I’m the new boy in Snook. Well actually I’m the only boy in Snook. And the only person over thirty. Well over thirty actually. So those are the gender and age issues taken care of.
Snook is a brilliant and beautiful idea that I am thrilled to now be a part of. Design has this incredible potential to transform public services and the civic sphere in positive and progressive ways, and Snook is at the very vanguard of this new design movement. The challenge is to develop new strategies and tools that empower ordinary people to shape change. I see the new design as a political force that replaces the tired and irrelevant mechanisms of party politics with a vibrant socially responsible creativity.
At its core, Snook comprises four dynamic, highly talented and visionary individuals whose productivity and quality of work is simply remarkable. They have already made their mark on service design in the UK, and founding partners Sarah and Lauren have been invited – all expenses paid – to run workshops and consultancies from New York to Beijing, from Taipei to Berlin. And they have only just graduated. That is truly remarkable dynamism.
The world is transforming and needs wholly new ideas, creative tools and methods of working. Those companies reshaping our world, from Google to Twitter, and the emerging social movements creating a new impulse for democratic change, as we have seen in the Arab Spring, are led by a new generation that has not been institutionalised, and is more determined to embrace change. Snook is part of this.
In the corporate world, there’s another new phenomenon – bi-generational management, which is the norm for most successful high tech start ups in the US. Linking the youthful vision of Generation Y to the experience of the Babyboomers appears to give new companies a competitive edge. That is what we hope too!
I actually have a day job. I am Professor of Design Policy at the University of Dundee. I have written two of the leading texts in the field of design management, which have been translated in Chinese, Russian and Spanish. I have led major research projects in design, and been a design policy advisor to the UK government. I was co-director of the Design Council’s Design Against Crime project. I have been invited to speak to conferences throughout the world, and have broadcast on TV and radio about design. Before working in design education and research, I was a community activist and research consultant for local government and trades unions.
I taught one of the founding Snook partners, and feel privileged to be working alongside her in my associate role within Snook. One of my jobs is to help Snook develop and grow, and to help manage that process of change. So, I act as a coach and mentor to the team and an advisor on their strategic and operational development. Snook is in the knowledge business. So am I. This means that my second role is that of helping Snook communicate the knowledge they create, and turning that knowledge into products. I also help to ensure that Snook is informed by the latest academic design research, and where necessary to build alliances and partnerships with academia.
Snook has always had a strong educational role and ethos, demonstrated through projects such as Studio Unbound and more recently Matchable. As the education landscape undergoes continued transformation, then new opportunities arise for Snook to innovate and provide new services. I will be working very closely with them on this aspect of their business.
A new chapter is opening for Snook. This is nothing to do with me, but is a consequence of an expanded full time team, new projects, a new dedicated office in the heart of Glasgow, new business systems and new strategic objectives. Exciting times. Very exciting. Especially because I have a small part to play in the shift from Snook Beta to Snook 1.0. I can’t wait to see Snook 2.0!”