A big thank you to my friend Jane over at MOO for kicking off the redjotter RSS feed sponsorship. MOO are the world’s much-loved digital print and design company and they are HIRING for two full-time amazing roles in their shiny new offices; Senior User Experience Researcher and a Senior Experience Designer.
It's my pleasure to introduce Simon Gough to you. I've been Simon's friend online for many years and this year we finally connected offline when Simon responded to my request for a business designer to work with my students at Hyper Island. Since then we've been finding lots of links for collaboration; his team at the Beyond conference are keen to be upfront, his kids are unschooled which is an inspirational area for TESS and his latest project Self Agency really aligns with my ideas on facilitating organisations who are going through big change. I'm already looking forward to our next conversation. Here's what he has to say ...
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.I 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- Everyone has got one thing they really want to learn yet so few of us actually learn the thing. Sean Wes tells you how and why to find an accountability partner.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
- Really powerful things happen when you have an idea and give it away. Rubber chickens are precious but are often stolen.
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.
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.
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.
- Doing something every day for 100 days is hard. Feminism is very complex.
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.
- Microsoft Word is capable of reducing me to tears. It's important to tell stories to new audiences. This is how ideas spread.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When I first met Anne-Marie Imafidon I was instantly hooked by her vision of bringing lots of young girls together to live and play under one roof to launch tech businesses. Introducing the Outbox Incubator! I was delighted to accept Anne-Marie's invitation to come to the house and talk to the girls. The Outbox Incubator is a ground-breaking approach for young women who want to create Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) based companies.
It's run by the award-winning social enterprise, Stemettes and it gives teenage girls the funding and support to launch their own science or tech-based businesses.
45 girls aged 11-22 are spending six weeks learning and living together under one roof in the Outbox Incubator house. They are visited by experienced mentors to find out more about running a business, developing a product and getting funding to take their ideas to market. The team have just completed their second week and I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon with them last Friday.
I started by telling my story; from studying Product Design at undergraduate level, setting up Snook and moving to Manchester to work at Hyper Island. The key messages of my talk were: why service design is important when building a digital product, designing the future you are building and designing the future 'you'.
It was a gorgeous day so we headed straight into the garden and kicked off the session with an energiser. You can find a host of energiser ideas over at Hyper Island's tool box. We played ultimate rock, paper and scissors!
I introduced the girls to customer journey mapping and tasked each of them to think about the journey of their customer - both physically and emotionally. The mapping of the customer journey is a key tool associated with Service Design. From the very second your customer downloads your app he or she will encounter touchpoints (places of interaction between the customer and service) that will contribute to their final evaluation of your service. For example, during a typical trip to a supermarket, the cashier will likely be the last touchpoint of the customer service journey. How the cashier treats the customer will affect the impression the latter have towards the company. Prior to this, there are also other touchpoints which will shape the entire shopping experience. The second stage will culminate in the evaluation of the individual experiences customers have with the provided service.
We then spent some time thinking about the future and the impact we want our ideas to have on the world. It's all well and good talking about changing the world but what do you want to change and why?We created mock newspaper headlines from ten to twenty years from now to visually tell the story of how our idea could shape the future.
We then dived straight into thinking about the future. I believe we should all treat our future like a brief – turn it into a project. The only thing we know is that change is the only constant, and the ability to acquire new skills is the best skill of all. Seth Godin says : “If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will wilfully ignore the future that is likely”
I was particularly moved by this 12 year old stemette's vision for the future. I reckon you should print it out and stick it your wall too .
Then I introduced the idea of ‘The Better You’. The Better You is your believable possible. First, the students sketched each other and then notated their own portrait with the qualities of their believable possible. In the end we had fifteen crowd sourced portraits full of our believable possibles.
The Better You by Jack Cheng : Someone is sitting at your desk. There is something familiar about this person. From a distance, this person bears a striking resemblance to you: they have the same frame, the same face, the same features are you. But as you get closer, you begin to notice subtle differences between this person and yourself. They look like they eat healthier and exercise a little more regularly. Their posture is slightly better and their clothes have fewer wrinkles. This person is The Better You.
The Better You knows the same things you know. They’ve had the same successes you’ve had, and they’ve made the same mistakes. They strive for the same virtues and falter to the same vices. The Better You procrastinates, too. The Better You is not perfect. But the difference between you and the Better You is that the latter reacts a little faster, with more willpower. They practice their virtues a little more often and succumb to their vices a little less often. They rein in their procrastination a little quicker. They start their work a little earlier. They know when to take a break a little sooner.
The Better You knows, just as you know that doing what you love is difficult but worthwhile. They know, just as you know, that the difficulty is what makes it worthwhile in the first place. They know, as you know, that is everything was easy, nothing would have significance, and you wouldn’t needs to adopt new metaphors or read new books about how to do the work you should be doing.
The Better You is your believable possible. Your believable possible is your potential at any given moment, the person you know at your very core that you are capable of being in that instant. Only you know what your own believable possible is.
It raised energy and aspirations and I hope these better you’s find new homes on the fridge doors of the Outbox house! They certainly inspired me and made me smile.
We wrapped up the afternoon with a feedback session. Feedback is at the core of Hyper Island's methodology and you can find out more about some of the tools we use over here. As some of the girls had only spent a few days together we used "my current strongest impression of you is..." and "one thing I really appreciate about you is..." These are good first feedback exercises. They support individuals to try out giving and receiving a very basic form of feedback in a safe way.
It all about openness. Openness creates trust and trust creates more openness. Feedback exercises aim to support groups to build trust and openness and for individuals to gain self-awareness and insight. Feedback exercises should always be conducted with thoughtfulness and high awareness of group dynamics. We wrapped up the session with a check out which is a simple way for a team to close a process.
Thank you again to Anne-Marie for inviting me and having the vision and skills to make the Outbox house a reality. Thank you to the stemettes for your energy and your lovely feedback. I am truly inspired by each of you.
Be your believable possible and stay brilliant!
Know Sugar is the world’s first change agent for sugar.
It is an idea currently at cross roads and I'm looking for a co-founder to take our idea to the next level.
We’ve done the ground work by creating a refined concept, we’ve proved the need and the market and now it’s time for you to turn this idea into a business. Incase you missed it I shared the top 10 things I learned building the prototype over here.
Download the details of this opportunity here. I can't wait to talk to you!