Let's eat service design cake

Snook hooked up with Richard Arnott ( also known as servicejunkie ) last time we were in London and we had a great conversation about interesting goings on in Bristol, Cornwall and other places far away from Glasgow. Amidst my notes from our chat was a reminder to have a peek at some of the companies in Cornwall. I have followed Kathryn Woolf's tweets for a while but had never explored the company she co-founded in Cornwall - Sea Communications.Their latest project looks great ;  New Work Cornwall aims to boost the skills of people in Cornwall & open doors to new job opportunities.

I am really curious about how we can visualise and simplify services and systems and I was inspired by this charming approach by the team at Sea Communications.

These models are the outcome of a co-design workshop:

"The best bit of the day for me was when all the children arrived after school and got busy drawing floor plans and making a community centre out of cake & sweets! This gave me an opportunity to talk to some of the mum's about the idea of a community centre reward card / loyalty scheme which they thought would work really well. The basic idea being that residents could exchange volunteer time for points that they could cash in for things like cinema tickets, food, electrical goods, travel vouchers etc."

You can see many more pics of the workshop here.

This finding inspired me to look back at the last time I worked this way during the creation of Making Service Sense. I made a Service Factory and really explored the notion of being 'a service architect' and all I remember is that it was genuinely fun.

It's like art attack meets blueprinting ... love it.

We design un-pictureable things

Would you believe that the humble post - it note is causing quite a debate over at Fast Company. James Hunt is adamant they should be thrown out of the designers toolkit.

"It's time to put that ubiquitous design photo of the Post-it to rest. Give it a break. Retire it."

Now I think this is a little extreme but it did get me thinking. Post-it notes seem to go hand in hand with the service design process and I photograph post-its ALOT! But something Snook have become conscious of lately is the amount of  websites and portfolios that showcase a random image of a wall of post its. What does this tell us? Well, not very much to be honest because we can't see what is on the post-its.

"Post-its are visually arresting and like rolled-up sleeves, glasses on the table next to an open fountain pen, beautiful people on cell phones , architectural plans and cups of coffee on a conference room table they are visual shorthand for "hard work is being done here, we're busy innovating!"

I like the response from one reader - "I suppose next you'll be warning us that those who sketch in moleskines lack creativity". He is right, everyone has to find the tools that work for them and the way they like to do things.

How to tangibly capture what we are designing is a challenge service designers face.  So I suppose the lesson here is always look at a picture through someone else's eyes - what does it tell me? what do you learn from look at it? what impression does it give?

"Designers themselves are producing increasingly immaterial--and un-pictureable--things.Whereas designers used to make buildings and interiors and posters and toasters, they now are just as likely to be designing services, systems, platforms, and protocols."

The picture of the post it note was drawn by the fabulous Gill Wildman during a session about Douceurs.

What is the best use of post-it notes you have seen in a service design context?

the grit of grassroots in glasgow

I described my time at Speirs Locks as a 'day with a difference'. So what was different about it? Well, I spent the first half of my day in an old glue factory which was inspiring despite being freezing. I then 'toured a site' with an architect, something I have never done before. I spent the second half of my day in Scottish Opera, after a behind the scenes tour -  a place I would never typically find myself and I played a beautiful grand piano at the coffee break - something I would love to do every single day but rarely get the chance to...

I was part of this day as a result of the work David Barrie is carrying out as part of an innovative collaboration between Architecture Design Scotland and creative organisations based in the Speirs Lock Area of North Glasgow.

David invited Snook to be part of an international workshop into urban regeneration through culture.  The purpose of this work at Speirs Locks is to provide a framework and implementable plan that identifies what forward uses and actions should be promoted that will help Speirs Locks become a world class creative neighbourhood.

As the appointed 'visualiser' I spent the best part of the day listening and translating what I could hear into pictures. You can click the picture below and zoom in to get a flavour of the discussions.

I was also the 'voice of social innovation' (as David put it ) which was interesting as the majority of the people there were from architecture, arts, performance, planning, regeneration etc and I believe social innovation and motivation has a key role to play in any venture involving communities.

Things got really interesting when Adam, a member of the community, joined us and the conversation turned to the grits of grassroots and how we could make the most of what is already there. I asked the group to think about what we could all go and do tomorrow, that requires no funding or framework, just a thing, anything, we can do to engage with the people who live here...

The group split up into teams ; 'Wouldn't it be brilliant if?' | Touchpoints | Whales and Plankton | -Ing the thing | to explore this notion of growing the people and then growing the place whilst thinking practically and economically. The ideas that appealed to me the most were:

  • A 'social kitchen' where people go to share food, learn how to cook and prepare food and eat together.
  • A 'geek on a bike' who wears black baggy trousers who can come and set up skype for you or sign you up to twitter.
  • A 'grant writer' ( inspired by John's experience of people who sit on the side of the road in India and type letters for people on their typewriters - and something I experimented with myself in St.Andrews )

As always, the day ended with lots of questions needing answered;

* What are the demographics of the future community? * What will be the educational requirements of that community? * What jobs will be offered by the site? * What are the health and well-being needs of the future community? * How will the site contribute to and express urban identity and civic pride? * How do people socially interact on site? * What are the opportunities on offer for independent business? * What are the aspirations for micro-enterprises? * How will neighbouring communities feel that the site is beneficial to their area? * How will the site support the generation of new creative and social networks and enterprise? * What opportunities will the site offer for personal development? * What shopping facilities will it offer?

And last but not least, I made new friends : Tom Beardshaw Laura Mc Naught Gary Watt , Mhari McMullan and caught up with old ones. Definitely a day with a difference.

Photos from Tom Beardshaw

a little more focus on being human

Last week I attended  The Peter Bates Lecture People or policy? How to bring about social change:

Picture 3

"Good leadership at every level is the key to bringing about real social change within communities. Susan Deacon, Professor of Social Change at Queen Margaret University, will discuss this, and other factors effecting social change at the Peter Bates Lecture.

The Lecture, jointly hosted by the University of Dundee and NHS Tayside, will take place at the University of Dundee’s Dalhousie Building at 6pm on Wednesday, September 23rd.Professor Deacon, former MSP and Minister for Health and Community Care, will examine the influences effecting progressive social change in Scotland. She will examine whether government policy or community-level initiatives are more powerful drivers of social change.

In particular, she will discuss a failure to take account of the importance of leadership at every level in our communities, and suggest that we need to give more recognition to the power of individuals to bring about social change."

Here are my notes from the talk... img164




It worries me that myself and my old design studies tutor, who I spotted across the room, were the only people in the entire lecture hall taking notes...

I was very excited about the way Susan spoke about the human condition and truly listening to people, claiming the NHS had 'lost the plot and lost sight of what it means to be a person'. But there was no real conclusion as to how to achieve this - her ending phrase was ' we can make the world a better place by encouraging each other'. I'm not convinced. That's not enough is it?

The geography of online

"The internet is vast. Bigger than a city, bigger than a country, maybe as big as the universe. It's expanding by the second. No one has seen its borders. And the internet is intangible, like spirits and angels. The web is an immense ghost land of disembodied places. Who knows if you are even there, there.

Yet everyday we navigate through this ethereal realm for hours on end and return alive. We must have some map in our head.

I've become very curious about the maps people have in their minds when they enter the internet. So I've been asking people to draw me a map of the internet as they see it. That's all. More than 50 people of all ages and levels of expertise have mapped their geography of online."



See them all here

Download a blank pdf and submit your own map.