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Helelyn Tammsaar is an anthropologist exploring the most exotic tribe in the world – the Deep State. For the past three years, she has been a member of the Estonian Public Sector Innovation Team – an experimental unit of four people serving all 11 Estonian ministries and their agencies. The innovation team runs federal innovation programmes, innovation sprints and a variety of workshops that combine service design, ethnographic methods, behavioural insights, science, co-creation and policy experimentation. Evangelising human-centred approaches implies convincing civil servants that citizens are indeed an invaluable source of information, and letting them join and do fieldwork in nightclubs, sleeping on bunk beds in army barracks, and more.

Within the team, Helelyn has led a variety of projects from all walks of life. Her team at the Estonian Police made international headlines testing the Time-Out Station – a measure whereby speeding drivers had to wait 45-60 minutes before continueing their drive. This experiment grew out of user interviews, which indicated that people may value time more than money. Her past projects include looking into recreational drug use in the nightlife, tax evasion in the construction sector, battling low COVID vaccination rates among the elderly, and the need for autonomy among Ukrainian refugees.

Event role
Case study speaker

Case study
'Designing against the flow'

What would you do if, after doing research in a large organisation, you discovered there is nothing that would classify as human-centred but quite the opposite? You approach the top leader of this organisation and make a case for using service design, the latest research and best methodologies to better understand and influence human behaviour. For Helelyn Tammsaar, this top leader was the Commander of the Defence Forces of her country.

In her talk, Helelyn will share her experience designing more supportive orientation programmes for conscription, the state-mandated military service, and the efforts to institutionalise better understanding and implementation of contemporary motivational theories and teaching methodologies. All this in a country with a third of the population being ethnic Russians and for an organisation whose culture, mission and goals may seem a world away from human-friendly approaches.

Saturday, September 17, 11:30

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