visual material served both as an effective icebreaker, but also got people talking about unexpected things. Another eye-opening difference was structuring the interview around a “customer journey”, as it helped both the interviewee and myself to point out specific points in time when “pain” or “gain” points either existed or were missing for the user.

Trigger material for the conversations.

What were the biggest challenges and the biggest outcome?
– One of the biggest challenges is aligning the “rigour” of scientific research approaches with the “top of mind” of service design. I think one important step toward the end is to more carefully document how iterations and analysis happen during a service design project. SEI and Transformator are currently working together on several reports that describe our joint project.

The biggest outcome is probably that we have applied service design methods in two entirely new contexts – rural Kenya and urban Zambia. We will make the results available through seminars and reports to anyone who is interested to learn more about our joint work.

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Read more about the project!