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Kolding, as 7th largest Danish municipality

Kolding, as 7th largest Danish municipality, has been for centuries a very traditional business area with a lot of production (e.g. steel or plastic, logistics, etc.). The strategic location on the main highways in Denmark supports distribution of produced goods.

In order to sustain the municipal attractiveness, in times of limited resources and public funding shortages on one hand and inhabitants expecting of continuous prosperity on the other hand, the city councilor looked for new methods. Kolding seemed to have a relentless demand of innovation; a desire for growth, welfare and efficiency.

2012 city councilor started a major campaign to investigate the strength of the area. Design was chosen to be the key aspect for the Kolding Municipality Vision 2022 statement: “Together we design options for a better life through entrepreneurship, social development and education & knowledge.”

Watch a YouTube Video about it.

Design has answers in terms of understanding customers, more suitable compared to traditional methods of market and business analysis. Design can be used as an intelligent method of customer insight for business development. Easy to grasp methods and practices are what small and medium sized companies need to provide better value to their customers.

Kolding kommune has established its own design secretariat with more than 90 professional design consultants investigating future scenarios and future solutions for the region.

Activities around Vision 2022 utilize practices of design and agility. That is e.g. stakeholder were involved from the establishing phase in 2012. Over time the campaign aimed to make results visible, that inhabitants can see and experience progress and get further involved. Informal involvement of all kind of stakeholders gave them ownership and pride.

Kolding aims to be a full-scale design community by 2022 by setting design leadership as a main competence of the region. Strengthening business by offering a strong design environment with free service of support. Design driven innovation empowers and sustains businesses.

A full-scale design community means to Kolding kommune that all partners have an informed voice. Everyone listens and collaborates to solve problems in the field of social development and business.

It is great to see, how Kolding municipal provides a tool kit and platform for regional advancement; Inviting business and education to make their own interpretation and developing their own strategy, what design means to them; Engaging on multiple levels to solve welfare problems (physical design of the city and its roads, provisioning and development of offered welfare services) with innovation and design smoothly across various organizational borders and involving generations from kindergarten to retirement home.


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Service Design Thinking

Malin Orebäck from Veryday highlights the importance of Service Design Thinking for Business Innovation by addressing Societal Challenges. Traditional business models aim to generate as much money as possible, without taking too much responsibility on what is happening in society or environment.

Watch a Vimeo Video about it.

Service Design Thinking explores alternative business models, where value creation is distributed across involved players. Putting the societal challenge at the center and creating new opportunity of shared value among stakeholders.

This kind of “Creating Shared Value” or “Shared Value Approach” requires an ecosystem with strong collaboration across involved stakeholders. Big complex issues (wicked problems) arising from societal opportunities are best solved by an ecosystem of solutions providing competitive advantage to all involved parties. From a Service Design Community perspective the next generation of business opportunities is widely masqueraded as societal problems and can be tackled by:

Traditional business needs to look at this challenges with a different lens. Revisiting the value chain and identifying gaps on it have been neglected till today. Engaging people on grass root level for collaboration and sustainability in new ways. This is a relevant topic in the design research community. Designers have to take a closer look at their role and how to increase societal impact by finding and facilitating new ways to set up Service Design business models.

One great quote Malin Orebäck presented is “It is a question of search strategy: If you are not taught to look systematically for win-win opportunities, you will only see trade-offs. Trade-offs seem to be “out there’, whereas win-win opportunities must be discovered – and created.” by Christoph Luetge and Benedikt von Liel, Financial Times.

I truly believe that traditional businesses have to anticipate dynamic markets of the 21st century. These markets are very much different from markets of the industrial revolution and mass production era. Companies have to reinvent their business model to survive; collaborating with their customers to discover, deliver and harvest sustainable societal shared value.


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Innovation Training for Agile Leaders

2018 AIN World Conference – 23-26 August, 2018 – Paris, France


The objective of “Innovation Training for Agile Leaders” was to increase understanding of  ‘agile’ and the leader’s role in aspiring organizations. Leaders often struggle with building collaboration, and conventional trainings rarely address it. We showed how applied improvisation can be used for developing this essential skill in making agile successful.

Throughout the session at the AIN World Conference we empowered participants to co-create and learn together.

First we elicited from the group their understandings of Agile in Business Today. The answers included aspects such as: agile as a mindset, being adaptive and flexible, working in multi-disciplinary teams, offers an approach to projects and process, provides rapid feedback, enables iterative learning by doing, learning fast and, it’s in “the eye of the beholder.”

Then we led the group through an experiential learning activity – the Team Sling Game. The game combines applied improvisation with agile collaboration and is a metaphor to experience and analyze social dynamics. For further information on the activity, look at our blog post “Team Sling Game”

The debrief of the Team Sling Game, was lively, and organized in a Bubble Up approach to gather group wisdom. Individuals wrote their observations on post-its, and then discussed their learnings first with another, then in a group of four. Then as each group of four summarized their learnings for everyone else, we started to look at how they fit under the general headings of learning, collaboration, and leadership.

Discussions about Learning, Collaboration and Leadership:

  • The YES AND Principle from Applied Improvisation was seen to facilitate learning faster.
  • The different teams exemplified a range of options in the balance between improving results or increasing the quality of collaboration
  • Willingness to learn from mistakes was encouraged by frequent iterations. This enhances the culture of learning and improvement, experimentation and innovation.
  • People realized that time pressure increases changes to fall into old style hierarchical behavior patterns. On the other hand, getting everyone to understand and agree, exemplifying servant leadership, was key to success for the whole team.

From my work as a Certified Scrum Trainer I appreciated how the session highlighted the importance of emergent servant leadership.

The international audience in the workshop was amazed how the game quickly made fundamental issues of collaboration and leadership in teams visible to everyone.

Thanks to all who joined and for being open to going through the activity and sharing your the experiences. You all made this a great workshop.

See more details on AIN website:




Team Sling Game

One of the first games we do during our two-day ScrumMaster Workshops is our “Team Sling Game.” The game is a metaphor to experience and analyze social dynamics. It evolved from a KoKomm Workshop with Moritz Küffner (www.moritz-kueffner.de).

The goal of the game is rather simple: “Get the whole team as fast as possible through the sling.” The workshop group is asked to self-organize into equally sized teams of six to twelve people. Each team receives a sling (a loop of flat rope used in climbing) which has a diameter of about 75 centimeter. The facilitator will guide the team through the game.

The game will be performed in several iterations (1-5) with strict time boxes. Each iteration contains a Planning, Execution and Retrospective phase.

The Planning phase (one minute timebox) results in a time estimate of how long it will take the whole team to get through the sling. The estimate from the team is recorded on a flipchart for tracking.

During the execution phase all team members have to get through the sling.The facilitator records the actual time required by the team to get through the sling by stopwatch.

After execution a Retrospective is held (one minute timebox), where optimizations for the next iteration are discussed.

The game facilitator makes sure time boxes are honored and captures the estimates, actual times and some notes throughout the iterations on the flipchart for later discussion.

Differences in how groups and teams function can be observed. Learning from every iteration helps the teams to optimize their approach and evolve to a smarter outcome as well as getting better in estimating the needed time.