Archive for the ‘podcasts’ Category

Last weekend Richard Buchanan from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western gave a terrific keynote at the Savannah College of Art and Design to close out the COINs and Design Ethos conferences.

I’ve transcribed the keynote and posted MP3s of the lecture and the question and answer section at the end. There’s also a full video of the event if you’ve got an hour or so to watch.

I’ll have more of a summary later this week. Quite a few topics of interest for service designers (and CMU alumni too).

The Lab A6 series from College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University presents a podcast on service design [M4A 21MB, 15min] featuring Shelley Evenson from the School of Design and CMU alum Maggie Breslin from the Mayo Clinic.

The podcast covers some familiar “what is service design” ground but also delves into the service design course at CMU and the Advanced Medical Home project that Mayo and Continuum sponsored last year at the university. For more about the CMU project, I posted an interview with one of the students from the class earlier this year.

It’s good to see the project getting some more exposure. The healthcare industry is one of the few examples in the US where service design is gaining ground.

[via J. Paul Neeley]

Earlier this evening the School of Visual Arts in New York hosted a lecture on service design. I listened via their live web broadcast and took some notes on the event. I also recorded a couple of the talks and posted them below.

Liz Danzico, chair of the new MFA in Interaction Design program at SVA introduced the speakers.

Chenda Fruchter’s talk wasn’t broadcast and Jun Lee’s engaging presentation about design research for Lego didn’t remotely qualify as a talk about service design — at least from the final eight minutes that made it on the air. In fact, none of the speakers focused more than tangentially on service design. That’s frustrating, but it’s a topic for another day.

After the intermission Jennifer Bove talked about how technology has changed how we think about real-world services. She structured her talk around five points: immediacy, co-creation, voice, expertise and customization. There was a question from the audience at the end of her talk about how to design for failure in a service. On that topic I thought I’d point folks toward a paper from HBR on seven tactics for service recovery.

The highlight of the lecture for me was the final presentation by Sylvia Harris who talked about her work for the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Harris is an information design strategist and at first blush her presentation was a straightforward wayfinding case study. It was very top-down, without much co-design, and she even admitted that they don’t call what they do “service design” as such.

But of the presentations I watched, this touched most closely on issues that I think affect service designers. First of all, the engagement with the hospital lasted for seven years. That allowed them to work much more closely with the client and it’s more indicative of a service design process than a product design engagement. They also were able to affect the management of the hospital and get two new positions instituted to focus on interfacing with the public.

She was very clear that this was a management problem, not just a signage problem. The solution was a synthesis of four separate components: people, signage, information and brand.

There were three key takeaways:

1) In order to win the project, they designed a visual customer journey map as a rhetorical tool for convincing the powers-that-be that there was a problem. Management had no idea that things were so bad but photographs made the situation tangible. After that, the project was funded within weeks.

2) Of course, they didn’t know it was a seven year project when they began. At first it was just a “study,” and its scope grew over time. She said that whenever they start out talking about sprawling experience design projects and how everything is connected to everything else people’s eyes just glaze over and they shut down. So instead they start small.

3) Designing anything big and public involves politics. This grew into a four million dollar project and every department wanted a piece of it. Anyone who isn’t interested in navigating the political waters shouldn’t be doing this type of work.

The UX Workshop broadcast the event and they’ll eventually be posting the video. I’ll let you know when that goes up.

Update: They’ve posted four videos from the lecture.

EconTalk host Russ Roberts talks with Michael Munger of Duke University about Munger’s 2008 trip to Chile and changes to the bus system in Santiago:

What was once a private decentralized system with differing levels of quality and price has been transformed into a system of uniform quality designed from the top down. How has the new system fared? Not particularly well according to Munger. Commuting times are up and the President of Chile has apologized to the Chilean people for the failures of the new system. Munger talks about why such changes take place and why they persist even when they seem inferior to the original system that was replaced.

The Santiago example helps highlight the distinction between user-centered service design and the top down system perspective that replaced it.

Near the end of the podcast, Munger and Roberts step back from their critique of the bus system to a more general discussion about politics, economics and incentives. I think service designers would benefit from a better understanding in this area. Getting the incentives right is a tricky balance that comes up in a lot of service design case studies.

Seeing Tomorrow's Services Panel: Photo by Varun

Last night was the Seeing Tomorrow’s Services panel discussion at Adaptive Path in San Francisco. There was a fantastic turnout. Around 100 attendees with many alumni from CMU and UC Berkeley. It was standing room only.

After some introductions, the event kicked off with a presentation about service design from each of the three panelists: Shelley Evenson from the School of Design at CMU, Robert Glushko from the School of Information at the University of California-Berkeley, and Christi Zuber from Kaiser Permanente.

One of the core ideas from Shelley’s presentation was the concept of the “Five Ps” of service design. People, product, place, process and performance. Bob Glushko mentioned another framework that bears looking into: seven contexts of service design.

Probably the main distinction between CMU and the Berkeley iSchool is the focus on frontstage experience versus the backstage system. Professor Glushko made an interesting observation that the frontstage / backstage distinction largely depends on your point-of-view.

The most interesting segment of the panel for me was Christi Zuber’s overview of the work she and her team are doing in the Frontline Innovation Consultancy at Kaiser Permanente. I’d heard about the group, but this was the first time seeing the kind of work that’s coming out of the program.

Their design process is derived from IDEO. Observation, story-telling, synthesis, brainstorming, prototyping, field testing and implementation. She recounted a story about the design of “no interruption wear” at Kaiser, showing several iterations of a prototype garment that nurses could don when performing critical tasks. I liked the formulation of “one nurse, one change, one shift” as a way of carefully testing the prototypes.

She also made an excellent point that designing a service is only part of the battle. Getting it integrated into the organization is by far the bigger challenge.

The final part of the panel discussion was a hypothetical business case that moderator Brandon Schauer asked the panelists to address. It centered around a Bay area electrician wanting to move into “green” technology.

This part of the panel was a bit lackluster for me. Design isn’t a performance art and I reject the notion that designers can formulate solutions to service design problems in isolation. Not without collaborating closely with the business itself. From that perspective the whole approach seemed contrived.

Overall though, I thought last night was a great discussion. Quite a few people live-blogged the panel via twitter #stspanel. Most of the choice quotes from the discussion are archived there.

Update: Added a photo from the CMU Bay Area Facebook group. They’ve posted more photos from the event.

Lunar’s Gretchen Anderson talks with Jennifer Bove and Ben Fullerton about service design in a 23 minute podcast [16MB] for Lunar’s icon-o-cast series.

There isn’t much new content if you’re familiar with Bove and Fullerton’s past presentations at UX Week and UC Berkeley, but the conversational venue is a much better fit for this type of “Service Design 101” discussion.

See also: slides from their iSchool presentation. Designing the Intangible: An Introduction to Service Design. [PDF 7.6MB]

If you play around with it, you can sync up these slides to their examples from the podcast. It’s like listening to Dark Side of the Moon while watching the Wizard of Oz.

Back in April, Don Norman gave a guest lecture at the Institute of Design in Chicago focusing on service design. It took me a few months, but I finally tracked down a copy of the talk.

Now that I’ve listened to the lecture a couple times I’ve got a better idea where Norman is going with this. He makes some good points about the importance of back stage operations but I don’t agree with his assertion that operations and design are the same topic. He seems disappointed with much of the existing service design literature and treats Pine and Gilmore with mild disdain. The lecture goes on a rambling tour of theme parks, fast food, hospitals, hotels and banking, with some great anecdotes and pointers toward interesting research.

At 678MB the whole thing is tough to download, so I’ve stripped away the video and put together a transcript of the lecture along with a podcast of the talk [64.8MB]. There’s also about half an hour of questions at the end of the podcast.

I enjoy listening to podcasts about design and I’ve posted quite a few to this blog but I’ve noticed a disappointing gap in podcasts as a service. They never seem to provide transcripts.

Podcasts are engaging, but the human voice is a terribly low-bandwidth channel for communicating information. It’s much too linear. Podcasts are difficult to skim or summarize and impossible to search. Transcripts are invaluable from an archival point of view. They’re de rigeur for news and political websites but I didn’t realize what I was missing until I stumbled across the transcripts for the Intersections 2007 podcasts last November. For service designers I think this should set the standard.

I’ve been experimenting with ways to make podcasts more useful for my own needs. At the very least I try to summarize key points and match them with timecodes. I’ve also started transcribing the podcasts I listen to before they make their way to my blog. But I shouldn’t need to do that myself. Transcription should be a service that goes along with recording the interview in the first place, like editing or encoding an MP3.

Transcriptions take some time to do well (at least three times the audio length) but they’re not terribly difficult. My first transcript was for the Dick Buchanan keynote a few weeks ago. After about five minutes of clumsily switching back and forth between the playback controls and the keyboard I decided to build a tool to help speed things along. It’s a transcription pedal made from a Wii controller that allows me to keep my fingers on the keyboard while I control playback with my foot.

It’s pretty easy to cobble one of these together (it’s just foamcore and some tape). I sync the Wii controller to my MacBook and control iTunes with a tap of the A button using a system called WiiMotion to make it all work. It’s overkill for this kind of simple application (and it requires some familiarlity with the terminal) so if you’ve got an Apple Remote it might do in a pinch.

My point is, transcripts should be the standard. It’s not just an accessibilty issue and it’s not about altruism (though it’s pretty good karma). If podcasts are easier to consume then more people will consume them. Transcripts help drive traffic by exposing content to search engines. Bloggers can quote the text. Readers can skim to decide whether a podcast is worth listening to. Ultimately it’s about increasing consumption, and that’s the point of posting to the web in the first place.

Neil McGuire interviews Deborah Szebeko of ThinkPublic, a London design agency focusing on public sector service design. Here’s the podcast [MP3 11.7MB]

My thoughts now, especially after working on quite a few projects in the public sector, is whether we actually need to be focusing on innovation all the time or are the services actually 30 years behind and we just need to bring them up to date before we can innovate? I think that for me sometimes the challenge is that we’re asked to constantly keep innovating, but the people we’re asking to help innovate aren’t at that point in the present. So I believe we have to have a balance of both and if we can get people to the stage of where they believe in themselves that they can actually maybe change small things in their environment in their public sector service then actually they can start to look at the big changes they can make.

Besides the question of constant innovation (3:45), Szebeko talks about the history of service design in the public sector (0:34), common problems for service design to address (1:30), how to engage people in the process (2:40), moving from other disciplines into service design (5:34, 7:00, 10:10) and how to open the public sector to the possibilities of design (9:00).

Peter Merholz interviews Chip Conley of Joie de Vivre Hotels about how they create unique experiences at dozens of boutique hotels around California. Conley describes a tool called “experience report cards” which seem akin to service usability in terms of quantifying the intangible:

Each of our hotels are graded twice a year by someone who goes out to each hotel and asks “how is it doing” on an Experience Report Card. The number one way that we get our stars and diamonds as hotels is from Mobil and AAA, and it’s based upon very tangible and in many cases very outdated definitions about what it takes to be a four star versus a two star hotel. Frankly, it has nothing about experience built into it.

For a boutique hotelier, we’re doing something that is very experience-driven. One example is that in every one of our hotels, within the first five minutes a person comes into the lobby the hotel is supposed to stimulate the five senses of the guest in a way that fits with the overall psychographic profile and personality of the hotel.

Just to take a step back, each of our hotels is based upon a magazine and five words. So doing what we do we have a touchstone for the personality of the hotel we’re trying to create. … So if you go to the Hotel Rex [based on the New Yorker] we would stimulate the five senses of a guest upon arrival in ways that would befit those words [artistic, sophisticated, literate and clever], as opposed to the Phoenix Hotel, which is based on Rolling Stone and as a fifties, Rock and Roll hotel is funky, irreverant, cool and young-at-heart. So how we address the taste buds of a guest with something sitting on the front desk at the Phoenix would be different than it is at the Rex. But in both cases they’re supposed to do that.

Now do they do that perfectly? No, this Experience Report Card has 40 points on it. No hotel of ours has ever made 40. We don’t get it perfectly, but we leave it up to the staff and the general manager of the hotel to evolve their experience for their customer in a way that is actually befitting the five words that define the hotel.

One thing that jumps out at me (besides the fact that he only lists four of the five words) is how Conley drifts back and forth between the idea of service and experience during the interview. He even frames their service offering as a “product” once or twice. He gives a tip of the hat to Pine and Gilmore, so it’s clear he understands the distinctions. It’s a good example of how service design as a term is actually a little fuzzy.