Juho Paasonen on opening new ways to empathise

Juho is the Director of Design at Miltton, the creative consultancy in Finland. He has extensive global experience with over 20 years of product and service design, design management, innovation acceleration, and design-driven transformations from multiple international organisations, including Google, Zalando, and Nokia. He has also been a prominent design leadership and change management coach in Finland and internationally.
We are so glad to have Juho as the host of Design Thinking Tallinn 2022.

You joined Miltton quite recently, in April. What has been your first impression as a design thinker and service designer after joining a new organisation? How have you settled in? What has surprised you the most?

Things are always hectic when shifting organisations, especially since starting here also meant a move back to consulting for me after almost a decade of working on the client's side of the table. Four months into the new role, however, my strongest impression is the amazement of the sheer multi-disciplinary talent and cross-team support here at Miltton. We, as a company, are a curious organism – it's perplexing how varying the clients and the projects are, and I feel like I learn a ton every day collaborating with colleagues with such versatile backgrounds!

As for surprises (and perhaps I wasn't even exactly surprised by this in the first place), it's been amazing to see how excited everyone is to experiment with new tools and ways of working. It's rewarding to be able to give something back for the privilege of learning from the other brilliant Milttonians!

What changes have you noticed in the attitudes/behaviour of your team or clients, in the process or results when you have implemented a design process or tools that are new to them?

The clearest effect I've seen so far is opening new ways to empathise, both for our team and our clients. During the past few months, we've been experimenting widely with things like empathy maps, advanced ways of journey mapping, and new takes on behavioural metrics. It has greatly deepened the human insights we've been able to provide in our projects and has even had some impact on how we plan and manage our client relationships.

As we keep exploring, I expect we'll find completely new perspectives on how design thinking can enrich the work we do in marketing, communications, leadership development, urban affairs, and our other business areas.

What has been the biggest challenge in your new role?

Working in a complex organism that caters for clients across so many fields, is a mixed blessing. While having so many different kinds of opportunities to grasp is a privilege I definitely don't take for granted, it also makes prioritising and structuring our efforts a little more complex. How to choose where holistic design can bring the most positive impact today, for our clients AND for Miltton? Which cross-business opportunities would have the most value as positive examples of a new mindset?

While still building new business and a new community inside Miltton, there's only so much time I have to support, but as time goes by and we keep exploring these new horizons together, the mindset and the tools will scale. I expect design thinking to have a natural role in most of Miltton's businesses by next spring!

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