Inside the head of a designer

September 27, 2009, 4:07 pm
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I was sent this in an email this week and caught my attention.  There has often been times when I’ve been in different places in the world and thought, that’s a great idea I wonder if that would work at home in the UK?

So I’m introducing Idea-porting.

“ideAporting is a collaborative online platform where users can share ideas, services and innovations that could be imported, exported or both between countries worldwide.

For example, a recent article in The Independent newspaper reported that there is a new scheme for the city of Ghent in Belgium to go vegetarian one day a week. Would this work in the UK? How could it be promoted? Conversely, are there any innovative concepts from the UK that could be successfully implemented in another country? If so, what cultural issues would need to be taken into consideration?”

The site hosts ideas such as a playpark for elderly people (see above) and the Brixton pound for a market place to help counteract the effects of the recession.

Would be great to see an idea cross borders and find out what might need to change culturally for it to work in another country.  Just recently social innovation camp jumped borders to Bratislava, find out what happened here.

I’ll be watching this to see what happens once they really get going.  You can follow them on twitter @ideaporting

Masters in Design Innovation
September 22, 2009, 11:27 pm
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Well summer just came and went.  It’s not like I really had a holiday, I sweated it out over (and still over) mypolice.  I feel very humbled to be part of that rollercoaster but will be handing the bulk over to Lauren Currie for the forseeable future until my new course calms down a little.

And so here I am.  New studio, not so new art school, but exciting new course.  I have began a postgraduate masters at the Glasgow School of Art in Design Innovation which focuses on transformation/environmental and service design and am being sponsored by Skills Development Scotland, so will be working with them also.

I’m looking this year at how service design and largely ‘design thinking’ can be integrated into Skills Development Scotland (and in a wider context, other public sector organisations) as a way of project managing and creating and evaluating new and existing services.  I will be releasing a larger article soon on my thoughts so far about designing for the public sector so I’ll hold back my thoughts on this.

Our first project is going to be with the Audi foundation.  From now until January we will be looking at ‘new’ social/community projects.  You can find out more about the projects here at the Sustain our nation site.


I say we, I’ve been lucky to meet a very diverse bunch of people who all have very different backgrounds, I think in total there are 9 of us, and from a few different places around the world.

The project splits into 5 different topics which we can use to somehow (the project is largely open at the moment) to organise ourselves.

I’m looking forward to this, I think the best approach to this is to meet the communities first then decide which title to work under.  After all, as our tutor put it today, designer’s must stop making assumptions.
And to quote another tutor, Irene Mcara McWilliams, head of the school of design at GSA said to us yesterday,
“This course is about challenging and pushing forward what design can do, and we’re looking at you to do it”
Fighting words and I’m looking forward to working under that mantra.

Making Service Sense
September 12, 2009, 8:54 pm
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Last night I had the absolute pleasure of travelling  to sunny Dundee.  I was privileged to be at Lauren Currie’s aka Redjotter’s master of design degree show.

Lauren has spent the last year exploring and discovering the expansive land of service design to attempt to make sense of it all and help explain what it is that service designers do.  Based in Scotland, it’s very nice to have someone who is doing similar work so close by.

The show was brilliantly simple: visuals of service elements, cards that showed day to day services we use, speech bubbles which contained questions about service design (which I am asked on a day to day basis when I say I am a service designer) and an interesting twitter twist.

In her own words she describes her show as,

“Making Service Sense attempts to communicate to students what people sometimes think and talk about when it come to Service Design.”

I think it goes even further than students and reaches out to the public and business.


The twitter bit was interesting, using the #makingservicesense category on twitter, Lauren put questions to her vast network of design professionals and thinkers and received almost instantaneous replies.  I’m intrigued about twitter, I love how an event can come to life using it and even though not there in person, others can still get involved.  To view the night’s feed (and believe me this is not the end of it) go to the #makeservicesense twitter page.

I think the diversity of what Lauren has covered is fantastic, not to mention the leg work that went into it.  She’s produced a book of all the conversations and experiences of the last 12 months into a lovely, very large, book.  Fingers crossed she will make it available to the service design world in the near future.  If you can’t wait, and you haven’t already, you should read her blog which is very comprehensive.


And I promise you, this is only just the beginning for makingservicesense, it’s only going to grow.

Last night I had the absolute pleasure of travelling  to sunny Dundee 🙂 I was privellged to be at Lauren Currie’s aka Redjotter’s master of design degree show.

Swings and roundabouts
September 3, 2009, 11:39 pm
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I really must learn to blog in small doses, instead I’ve done it again, saved it all up for a massive round up of all things service that have caught my attention in the last couple of weeks.

Most importantly, I’ve been working on mypolice and there’s a lot of thoughts over there too.  It’s been going phenomenally well and we’ve now got a list of police conferences to present at.  What’s been interesting is talking to police leaders and members of the Scottish government about design led innovation and using creativity to engage with the public and come up with new and relevant services.  I’ve been flying the service design flag a little and recently spoke up at a big policing event, to be met with great interest and acceptance of what service design might do for the police force in Scotland, and on my visit to London later next week, hopefully in the UK too.

I’m going to save myself a little for a larger post about policy making which I mentioned in my last post, but a couple of papers that caught my eye this week were,

A must read for anyone, is ‘A Brief History of Public Service Reform’, a paper from the 2020 Public Services Trust at the RSA.  The video above is a video newsletter from them for September.

“1 Be responsive to the existing and new sources of insecurity and disadvantage that citizens face today – including how these are distributed across the lifecycle, how they differ can by gender, ethnicity, class, and spatially, and how they can combine in ways that entrench and perpetuate disadvantage; and

2 Have at its heart the positive aspirations of citizens – for themselves and the lives they want to lead, for their families, and for their communities.”

Another paper which might run alongside this was brought to my attention by redjotter ‘The NHS: Local Control vs Local Varioation’ It brought together different age groups to discuss the level of involvement in choosing how public spending in the NHS is managed.  Worth a read and part of a major debate about the spending of public budgets nationwide vs localality needs.

Another paper which I read last week and finally remembered is ‘VISUALIZATIONS AS TOOLS FOR RESEARCH: SERVICE DESIGNERS ON VISUALIZATIONS’ looking at visualization as the tool of the designer, which made me start to think of the debate about passing on design tools and skills to ‘non’ designers.  Can anyone be a designer? Isn’t everyone a designer? Or are there traits and instincts which make some people better at (service) design thinking than others?

It runs alongside something Kate Andrews put up on twitter the other day, ‘You know more than you think you do’ from the RSA,with a quote that stood out at the end,

that the most exciting thing about design right now is how it can make everyone more creative’ – Jane Fulton Suri of IDEO

This is something of great interest to me as my masters this year at the Glasgow School of Art will be undertaken in a collaboration with Skills Development Scotland, to help them understand and practice service design.  It is a task that in no way I think will be easy and will be a great study of whether the skills a good designer has can be taught to ‘non’ designers, as well as the tools and techniques attributed to the design process.  I think the biggest challenge is when I leave, will the knowledge still live on and be usable?  It’s something I’m going to try and make sure of.  Watch this space, I can feel a new blog coming on.

A really quick round up of a few other things are, Service design – a robust way to build brands, The Psychology of Creativity, promising practices in online engagement.

Something else that caught my eye was the new school buses in India, for kids who are not able of have dropped out of school.  Their idea is about ‘mission to admission’ to prepare these kids for a primary school.  Fantastic.


Finally, I’ve been working on blueprint of user journeys with Say Women, a charity which helps young women between the ages of 16-25 who have experienced rape, sexual assault and abuse.  I was there today interviewing Brenda Walker as part of the mypolice project (I’ll post about it over there later) and working with her to map out the young women’s journeys.  It reminded me of this, the mepss webtool flagged up by openp2pdesign on twitter.

‘Successful PSS innovation asks for a strategy that focuses on designing and selling an interconnected system of products and services. MEPSS (Methodology for PSS) helps you to think ‘outside the box’ and actively use visualisation, analysis and stakeholder management in your design process.’

I’ll think that will do for a round up, I must get back to blogging more often…