Illustration of a magnifying glass

24 Nov 2016

From East to West Coast | Snook in the U.S.A

We’re just back from a work trip to New York and San Francisco, here’s some of the cool things we did.

We attended a conference called Platform Cooperativism

We learned a huge amount from models of worker rights and unions on how the world of work is changing, and condensed them into these headlines:

The gig economy and non-geographic specific work will post huge challenges in the future

Look at areas like Vietnam, where, if you are lucky to go through further education, 200,000 college graduates are still out of work because there aren’t enough jobs. They are turning online, to undertake jobs at a fraction of the price. What does this mean for the future? What makes a supportive job and solid future? What’s the new ‘pension’?

What’s the new fair trade of fair work? What does this look like?

We learned of models like Green Taxi, forming driver led online co-ops set to out perform Uber. They are building their own apps to ensure consistent customer experience whilst offering their drivers more money.

We learned that in NYC and San Francisco there was a sense of fear in the days after Trump’s victory

People we met, largely democrats, are scared, angry and feel helpless. They are especially concerned about minority communities. What we did hear is that a bunch of people are donating money to outfits like Planned Parenthood.

For more, visit Platform Cooperativism Consortium

We visited the Mayor’s office design team

We met with Ariel Kennan, Genevieve Gaudet and Chisun Rees – thanks to an introduction from Cassie Robinson – we had a glimpse inside what they are doing at the Mayor’s office. They are a small but growing team working across New York city services to put service design and usability at the heart of them.

It was great to see the beginning of a set of principles applied to better public service design. They’re working on a bunch of projects from Worker Connect (Health and Human Service workers platform for integrated information view of clients) to Access NYC. They’re taking a user-centred approach to design better interfaces, brands and language across all platforms, ensuring people are involved at the heart of this.

They are mid-development of their own ‘service manual’ and approach and seeking to develop some basic design patterns. For now, they are small and have a long journey ahead in building these capabilities in NYC in-house, but it was great to see their appetite to scale and see ‘inside’ the design process at the Mayor’s office.

We took CycleHack to Timbuk2 in San Francisco

Our own spin-off enterprise, CycleHack went to visit Timbuk2 HQ. We saw how their bags were designed, made and sold end-to-end, including a sneaky peak of their summer and fall 2017 stock!

They made a film about us called Future Shapers in 2016, featuring Matt (and some of the Glasgow CycleHack). It was amazing to see a short film of CycleHack and get a tour of their space.

It was also great to see how they manage their customer service calls. Their staff are empowered and know their stuff. All keen cyclists and Timbuk2 fans, they man the phones, social media and customer contact forms between three people. They have also set up a bag rack of all their stock so as they are talking on the phone the team can see, touch and feel the bags to advise a customer on any potential issues.

On top of this customer service, their bags come with a lifetime guarantee, and they will take back bags from all over the world to fix them in under 2 weeks. At the end, they gave us a free spin on their Customer Bag Builder which was brilliant. Both Matt and I have ended up with new bags that are made of this amazing reflective material.

We’re going to be working with them in 2017 to launch Future Shapers so watch this space.

All of this around some fantastic trips to Golden Gate Bridge, Mission district for Mexican and a quick jaunt up the Empire State Building. We also got to touch base with our UN client on the waterfront, overlooking Brooklyn and talk next steps.

A great trip – but in light of media reports this week on policies being considered, I’m thinking of our US brothers and sisters and what we can do to support.