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KYKY - Designing for the government

Service Design & Research

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Team — 
Eeva, Laura, Maya and Yiding
Design for Government 2017 at Aalto University 

Role — 
User Research, Analysis, Concept development, Copywriting

Project Brief —
By the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Prime Minister’s Office, and Ministry of Transport and Communications, Helsinki.

This project was done as part of the Design for Government course at Aalto University. Our brief was to find out what civil servant’s work is like now, and what it should be like in the future.

Why rethink the work of civil servants?

The biggest reason is that the world has changed but the ministries have not: the current organizational structures of the government and the working methods of civil servants were built in a society that no longer exists, the society of the 20th century. The social sciences describe the 21st century society as a postmodern society, a network society or a risk society. These theories and terms have differences, but what they all agree on is that the contemporary society is more fragmented, faster paced, more interconnected and harder to predict.


And this means that in this new society also, societal problems are more interconnected, sudden and harder to predict. These new more complex issues make policy making more complex and hard, and complex problems don’t fit neatly into existing ministries and departments and they don’t fit in the existing hierarchical and individualistic structures. You can’t solve these problems in one department with people from one area of expertise. To combat new complex societal problems we need civil servants to start working together. But it’s not enough to only work together, to get the full benefits of collaboration we need to have civil servants with multiple skills who come from different backgrounds working together. This way they will be able to fill out each other’s gaps and to look at the issues they are trying to solve from different angles gaining a better understanding.

In order to find out what are the things that need to be changed in the government and how civil servants should work in the future, we need to know how civil servants work now and what do they think and feel. We interviewed different kinds of civil servants with different levels of experience and different backgrounds.



There are some civil servants advocating for more collaborative and agile ways of working, but it's a small group.

"It’s clear that a lot of people have been working here for a long time and want to do things the way they have always been done. It’s divided: some are very open for new things and others just want to do the job they were once given and not make any changes."

There is a big group of people who feel like they wouldn’t gain anything from changing the way they work.

"Some people feel they are tiny parts of the organization and that their opinions don’t matter."

"The goal is to just to save money"

A big part of civil servants’ work gets done through personal networks.

"If you already know the person it’s easy to just send a message."

"I have been working here a long time so I have a lot of networks."


Kyky is a skill sharing and skill development program, which enables civil servants to share their skills and collaborate across ministries. It will help civil servants to establish networks, create trust and build more open working culture while learning from their colleagues. 
It also helps civil servants to recognize their own skills and gives them a chance to utilize the skills which they don’t use in their work in daily basis. This also opens a possibility for colleagues to acknowledge each other’s skills. Kyky will also help civil servants to define better which skills are needed for each task and organize the work. It gives a chance to grow self-awareness through job variation, career development and with in-work opportunities to elaborate on the skills learned. Working for short periods with various people helps to gain perspective about what kind of roles other civil servants have in their ministries.

In the Kyky program, all civil servants would have 10 % of their working hours allocated to flexible Kyky activities. These include: 
+ Sharing your skills with your colleagues, helping them using your area of expertise.
+ And personal skill development: if one feels like their Kyky time is not used much you can use your Kyky hours to learning new skills by taking online courses or enrolling in certain workshops.



The user journey for Kyky is based on Antti Asker and Hannah Helper.
Antti is a specialist in the ministry of employment and economic affairs and has been in the department for 7 years.
Hannah on the other hand is a young new communications coordinator in the PMO.

Kyky makes it easier to have a system that encourages skill sharing and network building. It gives us a more defined purpose to use one of the plethora of tools available. It helps us work in a new and exciting way that could very well be the future of a civil servant’s or anybody’s work life.

Final presentations by all groups at Valkoinen Sali, Helsinki, to civil servants and the public. 
photo credit © Creative Sustainability 

Maya Pillai —
Digital Designer

Notes —
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