hyper island

Glasgow to Manchester. One year in review.

One year ago I moved to Manchester. And here are some highlights of what I've done since. One year in review. Before we go any further I'm aware this post is a sort of showreel. One of my students called it diary narcissism and he may well have a point. So why have I written this? Firstly, going through my calendar and pulling it all together made me reflect. At Hyper Island reflection is part of how we operate. Asking ourselves questions on a daily basis to try to understand why we behave the way we do and have the feelings we have. This process made me realise how important these past 12 months have been for me. Why? I made a super big decision. I'm still in a period of transition. I'm making a huge effort to slow down. This involves things like trying to be quiet, going to the gym, eating well, reading books and often having feelings of guilt, doubt and confusion associated with said activities.

Secondly, I want to make it easy for other people to start things. I'm sharing this in the hope that it will add some value to you and the journey that you are on.

Thirdly, it's my 29th birthday today. For me this is as good a reason as any to hold up a mirror and take stock.

Here goes...I've pulled out the biggest learnings from each one.

September

I was nominated as one of Nesta's New Radicals for the Nightriders pilot I designed and launched. You can watch a video of the pilot here. 

  • Nothing much happens as a result of being on a list of radical people but being in a newspaper makes talking about what I do easier.

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My first week at Hyper Island was spent facilitating foundation weeks for twenty part time MA students.

  • Nothing is more impactful l than face to face interaction and silence is powerful.

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October

I talked about starting things and how to use the design process to make things happen at "How to innovate Your Future" at The Carnegie Club in St. Andrews University.

  • We are still conforming to business students wearing suits and art school students wearing ripped jeans.

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I attended the Service Design Network's 7th global annual conference in Stockholm. I was chuffed to be invited to the members day and hang out with some of the most brilliant, inspiring people I know.

  • Friendships are very important to me. I want to work with people I genuinely like. These events strengthen existing friendships and make new ones but don't open up the community to people who are different from the organisers and the attendees.IMG_2537I was on a panel with some fellow service designers answering some tough questions from the audience.
  • Students all over the world are asking the same questions. We (me) need to make it easier for people to understand how to learn how to work this way.

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The one and only Adam Lawrence invited me to help him facilitate a 600 person thumb war. Excellent.

  • You can make a room full of hundreds of people feel like a small house party.

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I spent four days in Paris with my friend Vincenzo Di Maria teaching service design to fashion marketing students from the business school INSEEC.

  • Teaching is extremely difficult when your students don't want to learn. We mustn't forget there are more people in Europe who want to work for Coco Chanel than those who want to tackle social problems.

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I ran a workshop for undergraduates at Paris School of Art. You can read about it here.

  • Traditional education providers are hungry for new ways of doing things.

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November

I was interviewed for Carola Verschoor's up and coming book about Design and Research that will be published by BIS Publishers of Amsterdam , The Netherlands.

  • The sheer skill that goes into crafting and asking the right questions in the right way must never be underestimated. Carola is very good at this.

I spent time talking to potential students about why they should go to art school in Dundee, Scotland.

  • Career fairs are very strange places and need re-designed. Good things always come from spending time with people you've not seen for years.

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December

I was interviewed by Digital Arts Magazine about my work at Hyper Island.

  • There are many people trying to deliver design education differently.

I created this poster to explain the differences between various design disciplines and the internet really liked it. The tweets are still rollin' in!

  • Definitions are boring but necessary for those who are learning. Metaphors really help people outside of the bubble you work in understand what you are going on about.

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I designed and delivered a workshop with these two great chaps at FutureEverything. We talked about how you reimagine very familiar experiences.

  • You don't always need to have a strategy. Sometimes just doing something with good people is enough.

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January

I delivered Hyper Island way week on a real island called Karlskrona.

  • Your environment really does matter. I was on an island, in the rain, near lighthouses. This had a big impact.

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The students gave me a red balloon to carry all the way back to England. I only got as far as airport security but the airport staff definitely smiled.

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I delivered a working shop with the brilliant Chris Ball at Digitas LBI around experience design principles; where they come from, why they are important and how to build them.

  • A team of strangers can create a fairly solid insight to design upon in a very short space of time.

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I designed and delivered an event for Hyper Island alumni in London so we could talk about the new Experience Design programme.

  • I'm really excited by networks of people. Particularly global networks.

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February

I spoke at a National Housing Federation event focused on design leadership.

  • I don't know much about housing. My design experience is valuable for people in this space.

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March

I spoke at Management Today's Inspiring Womens conference in Edinburgh about the successes and setbacks of running a start up.

  • More often than not you don't need funding you need paying customers. When a government funded body tells you to download a business plan and fill it in don't do it.

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I spoke at Talk UX Manchester about why I believe designers need to up their game. You can read what the audience thought here. 

  • There are many people who come home from work every day feeling they haven't made a positive contribution to the world. Again. It's up to us (me) to show support you; leaders, founders and CEO's to create the systems, space and structures for creativity to flourish.

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I spent the day teaching sixty undergraduate design students. We designed our future and wrote letter to the future of Scotland. You can read about it here.

  • It's much easier to write a letter to your country when you are asked to do it then and there. It's one of those things people tend to overthink. Thinking about the future is scary for each of us. It's up to us (me) to make that easier and to support each other in designing the life we want to live.

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I designed and delivered a workshop about creative learning with the fabulous trio Hazel White, Mike Press and Gillian Easson. You can read about it here.

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I spoke on a panel at Mortimer Spinks technology event about equality.

  • Some people are just dicks and it's good practice to learn how to deal with this whilst being stared at. To combat this I am buying this badge.

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Dearest Scotland reached it's kickstarter campaign.

  • A kickstarter campaign is a shit tonne of work. Thank you to Sarah and Cat for their hard work and resilience. Sometimes you meet people and they tell you they like your idea but then don't email you back. Then they copy you. In the long run that's a good thing.

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April

We opened Hyper Island's door to nineteen Experience Design Students. You can meet them over here. I have learned so much it's a whole other blog post. More on that coming soon. All I know is this was a day I will never forget.

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May

I wrote a book chapter in Cory Lebson's UX Careers Handbook about Service Design, this will be published early 2016 by CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group).

  • There is a need for very practical advice on what all these different design disciplines look like in industry in terms of careers.

I spoke on a panel at St. Gallen Symposium in Switzerland. You can read about it here.

  • It's still common to be the only women in a room. Often the 'technology' conversation at events is dominated by the digital start up narrative. I don't think this is particularly helpful.

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I ran a session at Digital Shoreditch about the future of learning. You can read about it here. 

  • I'd have got a lot more out of it if I had prioritised time to go to other sessions. Just turning up and delivering ain't for me.

June

I spoke at UX Scotland - the conference for the UX, Service Design and Digital Communities in Scotland and the north of england.

  • Every event you go to you meet one special person. You mustn't leave until you find that person. They are always there. For me, this time, her name was Jane Austin. 
  • More often than not presenters are either great speakers with not much to say or awful speakers with amazing stuff to say. The world needs to get better at finding strong speakers with meaningful content to share. I reckon there are more people with meaningful content out there than there are strong speakers. How do you share your content?

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I wrote an article for NET Magazine about Designers and social change.

  • I am on a mission to talk about this way of working in spaces where it's not talked about. Web and tech magazine being the one step on that journey. I really enjoy writing about things I believe in. The writing is always much better when you really care about what you are writing about.

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I spoke at Cycle Hack Manchester and applauded the work of the Snook team over the Cycle Hack weekend.

  • Really powerful things happen when you have an idea and give it away. Rubber chickens are precious but are often stolen.

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I ran a workshop for NUX Leeds on the basics of service design. You can read more about the content and participant feedback here. 

  • The music you play in a workshop has a big impact on the energy in the room. There are a tonne of digital agencies out there who still don't really talk to customers. There's work to be done.

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I spoke at She Says Manchester (on a roof in the sunshine!) about doing good and working hard.

  • Speaking on a stage outside is something I'm not used to. Such things don't happen in Glasgow. I'd highly recommend it. As Louise MacDonald once said to me, there is something about being able to see the sky.

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I designed and delivered a module for The Queen's Young Leaders Programme which supports exceptional young people from across the commonwealth. My module was focused on how to build the networks and relationships you need.

  • Video is a great way to share knowledge when you can't be in the same room as someone. ScreenFlow is  a good way to do this. I want to help others build the networks of people they need around them. If you need help with this talk to me.

I started a 100 Day Project focused on starting a conversation around feminism. You can read about the 100 Equivalism questions and join in over here.

  • Doing something every day for 100 days is hard. Feminism is very complex.

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July

I delivered a talk at Hyper Island on how to build communities around your ideas.

  • There is a need for more resources in this space. I'm now working on a digital resource around this topic so if you'd like to know more talk to me.

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Lucy Stewart and I co-wrote a chapter in this book about service design and Scotland's public sector. You can buy it here.

  • Microsoft Word is capable of reducing me to tears. It's important to tell stories to new audiences. This is how ideas spread.

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I wrote an article for NET magazine about networking; don't connect, make your net work for you. People liked it.

  • This forced me to articulate some things I've been thinking about for a while. Saying yes to a talk or writing a thing often forces you to get stuff out of your head and onto paper.

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August

I put a job ad out to find the new CEO of Know Sugar. Watch this space. You too Jamie!

  • I had the choice to run Know Sugar and I chose not to. I'm finding this decision tricky to honour and respect. This tells me I need to practice giving ideas away and handing them over so here goes.

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I was nominated for Young Digital Leader Award for Service Designer of the year. 

  • Service Design Award categories never used to exist. This is a good sign that the process is becoming more known and accepted.

Daniel Harvey and I put together this proposal for SXSW

  • SXSW is on my list of global events that I want to experience. Thank you to everyone who voted for us. I really don't like things that count on public vote. Feels too much like the person with the most friends wins.

I spent the day at the Outbox Incubator. Wow. You can read about it here.

  • The story of how Anne-Marie had an idea to hire a massive house and fill it with girls who code and help them is brilliant. She reminded me how important it is to do, make and ship. I think this model is really transferable. I want to create a version of this for women in their 40's plus. What do you think?

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I designed and delivered an event with the team at Made by Many exploring the future of design education. You can read about it here.

  • Design education really matters to a lot of people. It's my (our) responsibility to galvanise this energy. I'm spending time with various design agencies in this space and I think it's high time they (we) all got in a room and talked about what's really not working and how we can work better as a one network. What do you think?

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I joined up with my friend Chris Arnold to talk to his industrial design students at Auburn University in Alabama, USA about how to use the internet to get your work noticed.

  • Skype is a bit shit and Google Hangout is much better. I must never underestimate the comedic value of a Glaswegian accent during moments of technical difficulty.

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September

I was featured in ELLE magazine alongside FKA Twigs and Miley. It has been suggested I get in touch with Maisie Williams to create Game of Services.

  • My masters thesis was focused on making service design make sense to everyone who needs it. I wrote a book called Making Service Sense which people wanted to buy ( I then lost the digital files and got distracted by Sarah Drummond but that's another blog post). Google tells me ELLE is the world's best selling fashion magazine. This matters to me because it is a step towards bringing design into peoples consciousness and vocabulary; design that is not about what things look like but how things work.

Never mind Miley. It's Mhairi Black I'm proud to be in the company of.

 

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I met one of my heroes; David Kelley is the founder of IDEO and Stanford's D. School. And yes the moustache was that good in real life.

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What's next...

So the future is looking good.

I'm running a four day Experience Design Lab in London in November. You can buy tickets here. My second crew of students arrive in January (there's still time to apply to study with me at Hyper Island). I'm teaching, writing and speaking for all sorts of people in all sorts of places (if you'd like to talk about teaching, writing or speaking talk to me). I'm working on Equivalism, Know Sugar and Nightriders.

Next month, I'm running a workshop at Service Design Network event in NYC and I'm speaking at Webdagene in Norway. 

So my question to you is: what are you working on and how can I help you? If I can't help you I'll find someone who can.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my birthday. Best get back to it. 

#20 The Start Up Designer

I got to know Anna through Social Innovation Camp. This was where the idea for Mypolice.org was born and since then I've followed Anna through her journey of Bethnal Green Ventures, studying an MBA and launching Poetica.  I'm thrilled Anna is coming to talk to our Experience Design students as part of their Business Strategy project. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt over the last year?

Be comfortable with what you don’t know. I’ve learnt a great deal about both the process of building software and the current state of web technologies, but I am the only non-engineer working on Poetica (https://poetica.com). I couldn’t write the code that powers what we’re building myself; but I understand how it works and I can explain the technology to anyone who asks. I am a generalist and pragmatist: I like knowing a little bit about a lot of things and I enjoy learning as much as I need to achieve something or find useful connections between things. It’s liberating to work with talented people who do jobs you can’t: it forces you to completely trust your co-workers and helps you focus on your own role within a team. It also teaches you to ask good questions and to be unafraid of admitting you don’t know something. Being comfortable with the unknown is also important for creating anything new: everything is unknown; it’s your job to discover it.

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What’s your burning question of the moment?

What to prioritise next. The hardest thing about building a new company/product/service is deciding what the one most important thing you should be working on right now is. That’s true of both of what you as an individual within a team should be doing and making decisions about what the team as a whole should focus on. That’s always the most burning question. Your time and resources are finite; your options for what to spend those on can feel infinite. There’s noone telling you the answer. Finding ways of prioritising product features, prioritising which users you talk/listen to, prioritising business development opportunities - that's consistently our biggest challenge.

What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen/ heard/ read in the last year?

A software developer called Kate Heddleston has been writing a fantastic blog (https://www.kateheddleston.com/blog) about working culture in the technology industry. We talk about the lack of women being a ‘problem’ in science and technology. Heddleston argues that the lack of diversity is actually the canary in the coal mine; it’s not the problem itself. The problem is the working culture that we’re creating that makes not only women and others unwelcome, but hinders innovation and productivity for everyone in organisations. Her writing is thoroughly researched - grounded in academic studies, not reckonings - and offers practical ideas for improving that culture, making it the most helpful, optimistic writing I’ve read about some of the challenges this industry faces. We need to put as much effort into designing our companies as we do into designing our products and services: without the former, the latter will eventually fail.

You can read more profiles here...

 #19 The Human Centered Designer

#16 The UX Designer

#15 The Data Designer

#14 The Experience Designer

#13 The Design Teacher

#12 The Creative Technologist

#11 The Creative Generalist

#10 The Hyper Island Designer

#9 The Conscious Designer

#8 The Business Designer

#7 The Networked Designer

#6 The Speculative Designer

#5 The Digital Maker

#4 The Craftsman

#3 The Storyteller

#2 The Dreaming Maker 

#1 The Go-Getter.

#18 The Strategy Designer

I met David Townson the day I started University. He was the driving force behind the design of my undergraduate course in Product Design. In my second year he left the university to start the Newcastle LiveWork studio. This move was another step in my journey of discovering and becoming addicted to service design. Since then he has started his own ventures and worked as a consultant with organisations such as The Design Council, NESTA and 100% Open. I'm delighted David will be working closely with our Experience Design students as part of their Business Strategy project. Here's what he has to say...

1. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt over the last year?

It's never too late to change your mind (not learnt solely in last year - mainly had reaffirmed in last year).

In a world of increasing uncertainty and reducing timescales, anyone involved in the development of new 'stuff' can often be ‘bumped’ into committing to something that may turn out to be the wrong course of action. It’s never too late to change your mind, primarily because it’s an opportunity to learn something new (and nobody knows it all - don’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise). If you believe that you’re in a situation where what the course of action you’d thought you’d be using is no longer the correct one, then you can change. I did it earlier this year on a personal project I was working on that was clearly not going to yield the value I needed it to in the time I had (within the last three months of a twelve month training course I was studying on), so I ditched the idea and started a new one instead. I also did this half way through a workshop last week - what I’d thought I’d do was clearly no longer the right thing in my professional view, so I did something else (and on the fly so the client saw something happen that wasn’t on the schedule). This can apply in various situations and you need to be mindful of when it’s occurring. Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 19.51.29 For example, a client may ask you to outline your approach to something (a workshop, a piece of writing, some web design, a new service idea) and then, before you know it, the outline (which you knew was one of a number of possible responses but were in a situation where you had to give it ‘your best shot’) has been adopted as the final thing. If you’re not careful, you can be carried along on the client’s enthusiasm and desire to hit a tight deadline (and the fact that you’ve been hired to do the work). Before you know if, you’re presenting something that was an initial suggestion as if it’s the answer when you actually know it’s not. You now either have to carry on or design your way out of the situation (not a piece of design you were hired to do).

To reduce the likelihood of this happening in the first place, you need to develop as close a working relationship with your client as you can. Particularly for complex projects, where there are no ‘off the shelf’ answers, help them understand that design is a change process and that you’re essentially using it to navigate uncertainty and that the outcomes will be better if you do that together. You might find it helpful to use the word ‘pivot’ - a business word with high currency at the moment (popularised in a book called The Lean Startup). To pivot ones business is to change it. Remember that your client is a designer too (whether they acknowledge it or not) because they want a different situation than the one they have now. As the economist Herb Simon said, “everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones”.

If, in a discussion about change, the client won’t listen, and wants to pursue a course of action that you’ve learnt is no longer appropriate, then either (a) walk away and acknowledge that you may not work with that client again, putting it down to experience or (b) design your way out of the situation somehow, deliver the best value that you can within the constraints that now exist, get paid and then have the conversation about how you might have done it differently (you might get a follow on project). If that doesn’t work, see (a).

2. What’s your burning question of the moment?

How can we enable the type of engaged discussion that happens in a really great face-to-face workshop in an online environment?

I've spent a huge amount of my career designing, delivering and reflecting upon face-to-face workshops. I love doing workshops, they're a great way to enable experiential learning and to assess the impact on the participants in real time. You can see how engaged people are or where they might be struggling for some reason (and adjust what you’re doing and how you’re doing it to help). I like to work with a good structure that has some core principles at its heart but that has enough flexibility to account for both the context of the workshop (the type of organisation or challenge being explored) but also for human behaviour. For example, a particular topic may unpack in an unanticipated way, sparking a new and valuable discussion (which you want to harness rather than shut down) and that sees me introduce a tool or technique I hadn’t planned on using but is now apposite. My workshop design didn’t say I was going to do this but it’s never too late to change you mind (see above). I get a lot out of workshops as do my clients.

Over the last 12 months I’ve begun to do more online workshop activity. There are some brilliant tools out there to support online webinars, interactive training and collaborative working. When combined with internet video and audio, online collaboration really seems to be coming into its own. And yet, and yet…it simply doesn’t beat spending real time with real people in a real space. There are always technical issues of some sort for some one. Joining an online session is never as easy as walking into a room through a door. You can’t ever get a real sense of the mood of the room or how engaged people truly are (even with video, people are still checking messages in other parts of their screens or getting distracted in other ways). I’m convinced that there’s a way to better harness the scale of the web for the type of workshops I do but I haven’t found it. Yet.

3. What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen / heard / read in the last year?

Too many to mention as I’m constantly inspired by anyone I’m lucky enough to work with. I'm looking forward to the gang at Hyper Island doing the same for me. However, a few things that have made an impression and that I recommend to others given half a chance are:

Anything by Marty Neumeier. His business books are great - packed full of really useful tools and you can read them in two hours. But his real magnum opus is Meta Skills. If you’ve got any interest in design and education then you have to read this. I was fortunate enough to become involved in the review process of this book - particularly on the chapter around learning - and as a result spent time in dialogue with Marty. He conveys everything every so well and as simple as it can be (and no simpler). His manifesto ‘A Modest Proposal’ (after Swift) is brilliant and I think should be implemented as part of the education policy of any sane land.

Other things to read I’ve found useful recently are Zero to One by Peter Thiel (PayPal founder and one of the first investors in FaceBook), The Art of The Start by Guy Kawasaki and an article by Wired Founder Kevin Kelly called 1000 True Fans.

Lastly, I’ve finally got into podcasts - non-fiction ones in particular. Not sure where on the adoption curve I am on this one (always like to think of myself as an early adopter) but I think podcasts are finally starting to come into their own. This is partly done to better technology and accessibility but also down to some people finally realising that there is value in spending time creating a strong narrative and making podcasts like the best radio shows. To understand what I mean, go and listen to the first season of Startup by Gimlet Media (created by Alex Blumberg). It is fantastic in so many ways. It helps you get what I mean about podcasts (he literally explains it better than I do) but if you’re mainly interested in starting a business, then this is the show for you. It’s honest, at times emotional, very very real…and very very inspiring. Lastly, and just to understand what you can achieve in life, listen the the podcast of Tim Ferriss. The guy is an inspiring maniac. And slightly addictive. If you’re young enough, he’ll fill your head with ideas that you can spend the rest of your life executing. Enjoy.

You can read more design profiles over here...

#16 The UX Designer

#15 The Data Designer

#14 The Experience Designer

#13 The Design Teacher

#12 The Creative Technologist

#11 The Creative Generalist

#10 The Hyper Island Designe

#9 The Conscious Designer

#8 The Business Designer

#7 The Networked Designer

#6 The Speculative Designer

#5 The Digital Maker

#4 The Craftsman

#3 The Storyteller

#2 The Dreaming Maker 

#1 The Go-Getter.

NUX Camp: Service Design Explained

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at NUX Camp in Leeds. I guided 30 people through a basic service design process in less than 3 hours. This session was designed to give the participants a rapid light touch experience of the design process and get a sense of how service design principles are applied at every stage. 19060593042_604a3c0a34_z

Each team created a "How Might We" statements...

  1. How might we improve the train experience?
  2. How might we make it easier to get a doctors appointment?
  3. How might we make sending a parcel easier?
  4. How might we improve the experience of going to your GP?
  5. How might we improve the online banking experience?

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We then journey mapped, mapped emotions, created personas, talked to the public about our ideas, storyboarded and prototyped.  We used some energisers and we checked in and out ( to find out more about these Hyper Island methodologies you can visit our open source tool box )

 

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Some of the final ideas included online banking authenticated by drones, oyster card for trains, uber for doctor and a dropbox for physical parcels.

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The teams quickly jumped online to get immediate feedback on their ideas and despite the rain some teams ventured outside. Excellent.

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Thank you to the team at NUX Camp for having me and thank you to all of you who turned up and gave it your all. Thanks to Steven Kelly for the ace pics and thanks to Sia for being such a helping hand. I've captured some lovely feedback in this storify.

For those of you who are hungry for more:

  • DeSID report : A much needed recent report Design for Service Innovation & Development (DeSID) takes a rigorous look at service design through six case studies.
  • Hyper Island tool box is here
  • More on why we use rubber chickens
  • Find out more about the MA in Experience Design I run
  • We will be launching a Master Class in Service Design in October so sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss out
  • You can follow the work of Snook up in Scotland over here
  • I recommend following the Design Economy series by The Design Council

#17 The Interaction Designer

I'd like to introduce you to Daniel Harvey. Daniel is Experience Design Director for Sapient Nitro. He guides over thirty designers in their Experience Design practice in the UK. A fair few of our Digital Media Management alumni have gone on to work at Sapient Nitro and Daniel has been a big support in the creation of the new Experience Design programme since day one. We became friends on twitter and I was lucky enough to share a drink with him at Digital Shoreditch. I'm really chuffed he is coming to talk to the students about all things Experience Design and what this means in the industry... here's what he has to say. 1. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt over the last year?

The future doesn't care about your roadmaps. Not a new lesson per se but one that proves itself true a lot lately. Digital transformation is something that challenges many of my clients. Many will try to plan, plan again, and plan one more time for 2-3 years out and it rarely works. I'm a big believer in what was once Pandora's model. As a young company with limited resources they made a decision to work in 90 day cycles. They'd ideate features, rank them, and then they'd crank on with making. When the next cycle came up they'd start fresh. Backlogs are the enemy. This let them interrogate their business case, customer insight, and experience at market-speeds.

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2. What’s your burning question of the moment?

How near is now? I've done lots of work for clients asking for "future visions." Where is our business going to be 3/5/10/20 years out from now. That always feels like a fool's errand. I worked with HBO awhile back and it was impossible to predict how much the iPAD was going to change things. And that was a near-now product we suspected was in the pipeline! Making the best experiences for now creates tomorrow today.

3. What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen/ heard/ read in the last year?

I had an amazing week recently. I was working with a junior designer and in two hours we designed a light weight donation app. A senior designer and I spent 6 hours coming up with designs for a provocation about streaming music. A startup I'm mentoring has created a itself whole from cloth in about 100 days. Speed is thrilling.

4. What would be your one piece of advice to students on Hyper Island’s new MA in Digital Experience Design?

Stay curious. The best experience designers are knowledge junkies. We need to know A LOT about A LOT of things. It helps us make connections. Connections with people, processes, products, etc. Do whatever you can do feed your brain, your eyes, and your hands to see & make patterns. It will be time well-spent.

You can read more Design Profiles here:

#16 The UX Designer

#15 The Data Designer

#14 The Experience Designer

#13 The Design Teacher

#12 The Creative Technologist

#11 The Creative Generalist

#10 The Hyper Island Designe

#9 The Conscious Designer

#8 The Business Designer

#7 The Networked Designer

#6 The Speculative Designer

#5 The Digital Maker

#4 The Craftsman

#3 The Storyteller

#2 The Dreaming Maker 

#1 The Go-Getter.