Another Snook adventure under our belt ; this time in Linkoping, Sweden. The occasion? Servdes. Traveling through some thick snow I made it to the conference, this time under the theme of Exchanging Knowledge.
“The Nordic Conference on Service Design and Service Innovation, ServDes, is the premier research conference for exchanging knowledge within service design and service innovation…Service design as a field has established itself as a strong discipline, through efforts in practice and academia. However, publications have mainly focused on establishing service design. There is a growing need for original research on service design. The ServDes conference is an answer to this call…”
In short, it was in-depth and fun. Making it the best event I have taken part in this year. However, I struggled with the delicate balance between practitioners and researchers. This was a recurring theme in some of the discussions I had about academia and practice can can link up and communicate better. As an active practitioner, I’ve just left academia ; finishing a Masters on Embedding design in the public sector which was more action research and reflection than it was academic. For me, this works, because at the end of the day, I want to make change happen. Personally, I’d rather work with academics to document and theorise the work I do on the ground. I’m wondering if Servdes will become the catalyst for making this connection smoother?
Snook were invited to present the case ‘Service Design: social innovation is our motivation’. The presentation reflected on a project, Getgo Glasgow, undertaken last year at the Glasgow School of Art. It depicts some of the issues the design community is facing when undertaking social design/innovation projects within design education. My presentation considered some of the shortfalls in the project ; time frames, delivery and ethics. How do designers leave a project like this ethically? Have we considered the consequences of sending young designers out to engage with communities/users. You can watch my talk below:
The presentation aligned with Don Norman’s views published on Core 77: ‘Why Design Education Must Change‘.
“Many problems involve complex social and political issues. As a result, designers have become applied behavioral scientists, but they are woefully undereducated for the task”
This brilliant yet critical article picks on design education for producing undereducated designers who are ‘woefully ignorant of the deep complexity of social and organizational problems.’ In the case of GetGo, the community now have money in the bank and the project is really happening. Wyndford, where the project took place, is small area that are now mobilised as a community. We designed a process not necessarily a designed solution. The result ; Green Gorillaz wasn’t really designed, it was a half baked idea which was the bi-product of design methods and skills being used to work co-creatively with a community.
My presentation actually sparked some interesting conversations about interdisciplinary work, collaboration and the reality that designers are not experts in everything. It pays to know when and how to ask for help. The question and answer session revealed that students struggle with some elements of this type of project. For example, being equipped with the skills and know how to create intangible outcomes that are implementable. This is something we are aiming to get to grips with through our venture: Making Service Sense.
Highlights for me included Daniela Sangiorgi’s talk(s) on ‘Transformative Services and Transformation Designbuilding‘. It looked at building capabilities inside organisations to use and understand design to produce better services. This was an area I felt was overlooked in Berlin at the SDN10 conference and was only just touched upon by Philips. It mimics efforts made by Engine in their Hoop model and echoes sentiments from Martin Neumier’s Designful company which I reflected on for the last 12 months with a public body in Scotland on how to really use design thinking to create better services for the people of Scotland and more informed, people centered policy.
What Daniela put forward echoed closely with some discussions from the workshop run by Anna Serevalli and Anders Emilson. They held a workshop on Social Innovation which looked at the criticisms and plaudits by Geoff Mulgan of design in social innovation. Some of the points our group discussed were;
- Design(ers) should be a-political
- We need to create designful organisations and transform thinking
- We should look to open source community for inspiration
- We should be pushing for delivery and implementation
- Designers are facilitators not experts
Eva-Maria Hempe followed some of the capabilities discussion with, ‘Health and social care services for people with complex needs: The role of contextual knowledge for the design process’ and showcased a really interesting project. More interestingly for me, was the pyramid at the end of her slides on Design capacity versus Design obstacles which I’d like to look more into and see designers considering this.
There were other really good presentations, far too many to mention, in short, a couple more were Marc Stickdorn’s presentation on students and tourism, showcasing how quick and effective service design can be. Also, Simon Clatworthy’s talk on Touchpoint cards was to the point and got some cogs turning about how we could use the template as a basic model to create our own more personalised cards for say tourism, or methods in Service design.
Finally, to end the conference, Global Service Jam was launched by Markus Edgar and Adam St john. It will bring together different countries from all over the world next year to develop new services in under 48 hours and then share them online. They’ve had a fantastic response already and if you want your country to be part of it, then I suggest you get in touch with them.
And not forgetting the unconference day, organised by Design thinkers ; an impromptu, insightful and busy day of talking, doing, and drinking coffee.
I ran a workshop called #swesno, which looked at using design thinking and methods to tackle social issues caused by Snow in Sweden. Wearing santa hats, to get us all in the mood, one group tackled loneliness and isolation with the opportuniy of untapped engergy of kids playing outside in the snow, whilst the other group looked at the issue of ambulances getting stuck in the snow. There will be a another blog post to follow on the outcomes of the workshop. The storyboarding method and pushing people as a vehicle through a new service design worked incredibly well, and took a group of participants 3 hours. They started from scratch, developing and blueprinting new service concepts which the Swedish authorities could implement.
The day capped off with the launch of This is Service Design Thinking. If you haven’t purchased it, do it. It is a very comprehensive textbook which has been co-created by the design community. I am very happy for the authors and am sure both Jakob Schneider and Marc Stickdorn are relieved to see their hard work come to fruition.
To wrap up, these conferences aren’t always just about the learning but are also about the friends you make. It was lovely to make some new European and continental friends and catch up with old ones. It never ceases to amaze me how friendly, open and collaborative the Service Design community can be. Snook are humbled to be part of it.
Huge thanks to Fabian and the rest of the Serv Des team for making this event possible.