Entries in design thinking (7)

Tuesday
Dec072010

Service Design & Higher Education

 

I have come across Service Design in the context of Higher Education a number of times recently, most conversations mainly falls into two topics: how to use Service Design to improve Higher Education, and how to teach Service Design in Higher Education.

1. How to use Service Design to improve Higher Education

 I was invited to run a workshop on Service Design at CETIS10 conference in November 2010 by Sharon (@dwrgi) and Paul Hollins (@PaulHollins) from JISC Centre for educational technology & interoperability standards. They commissioned a number of projects to explore the use of Service Design techniques in higher education environments. Their project adopted the concept of student life cycle and aimed at enhancing student experience and their relationship with the universities or institution. I delivered a hands-on workshop exercises introducing Service Design process and techniques such as persona, service blueprint and user journey mapping. It was rather exciting to see a room of educators, IT technical consultants and university admin staff getting post-it away and got really empathy with three student persona I made up with some stories of my friends in the universities. Please find PPT presentation as follow:

(more pictures from Flickr)

My workshop is followed by Jean Mutton's (@myderbi ) case study on a real life project at University of Derby, which provided an interesting example on how Service Design techniques and principles are used in improving university admin process for student experience. They employed techniques such as student video diary to understand student-institute interactive on a day-to-day basis. The interesting thing is that they also involved student interns as part of the research group, thus you have a first-hand student perspective from within the design team as well. You can find more details on their project via their blog SSIS-JISC project.

 

 

2. How to teach Service Design in Higher Education

In the past couple of months, I was frequently asked (via email or twitter) about which course to recommend for studying Service Design. Some are looking for Master courses, some are actually considering invest in a PhD. Having repeated my answer couple of times, think maybe it is worth to bring it up here. Lauren Tan has one posted a list of courses that provide Service Design programmes a while back (check out the comments there are more to find there). And Jeff Howard also recently listed some universities in the US in the area of Service Design. My personal favourite goes to Master of Design at Dundee University (of course!) and Mdes at LCC (London College of Communication). The main reason is that I know both course directors and they are true believers of inter-disciplinary design for the future society. My former colleague Jonathan Baldwin and I drafted a paper on Service Design Education and we agree that there is no point of teaching Service Design in isolation of a so-called 'Service Design' degree. Service Design only happens when different disciplines come together and interact with each other.

This brings me to the other side of the story: how should we teach Service Design.

Jeff Howard has an interesting post on rethink about T-shape designer , which introduces a number of different metaphors. But they are basically express a similar idea: designers need to be able to contextualise their knowledge and communicate with a variety of disciplines. What strikes me the most is how some people consider generalist as the opposite of specialist, while for me, you can't become a true generalist without some good quality specialised knowledge - they are united one. 

If we have what we want to achieve in mind, maybe it is easier to see how we can get there. Don Norman pointed out (very sharply) why design education must change. And AIGA is leading the way towards a 'New context/ New practices' for Design education. The conference discussed issue relates to design in difference contexts: business, social economy, culture and how education needs to transform itself to meet the needs of future design doers and thinkers.

Do we really need a separate course to deliver Service Design in a specially designed curriculum or a stand alone degree? I'm not in favour of it personally. But again, for any student, considering whether a degree is suitable for anyone requires consideration on not only quality of the course and the teacher, but also cultural and budget. So as I have always put in the end of my replies to these enthusiastic young design students – if you really believe in designing for people and design collaboratively as your Service Design principle, you can do it anywhere. 

 

P.S. Jonathan and I are looking for a respectful journal or conference to publish our paper on Service Design Education. We are willing have our ideas out there for a wide range of audiences to exam or critic – so if you happen to be an editor of a respectful design/higher education journal, please get in touch :)

I have come across Service Design in the context of Higher Education a number of times recently, most conversations mainly falls into two topics: how to use Service Design to improve Higher Education, and how to teach Service Design in Higher Education.

1. How to use Service Design to improve Higher Education

 I was invited to run a workshop on Service Design at CETIS10 conference (#cetis10) in 2010 by sharon (@) and Paul Hollins (@) from JISC Centre for educational technology & interoperability standards. They commissioned a number of projects to explore the use of Service Design techniques in higher education environments. Their project adopted the concept of student life cycle and aimed at enhancing student experience and their relationship with the universities or institution. I delivered a hands-on workshop exercises introducing Service Design process and techniques such as persona, service blueprint and user journey mapping. It was rather exciting to see a room of educators, IT technical consultants and university admin staff getting post-it away and got really empathy with three student persona I made up with some stories of my friends in the universities.

 (more pictures from Flickr)

 

2. How to teach Service Design in Higher Education

In the past couple of months, I get to asked (via email or twitter) about which course to recommend for studying Service Design. Some are looking for Master courses, some are actually considering invest in a PhD. Having repeated my answer couple of times, think maybe it is worth to bring it up here. Lauren Tan has one posted a list of courses that provide a Service Design course a while back (check out the comments there are more to find there). And Jeff Howard also recently listed some universities in the US in the area of Service Design. My personal favourite goes to Master of Design at Dundee University (of course!) and Mdes at LCC (London College of Communication). The main reason is that I know both course directors and they are true believers of inter-disciplinary design for the future society. My former colleague Jonathan Baldwin and I drafted a paper on Service Design Education and we agree that there is no point of teaching Service Design in isolation of a so-called 'Service Design' degree. Service Design only happens when different disciplines come together and interact with each other.

This brings me to the other side of the story: how should we teach Service Design.

Jeff Howard has an interesting post on rethink about T-shape designer , which introduces a number of different metaphors. But they are basically express a similar idea: designers need to be able to contextualise their knowledge and communicate with a variety of disciplines. What strikes me the most is how some people consider generalist as the opposite of specialist, while for me, you can't become a true generalist without some good quality specialised knowledge - they are united one. 

If we have what we want to achieve in mind, maybe it is easier to see how we can get there. Don Norman pointed out (very sharply) why design education must change. And AIGA is leading the way towards a 'New context/ New practices' for Design education. The conference discussed issue relates to design in difference contexts: business, social economy, culture and how education needs to transform itself to meet the needs of future design doers and thinkers.

Do we really need a separate course to deliver Service Design in a specially designed curriculum or a stand alone degree? I'm not in favour of it personally. But again, for any student, considering whether a degree is suitable for anyone requires consideration on not only quality of the course and the teacher, but also cultural and budget. So as I have always put in the end of my replies to these enthusiastic young design students – if you really believe in designing for people and design collaboratively as your Service Design principle, you can do it anywhere. 

 

P.S. Jonathan and I are looking for a respectful journal or conference to publish our paper on Service Design Education. We are willing have our ideas out there for a wide range of audiences to exam or critic – so if you happen to be an editor of a respectful design/higher education journal, please get in touch :)

Thursday
Jun242010

Designing a better world at Northumbria

Last week I went to Newcastle for this one-day conference to pick up some tips on how to design a better world.

The opening session was really about a discussion of what ‘better’ means to different people, I particularly like Julia Lohmann’s idea of ‘nothingness’, where people have more time to think and enjoy life rather than busy getting it stuffed by stuff…


I am rather impressed by the two speakers from Philips. Gavin Proctor talked about their extended product life cycle that goes beyond the line of consumption, but into disposal and recycle of Philips product as well.

The closing keynote was from the brilliant Josephine Green, who previously worked as the Senior Director of Trend and Strategy at Philips Design. She took us through the change we are experiencing in terms of social structure, or in her words ‘from pyramids to pancakes’. Couple of key characters of the pancake society is around the distributing innovation, collaboration, community and sustainability. Well, according to my knowledge, you can find some related arguments in Zuboff’s Support Economy and Gary Hamel’s Future of Management – both talked about the power shift towards stakeholders and their role in open and social innovation. It is quite inspiring to see how international company that previously has a reputation in manufacturing, such as Philips, stand up and talk about what social change means to them and how they face the challenge to move ahead.

And for fans of social innovation, here is a link from her presentation regarding some tools and methods for social innovation that may interest you: www.socialinnovationexchange.org

There was a concern expressed at the conference regarding whether it is too optimistic to this bright future Green presented, as the environmental scientists are basically telling us it’s too late. Well, wonderful Ms Green replied ‘it is our moral responsibility to keep optimistic in difficult times.’ and she also said ‘Life is a bitch.’ – wise words!

Interestingly, the next day of the conference, I found this rather odd little box outside Waitrose in Newcastle city centre full of green tokens. So it was the Community Matters Theme from Waitrose. They ask their customers to help them choose how much they should fund in community projects, so their investment is driven by community for community. Customer who shopped in the store were given a green token to vote for the community project they would like to support, and then Waitrose will invest money in these projects according to the result of the voting. A rather engaging approach to present community development to Waitrose's customers, don't you think?

By the way, I voted for the wild animal one, and then an lovely lady passed by me, put her token into the same box and told me 'nice choice~' - haha!

So supermarket is catching up by placing themselves as an active part of the community and support local development. Why don't we have Waitrose in Dundee? Can we vote for that as well?

Saturday
Oct102009

Interdisciplinary Discovery Through Design

This workshop was hold on 28 September by the Design for 21st Century in the Imperial War Museum. The workshop aimed to collect the diverse knowledge in the room to contribute ideas for developing new design policies by (1) presenting five design research project in the Design for 21st Century initiative to share their empirical learning (2) stimulate discussions about topics of the contribution of design researchers on reflections of these five projects and in general.

Amongst the five project presentations in the morning - all interesting projects - I was especially impressed by two.

The BikeOff project was based on the idea of design against crime. The project looked at design for bike riders' security issues, and developed ideas that can go on to further commissions in manufacturing. At first glance, it was a typical multi-disciplinary design project with inputs from crime scientist, designer, engineers, social scientist and many other extended stakeholders. What I find interesting is the way the project was managed with what they called 'An Open Innovation Research Approach'. The project demonstrated how using overlapping research processes carried out by different stakeholder groups achieved the transformation from multi-disciplinary to inter-disciplinary, where the hybrid ideas start to emerge in prototyping stages, and also the design outputs became more diverse. Especially the approach was good at efficiently develop product (perhaps services as well) to explore unrealized marketing needs, rather than develop predicted outputs as planned in the first place. Guess this is what was missing in many NPD and NSD literature. We were taught to be so busy controlling and defining the process of design that it becomes so easy to forget to enjoy the discovery, the iterative exploration that leads to new territories.

The other one was the Design for Services project presented by Lucy Kimbell – I believe most of you guysa are familiar with this project. In her presentation, Lucy talked about the designer’s unique approach to generate knowledge through practice, which was not really discussed much in other of her publications. Although I temporary moved my research focus a bit away from the whole knowledge creation literautre, it was still nice to hear other's reflections on a similar subject.

We were then asked to discuss in groups and to fill in paper that describes the contribution of ‘design researcher’ – and somehow this is a confusing term. As some people in the room came from an academic background, thus researcher means ‘people who studies design’, but others (like our group) saw the role expended into the researchers who actually worked in design processes and contribute to the design outcome. If we look at the five projects presented in the room, all reflected a part of knowledge on the ‘study of design’, but most of these learning come from actually conducting the design practice. So did it mean ‘design research = design’ then?!

Out of all the answers we put on the paper, I personally found ‘giving people a voice’ is the one that capture design reearcher's perspective the best. As it could suggest the use of visualisation but keep the empathy and the central focus on people (either as user, stakeholder, or research subjects…) When one of the participants in the final discussion part pointed out that ‘imagination or creativity’ is missing from the key skills of designers. Is that we are just too close and we don’t see it anymore? No, I don’t think design profession is all about creativity or imagination. Everyone is creative and imaginary if they have the confidence and the voice to communicate, to share, and to impress. The value many of the pioneering designers in the field – a lot of them in Service Design but also many from other design areas – is to give people the voice and the confidence to be creative and imaginary so that they can see, create and implement solution for their own problems.

One of the highlight of the event to me, personally, was actually meet many of old friends who share a similar interest in Design and Research. Lauren Tan, a PhD in Service Design as well as good friend also blogged her thoughts on her blog. A pleasant surprise was to meet Ahmad Beltagui from Nottingham University Business School at the event, who then introduced me to a really helpful paper on 'What is not a Grounded Theory', which motivated me to kick off the Research Design chapter this week. Sometime, I do wonder why we keep going all over place to attend these events and perhaps we thought we know the presentations so well already. But what I often found out is that when a group of people with a similar interest were put in a room under a certain task, good stuff do come out from somewhere we didn’t expect.

... more picutres on Flickr ...

Monday
Mar302009

Has Design Thinking got a problem?

Came across this piece on Sam Ladner’s blog 'Design Research', talking about Design Thinking's Big Problem. Sam says

'So-called “design thinking” is the new It-Girl of management theory. It purports to provide new ways for managers and companies to provide innovative, creative solutions to old problems. But design thinking alone will not solve these problems because a lack of creativity was never the issue.

The real issue is one of power.

[...] '


I am not going to say that I totally agree with Sam, but I like the way she talked about power, as it seems to be something designer try to avoid talking about. Designers love creating, some of them love thinking as well. The power of creating is so familiar to designers, that they don't see it anymore. I came across service designers talking about change people's mind or people's perception of problem solving and being creative, surprisingly, few of them mention power. Designer holds the power - the power to change people's mind simply by amazing them with the process of creating, by getting them involved in the journey of discovering the stories of a product or a service, by sharing tool to create the life they wanted. It may not be hug step forward but at least they nudge - small change make big differences. But somehow the recognition of such power was often underestimated by designer themselves, a strategic approach to claim that power, therefore, gets neglected along the way.

Wednesday
Sep242008

a new world

Terry Iwrin's lecture on the first day of Master of Design course, very impressive!

Terry talked about how assumptions projected by designer's world view influence their way of working and thinking and, of course, design. She talked about we as designers should find the balance between specialising in content and details and seeing connections between things.

She continued to argue that our worldview influence what we can perceive and what we cannot perceive, and designers (or professions that engage any kind of cooperation with other beings... basically that is everyone on earth...) should be aware of this pre-set bias of our own worldview and accept 'other ways of thinking'. I agree that the most important point here is that there is really no 'correct' way of thinking, only different styles of thinking. However, we as human have the power of influencing other ways of thinking by method, as simple as, conversation. Awareness is much more important than correctness!

Her touch on chaos theory is interestingly related to my own research in organistional dynamics, where certainty and control has become out-of-date way of organising. Instead, navigating through 'wicked problems' is the new topic. Understanding, exploring, and tolerating new phenomena, either inside or outside any individual/ group/ organisation becomes the key of surviving.

'Chaos is creative, flexible and often stable, but it always defies predictability and control. '

She also talked about 'wicked problems' (the problems that are often ill defined and has more than one solutions and... change over time...) and 'tame problems' (well, the opposite...) in terms of design problems. I just notice that Prof. Seaton Baxter is going to do a lecture on wicked problem on 7th Oct. He never disappoints me with his unique presenting style and always refreshing points~ can't wait!

Saturday
Sep062008

I am not a designer...

I came cross Nathan Shedroff 's quote about experience design on the ServiceDesign.org website. His Experience Design is the first book I read about this subject -- about three years ago. Interestingly, Shedroff has a very complex and vague way to describe what is experience and what designer is doing with experience encounters. Emotions, Trust, Privacy, Ambiguity, Delight, Satisfaction and Personality... seems all relevant but also far from what one can 'design'. This vague view perhaps is a honest reflection on this pioneer designer's feeling of his own position in this changing world, as many other design pioneers.

Shedroff bravely states: I am not a designer.
" ... I believe that all experiences share particular characteristics that make them successful--whether these are online experiences, such as websites, or real, physical ones, such as theater, meetings, parties, products, environments, buildings, etc. In order to build successful, engaging, and meaningful experiences we must understand what makes experiences wonderful in all media. Certainly, most online experiences are pale and unsatisfying in comparison to those in the rest of our life.

The development of all experiences must create solutions to problems of information creation, interaction, and, of course, sensorial media (the visual, audible, tactile, and other sensory displays that form the solution that people experience. Issues of understanding and meaning (information) and usability and appropriateness (interaction) are cerebral solutions that are only expressible with very sensory components. However, the real problems--and the most interesting solutions--lie in these cognitive processes and not in the beauty of the finished experience. This isn't to say that beautiful experiences aren't important, but beauty without purpose is, ultimately, meaningless."

Perhaps, by saying 'I am not a designer' we can eventually free ourselves from the limits and bias we set for ourselves.

Thursday
Aug212008

visual thinking - are we thinking in the same way?

Wonder if they are referring to designer and their client...
When visual thinking becomes the new buzz word in business world...
Are we really talking about the same kind of thinking?

Thanks to Ralf Beuker for the source :)