Archive for the ‘patterns’ Category

Camilla Buchanan from the UK Cabinet Office spoke about designing social investment.

She didn’t define the term and it wasn’t clear to me from context, but a quick search turned up a definition: “Social investment” is the use of repayable finance to achieve a social as well as a financial return. Essentially loans and equity arrangements to fund social programs around areas such as youth unemployment or homelessness.

With a background at the Design Council, Camilla was most interested in the design patterns behind successful government programs. She saw value in a grounded, practical discussion and complained that those types of tactical details were often missing from case studies in favor of broad themes and high-level strategies.

She made the observation that you need to be able to translate that high level vision into concrete results. How do you get there from here? In her experience, the policy folks are creative already and don’t need as much help with the empathy side as with the operational aspect required to take control of some aspect of the experience.

I heard this theme a few times during the conference from presenters who claimed no shortage of ideas among their clients but a real deficit in operational knowledge required for implementation.

Camilla shared some examples from her experience and showcased other organizations around the UK focused on similar goals. She also offered a framework of ideas around social investment:

Knowing the users

  • Questionnaires
  • User Research
  • Changes how we see our constituents

Clear and visual communications

  • Shouldn’t seem like gloss
  • Elegant and legible design
  • Clear presentation paves the way
  • Habits around legible mapping
  • Norms of visualization

Framing problems

  • Exploratory area
  • Design in a non-design context
  • Want to see higher level project patterns
  • Blueprints, etc

Camilla ended with a plea for others working in this area to share project patterns in order to help network with others working on these problems. From her perspective, design is good at generating insights but the handoff back to the policy team can still be a little rough.

Sandjar Kozubaev, a Ph.D student from Georgia Tech spoke on the concept of Transmedia Storytelling and how it might relate to service design.

He began with Henry Jenkins’ concept of Transmedia Storytelling in which integral elements of fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.

  • Spreadabilty/Drillability
  • Continuity/Multiplicity
  • Immersion/Extractability
  • Worldbuilding
  • Seriality
  • Subjectivity
  • Performance

He illustrated these concepts through the books, films and media environment surrounding the Hunger Games franchise.

The idea behind this presentation was interesting, but other than a brief, tantalizing chart, Sandjar failed to draw any substantive parallels between transmedia storytelling and the principles of service design embodied in user centered ideals, co-creation, sequencing, evidencing or holistic scope. This was left as an exercise for the audience.

The presentation by Wim Rampen focused on his journey through the world of customer experience and service design. Wim started blogging shortly after I launched Design for Service and I remember following some of that initial journey. He spoke about how chance, luck and the unexpected all influence change and how change is hardly ever consciously designed.

To cope with the impact of change he recommended five strategies centered around recognizing the potential for positive and negative change and preparing for these disruptions in advance by building a diverse base of knowledge. It’s important to embrace potential opportunities rather than dismissing them as a hazard.

Note: If you’re following along with your schedule, Wim was originally slated to present yesterday. Things got shuffled around a little through some last minute changes, thus reinforcing the theme of Wim’s presentation.

After receiving two duplicate badges at the 2011 SDN conference in San Francisco, I spent the better part of my first day in Stockholm without any conference badge at all. After a few unsuccessful attempts to correct this problem one of the conference organizers finally scrawled a hand-written badge.

It’s an interesting contrast because the printed badges have incredibly tiny type for an object this size. Mine you can read from across the room.

I’ve written before about the futility of critiquing service design conferences as services themselves. They’re an easy target, and the irony is overwhelmingly tempting but when the venue keeps changing every year and the events happen so infrequently it’s tough to iterate the experience itself. But the individual touchpoints you can iterate. Certainly over seven years. Here’s a great post by Michael Lopp on the spectrum of conference badges he’s encountered throughout his career.

My recommendation for SDN is to make the attendee names bigger. That’s what the badges are for. Also, we already know where we are. There’s no operational need to devote half the badge to the conference identity, the date or the location. The color coding is great, the lanyard is functional and the stamps for special interest groups are a fun idea. Just make the attendee names bigger.

Low Cheaw Hwei from Philips gave a sprawling talk on service design that touched on his perception of services in Asia, the design of the Lifeline AutoAlert system and the design culture at Philips that spawned the system.

His presentation is tough to summarize but he worked up to the idea of consumer healthcare and engagement of the end-user in their own recovery. It’s worth going back to his slides to pull out his taxonomy of service elements at Philips including Nodes, Small-pivots, Recovery and Constant Calibration.

The Service Design Global conference has been embracing the digital component by offloading traditional question and answer sessions to Twitter to be addressed later in the day.

This is a new experience for me after missing the most recent two conferences in Paris and Cardiff. My general impression is that without the space for reflection it seems too much like a relay race. The applause has barely died down from one speaker before the next one is spinning up their slides. To me it’s an uncomfortable pace and one that doesn’t really save time. It just shifts it until later in the day.

The sociologist Erving Goffman identified an arc of human interaction that involves initiation, maintenance and leave-taking. The structure of the conference presentations this year focus on initiation and maintenance but leave-taking seems to be short-circuited.

Mark Levy is the Global Head of Employee Experience at Airbnb. His conference presentation centered on the employee experience at the San Francisco-based startup. I’m glad they started here because this talk really helped to highlight how service design is different from UX design. Service design isn’t just about designing the user experience; it’s about the employee experience too. It’s important to design for both halves of the equation.

Airbnb is an interesting edge case for this distinction because for a distributed hospitality company like Airbnb, the primary human touchpoint for users is not the employee but the host–which is really just another class of user. I’d like to see a presentation that focuses on the actual moments of truth between employees and customers.

I’ve visited the Airbnb offices in San Francisco and the focus on the employee experience (like Ground Control) can be a little off-putting to the uninitiated. I’m curious whether it’s possible to craft an engaged employee experience without inadvertently designing a cult.

The Matching Supply and Demand blog highlights an interesting article from The Economist on Delta Airlines. They’ve been experimenting with allowing passengers to bid on the privilege of being bumped from overbooked flights.

Airlines typically offer flight vouchers at the gate to encourage passengers to delay their travel to account for overbookings. The gate agents increase the value of the offer until they recruit enough volunteers or until the flight boards, at which point they begin bumping passengers involuntarily.

Delta’s scheme is to have passengers bid against each other during check-in, driving down the cost of the vouchers. The Wall Street Journal has more on the program.

The New York Times has an interesting article about queue management at Walt Disney World. They use a combination of methods to subtly nudge people away from crowded attractions and to entertain those waiting in line.

Employees watch flat-screen televisions that depict various attractions in green, yellow and red outlines, with the colors representing wait-time gradations. If Pirates of the Caribbean … suddenly blinks from green to yellow, the center might respond by alerting managers to launch more boats. Another option involves dispatching Captain Jack Sparrow or Goofy or one of their pals to the queue to entertain people as they wait. … Disney has also been adding video games to wait areas.

For more on queues, Don Norman spoke about how Disney approaches the problem during his lecture at the Institute of Design back in 2008. More here, here and here.

Sorry about letting things go dormant around here over the past couple of months. I’ll try to pick up the slack in the new year. What have I missed?

The Center for Hospitality Research at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration has an interesting paper on service scripting [PDF 700k] from 2008.

A service script, as defined in this study, is a detailed guide for front-line employees to follow during a service encounter. A script includes a predetermined set of specific words, phrases, and gestures, as well as other expectations for the employee to use during each step of the service process.

The study is less about the design of scripts and more about how guests react to scripted encounters in a hotel setting as opposed to more extemporaneous approaches. There are also some citations on script theory to follow up.

Tip: Choose File > Print in Google docs to save the PDF.

[via Michael Dixon]