Inside the head of a designer


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.




Embedding design (why don’t you have a go?)

 

 

There’s an event taking place as I write this, from my ‘borrowed’ desk at Skills Development Scotland, that I rather wish I’d been able to attend.  Snook received an email last month inviting us to an expert seminar being held by RSA Design & Society, unfortunately we can’t make it because of work commitments.

They are bringing together experts and people who have experience in design management, service design, and people working from the inside.  Speakers include Ben Reason from Live Work, Lucy Kimbell who writes the excellent blog, Design leads us where exactly?  and Simon Roberts of Intel and the Ideas Bazaar on embedded anthropology and social science.  Not to mention my boss here at SDS, Tony Coultas, commenting on our experiences so far.

Emily Campbell, who heads up the design and society team wrote a blog post on ‘In-house or out: embedding design’, summing up many of my thoughts.

It is time we see designers switching from outside consultancy to in-house design team, and I don’t just mean a team that designs the company’s ‘look’.  It’s time we saw design teams operating at the heart of organisations.

I’ve been working with Skills Development Scotland since September and am about to embark on a larger piece of work for them, designing a toolkit for frontline staff.  But it’s the structure of the organisation that needs to be designed in tangent.  If you supply people with a design toolkit to ‘see’ things differently and start generating ideas for frontline service delivery and internal operations, you need to support this.

Since being here, I’ve noticed a need for everything to be designed, even down to the last word on a project initiation document.  For example, I recall reading a document that used terms like, ‘how can we mitigate this circumstance’ and ‘how can we terminate this operation without lasting damage’?   

Through some research I did at the beginning of September last year, I found a majority of service designers turning out to be ENFJs.

ENFJ (Extraversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Judgment) is an abbreviation used in the publications of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to refer to one of sixteen personality types.[1] The MBTI assessment was developed from the work of prominent psychiatrist Carl G. Jung in his book Psychological Types. Jung proposed a psychological typology based on the theories of cognitive functions that he developed through his clinical observations.”

This is research at some stage I’d like to push further into, I’ve always been fascinated a bit by the way we are, our personalities and the choices we make, and a book I dabbled in recently, ‘The challenge of change in organisations’, has spurred this interest even further.

 

In short, designers are ‘positive optimists’, I found myself (an ENFJ incase you’re wondering) asking, could we change, ‘how can we mitigate this circumstance’ to ‘can we find a way to solve this wicked problem?’.  Witnessing a lecture last year by John Wood from Goldsmiths, I was fascinated by his description of designers being able to make the ‘unimaginable possible’ and working towards ‘attainable utopias’.  I will save all this for another blog post, but google meta design and go exploring, I’m still trying to get my head round it all.

In an organisation of over 1300 people, change in an organisation is going to be a massive challenge, and you need a positive mindset to want to tackle it.  I’m looking forward to my next batch of work kicking off and dealing with the small and larger picture of SDS.  How can you embed design thinking into an organisation so large?  How can you envisage and implement new processes and ways of doing things?

As Emily points out, this new type of embedded design teams have been described as Service Designers.  Why?  My take is that service designers have the skills and tools necessary to bring the intangible to life.

Like myself, Emily asks some key questions, the language barrier I feel to be the most critical,

“In practical terms, what is the job description for an in-house designer with a holistic brief? How does an organisation intent on embedding design go about recruiting designers? How is the effectiveness of staff designers paid for their holistic view to be measured? How does the design of services, structures and strategy respond to cost-benefit analysis? How is the language barrier between designers and other specialists to be overcome? How are creativity and innovation to be managed within large and often cautious or risk-averse organisations?”

In practical terms for Skills Development Scotland, it’s a ‘service designer’ and I dare you to take up the challenge.

They are advertising for a 10 month position to join the service innovation team, go on, try something new and get in touch.



Exchanging Knowledge
April 6, 2010, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Public Sector Design, service design | Tags: , , , ,

The Nordic conference on Service Design and Service Innovation, Servdes, is the premier research conference within service design and service innovation.  Taking place on the st-3rd December, it looked great last year, and I hope will serve up the same this year, and even more…

Servdes has a call for papers for the conference, to be submitted by June.

“The topic for this year’s conference is ExChanging Knowledge. ServDes invites contributions from researchers and practitioners that wish to contribute to the development of a knowledge base on service design, and openly discuss challenges of the field. Changing Knowledge is about investigating the fundamentals in service design and challenging the knowledge inherited from the disciplines which service design has grown out of. Exchanging Knowledge refers both to integrating knowledge from other fields and the ongoing conversation between conference participants with their various roles; consultants, students, in-house, clients and academics. The scientific programme will be composed of papers that have been peer-reviewed in a double-blind review process.”

Reading through the topics for submission and the theme of the conference, it’s great to see a move on from discussions and discovery of the topic to starting to look at the possibilities of what directions the discipline is moving in and where it might go.  The topics are interesting and I’m looking at submitting a paper (or two) detailing some of the exciting work I’ve had the pleasure of being part of in the last 12 months.  The topics are;

– the business of service design
– politics and design of services
– user involvement
– design in health-care and public services
– service design in for-profit organizations
– theoretical foundations
– the processes of service design
– rigor and relevance of research methods
– novel design tools and techniques
– service design across cultures
– design and service-dominant logic

Work that Snook has done with the ALISS project and mypolice fit into some of the topics and make for interesting developments in the public sector for new models of service delivery.  Not to mention Skills Development Scotland dipping their toes (quite fully) in the design thinking puddle and getting to grips with service design, I hope to try and rally them together to put in a submission.



Think Public makes Co-Design Simple
March 3, 2009, 5:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

To the point and delightful video making co-design simple by Think Public.

I actually  had a discussion yesterday with someone about co-design.  It struck me though that the term is still very loose and can be used in multiple ways.  Or perhaps it is not clear what it means.  It is not participatory design, becauseit is involving the stakeholders and other affiliated professionals other than just end users.  Is co-design about the project creators (the designers and developers) meeting with everyone all together in one place like in Panda Island?…or can co-design take place with individual meetings and the information compiled later?

I’m excited about my new project because I finally feel it is a perfect (collaboration pending) example of co-design.  I am hoping to work with my end users, the commuters, transport stakeholders, councils, cycling enthusiasts.  And I am hoping my central platform is the blog.  Watch this space.



The Cycling Commuter

So the new project started today.  Throwing myself completely into it as I have set meetings up for the other project in a couple of weeks.  This gives me a clear run of executing and pulling together all my research.

header

Check it out and pass the link on if you know of anyone who may me be interested in the project, especially commuters from Edinburgh to Glasgow.



Updates

So I have been finally getting round to updating my project blog. It’s been a busy week of presentations and projects. I’m in the midst of setting up a new blog for my final year project which looks at the commuting journey between Edinburgh and Glasgow and how bicycles can be implemented to improve journeys from main stations to places of work and home.

In the meantime I have been updating doweneedwords.wordpress.com, a project that looks at creating a tool to help people learn sign language.

blogheader-copy



RSA – 2020 challenge for public services
February 27, 2009, 5:45 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 

I would like to attend this, unfortunately I have a review next Wednesday, unless I can reschedule it.

 

“In a major speech, Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP, will set out his thinking on the priorities for public service policy in the coming decade. Through investment and reform, substantial improvements have been made to public services over the last decade and the pace of reform, in creating new Academies, establishing Foundation Trusts and transforming welfare, is accelerating. But over the next decade new trends will change the nature of demands to which public services will have to respond. These trends are likely to include: a more diverse population, new sources of risk, the information revolution, an ageing society, and profound behavioural challenges (e.g. in relation to public health or the environment). All this at a time when the economic environment will be much tougher and public services will have to achieve even more within tighter public spending constraints. Liam will consider how, in the context of these challenges, reform in the next decade will need increasingly to transfer power from the centre to citizens, front line deliverers, and communities. He will draw on the inspiration of an earlier generation of Labour thinkers and social innovators to look at the role community based social entrepreneurship could play in achieving better public services and how the state can help enable this.”