Inside the head of a designer


Servdes, Snook and snowballs
Snook in Sweden

Snook in Sweden

 

Another Snook adventure under our belt ; this time in Linkoping, Sweden.  The occasion? Servdes.  Traveling through some thick snow I made it to the conference, this time under the theme of Exchanging Knowledge.

“The Nordic Conference on Service Design and Service Innovation, ServDes, is the premier research conference for exchanging knowledge within service design and service innovation…Service design as a field has established itself as a strong discipline, through efforts in practice and academia. However, publications have mainly focused on establishing service design. There is a growing need for original research on service design. The ServDes conference is an answer to this call…”

In short, it was in-depth and fun. Making it the best event I have taken part in this year.  However, I struggled with the delicate balance between practitioners and researchers.  This was a recurring theme in some of the discussions I had about academia and practice can can link up and communicate better.  As an active practitioner, I’ve just left academia ; finishing a Masters on Embedding design in the public sector which was more action research and reflection than it was academic.  For me, this works, because at the end of the day, I want to make change happen.  Personally, I’d rather work with academics to document and theorise the work I do on the ground.  I’m wondering if Servdes will become the catalyst for making this connection smoother?

Snook were invited to present the case Service Design: social innovation is our motivation’.  The presentation reflected on a project, Getgo Glasgow, undertaken last year at the Glasgow School of Art. It depicts some of the issues the design community is facing when undertaking social design/innovation projects within design education. My presentation considered some of the shortfalls in the project ; time frames, delivery and ethics. How do designers leave a project like this ethically? Have we considered the consequences of sending young designers out to engage with communities/users.  A film is on the way but for now, you can view the presentation.

The presentation aligned with Don Norman’s views published on Core 77: ‘Why Design Education Must Change‘.

“Many problems involve complex social and political issues. As a result, designers have become applied behavioral scientists, but they are woefully undereducated for the task”

This brilliant yet critical article picks on design education for producing undereducated designers who are ‘woefully ignorant of the deep complexity of social and organizational problems.’ In the case of GetGo, the community now have money in the bank and the project is really happening. Wyndford, where the project took place, is small area that are now mobilised as a community. We designed a process not necessarily a designed solution. The result ; Green Gorillaz wasn’t really designed, it was a half baked idea which was the bi-product of design methods and skills being used to work co-creatively with a community.

My presentation actually sparked some interesting conversations about interdisciplinary work, collaboration and the reality that designers are not experts in everything. It pays to know when and how to ask for help. The question and answer session revealed that students struggle with some elements of this type of project. For example, being equipped with the skills and know how to create intangible outcomes that are implementable. This is something we are aiming to get to grips with through our venture: Making Service Sense.

Highlights for me included Daniela Sangiorgi’s talk(s) on Transformative Services and Transformation Designbuilding‘.  It looked at building capabilities inside organisations to use and understand design to produce better services.  This was an area I felt was overlooked in Berlin at the SDN10 conference and was only just touched upon by Philips.  It mimics efforts made by Engine in their Hoop model and echoes sentiments from Martin Neumier’s Designful company which I reflected on for the last 12 months with a public body in Scotland on how to really use design thinking to create better services for the people of Scotland and more informed, people centered policy.

What Daniela put forward echoed closely with some discussions from the workshop run by Anna Serevalli and Anders Emilson.  They held a workshop on Social Innovation which looked at the criticisms and plaudits by Geoff Mulgan of design in social innovation.  Some of the points our group discussed were;

  • Design(ers) should be a-political
  • We need to create designful organisations and transform thinking
  • We should look to open source community for inspiration
  • We should be pushing for delivery and implementation
  • Designers are facilitators not experts

Eva-Maria Hempe followed some of the capabilities discussion with, Health and social care services for people with complex needs: The role of contextual knowledge for the design process’ and showcased a really interesting project.  More interestingly for me, was the pyramid at the end of her slides on Design capacity versus Design obstacles which I’d like to look more into and see designers considering this.

There were other really good presentations, far too many to mention, in short, a couple more were Marc Stickdorn’s presentation on students and tourism, showcasing how quick and effective service design can be. Also, Simon Clatworthy’s talk on Touchpoint cards was to the point and got some cogs turning about how we could use the template as a basic model to create our own more personalised cards for say tourism, or methods in Service design.

Finally, to end the conference, Global Service Jam was launched by Markus Edgar and Adam St john.  It will bring together different countries from all over the world next year to develop new services in under 48 hours and then share them online.  They’ve had a fantastic response already and if you want your country to be part of it, then I suggest you get in touch with them.

And not forgetting the unconference day, organised by Design thinkers ; an impromptu, insightful and busy day of talking, doing, and drinking coffee.

I ran a workshop called #swesno, which looked at using design thinking and methods to tackle social issues caused by Snow in Sweden.  Wearing santa hats, to get us all in the mood, one group tackled loneliness and isolation with the opportuniy of untapped engergy of kids playing outside in the snow, whilst the other group looked at the issue of ambulances getting stuck in the snow.  There will be a another blog post to follow on the outcomes of the workshop. The storyboarding method and pushing people as a vehicle through a new service design worked incredibly well, and took a group of participants 3 hours. They started from scratch, developing and blueprinting new service concepts which the Swedish authorities could implement.

The day capped off with the launch of This is Service Design Thinking.  If you haven’t purchased it, do it.  It is a very comprehensive textbook which has been co-created by the design community.  I am very happy for the authors and am sure both Jakob Schneider and Marc Stickdorn are relieved to see their hard work come to fruition.

To wrap up, these conferences aren’t always just about the learning but are also about the friends you make.  It was lovely to make some new European and continental friends and catch up with old ones. It never ceases to amaze me how friendly, open and collaborative the Service Design community can be. Snook are humbled to be part of it.

Huge thanks to Fabian and the rest of the Serv Des team for making this event possible.

Here’s to next year and bigger and better snowball fights...




Travelling Pantry
October 20, 2010, 11:09 pm
Filed under: event, inspiration, social innovation | Tags: , , , , , ,

So Tessy Britton, in her marvelous Travelling Pantry car, came to Glasgow yesterday to run a workshop, an initiative from the Social Spaces project. She says,

“The workshops will be aimed at helping stimulate new and interesting local projects in line with the Social Spaces thinking of Learning, Sharing and Making.  The workshops will draw together inspiration from existing new projects and new methodologies … as well as spreading traditional positive community building know-how.”

Asset Mapping

Asset Mapping

 

It was great to be introduced to the concept of ‘asset mapping’, a positive way of looking at your community and all the great things in it, we worked in teams to map areas in Glasgow.

My team focused on Maryhill, with a great starting point, ignoring Tessy’s instructions (yes, we were the naughty group) to not start with roads, and start with assets.

Local Bus Community Hub

Local Bus Community Hub

Mapping in this three dimensional way, allowed us add in emotional factors to the map.  My favourite observations was the bus as a new local meeting point since the schools had closed down and parents took their kids to new schools, and the ‘animosity’ markers which showed communities who didn’t get along with one another.

This proved to be a fantastic way of visualising a community, and a great activity that could be done co-creatively with lots of different participants.  It could show networks, relationships, traffic flow (both car and people).  What a fantastic way to understand a community and pool local knowledge of an area together.

The Positive Soap Box by Sarah Drummond

The Positive Soap Box by Sarah Drummond

Another exercise we undertook was to think about what community was, what it was missing.  We used Lego, and If you know me, I can become far too excited about it.  Some may think it’s silly, but Lego is a fantastic way of communicating thoughts, and my favourite model was a contorted, ‘angular’ model from a participant at my table who had built it this way to display the complex, twisted relationships in a community.  The use of Lego, which is often a technique used in my work got me thinking about how everyone can participate in the design process.  Lego brings tangibility to often difficult to express concepts, (in my line of work, services).  I have practiced for years and can prototype and bring to life concepts with my hands in seconds.  It was Marty Neumeier who said in his book, The Designful Company, that as designers, we are the link between thinking and doing, our hands, are the link between thinking and doing.  We make with our hands, iteratively, and that is a very important thing to remember, a designer possesses the ability to prototype quickly, at an expert level.  But, conscious to my thoughts and feelings and recent work on being more transformative and humble in my work, it is true to say lego and other tools similar to this, like plasticine allow people to do that making part, in a much more easier way than sitting with a blank sheet of paper.  It takes us back to being a child again, you know that creative little person you used to be, before, for many of us, it was sucked out of us at a young age.

Anyway, made me think…a great day, and I wish Tessy all the best of luck on the rest of her journey and thanks for inviting Snook to be there with you.



Create Debate
Create:Debate

Create:Debate

I’ve been putting together a final show for the Masters in Design Innovation I have just about finished.  On Monday I handed in my thesis and this Monday I will be presenting the work to examiners.  It has been a really tough year balancing everything and I’m really happy to invite you all to Create Debate: A design Innovation symposium at the Glasgow School of Art.  You can sign up here.

Presentations;

Professor Irene Mcara Mcwilliams will open with an introduction
Professor Mike Press, Associate Dean of Design, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, will discuss ‘Design as an affirmation of values’
Jim Fleming, Director at Wider Aspect Innovation ltd, will discuss Some learnings on Innovation Best Practice
David Hicks,
Managing Director of Border Crossing will discuss The new economic context – from resources to resourcefulness’
Stuart Bailey, Product Design tutor at the Glasgow School of art will discuss changes in design education

Innovative Idea Generation:mixing user value,design and higher education by Joe Slavick
Intergeneration and technology by Basako Okay
Listening to locals: A user centered approach to rural retailing by Laura Franzini
Brand DNA – Does employing social media tactics enhance or risk brand development by Amy Marsh
Effective Collaboration in Multi-disciplinary Teams by Angela Fernandez Orviz
Follow Me!: Mapping the city with user generated contents by Heji Jeong
Improving connections in textile recycling by Sara Pateraki
Embedding design in the public sector and changing our thinking by Sarah Drummond



Bethnal Green ventures
August 11, 2010, 1:52 pm
Filed under: interesting, social innovation | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Bethnal Green ventures

Bethnal Green ventures

Got an idea that’s sort of social innovation?  Think you can make a difference?

The folks over at social innovation camp are starting a new project called Bethnal Green ventures. They say,

Social Innovation Camp is all about taking a back-of-the-envelope idea and working out how to make it real. We’ve learnt a huge amount about what makes an idea fly or flounder as we’ve watched projects develop after Social Innovation Camp and now we want to build a new way of helping people grow an idea that one stage further: from prototype idea to social start-up.

Bethnal Green Ventures Nightschool is the first step in doing that.”

Over a year ago I took part in social innovation camp, and won it with a fantastic bunch of people and the project Mypolice. It’s been such slow going with the project and we’ve had some great highs so far with it and some incredible lows.  Something like Bethnal Green ventures could have really helped us in the stage from great idea to getting funding to launching.

So if you’re in London, give them a shout.



Nesta’s Coproduction event
 Nesta right here right now launch
Nesta right here right now launch

Last week, I found time to go to the NESTA Right here Right now Launch: Taking Coproduction into the mainstream.  The event, focusing on taking coproduction as a marginal idea into the mainstream is the third of a three part series of reports from a collaboration between the New Economics Foundation and Nesta.

Re-reading NEF’s coproduction pamphlet, published two years ago I was struck by Edgar Cahn’s words on the term being hot on the lips of politicians, on both sides of the atlantic.  Now more than ever, with our ‘big society’ and having to do ‘more for less’ it’s time to push Co-production in the mainstream.  If you’re not sure what Coproduction is I suggest mulling over the three Nesta reports but for a summary of it’s inception;

“The term ‘co-production’ was coined originally at the University of Indiana in the 1970s when Professor Elinor Ostrom was asked to explain to the Chicago police why the crime rate went up when the police came off the beat and into patrol cars. She used the term as a way of explaining why the police need the community as much as the community need the police.”

Going back to Nef’s publication, this is a stand out for me;

“Neither markets nor centralised bureaucracies are effective models for delivering public services based on relationships. The author of System Failure, Jake Chapman, explains why, with market systems, ‘you can deliver pizza but you can’t deliver public services’.  Market logic applies to narrow deliverables, but misses out the crucial dimension that allows doctors to heal, teachers to teach and carers to care: the relationship with patient, pupil or client. Centralised bureaucracies, public and private, find it equally hard to grasp these essentials.”

Following the discussion after the launch of the final Nesta Paper, the above quote from 2008 is very poignant.  Designers ask three questions.  What, how and why and what I’m experiencing from many of these co-design publications is people asking the how?

I often see elements of design as the process to drive this ideology.  To me, the design process seems like the glue that will hold these together, and as a way of driving a co-production manifesto.

The question and answer session showed that this how question is where we get stuck.  Garath Symonds who works at Surrey County Council sat on the panel as someone who has pushed this way of working on a local level.  Questions were fired at him and his reply was,

“Just do it”

If the audience could have clapped, I feel there may have been a small ripple of applause.  Gareth was someone that takes risks and gets this.  I have always seen so many parallels between what I’ve done as a service designer and coproduction.  Putting users (n.b users also mean staff) at the centre of service design and delivery.  The mindset of co-creation (often seen in work I’ve been part of) as a vehicle to develop services and push towards co-production.  Co-production is not just a design process and I would never say design is the panacea, but I believe expert facilitation attributed with a design process and involving different experts and frameworks at different stages, would be a good way of driving this process.  I’ve seen services and social enterprises produced by designers that embody much of what co-production is about and reach a stage of dellivery.  I’ll talk about some other points but Nick Marsh of Sidekick picked up on a great ‘that’s a thing’ point about the dependency of users on public services.

Nesta Co Production
Nesta Co Production

The publication had quite a few recommendations for taking co-production into the main stream.

1. Build the key features of co-production into existing services

2. Change the systems and structures that underpin public services

3. Make it everybody’s business

4. Shift the role of frontline staff

5. Get the best out of ‘personalised’ services

6. Put the right incentives in place

7. Build co-production into the commissioning framework

8. Give priority to prevention

9. Encourage flexibility and collaborative working

10. Measure what matters

11. Launch more prototypes in new sectors

12. Embed co-production as the ‘default’ model through a ‘Co-production Guarantee’

Some tough challenges, co-production works as a small scale project, and something very local, but public services face huge challenges, not just in the way an organisation is structured but in their processes and mindset they will need if they want to adopt co-production as a way of doing.

The publication summarises with future thinking moving away from tick box processes to a more human way forward.  The big question is, who is going to take this forward?

“This is a new kind of public sector, with complex relationships rather than complex metrics at its heart.”

And how the hell are we going to measure this?   Some of the final words of the event focused on co-production being an inherent value, and to me this rings a bell for something I’ve been considering for a long time…that it’s perhaps not a way of doing, it’s not a process, it’s a way of being.

The idea does perplex me (in a good way) but it’s something I want to be involved in, and I believe in it, it’s just finding a language that can dilute it into a process that will aim to achieve the outcomes it strives to deliver.  To finish with the final words of the event,

“Perhaps this is not a policy, but a movement”



Undercover Boss
July 26, 2010, 8:38 am
Filed under: interesting | Tags: , , ,
channel four - undercover boss

channel four - undercover boss

Anyone who is looking to do ‘more for less’ should be taking a leaf out of CH4′s Undercover boss series.  I’m not saying that we take every CEO of a company and put them on the frontline undercover, but that we do learn from the knowledge at the frontline.

The one that interested me the most was the Tower Hamlets episode.

For me, Tim, part of the pest control service summed it up for me.

“we’re not there to make a profit, we’re here to run a service”

For anyone who is not familiar with the series, a ‘top dog’ of a company will go into the ‘coal face’ and spend time with staff understanding what their job is like.  In this episode, Kevin Collins the chief exec of Tower Hamlets council spent time with the meals on wheels service, pest control, the homeless office and other much needed local services.

Kevin hits the nail on the head about this being different to private services,

“being the chief executive of a public company is different to a private one, the people are my shareholders.”

Before leaving for the front line Kevin talked about the council needing to take risks to improve their services, which, in our current economic climate, is a difficult thing to stand up and say.

“I’m sure there is going to be an absolute wealth of information…I’m going to understand the organisation better, get to know the staff, and tell people how we can do our job better”

His first stop was with meals on wheels.  Experiencing the service as a front line staff member showed Kevin that decisions made were more than just numbers.  The people receiving the service were often elderly, vulnerable or living with a disability and the visit was their only point of contact in a day.

The next stop was a council office providing vital services to people who were homeless.  Kevin commented,

“having the right temperament at the first moment you’re met, sets the right tone”

Malakay, the receptionist was highly commended by Kevin, and the way he discussed the young man, was like that of a touchpoint.  By experiencing first hand the centre, Kevin could see that this is not a service that can be cut but other improvements could make the service more efficient and save money.

“There were questions though, like could the computer system be better.  It could be slicker and faster”

Tom, from pest control, for me, summed up something I’ve been struggling with to understand is why design, or what the value is for public services.  Tom showed the Kevin the extra mile he went to in finding the root of a pest problem.  Kevin compared to how an outsourced company may just treat the problem.   In a private world, creating additional value is all about increasing profits.  In the public sector world, it’s almost about ‘throttling’ numbers, it’s about the prevention of foot fall not just the treatment.  An interesting thought for what ‘added value’ might mean in the design context.

“what we run is a kind of a whole service, which allows us to get to the causes rather than just the symptoms, I’ve got to think whether you’d get such a whole service if you farmed  it out”

The programme ends with Kevin inviting the people he met to his office, unveiling the fact he is not ‘Colin’ (his undercover name) but their boss.  What I really appreciated here was that he then invited the staff members to become involved in projects, which sums up for me, an integral part of any embedding design work in the public sector.  Harness the knowledge your staff have.  Secondly,they felt valued, with one staff member commenting that they, ‘finally felt listened to’.

The video above is a previous ‘star’ of Under Cover Boss who discusses how the show helped him to see what elements of their service needs improved by experiencing the service from the staff’s point of view.  You could liken this to Shadowing, an ethnographic technique often used in Service Design.

For example, the company ditched a monthly newsletter which was costing them money, but no one was reading it.  They have now opted for more regular news in short snippets.  Experiencing a service first hand, always makes you understand more emphatically what it feels like, both for the customer and the staff who deliver it.  This is far more powerful and rich than any survey could achieve.  While numbers are not to be sniffed at, these qualitative methods should go hand in hand with quantitative analysis.  As Stephen Martin, CEO of Clugston Group says above,

“Information is filtered through at least a dozen levels, by the time it reaches the CEO you’re not getting the real heart felt emotions from the workforce”



Embedding design interviews

Embedding design interviews

Embedding design interviews

I’ve been a bit quiet as I’m blogging away on a closed platform, I’m not allowed to share everything I’m up to, but I can cross post occasionally.

I’ve been doing a round of interviews/chats with some fantastic people and just wanted to summarise who I’ve met so far.  This is a thank you from me for all your time and knowledge!

The topics ranged from how to embed design in organisations, how project teams might work, encouraging a culture of innovation, systems thinking, meta design, and reflection on what makes up a designer, to name but a few.

Below is a selection of interviews completed so far;

Dr Anne Marie Mcewan (The Smart Work Company)

Nick Marsh (Side Kick studios)

John Wood (Goldsmiths, Meta Design)

Joel Bailey (Capita)

Ruth Kennedy (professional agitator of too many things to mention, but all great)

Ingrid Koeler (IDeA)

Tess Raine (Design Council)

Emily Campbell (RSA)

Matt Currie (Divergent)

I will be disseminating these over the coming week and pulling out useful case studies and advice for how to embed design in organisations.  And meeting some new (and old) faces next week in London.

I’m free (ish) next Monday to Wednesday if anyone is around for a drink.




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