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Cruising the problem area

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30-45 minutes

  • Phone/meeting place/online platforms

  • Previous data from Phase 1

  • Paper, word document

  • Pen

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What is this tool and what is its purpose and benefit?


Design brief defines the aim of a design process and how to start it. It is the starting point for problem solving and gives direction and strategy for innovation and specifications for action. It is usually based on the discussions with the client/customer, but this tool version shows how it can be created in another way as well. A design brief includes the scope – what is designed, audience (i.e. customers) – whom to, and needs and requirements for a project or course of action. Having a design brief makes it easier to have clarity on a particular challenge to tackle. A design brief guides the service innovation process to the next service design phase, Research.

Steps how to use this tool in practice


The same steps apply when working individually, in pairs or in a group. Tasks can be divided when using it in pairs or a group.


Based on the information obtained from the opportunity mind-map, analysed customer feedback, and other tools, select the most important area that you would like to tackle at the next phase, Research phase.


Start by adding a heading, that can be for instance your name/business name, the problem, and the date. You may also add a short description of your company/organisation. Next start writing on the document the following sub-headings and describe each point as instructed below.


A project overview and goal: What are you going to do and why, what do you want to solve. For example, a need to fill hotel rooms during a low season.


Objectives: Frame your objectives and list them under this sub-heading. These can be more detailed and precise objectives that help to reach the goal, and these can be both qualitative and quantitative, for example “To increase the number of low season room occupation by 40% this year and an additional 20% by each upcoming 3 years”; “To identify special target groups to address with specific services for low season”.


Deliverable and follow-up: What will you do and not do within the project you are planning? Determine what the deliverables will be, and consider how you will keep on track with the project and what has been reached.


Target audience: Define the target audience/market as specifically as possible. You will have a better sense of what you need to do if you have a good understanding and profile of the audience/market that you are targeting and what the needs and preferences are.


Materials and resources: Plan what materials and resources you will need to acquire for this project, and make these available.


Schedule and budget: Set a realistic schedule and budget for your project. Consider how many people will be working on this project and how much time they will have to devote to it. You can create a timeline to help you with your project and monitor it.


Other information: Add any other information that may be relevant from societal and legal issues to competing factors.


Once ready, have a look at your document and see if you would need to change or improve something. This document will guide you to the next phase of the service innovation/design process.

Tips and hints for using this tool

  • Keep in mind that the brief should be brief, well-structured and clear.

  • You can include what is and what is not wanted (i.e. definite “do not do” list)

  • You can be your own client to make your design brief. You can also make a design brief together with a peer from the cultural and creative sector, one for each other.

Other tools of this phase

Set the intention, the goal, for the work.

Intent statement.png

Experience the service first-hand.

(Service safari).png

A visual map of the customer’s journey

(Customer journey map2).png

A visual overview diagram of opportunities.

Opportunity mind map.png

Listening to existing customers and analysing this feedback.

Analysing customer feedback.png

Studying the existing challenge area.

Media and trend study3.png
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