social design

using your mobile to do something good

Last week I went to the first event held by Orange to mark the launch of their forthcoming initiative to promote mobile micro volunteering. I rocked up with the lovely Cassie Robinson knowing nothing about the idea or who was going to be there. The  50 people crowd wore stickers - developers sporting a blue sticker, people from orange an orange sticker and social entrepreneurs a green sticker. The aim of the evening was simply to 'meet in each other in person' - simple and true.

The force behind this new initiative is the merging of Orange and T mobile ; Everything Everywhere . They have more customers than the population of Canada! They certainly have the potential to harness this power to do something good!

Jamie T put together a good write up here and I was interviewed by the brill Brian Condon - you can listen on audioboo.

This new venture is encouraging people to make minutes matter, to do something from your phone that will take 5 minutes. It clearly presents new opportunities to work differently and it may highlight how much generosity there is in the world.

I suppose I am most interested in the balance of actions that can be done online and what can be done offline. Nevertheless, I am always interested in things that aim to liberate and inspire people so I will be watching closely.

p.s I was a big fan of the speakers wearing a red flower in their shirt pocket. Nice touch.

being a patient

I am obsessed with service, to borrow a phrase from Richard I think I am as close as it gets to being a service junkie. This means that  I spend my days devouring every tweet, article and policy about the health service, patient experience and the role design can play in that. In the early hours of Thursday morning I woke up with unbearable pains in my stomach. To cut a long story short, I phoned the NHS 24 hour help line twice, on the second phone call they referred me to the out of hours GP, who then referred me to casualty who then took me to a ward.  They kept me in for two nights and I had an ultra sound scan, blood tests, all kinds of other bodily tests ( ! ) and the conclusion is they think I had an infection in my appendix that has sorted itself out.

I have never been a patient before so there were many things that I noticed, appreciated, felt could be better, even when poorly those " design lenses " picked up detail and feeling.

It was the absence of communication that increased my anxiety. The taxi driver drove us to the hospital in silence - which made me think of Barry Schwartz's talk on our loss of wisdom and the way he describes the role of a hospital janitor. I've just moved into a new flat and had no idea where we were, if he had let me know we were only five minutes away it would have made the journey a little easier.

When I arrived I was asked to put a gown on, and my first instinct was why? Then being moved to the surgical ward, my first thought was does this mean I am going to have surgery.

And at shower time... where was I meant to go? are there towels and shampoo in there? well I didn't want to ask, what if they thought I was treating the place like a hotel! Alice, in the bed next to me filled me in , there is only hair mousse ( or moss as she called it ) so I asked another long haired lady for some shampoo ... the nurse gave me a towel.

Walking in to all these things for the first time, in pain, in a strange place, was the time I needed that extra bit of reassurance. I'm sure when you work in this environment all of the time you can take for granted the normality of it, and also the pressures of being emotionally attentive to people must be tough. But an explanation of the simple things between each new experience would have made a difference.

After those first few hours though, and into the rest of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I was able to immerse myself more in to the ward. My bed was straight across from the desk so I could eavesdrop and watch all the goings on.

The staff seem like best friends, constant winks and giggles brought sunshine into the ward and I knew they were happy to be there. They come to work every day and genuinely laugh out loud, I don't think there are many people who are lucky enough to feel that way at their work.

The last experience I had with the NHS in Stoke Mandeville Hospital was horrific and inspired me to write an article on why the NHS needs service design. This experience was totally different and has inspired me to make a thank you card for all the staff in ward 16!

The NHS help line was particularly good and they helped me so much. Simple things like reassuring me they would call me back if our line got cut off and telling me they would make sure I got the attention I needed.

It's all about people, from how we communicate to how we smile. The staff in ward 16 are faced with people who are bored, stubborn, tired and anxious. Yet they see past that and go out their way to make sure you are comfortable and as at ease as you can be. The doctors really explained what was happening to my body and why and the nurses really cared. You can't buy that, or teach it. That's what I call true service.

Master in Service Design 2011 Competition

The Domus Academy have launched a service design competition to win a scholarship for their new Masters Course In Service Design.

The new master in Service Design is devoted to create the next generation of humanized and pleasurable service experiences. The design-driven approach to Service Design and management and the human-centric view are the driving forces for the innovation of service industries.

So you can enter this competition and send your service idea proposal to get a scholarship!

Volcanic Ash Cloud Shuts Airports:

The inconvenience generated by unpredictable events can become an occasion for companies to offer service plus.

Due to the ash cloud, in the last months, most people experienced canceled flights and flight's delay during their traveling time, with all the related soft or serious damages : waiting at the airport for hours or days, being forced to stay longer in a city-hotel, getting fresh clothes, feeling anxiety in flying close to the ash cloud, loosing important family or business events, queuing to find alternative travel arrangements and get information on next flights or trains, working in any place without your own stuff.

Consider one of these possibilities inconvenient situations to design a service idea that companies such as Airports, Airlines, Hotels, Travel Agencies, or even Telecoms could offer to their clients to alleviate the problems encountered. Often simple ideas and signals of courtesy become distinctive and value for customers.

The deadline is the 6th you want to study Service Design in Italy? I think this is a great opportunity - and what do you have to lose? if you don't win you have still answered a very relevant brief! Let me know if you are going to enter ...


The End of Design was the public lecture accompanying my recent Masters Exhibition. [slideshare id=2131578&doc=theendofdesign-091005111752-phpapp01]

"Modern design has run its course. The challenges of our age demands a new design; in place of designing for desire we should design for inclusion, understanding and real world problem solving. The power of design thinking presents us with new opportunities for the future.

As Scotland's top rated institution for research design, the University of Dundee is uniquely placed to set out a new vision for the future of design. In this special lecture, Professors Tom Inns and Mike Press - both internationally acknowledged writers, researchers and broadcasters on design - provide a provocative and visionary of design in the 21st Century.

Evidence of this new design is seen in the work of this year's graduating Masters of Design students. The lecture accompanies their masters exhibition, providing vital contexts and insights into their work. Together, the lecture and exhibition emphasise Dundee's unique approach to the research and practice of design. "

Lasting around an hour this video is a deep insight into The Master of Design Course at Dundee and the work at our Masters exhibition. It is definitely one to watch for the students who have gotten in touch with me as they are considering applying for the course - and other Masters students who are embarking upon a design journey.

It should not be missed - design against crime | service design | co design | social design | transformation design | product design | interaction design | design for well being | design for disability | design thinking | design management | interdisciplinary...the list goes on....

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.880125&w=425&h=350&]

more about "THE END OF DESIGN on Vimeo", posted with vodpod

Tom, who was my project mentor, recently shared his archipelago of design at a workshop in London. Lauren Tan documented the day really well, in particular her insights from Toms model.

New breed of benefit busters

The government is attempting to revolutionise the benefits system. On Thursday night Channel 4 aired the first of a documentary series that follows people on both sides of the new welfare state. Two of the programmes show A4e helping single mothers in Doncaster and long-term unemployed people in Hull. Picture 23

The idea is that the government rewards private sector companies and charities for getting claimants into work.

“At the moment anyone unemployed for more than six months is mandated to attend 30 hour programmes for 13 weeks to update their job skills. For some this is not nearly enough - they need help with literacy, improving their confidence and often tackling serious problems such as alcohol abuse.  For others, they have hit a patch of bad luck and may only need a few hours of direction and encouragement to find a good job."

Emma Harrison is the chairman of A4e and features in the series - describing the new program as a 'together thing' rather than a 'we are going to do this to you / for you' thing. The way Emma described her approach really struck a chord with me, echoing that of service design practitioners :

"We want to work alongside people who want our help and together we find a way forward.By absolutely listening to everyone on the front and coming back and telling all the people at the top ( the people who make the big decisions ) what I have heard, what I have smelled, what I have touched, who I have had a chat with...that's how I do what I do."

As an avid blogger Emma recently invited her readers to "make a movie about your day - a customers day - something uplifting that will inspire others - something that shows something good happening. Use your phone, a camera - frankly it does not have to be fancy!" I love this idea - connecting with real people living their day to day life. Hopefully, some of the entries will be on their site soon!

Emma also facilitates regular informal meetings with her staff every month; 'Tea with Emma'. I am excited and inspired my her approach - using her people skills to tackle a social problem.

I believe that nobody should live in poverty and claimants should get help with essentials like food, clothes, electricity and heat. Cash should not be handed out the way it is. No one should be wealthier claiming benefits than out in the workplace. It is clear that our current benefit system isn't working.

Watch the next episode on Thursday.