Inside the head of a designer


SIcamp are visiting Scotland
May 11, 2011, 5:39 pm
Filed under: event, interesting, social innovation | Tags: , , , , ,
Social Innovation Camp

So I wrote a post just a wee while ago to let you know about Social Innovation Camp.

Quick post just to let you know;

Social Innovation Camp are holding two pre events in Edinburgh and Glasgow next week.

Visit the Pony on bathstreet in Glasgow on the 17th, 6-8pm to meet them.

Visit the Melting Pot in Edinburgh on the  16th, 6-8pm to meet them.

They’ve already held some great events in Scotland so far to drum up support and get your creative mind thinking around the theme of Social Isolation.  There is only 10 days to submit an idea, so hurry up and do it.

I haphazardly entered an idea over 2 years ago and it grew into this: MyPolice. I never expected to go any further past submitting an idea, but let me tell you, it was worth it!



Data – changing our behaviour
May 2, 2011, 6:45 pm
Filed under: interesting, opendata | Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve recently been adding thoughts, material and presenting in London as part of the ‘Making a difference with Data’ campaign.  The initiative is campaigning for good, open data that can be used to shape our society.  A bit more about the campaign;

“The Making a difference with data project has launched a new website, which will play a key role in realising its aim to spread understanding about open data and transparency in local public services.

madwdata.org.uk says it will show how citizens can use information obtained from public authorities to campaign and influence policies and decisions that affect local communities.

It is encouraging people to get involved by sending information, case studies, links to stories, participating in online and offline forums, responding to blogs and following the project on social media.

In line with the government’s policy for public authorities to become more open and transparent, the project aims to raise awareness about how individuals and organisations can obtain information from organisations including the police, NHS and local councils.” – http://www.rssenews.org.uk/articles/20110222

Tidy Street

Tidy Street

I was inspired to see a new project called ‘tidystreet’ kick off (via Good).  A Uk Neighbourhood in Brighton,  is recording their electricity use and recording it in the form of a giant inforgaph on the street.

“Each day the participants’ electricity usage over the previous 24 hours will be marked; and each week participants can choose to add another comparison line that will show how their electricity consumption compares to another region in the UK or even a different country. We hope that the residents, in collaboration with a local graffiti artist, will produce an engaging artwork that will stimulate the street and passersby to reflect on their electricity use.”

So far, energy use has been cut by 15% on the street prompting me to think about how we could visualise and project crime information into local communities.  What effect would it have?

Looking back at the Oakland Crime Map which provides (just about) real time data, it is a shining example of a good, comprehensive data set that can be used to provide real time interaction with the city.  Just as the joy of stats programme had shown the creators driving down the streets and the relationship of topography from higher up areas – less crime, to visible aesthetic change in the environment on the lower level streets and higher crime levels, how could we begin to embed data into our everyday lives.  Would knowing an area had high levels of knife crime stop you from walking down a street or make a community want to gather together and fight the statistic?  Could it bring together local authorities/gov/police to make environmental changes to the surrounding area, perhaps a bigger recognition of environment, re-designing and planning areas as opposed to spending money in treating problems as they happen?

Food for thought, but again I am going back to how we can use data to look at effecting change in the everyday.  It begs questions about how data can be accessed and interpreted into useful information for communities and the public to use.  Over the next month I’ll be posing more of these questions, and looking at existing data sets, their positives and negatives within the field of crime and justice.  To cap off you can listen to some of my thoughts after the London conference recorded by Nicky Getgood on how design and context can help make data useful in people’s lives.



Social Innovation Camp 2011
May 2, 2011, 3:51 pm
Filed under: event, interesting, social innovation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,
Social Innovation Camp

Social Innovation Camp

Guess what?

Social Innovation Camp is coming to Scotland in June, and it’s your chance to submit ideas and take part in a fantastic weekend of people building, designing, thinking up new ideas that use the web to do something good, this year around the theme of Social Isolation. Here’s what they say;

“From 17th-19th June 2011 at Informatics Ventures in Edinburgh, we’re bringing together some of the best of the UK’s software developers and designers with those at the sharp end of social problems.

They’ll have just 48 hours to build some web-based solutions to a set of social problems – from back-of-the-envelope idea to working prototype, complete with software. But first off, we start with a call for ideas: we want to find the most exciting ideas for how the web could change stuff that really matters.”

You can find out more on the official website, and how to submit an idea.  It was two years ago when I was about to graduate I put one of those back of the napkin ideas in for entry.

MyPolice at Social Innovation Camp

MyPolice at Social Innovation Camp

It ended up winning the weekend and receiving a level 1 award from FirstPort which gave it legs and funding to introduce the concept to the policing world.  The idea was MyPolice, an online feedback tool for the public to talk to the police.  Simple but now we’ve finished our first pilot and we’re moving onto phase 2 of the build.

So if you’re thinking, ‘nah, I’ll take part next time’,  don’t! Submit an idea, even if it is a one liner, and get yourself along to the Informatics Forum to take part.  It is a fantastic event and a great, no strings attached space to be creative and build some potentially life changing software/service/product.



Travelling Pantry opens up
March 1, 2011, 7:55 pm
Filed under: interesting | Tags: , , , , , ,
Handmade Book

Handmade Book

Tessy Britton has been very generous opening up chapters in the book, Hand Made. Released today was one I wrote about Getgo Glasgow’s project in Wyndford last year.  The Book Hand Made continues the work she has been doing on the Social Spaces project, some of which I wrote about earlier this year when the travelling pantry workshop came to Glasgow.

“Hand Made is a beautiful collaborative book with 26 innovative perspectives and projects from around the world, over 230 pages, about new ways of creating connection and community. The projects have been carefully selected because they have all been developed with new thinking and methodologies and involve Learning, Sharing or Making.

The projects generally break through normal dynamics by integrating design thinking, systems thinking, new understanding of networks and human functioning … with an inspiring dose of imagination.

The aim of the book is to highlight some truly original and inspiring projects to spread ideas and encourage doing things in new ways … Encourage people just to try things in fact, to experiment, to work around the system and, together with other people, make communities they want to live in.”

You can purchase the book here on Blurb, it’s an enjoyable read and I find myself constantly pulling it off the shelf to show people all the wonderful projects inside it. It might just restore your faith in the human race if it has been dwindling a little of late.

In the closing words of Dominic Campbell, this is about,

“Active optimism for the 21st century.

Now unleash your imagination and go play!”



Snook in Finland
January 30, 2011, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Finland

Finland

A couple of weeks ago, Snook spent time in Kuopio, Finland, courtesy of Satu Miettinen after Lauren had been a couple of years ago on her ‘Finland Frolicks’. We were invited to teach at the Savonia University of Applied Sciences.We had heard good things from Lauren’s Finland Frolics in 2010. We were working with the fantastic Work Play Experience who use theatrical tools in Service Design, a very refreshing take on the discipline.

The visit was to run the Winter Service Design School at the university.  Working over two days we were taking the students and staff from initial research and film ethnography to concepts which will be prototyped for real.  The topic was designing for the elderly.  We looked at three strands:

  • Elderly service users in hospital
  • Elderly people living at home
  • Elderly people living in care homes

 

Work play x

Work play x

 

We began with the fantastic warm up from Adam and Markus of Work Play Experience.  Anyone who has had the pleasure of being part of a WPX workshop before will know what it is like to warmed up in the company of rubber chickens.  The duo wake up the left and right hand side of the brain using some bizarre exercises, but it works, and participants are left wide eyed, determined and ready for some hard work.

We were working from personas that had been created by the students and interviewees in the format of films.  We wanted the group to empathise with the personas they were working with so we sat everyone down in groups of three and let participants take on the role of their persona.  By simply having a conversation with one another as the people they were designing for, the group were able to dig deeper and understand what it is like to be a user.

Grouping back together and pulling out insights was a tough leap for the workshop participants. At first, they kept referring to what they knew about their personas.  But after some probing we began to pull out interesting themes about the change in situation for elderly people when health changes, how people move from independent to dependent.  An interesting observation was about the points in people’s lives where people drift from families to becoming wholly dependent on them again, and looking at these points to delve deeper into.

 

Idea generation

Idea generation

 

Working with the three themes we then brainstormed ideas, in a quick, speed dating scenario.  Groups then settled on ideas and we set to work on the more difficult part; thinking of them in terms of services, rather than just concepts.

Using story boarding and rapid prototyping we attempted to expand the group’s thinking from single idea to service.  It was difficult and this is always the biggest leap in imagination.  It was tough and we didn’t quite get there on the first day, but the second day really pushed the groups to expand their concepts to ‘fit’ into real scenarios and complex systems.

Starting with Work Play Experience, the participants were put through their paces to improvise and act their ideas out  Supported by Adam and Markus the team who had developed the Skype service for elderly people living in homes had to really start thinking about how this would operate as a service.  By re-enacting the service as a nurse and an elderly woman in a wheelchair problems began to arise that the group would need to design around.  A great way to make participants consider how to design, not just generate ideas!!

 

Students blueprinting

Students blueprinting

 

Snook then led the group through a blueprinting exercise, to consider how people might become aware of their new service concepts, join, use and then ‘leave’ them.  We focused on starting in the middle, the ‘use’ part of a blueprint to outline the value proposition.  Breaking down the blueprint to front stage, back stage, and actions of both customer and staff.  We asked workshop to participants to think about what happens before and after the use part of a service experience.

 

Twitter feedback

Twitter feedback

 

We ended the fast paced second day with three presentations. We sent the ideas out into the world for feedback via twitter only 30 minutes before.  We received some great feedback so thank you to those who commented.  We had;

“Care in a Queue – adapted #iPad for patients in #healthcare: contact, care, entertainment 4 elderly outpatients in hospital. #servicedesign”

“Feel free, connect in ur social life: flexible transport options. Welcome to the Senior Cheer-up Bus! #healthcare #servicedesign”

“Closer from a distance: connect with beloved relatives via “Skype for the elderly”. Easy for people in #healthcare centres. #servicedesign”

All the presentations were great! Ideally, the next step for groups would be to move into some live prototyping but really focus on fitting them into the context of existing systems around them.

We would also really like to go back to Finland again, it’s a very beautiful country with some fantastic food.

If you’d like to know more about this kind of work, contact sarah@wearesnook.com and we’ll see if we can help.



MyPolice is LIVE
January 17, 2011, 4:19 pm
Filed under: Public Sector Design, service design, social innovation, work

You can visit the online feedback tool for the public and police, MyPolice, here.

Here are some thoughts I had about the journey written on our new, shiny blog.

I want MyPolice to be known for giving a voice to people who may have not had one before and creating new dialogues with the police. I want MyPolice to be known as a great platform. I hope, in some way, what we have done and will continue to do will pave the way for the production and delivery of new ideas for our society, across all sectors. I want everyone to believe they can do something that can make a difference.

I care about fairness and equality and believe no one should be treated unfairly or unjustly. I care about people in their communities coming together to work with the police, rather than against them.

It has taken eighteen months and twenty five days to get MyPolice all the way from an award winning idea to reality. Eighteen months and twenty seven days ago I graduated, two days later I won Social Innovation Camp. The winning MyPolice team was me, Kate Ho, Jen Davies, James Brown, Carrie Bishop, Olivier Raynault, Tony Bowden, Charlotte Mc Donald and Gayle Rice.

 

The winning team
The winning team

 

2010 has been a pivotal year for MyPolice in many ways. Most importantly it was the year I joined forces with my now business partner and dedicated partner in crime, Lauren Currie.

Lauren and Sarah presenting at Policing 2.0Lauren and Sarah presenting at Policing 2.0 

We learned really tough lessons in how the police work, the mindset, the culture and how we could make this work. We met Johnathan Briggs, our business advisor who gave us the reality check we needed to take our student hats off and become business women. Johnathan really helped us develop our thinking around taking the good idea that won SICamp to a sound business proposal.  We worked non stop in developing our brand and applying for funding.We then received confirmation of funding from 4ip and Firstport which allowed us to bring on board Danyi Feng;  a brilliant and talented developer.

 

Public feedback Public feedback 

The future of MyPolice is an exciting one. We have endless ideas, new functions and steps we can take to use MyPolice to illustrate, document and become a catalyst for change in the police service and communities.  I think the future is going to be full of tough decisions, and challenges but I’m confident our team will take on these challenges with gusto and commitment to make MyPolice the best service it can be.

There have been times when it felt like giving up was an option – it has been mentally and physically tough to keep going. Lauren and I lived on fresh air for over six months, Lauren spent the past year endlessly travelling up and down the country meeting Chiefs and understanding what keeps them awake at night ( while I was in undertaking my Masters degree – embedding design in an organisation )

Travelling to London most weeks
Travelling to London most weeks

 

There have been so many barriers, out of our control, that we have met along the way. Stations being struck by lightening and a government body stealing our identity to name a few! On a personal level, to get this out there and for MyPolice to become a success would be like completing a marathon and having worn shoes on the wrong feet. I feel a bit bashed around, and a bit thicker skinned, but this will be a real personal triumph to deliver MyPolice, knowing that if you have a big idea, it is possible to deliver it.

HMIC debacle
HMIC debacle

 

I didn’t do this on my own. There are far too many people to name and I feel I would forget people if I tried to do so, but you know who you are. I can’t thank you enough. The original team at SIcamp who helped, continued to help and some who have become great friends of mine. Also, 4ip and Firstport who believed in the our goal and enthusiasm.

I have big dreams for MyPolice. I want MyPolice to be used by every force around the UK. Once we have built the site we want to, when mypolice.org is a central hub and geographically savvy to work with complex policing boundaries, produce interesting and service changing data, we want it to be THE platform for police engagement and provide functions around the big society, volunteering, anti-social behaviour, gauge how communities are feeling about their ward, sub division, area and force.  We have lots of ideas but importantly we need to focus on right now, keep it simple, do what it says on the tin, and deliver a service.

Understanding the pilot area Understanding the pilot area 

The pilot is all about testing the product and getting stories. We are piloting in one area, so taking one small step at a time. We want to see responses from the local community officers we have signed up to MyPolice and a dialogue forming between the Police and the public. I don’t want more, or less than this. We just want enough information to begin building a bigger and better site that will work in a way the public and police need.

Oh and one last thing. Thanks to all of you. MyPolice would not be here without your support, advice and encouragement. The unsung hero in all of this is our lead developer Danyi Feng. Here’s to transforming the way the police and the public communicate.



An Assets Alliance Scotland
Coproduction challenge

Coproduction challenge

This morning Snook were kindly invited to take part in Assets Alliance Scotland, an event being jointly held by the Scottish Government, Scottish Community Development Centre and the Long Term Conditions Alliance Scotland.

“We in Scotland should be proud of our tradition of community involvement and community action and public service delivery’s role in supporting this activity to flourish. However, in the last few years we have developed a model of public service delivery based on a ‘treatment’ or ‘doing to’ approach, which often fails to recognise communities’ and service users’ own strengths and assets and which instead engenders a culture of dependency that, in turn, stimulates demand.”

Before attending the event, I had made a clear connection in my head about how closely this aligned with the work of Liz Sanders.

“Designers will no longer only design for people, they will learn
to design with people. Co-designing will require new forms of
communication to support the collective creativity that arises between
designers and everyday people.”

Working with frontline staff and users as the experts in their own eco-systems/services is a big part of the work I am doing right now. I bring their thoughts and imaginings to life.  We take the most optimistic stance we can; an issue can always be solved, there are assets all around us that help to solve a problem or build a brighter future.

The morning was kicked off with Harry Burns, who a participant described his delivery as ‘not usual for a Scottish gov type’.  Perhaps, he was right.  It was fantastic and inspiring to hear someone talk about a ‘social movement’ rather than a new set of targets or paper/policy being delivered from the government.  What really caught my attention was Dr Burn’s citing of the great union activist, Jimmy Reid.  Reid’s inaugural speech as rector of Glasgow University in 1972, has really influenced Snook, ( hat tip to Mike Press who highlighted this speech during his keynote at Create Debate.

“A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement.

This is how it starts, and, before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat pack. The price is too high”

“It’s the frustration of ordinary people excluded from the processes of decision-making. The feeling of despair and hopelessness that pervades people who feel with justification that they have no real say in shaping or determining their own destinies.”

Interestingly Dr Burns steered clear of the Big Society agenda and favored the words of Jimmy Reid.  This line always brings it home for me;

“A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings”

Sometimes I feel a deep sigh coming on as I soldier through different public sector systems, hoops, and documents.  I think sometimes we forget, at the end of the day, we’re all people.

On the people side, after the keynote, participants were invited to browse projects which linked with an asset based approach.  I showcased the Getgo Glasgow project and how we mobilised a community to see past their issues and ‘obvious’ solutions to problems in their community.  I talked to participants about the power of visualisation and an optimistic mindset. I also showcased other pieces of work such as the Future Library Project and the Innovation Cards.

To add more detail to the visionary approach of Dr Burns, Andrew Lyon of the International Futures Forum set the task of imagining what Scotland’s Asset Alliance priorities should be – what actions need to be taken and what are matters of urgency.

 

Asset Alliance Scotland as a centre point

Asset Alliance Scotland as a centre point

It was an interesting discussion. Andrew graciously let everyone voice their opinion at the end of the event.  The discussions taught me that we need a framework to house some of this work and break it down into how to ‘do asset based work’.  It was obvious that there is already a huge amount of asset based work being done, and it has a history. Perhaps, it’s not always under the label of an ‘asset based approach’ but known as ‘community development’.  I’m not saying we ‘teach a granny to suck eggs’ as one participant in my group warned against, but we create a menu of options which breaks down an asset based approach, a framework to house the knowledge gathered through the AAS which is easy to access, understand, share, and importantly learn from and put into practice.  For example, a range of options on how to engage with people in communities and connections to people who are experts in this field would be beneficial.

The group deliberated between a top down approach, and whilst I agreed that you need government buy in, I think the last thing that is needed is another strategy/policy document on an asset approach that promotes meaningless, tick box targets.  If we’re going to talk targets under the assets agenda, then I think we need to think really carefully how that is conveyed.

Technology curve of adoption

Technology curve of adoption

I felt that we could look at the curve of adoption for technology and think about how ‘early adopters’ are the users who begin to write the ‘playbooks’ and ‘how to guides’.  Perhaps the AAS would take this role on board and begin pulling together existing networks and organising information.

I noticed the Alliance pulling together ongoing work, and past work, branding it as ‘Assets based’ to build a community of practitioners in Scotland, and develop a framework to house this knowledge. However,  I did mention there is a huge need for more interaction across different sectors.  Some of the conversations around ‘person-centeredness’, ‘co-creation’ and ‘assets’ are not only relevant to health but to everyone.  Our lives are are a holistic combination of services and complex interactions that  overlap different sectors on a daily basis.

Importantly, as a chameleon amongst different sectors, this kind of work and demand-led idea is appearing across all sectors, not just health.  Take Skills Development Scotland 2010-2011 Corporate strategy, an organisation I worked alongside last year.  They talk multiple times over about co-creation and demand-led services, which I think align closely with asset based and coproduction movements and murmurs going on around our country.

Snook competition on assets

Snook competition on assets


The most poignant thought for me at the end was about listening.  A participant talked about asking others what assets mean to them and learning from this feedback.  This struck a chord with me and I was happy that Snook had given out a small task for participants to capture assets in their community and email the photos back to us.  We’re looking forward to peering through them and posting them online, feel free to get involved even if you didn’t pick up a leaflet.

Finally, the reason for this task, and what gets me every time at events like this is the need for a vision.  Andrew Lyons had asked us what the AAS will ‘look’ like, yet I saw no hint of visual thinking or communication.  This goes deeper than graphically facilitating the discussions that were taking place but the way in which we go forward in discussing the future of the AAS, and the approach we use in the future for the development of our public sector and country.

We need to share projects, the how to, and do it visually. A picture speaks a thousand words and breeds a common understanding which if applied in context of the AAS could mean a shared vision for the meaning of assets, the alliance, and perhaps as Pat Kane called for at Political Innovation camp a few weeks ago, a shared vision for our country.  Big talking, but, something keeps hitting a nerve of late at discussions like this.  Words like transformation seem to be super seeding ‘change’, ‘improvement’, ‘efficiency’, It feels there are some big ‘shake ups’ that need to happen. With Andrew asking us about urgency today for the AAS, something niggles me even more.  I have a feeling the time is now, we need to move fast.





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