Introducing: Palmu Insights!

Palmu Insights is a series of talks, debates and workshops around some of the most topical issues of human insights work in the context of service design.

Human and cultural insights are foundational to service design. The design community’s favorite concept referring to this work is ‘empathy.’ While highly important, this focus on empathy can also lead to a narrow conception of the insight practice as a whole. This point is argued in more detail here: Beyond empathy.

In understanding people and their behavior, ideally, we need frameworks and heuristics to move fluently from (1) the micro level of human action and experience to (2) the meso level of social habits, practices and dispositions, and then furthermore to (3) the macro level of social and cultural structures.

Alongside this, we need frameworks to move smoothly from understanding (a) conscious to (b) unconscious drivers of human action. These different level frameworks, and different level insights they lead us to, then have to be turned into actionable drivers of concrete design work.

The key here is to work with a stratified approach. Understanding people is not only about people as individuals with their solitary feelings, values, opinions, choices etc. As important, if not more so, is to understand how this stuff found on the micro level relates to and reflects cognitive, social, cultural and other dispositions and structures. We need to aim beyond the conscious individual.

For this we need tools.

A cross-disciplinary team to match multilayered human reality

Luckily, we have a vast resource to draw from. Namely the rich tradition of explaining human life found in the social sciences, behavioral sciences and related fields.

At Palmu, this is reflected in our Insight team with people coming from e.g. cognitive science, psychology, social psychology, social policy and several from sociology; from human computer interaction, media studies, arts and two from information network studies; from behavioral economics, economics, consumer research, marketing and international design business management.

The important point here is that each bring their complementing lenses to understanding multilayered human reality and its effects on behavior.

The Palmu Insights sessions reflect our interaction with different fields of human expertise

We start the series with zooming in on the micro level of human behavior and looking at some of the latest insights coming from the behavioral sciences. Then, during late 2018 and early 2019, we will expand our scope to the cultural macro level and examine cultural insights as integral to strategic design.

We will also dedicate a session to explore the intersection of human and artificial intelligence, building interaction between philosophy of the mind, cognitive science and the current state-of-the-art in building AI.

First stop: Human insights as behavioral insights, design as behavioral design

The first Palmu Insights session is held at Korjaamo on October 25th (16:00-19:00). This session takes on ‘nudging’, the idea and practice made famous especially by the Nobel laureate 2017 Richard Thaler and leading legal scholar Cass Sunstein.

It is difficult to overstate the impact of Thaler and Sunstein’s 2008 book Nudge – Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, which inspired a whole new paradigm and a global movement of turning the latest behavioral scientific insights into practical applications influencing people precisely and generating true behavior change.

For this session, we are honored to host two highly distinguished guests: one of the leading European names in behavior change and nudging, iNudgeyou’s Pelle Guldborg Hansen, and former minister and current GD of the Finnish National Agency for Education, Olli-Pekka Heinonen.

Pelle is currently writing a short and precise book on nudging and will give a presentation on the practice of behavior change and nudging hands on. This will be followed by Olli-Pekka’s short commentary on nudging and behavior change from the point of view of the Finnish public sector.

In addition to talks the event will include hands-on work, guidance and round table discussion on

  • how to apply nudging related to your own day-to-day work
  • how to frame problems as behavioral problems
  • how to influence people on the level of behavior. 

You are heartily welcome! Register here!


16:00 Doors open, food and drinks

16:15 Words of welcome: Human insights as behavioral insights
Antti Rannisto, Design Ethnographer, Palmu
Anni Ojajärvi, Design Ethnographer, Palmu

16:30 (Title TBA)
Pelle Guldborg Hansen, Chief Executive, iNudgeYou

17:45 Nudging from the point of view of the Finnish public sector
Olli-Pekka Heinonen, General Director, The Finnish National Agency for Education

18:00 Hands on – turning problems into behavioral problems, influencing on the level of behavior (in Finnish)
Mikko Väätäinen, Business Designer, Palmu

19:00 Program ends, bar opens :)
Hang around to socialize!

Register here!

Comment and discuss on Twitter @antti_rannisto, @ojajarv and @Palmu_Finland.

The authors, Antti Rannisto and Anni Ojajärvi, work as design ethnographers at Palmu’s Insight team.