Friday, 30 January 2009

Services Round-up Online

Here are some recent links I have found on the web related to designing and developing services.

On the meaning of the design of services
Author of the blog Orange Cone, Mike Kuniavsky, has posted some notes on service design from a chapter in his a book he is currently penning. He tackles the hotly contested meaning of service design in his post, Detangling the meanings the design of services, and gives us insight into the different perspectives from the software services point of view and design point of view, which focuses on the end user. There is also a nice summary of service design-type concepts eg. Product-Service-System, Service Blueprinting etc. And finally, a list of references he has been using, including a like to Jeff Howard's comprehensive and informative Service Design Research site.

Designing services in the public sector
Here's a link to a blog posting on the Creativity and Business International Network on Designing people-centred policy: how can user centred design help public services. It was written by Nick Marsh of Engine. He mentions in his article design research, protoyping and co-designing for developing more people-centred policies. There are links to some of Engine's work in the pubic sector and some good links at the end of the article for further reading.

Service design is about three things
Idris Mootee, a business and innovation strategist, blogs that Service design is simple. It's about three things: creating compelling user benefits, optimising based on the separability of the service and makingeducated trade-offs between human and technology. Hrm, doesn't sound simple, but read on to the case studies to understand more what Mootee is getting at.

Live|work on Design for Darzi
Ben Reason of Live|work writes, Design for Darzi, for the Design Council website on applying service thinking to healthcare. Here's an excerpt:

As the Darzi Review makes clear, health services that care for people only when they become sick are not enough. We need to support people to lead healthy lives, stay out of hospital and feel good. This requires a shift from the traditional industrial thinking focused on quantity and productivity and a narrow definition of efficiency (how many cancer patients can we treat with these resources?) to a new way of thinking. At live|work we call it service thinking. A service thinking approach focuses on creating personalised services where we think about how to support the individual health needs of each and every NHS patient and help people to maintain their health and overall wellbeing.

Later in his article Ben writes about 4 key element of service thinking that they applied to their work with the NHS:

1. Personalise services for individuals
2. Design engaging experiences
3. Make the right connections with service users
4. Think about long-term sustainability

Great public service experiences
Here are some neat illustrated stories of great public services as experienced by some participants of the Public Service by Design workshops hosted by the Design Council in 2008.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Obama Administration and Design

Yes, it has been a bit Obama-rama lately around here and all over the web, but following up on the previous post regarding the design policy initiative for the US Government, I just visited The White House website and blog and I am really impressed.

Screen grab from The Whitehouse website

Great aesthetics (really impressive and I have to say beats Number handsdown), great usability and of course great content, including some nice visuals from within The Whitehouse.

When I visited the website I thought it demonstrated a great appreciation for good design, and when I explored further to The Whitehouse blog, I can see that many principles held by Obama's Administration align with that of design in Dott 07.

One of the very first postings on The Whitehouse blog states its intent to centre around three priorities:
  • Communication: for timely information;

  • Transparency: for openess and to provide a "window for all Americans into the business of the government" and;

  • Participation: (and I have to quote what the blog says about this. See below)
President Obama started his career as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, where he saw firsthand what people can do when they come together for a common cause. Citizen participation will be a priority for the Administration, and the internet will play an important role in that. One significant addition to reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it.

I can't go into detail here, but from my research into Dott 07, all the projects held these three priorities in very high regard with Designers acting upon them.

I am now really curious to know how the US Design Policy Initiative shall be received. I wish them the best of luck.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Deficiencies in design criticism and writing

In my time procrastinating while writing up case study analyses, I came across some interesting articles on the web today.

The first was on the design community blog, On Social Design, initiated to promote design as a tool for change. The site's most recent article (as of today) was written by Kate Andrews titled, 'Design matters, like never before'. She starts by asking if we need to redefine what 'good design' means in our rapidly changing society.

There has been a lot of noise around the web lately on 'good design' and I don't know if I take more notice because the Design Council launched their 'Good Design Plan' last year. The 'Good Design Plan' is the Design Council's national design strategy plan for 2008–11, and in it they outline that good design is:
  • Sustainable design
  • A process
  • Joining creativity and innovation
  • Delivering value
  • And it’s the work of good designers (and good clients)
And on the note of design policy, earlier this month, 10 design proposals for 'Redesigning America's Future' were distributed to the all members of Congress and the (at the time incoming) Obama Administration. The very first proposal stated the need to formalise the American Design Council.

But I am going a bit off the point here having started with Kate's article... The point Kate is making is not what is 'good design', rather in order to explore this question further, we need better and more critical writing from the design community. I entirely agree with Kate on this because in my PhD research process, having to search and review design literature, I have to say it comes up pretty poor against the writing and publications of other disciplines (such as business, social science etc.). And it is for this reason that I am needing to contexualise my research into design, in these other disciplines (and yes, it is challenging doing literature searches and reviews that spans several disciplines, but why reinvent the wheel?).

Also ditto on Kate's note regarding the need for more critical design, and writing of it. From my perspective though, this deficiency was first brought to my attention about 2 years ago by my PhD buddy, Ben.

Ps. I have heard too many times people say that Designers aren't good a writing, but I believe that is untrue. I know loads of Designers who write as a form of reflection and/or even as a key part of their profession eg. Copywriters and graphic designers. This is not the reason I critique design literature.

For more on critical design and writing see here on Core 77.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Manifest Hope:DC

Thought we might celebrate Inauguration Day right here with a link to a very interesting art exhibition called ManifestHope:DC. It exhibits the work of "artists who use their voices to amplify and motivate the grassroots movement that carried President-Elect Barack Obama to victory" and does so around 3 key issues: Healthcare Reform, Workers Rights and the Green Economy. Anyone can submit their art (online) and 15 pieces (5 from each category) are selected to be put on display. Here is a link to the winners.

Image from ManifestHope DC website

Live|work on 'Creating social solutions for MS patients'

The International Herald Tribune published this article on Live|work's work in healthcare on January 16 2009. The article details Live|work's people-centred approach to tackling the issue of Multiple Sclerosis with the Ealing Primary Care Trust.

Thought it was interesting to note how the article describes Service Design:

Service design is one of the new disciplines that are redefining design by taking it into the realm of what's called "user experience." This is business school gobbledygook for ensuring that services (everything from online bank accounts to airline booking systems) can be used easily and efficiently. The service designer literally designs every aspect of the customer's experience by applying the type of thinking that designers use intuitively in conventional projects, such as analyzing problems and inventing unexpectedly effective solutions. Often they do this in collaboration with other specialists, like anthropologists and economists. Good service design schemes are so intelligently planned and executed that we barely need to think about whether we're using them correctly. The bad ones (and, sadly, we've all suffered from them) are confusing, inefficient and infuriating. How often have you been flummoxed by an impenetrable online booking system or call center?

Friday, 16 January 2009

New year, new thinking and new questions

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays, where ever you were and whatever you were doing. I got to enjoy the festive season in one of the most awesome cities in the world- New York!

I know I have a post brewing somewhere on some things I came across in New York, and I am not sure if it was these things or a 10-day break from the research did me a whole lot of good, but last week I refreshed, focused and revised my research question. I have a bit of expanding to do for it, but for now, here is it:

Understanding the emerging roles of Designers
in the Dott 07 public design commission projects
and their broader relevance to development contexts.

It's a new year and new thinking and new questions have been cropping up elsewhere. I have been scanning the blogs today and picked up on a few things...

Transformation, not Innovation

On the last day of 2008, Bruce Nussbaum declared that "'Innovation' is dead. Herald the birth of 'Transformation' as the key concept for 2009." Of course this was not met without loads of skepticism, criticism and some support (see the comments Nussbaum's post provoked at the bottom of the page). To give you a summary, here's a key part of the post:

The concept of “Transformation” ... implies radical transformation of our systems—education, health-care, economic growth, transportation, defense, political representation. It puts the focus on people, designing networks and systems off their wants and needs. It relies on humanizing technology, not imposing technology on humans. It approaches uncertainties with a methodology that creates options for new situations and sorts through them for the best quickly.

Most of the comments question, is this just a new buzzword/branding for/to replace innovation? In 2006, RED published a paper titled, Transformation Design. It's approaching 3 years now and while I think the content of the publication is great, the phrase "Transformation Design" never really took off. Did it?

Three (big) questions for Service Design

Another thing I came across today was my friend, Qin's, blog post on three questions she's posing to the Service Design world. Here they are:

Question 1: How do we change our understanding of the design process in Service Innovation?

Qin speaks to the shift in the creation of tangible (ie. in traditional design) to less tangible outputs and outcomes. I very much like her comment, "The uniqueness of service design is that the design outcome is a living system that evolves over time as a result of rich human involvement." This certainly happened in Dott 07 too, but how much do Clients, and other stakeholders, value this? How can this be evaluated?

Question 2: What are the designer’s new roles while working with multiple stakeholders?

Qin says, explorers, negotiators, as members of a design profession and facilitators. I have a load more to add here, but more in regard to the Dott 07 projects (as you could probably tell with my revised research question above).

Question 3: How would design’s value be recognised and accepted by other disciplines in Service Knowledge?

Qin not only asks how would design's value be recognised by Clients and stakeholders, but also by other disciplines that design is increasingly intersecting with (on that note, keep posted for details on the next InterSections conference in the UK) and including education. This is a biggie.

Please post your comments on Qin's blog here.

The Creator Economy and Service Design

Finally, here's an radio interview with Futurist, Paul Saffo, on the Creator Economy. Not an economy of creatives, but the idea that we have gone through Producer and Consumer Economies (which was about making stuff and then lots of it), and we are now in the Creator Economy where the central actor is not a Producer or Consumer, but where the person does both activities in same act, for example a Google user who uses (the product or service) and also produces (brings together online information). Seems Saffo and the Creator Economy has been around for awhile. The BBC reported on it in 2007.

Anyway, I thought, this sounds a bit like what happens when people use a service. See Rafael Ramirez's paper, 'Value Co-Production: Intellectual Origins and Implications for Practice and Research'. Sorry can only provide an abstract for you here.