Multi-organisational responsibility training for entrepreneurs

Services for micro-entrepreneurs should be concrete, easy to use and practical. The service pathway should be very simple and illustrative in visual terms. Service design methods can be used to develop such services in cooperation between universities, business services and entrepreneurs. Service design methods could also be used in micro-enterprises to develop agile products and services to create value for customers in the form of better customer experiences and more personalized services, thus also creating a competitive advantage and economic benefits for the company.
Ihmisiä neuvotteluhuoneessa: Janne Peltoniemi, Mira Valkjärvi, Katja Viiliäinen-Tyni, Heidi Pasanen, Eeva Leinonen, Alina Pihlajaniemi ja Jaana Jeminen
Janne Peltoniemi, Mira Valkjärvia and Katja Viiliäinen-Tyni from Centria University of Applied Science, Heidi Pasanen City of Kalajoki; Eeva Leinonen UniOuluKSI MicroENTRE, Alina Pihlajaniemi, NIHAK and Jaana Jeminen, UniOuluKSI MicroENTRE.

Service Design is a multidisciplinary approach that brings together different actors to solve intangible and holistic challenges using participatory design methods. Genuinely collaboration, participatory working methods and people working with people together, can design value-creating service concepts. Service design is strategic development work and enables the sharing of human, authentic and experiential knowledge within organizations. Customer value creation must be a strategic focus of both the company and the organization, and many design methods can be used to instill it in companies and organizations. (Rytilahti, Miettinen ed. 2016)

The aim of the ViVa - Green Responsibility in Micro-enterprises project has been to develop a service concept for micro-entrepreneurs' responsibility training. The project is implemented by the University of Oulu Kerttu Saalasti Institute, MicroENTRE (main implementer); Centria University of Applied Sciences from Kokkola; Nivala-Haapajärvi Region NIHAK ry and the City of Kalajoki. The project is funded by the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment of Northern Ostrobothnia, the participating municipalities of Northern Ostrobothnia and the Kerttu Saalasti Foundation.

Our common goal has been to start by jointly developing a service concept for micro-entrepreneurs' responsibility coaching. The challenge was how to get a coherent service experience for the micro-entrepreneur client from the different work packages of four different organizations?

The aim of the micro-entrepreneurs' responsibility training is to update entrepreneurs’ responsibility skills, increase their understanding of companies’ responsibility issues and develop a responsibility plan for their company (ViVa Road Map) easily and effortlessly. The training consists of a company-specific interview, a baseline survey, an online coaching session, visits to responsible companies, an on-site coaching session and a final assessment. The concrete objective of the course is for the participant to develop a company’s responsibility plan for their own company.

Before the actual start of the micro-entrepreneurship training, a project team of nine people from four different organizations developed the concept of the responsibility training service and the organization of the practical implementation with tools and schedules. The service concept was developed using co-development, a service design process, participatory methods, agile development and experimentation, testing, the Service Blueprint idea, data visualization and continuous evaluation and feedback discussions. In co-development, business developers and business development managers were invited as appropriate to contribute ideas, and micro-entrepreneurs were invited to test and provide feedback during the development phase. There was a genuine desire to develop a customer-oriented, micro-entrepreneurial responsibility coaching service process.

From the very beginning of the project, we also focused on the visual appearance and the overall colour scheme. The visualization of the brochures, the coaching environment and the tools used gives a professional and coherent picture of the four different organizations working together towards their customers.

The service concept was developed in the autumn of 2021 and the pilot period for responsibility training began in January 2022. The first sustainability training was carried out by 19 participants from a variety of industries, including wellness, tourism, food, industry and trade. As a result of the development of the service concept and the evaluation results of the first training programme for micro-entrepreneurs, a few clear success factors can be identified in the development and implementation of a service for micro-entrepreneurs in four different organizations.

Although universities and universities of applied sciences, as educational institutions, teach scientific knowledge, we must be able to translate these foreign words into words that are easy to understand and clearly refer to concrete issues (popularization of scientific knowledge). The training programme and its tools must be clear, simple and very practical. The objective should be very concrete and the benefits to the company should be easily understandable.

Successful experiences can be experienced in different ways, so we offered online coaching, face-to-face coaching and side-by-side sparring. Our online coaching platform is very easy to use and the service path is very simple and visualized illustrative.

Clearly, the most effective results iof concept development were achieved through live meetings. The kick-off meeting of the people from the developer organizations at the beginning of the project cannot be underestimated! It is very important to meet face to face and be physically in the same place. People with people designing a service concept for people (Rytilahti, Miettinen ed. 2016).

The multidisciplinary composition of several organizations from several locations was our clear strength. A diversity of experience and a combination of skills will lead to the best solutions.

For profit for good: developing organizations through service design. Rytilahti, P. & Miettinen, S. (ed.). 2016 Rovaniemi: University of Lapland, Faculty of Arts (Faculty of Arts Publications B. Research Reports; No. 11)

Service Design for Business: value creation opportunities through service design research. Miettinen, S. A.,
Jylkäs, T. N. J., Jeminen, J. & Tikkanen, H. 2016 Inflection Point: Design research meets design practice Boston:

Design Management Institute, pp. 459-474

Jaana Jeminen, Designer, M.Sc. (Econ.), Project Manager, Microentrepreneurship Centre MicroENTRE, University of Oulu Kerttu Saalasti Institute.

Photo: Riina Varila