UMIO and City of Maastricht develop a common sustainability roadmap

On December 6, a team of students and staff from UMIO’s Service Science Factory (SSF) presented the results of a project that looked at how the University and the City of Maastricht can operate more sustainably by working together. The eight-week project, Collaboration Agenda 2030, focused on possible synergies between the two.

Maastricht’s municipal government and university are the city’s largest employers, so it makes good sense to join forces in as they develop their 2030 organisational sustainability roadmap. A project of this kind will only work if it involves concrete initiatives.

Student participation as a key ingredient

One of the reasons the City chose to work together with SSF was the involvement of students from Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics (SBE). Student participation is a key ingredient in SSF programmes like this, as it enables our partners to profit from fresh insights based on the latest academic research. Especially where it concerns a subject like sustainability, which inspires many students.

The challenge

The team considered how the University and the municipality together can improve acquisitions, reduce their carbon footprint, create climate-neutral operations, adopt more inclusive behaviour and ensure employee wellbeing—all of which falls under the heading of sustainability.

Design Thinking

SSF uses their own method for creating innovative solutions, called the Double Diamond Approach, which is rooted in design Thinking. It considers the greater context when designing a solution and consists of the steps “Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver.”

Design Thinking

“The project is typical for the Service Science Factory approach in that it uses the Design Thinking methodology,” said Carmen Vonken, Project Leader and Service Design Trainer at UMIO’s Service Science Factory. “We start the challenge by investigating the existing situation thoroughly and follow up with creative ideation sessions—a process of brainstorming and rapid prototyping to deliver tangible and concrete solutions at the end of eight weeks.” On October 8, a team of nineteen students started interviewing stakeholders. They studied the academic literature and best business practices to prepare for the co-creation session. In the final step, the ideation sessions brought about a variety of solutions that were further developed into a number of concrete concepts.

Sustainable Maastricht

It was clear to the team that the City and the University are missing out on opportunities. But, by working together, they can leverage synergies to attain some much-needed goals. The team has dubbed the new partnership programme Maastainable—Our Internal Sustainability Journey. It will support knowledge sharing and encourage parties to join forces, teach and learn from one another, and generate ideas together in the fields of sustainable sourcing, sustainable usage, employee wellbeing, and team cohesion.

The Future

“The project went extremely well, and the first meetings between Municipality and University, to implement the findings are planned” Carmen concluded. “The challenge now is how to create ongoing human and financial support for Maastainable.”

Make Service Innovation work for you

How can organisations create innovations that make use of important trends? How can firms incorporate the customer perspective into business and design processes? What are things to take into consideration when it comes to implementing a sustainable innovation?

With a focus on service design and innovation, UMIO offers valuable insights into what is needed to develop enduring innovations that allow organisations to evolve in the 21st century and beyond.

UMIO has assisted a wide variety of organisations including Siemens, Ziggo, LIOF, the Province of Limburg, Puratos, L1 Radio and TV, Canon, Volkswagen, Chemelot, Scelta, and many more.

To find out how to make Service Innovation work for your organisation, please don’t hesitate to contact Carmen Vonken.

Customer-centred innovation in the B2C market

After last falls’ UMIO’s brand launch, there was one visitor who went home with a surprise-gift: Frozen Brothers sales manager Nick Bölkow was the lucky winner of the Learning Voucher, good for a free half-day team session in one of UMIO’s incompany programs.

Creating impact

In its incompany programs, UMIO draws on its expertise to go beyond traditional business school disciplines in creating an impact for organisations. Small-scale, interactive learning journeys with an effective, high-level transfer of knowledge, skills, behaviour and experiences create real added value for the participants and their organisations and immediately applicable results.

Frozen Brothers choose SSF workshop

Recently, the Frozen Brothers sales team visited UMIO to redeem their voucher with UMIO’s Service Science Factory (SSF) in the form of a fully customised workshop “customer-centred innovation”. Nine participants, including Nick Bölkow and Pieter Corstiaans (General Manager Continental Europe) went into the practical details of customer-centred innovation with trainers Sabine Janssen and Gordon Miesen.

Design Thinking

The program is based on SSF’s (Service) Design Thinking method, which creatively prototypes new product or service offerings from the perspective of the end-users. It provides participants with the necessary mind-set, processes and tools to improve the innovation capacity of their organisation.

Frozen Brothers’ challenge

Frozen Brothers consists of a frozen drinks division with global brands Slush Puppie, Coca-Cola and Fanta Frozen, and an ice (cream) machines division with brands Carpagiani and Orion. Frozen Brothers cater to a wide variety of customers, ranging from movie theatres, to indoor children’s playgrounds and key leisure sites.
For Pieter Corstiaans the main aim of the workshop was to align the recently merged teams of Frozen Brothers and Slush Puppie Benelux, giving them the opportunity to learn from each other’s varied experiences and expertise.
“We’re looking to enable a change of perspective and encourage different views, also on our own colleagues, by getting the whole team together. A first plus is the very nice setting and location, not what at all what I expected from a university (small stuffy rooms – haha). A more concrete objective is developing our customer proposition from “just” selling machines to selling solutions with added value for our customers and our customers’ customers.”

Enhancing the customer experience

With these objectives in mind the workshop customer-centred innovation was built around enhancing the customer experience in the B2C market. Three teams developed their ideas independently and validated them between each other during the sessions. The best ideas were taken up for further detailing.

Expectations met?

So let’s hear from the team if the objectives were met:

Michael Adriaans (key account manager) and Rob Ophof (area sales manager ice cream) both felt triggered to take a step ahead in the customer journey and think about their customers’ customers. “Outside-in thinking becomes very tangible in this way and can offer some real eye-openers.”

Nadège Bremen (account manager Slush Puppie): “the challenges today were twofold: on the one hand developing concepts for integrating both divisions, and on the other hand renewing the focus on the customer experience in novel ways. We focused on immediately applicable, short-term actions and one of the lessons was that social media offer a lot of concrete opportunities to tailor the customer experience and engage with our customers.

Nick Bölkow: “The workshop offered us the opportunity to think outside the box and delivered some concrete handles on the challenges we face. It certainly broadened our horizons in terms of advising our customers on a broader level and finding fitting solutions.”
“Things went very different compared to standard company meetings. The way the workshop was set up ensured everybody was involved, situations were dynamic and solutions emerged with backing from the whole team.”

“A lot of companies could benefit from this”

For what kind of organisations would Nick recommend this workshop:
“For organisations on a fast growth path, who want to innovate in their markets this is a very simple and accessible way to challenge and adjust their own methods and approach. Basically I think there are lots of companies which could benefit from this.”