What if your doctor was an all-knowing AI? What if your hospital analyzed your genes, lifestyle and microbiome to predict your health risks and guide you towards optimized choices in accordance? How would you like a hospital dedicated to preventive care?

By Saara Järvinen

Stockholm’s Södersjukhuset hospital opened a Center for Preventive Care during four days in November. Both external visitors, as well as patients and hospital staff paid the clinic a visit. Although a fictive clinic, it was situated in a real hospital – why?

Speculative design is a methodology for imagining possible futures and creating designs that provoke debate around future challenges. It has been used by artists and designers during the last decades to stir public discussion on important issues and contradict the crude commercial goals that often dictate design. However, speculative design can offer a gateway towards developing more meaningful service experiences and gaining a deeper understanding of emerging needs.

Service designer and strategist Pomme van Hoof at Sös Innovation, Södersjukhuset, elaborates how the project helped with insight and innovation: “Most people were curious and wanted to experience this possible future. An important part of the experience was the dialogue we had with people afterwards, where they got to reflect on certain questions we raised. This led to many very interesting and deep conversations where various perspectives came through.”

“Speculative design can help in imagining the unimaginable and, in receiving validation and valuable new insight on complex problems.”

The workshop was incredibly well received, and managers mentioned that it helped them to think further than they usually do”. This way of working feeds concept development, innovation, and strategy for years to come. Not to mention what a mark such hands-on methodology leaves to everyone involved and how it develops their foresight abilities.

Apart from benefitting  the organization, speculative design can even have a deep effect on the individual “We heard afterwards from visitors that the installation made a lasting impression on them, and some even changed their behavior according to what the oracle told them.”

Like any future foresight method, speculative design can be a shock for the organization and its culture. “A speculative design project was new for Södersjukhuset and was met, at first, with both skepticism and excitement in the organization. We noticed that spending the time to explain the process and to present the signals behind was an important part of making people understand the purpose and see the value of the project.”What makes this specific project especially valuable and impressive is that it was conducted by a public sector organization in a field that is highly regulated and traditionally rigid. If they can do this, so can your team! Are you interested in the benefits that future foresight or speculative design could bring for your organization? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Saara Järvinen

Kuudes is a creative business design company
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