Category: Design Thinking

Actively Designing to Values, DtVs



I would like to thank the team at CMP’s Design & Innovation Global for the opportunity to present at Design Thinking Digital Summit. This was my first public talk in my new job as Chief Designer for Nokia Software, which made the occasion even more memorable for me.

I am also grateful for the continued one one one discussions that some of us are having over LinkedIn messaging, and the opportunity to exchange insights on the topic.


Value (singular) refers to the correlation between perceived and comparative worth and quality of a solution in the shape of a product and/or service.

Perceived value is a performance metric, a lagging indicator that confirms the degree to which design’s outcomes are met: market desirability and customer delight being two examples.

Brand Equity Value (BEV) is the ultimate measurement of composite business performance as a whole.


Values (plural) relate to our design belief system and, therefore, the culture that equips the job with moral imagination, drive, purpose and meaning.

Design’s human centricity is the soul of any system. Reality dictates that, in today’s world, all end-to-end technological solutions happen to be Human Machine Systems (HMS) without exception. Note the emphasis on the ‘end-to-end’ scope… there is no escaping that fact.


Values (plural) also refers to qualitative and quantitative leading indicators that inform the quality of design work in progress.

This means both new data and insights generated as we rapidly experiment, prototype options and conduct multivariate testing… these are intensive hyper-iterative cycles that orient and inform a design’s progression and improvement through all the steps from ideation to blueprinting. This is quintessential to Design Thinking. Simply put, without that effort there is no Design Thinking as such.

As an example, in Quality eXperiences by Design (QXbD) we assess: usefulness, utility, usability and affectivity values, which are ranked by effectiveness and efficiency parameters. That construct shapes the experiential qualities that define a system’s capability and behavioral model leading to production design blueprints.

QXbD‘s intertwines these with continuity and differentiability appraisals as we assess business model attractiveness and viability and, last but definitely not least, the technologies’ development, delivery, servicing feasibility over the product and/or service lifecycle. Note that the context is System Design as a holistic and interdisciplinary undertaking.


Designing to Optimal Values makes the job interesting, rigorous and tactical. Delivering optimal value relies on the honesty of Value Stream Mapping (VSM) cost-benefit analysis. How we define the scope and impact of the benefits, as well as difficult trade-offs, is a function of the design belief system and the solution’s soul.

One more thought… by now it becomes quite obvious that Value Propositions are best conceived by undertaking painstaking interdisciplinary design work.




I would also like to thank those of you who joined the live session and, as usual, I am happy to continue the discussion to trade insights as well as contrasting thoughts and viewpoints. We can have that conversation over LinkedIn messaging to keep things going.

Nokia on Design Thinking, AI and starting with what users need


“Any organization that wants to deliver targeted, personalized services and experiences needs to understand its customers inside and out: their wants, wishes, behaviors and attitudes.”

“These days, the data to develop that understanding is abundantly available. The challenge is to extract meaningful customer insights from it and convert those insights into actions.”

“By combining the principles of Design Thinking with the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI), CIOs have the tools to solve that problem and deliver powerful business results for their organizations.”



Design Thinking, AI and starting with what users need” was just released this past October 15. The full article is available on CIODIVE, which I am proud to co-sign with Santeri Jussila, Head of Analytics Product Line at Nokia Software. Also thanks to Nokia’s own Patty Wong, Malla Poikela, Araceli del Rio and Marcelo Fabri. What follows is some additional color commentary and additional insights.


Reviewed on Sunday, October 20.

Design visions in the making.

I truly believe that these are exciting times. Often enough we recall and discuss visions conceived decades ago. We marvel about our predecessors’ foresight. Then we wonder about what’s actually truly new these days as we reach the magical 2020 time horizon: are we still innovating or just rehashing old concepts? Besides, what is the meaning of “real” and “true” in what the Oxford Dictionary defines as the post-truth era?

The fact is that a reality check unveils a thriving ecosystem economy where a number of the bits-&-pieces that any of us need to innovate with are coming together. Better yet, this is also happening at accelerated speeds and cost effective levels. In turn, Design Thinking is fostering new foresight around the possibilities ahead… basically, new visions in the making.


There is more to 5G.

As shared in the CIODIVE article, 5G has become a galvanizing technology. 5G goes well beyond radio optimization outpacing what 4G and earlier wireless systems had to offer. To be more specific: we are intersecting: lightspeed networking, scalable virtualizaiton, dynamic software defined instruments and systems, actionable analytics, agile automation… and new levels of programmability, all equipped with unprecedented intelligence.

Speaking of intelligence, the best that cybernetics has to offer comes in the form of context-aware and always-learning systems optmizing for exploration, decisioning and control. Their growth and high performance are driven by adaptive closed feedback-loop workflows, which entail both, human and machine smarts.


Fast evolving HMS, Human Machine Systems.

We all know and, nonetheless, history keeps reminding us that technical prowess alone does not suffice. At Nokia’s Venture Studio we are working on outcome-oriented HMS, Human-Machine-Systems.

This is why we purposely focus on usefulness, utillity, usability and affectivity values. In our line of work, Human Centered Design (HCD) and Human Factors Engineering (HFE) make a compelling difference.



Our thinking behind the design of Human-Machine-Systems is that they should be conceived and stress-tested for effectiveness (e.g. getting the job done, delivering meaningful results) and efficiency (e.g. optimizing resource utilization levels, maximizing value) as well as getting only smarter iteration after iteration, cycle after cycle.


Nokia Venture Studio.

Delivering High Performance Environments (HPE) and Quality Experiences by Design (QXbD) inform our Studio’s meta-methodology, lead to fluid practices and, equally important, signal a distinctive creative workstyle.



Digitizing the Digitalization Era.

It does not hurt to state the obvious: digitalization is now pervasive. Following that train of thought, digitalization also means both on-demand lightspeed consumption and instant mass personalization.

It means democratizing tech so that the digital divide becomes a thing of the past and no-one is left behind. It means self-service empowerment and curated expert services as needed.

It means scaling at speed and greater scope than ever before. It means clever centralization to leverage shared resource pools and operational efficiencies. And it means even smarter and highly dynamic decentralization as we get closer to the end user and effectively optimize on the basis of the experience economy. This is a hybrid world in permanent motion with any “thing” (and anything) is provided as a service, anywhere, anytime. Watch for ripple effects.


Digital Services by Design.

From a Service Design standpoint, the backstage’s operational experience entails painstaking work on: redefining success and outomes, job re-design, process re-engineering, and setting the state-of-the-art. Addressing these happens to be critical success factors.

I will be more specific. DTV, Design to Value, now means that we need to design and gear up for signature experiences. These register delight, rather than just conforming to yesteryear’s cookie cutter market segmentation and just aiming to “satisfy.” We are going past “segmentation” and “personas” to better act on “persona-lization” – segment-of-one in other words.

Digitalization’s paradoxes are here and in full force: (1) we are purposely shifting the “new normal” by creating opportunities to pleasantly “surprise and differentiate” rather that just normalize, standarize and penalize deviation or outliers; (2) the more we talk about extreme automation and zero touch systems, the more (not the less) humans (and a more diverse population) gets to interact with sophisticated systems otherwise formerly restricted to domain experts and obscure fields.



Designing for “digital transparency” brings you user friendly self-service, recsys (recommender systems) affective computing and xAI, Explainable Artificial Intelligence, just to name a few examples. We can now design for the senses and do that by engaging in natural language and with immersive and interative infographic visualization.

As Arthur C. Clark’s third law stated: “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistiguishable from magic.” Also bear in mind that his second law was: “the only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture into the impossible.”



It’s about culture…

At Nokia’s Venture Studio, our work and craftsmanship is the product of a thriving culture, one that we are also consciously influencing and shaping (think Escher’s Drawing Hands) to adequately foster human possibilities.

Nokia Studio @ Digital Product by Design – Los Angeles, July 29, 2019


“Hyper-focused on both the evolving digital landscape and the ‘design doing’ of creating excellent products & experiences, Digital Product by Design acknowledges that the creation of digital products extends far beyond UX & Engineering”

“In all cases, next generation product development requires a multifaceted approach to consistently deliver Excellent Digital Products”


Digital Product by Design 2019 - Panel DiscussionDigital Product be Design 2019 #DigiProd2019


I would first like to thank CMP and Marisa White, Principal Analyst, for the opportunity to participate in this year’s Digital Product by Design conference, which was held in Los Angeles just a couple of weeks ago.

My involvement started earlier in the year as an Advisory Board member for the Design & Innovation‘s think tank, which also covers Design Thinking, Experience Design and Service Design conference series. Additionally a lengthy personal interview was featured as a three-part blog in the months gearing up to the event:



I am also glad to share that my talk, “How To Apply Human Factors to Emerging Technologies” (below) was scheduled as the event’s first session. My presentation introduced a primer on QXbD, Quality Experiences by Design, which also positions the Studio’s model relevance in this line of work.



On subsequent days I joined the conference’s Design Leadership Panel (above photo) and hosted a roundtable discussion on “How to Scale Up and Down in Conjunction with Business Requirements“.

Digital Product by Design 2019 was attended by senior leaders across a wide variety of corporate functions and industries. That is a reflection of the fact that:

  • digitalization’s pervasiveness is leaving no sector untouched because digital experiences have already become the new normal rather than an experimental fringe
  • digital transformation initiatives remain at top the C-suite’s agenda, though challenges abound and success remains elusive for many… culture being the issue
  • compelling service experiences involve a mix of low and high tech, and even our most common daily products can now be connected and highly interactive
  • mobile connectivity, networks, cloud computing and software defined systems are coming together at ubiquitous speed and scale… 5G’s thrust enabling what’s next.

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Digital Product by Design 2019 – Speaker line-up (sample)


Google’s Vivian Sarratt reminded us about the need for taking interdisciplinary collaboration and teamwork to new levels by aligning common goals, communicating and sharing what’s needed and co-designing to better innovate, which also has to do with relinquishing control in the outcome’s best interest. Vivian also covered Andy Grove’s OKR, Objectives and Key Results framework.

In the context of my roundtable addressing “How to Scale Up/Down in Conjunction with Business Requirements”, OKRs became instrumental for first defining the mission in terms of sought-after outcomes. Innovating also has to do with fluid game changing initiatives and acknowledging that a plan might not survive first contact was also relevant because ripple effects and moving targets are likely to arise… therefore: (a) foresight and early situational awareness, (b) agile fine-tuning and calibration, (c) the courage to say “no” to defuse mission creep or distractions, and (d) timely pivoting, all being key abilities to navigate unchartered territories.

Second: aligning stakeholders across functions under an interdisciplinary organizational culture rallying adequate resource levels.  Diversity of optics and thought leadership should generate the sort of creative tensions leading to innovative problem solving. Each individual should be empowered to make a difference, though it does take an interdisciplinary team to deliver… while staying away from groupthink’s counter productive bias.

Third: equipping worthwhile creative efforts to succeed, which does entail managing elastic resource levels (scaling up/down) and “controlled failure techniques” allowing for rapid experimentation early in the project’s journey… as well as “starting lean” and “remaining nimble” through the endeavor’s multiple twists and turns. The roller-coaster nature of creative work is not everyone’s cup of tea: it takes core values, earning organizational and user trust, work ethics and mental toughness.


Digital Product by Design Social Media


I would also like to take this chance to thank Y Media Labs‘ Ashish Toshniwal, Joe Johnston and Stephanie Wiseman, Discovery – Motortrend Studio‘s Argam Dehhartunian and American Specialty Health‘s Ali Hussain for the engaging discussions and insightful remarks.


Y Media Labs at Digital Product by Design.jpg

“Focus on the humans (customers and employees) at the epicenter of transformational change” – Joe Johnston, Y Media Labs.

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Discovery’s Motortrend Studio in Los Angeles.


Digital Product by Design Hollywood Sign


Thanks again and looking forward to crossing paths in the near feature. Please feel free to reconnect on LinkedIn to stay in touch and continue any of our discussions… or get new interesting ones started : )