research question

The role of a service design graduate

This one minute video is a snapshot of my Masters final project, set out to explore; "What is the role of a service design graduate in tomorrow's design landscape? [youtube=]

1. AIM: The objective of the final project is to first define the skill set of a service designer and make a tangible contribution to an evolving field. My project will be both about and for people - for members of the public, graduates and for young designers who are keen to push past the status quo.

2. METHODS: In developing my own brief, I have adopted a metaphorical model recently pioneered by a writer on innovation Charles Leadbeater. I have visually created my current 'landscape', showing all the ' real world ' projects I am immersing myself in, and how they are related to one another. For example, I have recently become a news scout for the International Service Design Network.

3. DELIVERY: The third stage of my project is delivery. I intend to deliver a new voice to the world of service design and aim to create a service that offers an accessible pathway for all, through and into the service design industry.

The following insights from IDEO's Ryan Jacoby have influenced how I am perceiving this piece of work...

"If it isn't new, you aren't learning. If it isn't new, it probably isn't a meaningfully differentiated offering. If it isn't new, you aren't going to get the attention of a new user. Since new offerings and new users are how you grow, then you're probably not growing.

When you're at the edges, people are bound to disagree on the right path forward. If everyone on your innovation or design team agrees, you probably aren't pushing hard enough. That's a tough reality and one of the hidden facets of what is usually a team sport.

So, what can you do to help inform your decision? Here are some options.

Observe and interpret what the ultimate user wants: Design research is meant, in part, to uncover explicit and implicit functional, emotional and reflective needs of a user. Getting out into the field to really look deeply and listen faithfully makes the difference.

Test, validate and repeat: Most large scale organizations know this well. Unfortunately, the thing about traditional validation and the use of benchmarks is that they are actually a form of consensus (albeit with folks or a standard that isn't even in the room).

Design for "yourself": There's a school of thought that says you can and should design for yourself. Steve Portigal has an article (the first in a series I believe) in Interactions magazine that discusses this point of view. I think this usually doesn't work for most large-scale companies (with notable exceptions of course) because most of their people are not the user.

Show the user: Build a prototype and show it to someone. Anyone. Projective methods, a type of design research, puts a question in front of someone to let them react. Let your users' reactions influence you (not necessarily guide you), refine what you're making and helping to craft how you'll tell the story of what you're making.

Build it, see what sticks and learn from it: The less the experiment costs, the better. Build a discovery-driven plan and you'll know what to learn."

This is my initial prototype and I have decided to show you it. This is very much a draft piece and it is worth mentioning I am not entirely happy with some of the editing techniques used.

I am putting this question to you: Can you find fault with this?

Your reactions will influence me, help me refine the direction of my project and craft the story of what I am aiming to achieve.