About 6 weeks ago we were approached by the organisers of Service Design 2012 to put in a proposal for a presentation.
When our take on public sector service design was deemed interesting and ‘such a different beast to private sector’ we got the gong. That was when we shifted quickly from abstract topic ‘Public Sector Design: Driving internal and external change one step at a time’ to focusing our message on what really mattered to us and what we really wanted to share.
The actual reception of the presentation was extremely positive and we engaged with interest in conversations about the similar challenges faced by some of our fellow attendees. There are plenty of people we hope to have continuing conversations with in this space. You know who you are!
The conference itself
It was the first time we’ve attended the conference (being only its second year). As a conference we thought the mix of speakers and topics was good. The challenge for organisers and the conference model itself is how to balance the sharing, provocation and education. One person’s gibe at the ubiquitous slides of post-it’s and whiteboards can be another person’s validation of their (sometimes new) professional language. We spoke to all levels of discipline and experience at the conference, and those new to the profession remarked on how generous the speakers and attendees were with their knowledge, failures, and learning’s. (Or flearnings – the term we are coining to appreciate failure as a means of learning)
It will be interesting to see how the conference evolves over the years.
But back to 2012. We’ve captured some of the things that resonated with us:
- The concept of the service as a ‘job’ from Damien Kernahan. His “What ‘job’ is this milkshake doing for me” will definitely be used by us as an ideation / analysis tool in the future.
- The use of the doorman analogy from Alex Ritchie. The least paid but most valuable front-line staff story is a key public sector issue – it was a good reminder that experience is valued, and initial interactions can make the experience for the customer.
- A plea for personas to not be a dirty word. We all might have opinions on what they should look like and how they should be used but Penny Hagen and Kitty Rahilly showed us their power with an energetic and meaningful segmentation exercise. Loved that whole presentation and experience.
- That academia and practice can coexist – Zaana Howard, Owen Hodda and Harriet Wakelam reminded us that design research and academic exploration is a great filter for reviewing and understanding your design processes. It was also a great case study of the type of blended team scenarios we advocate.
- Keeping iterations short and focus narrow as part of the experiential learning model Trent Mankelow’s Optimal Usability company used to learn service design. And that to build capability sometimes it’s good to be forced to learn. Something DMA may institute.
- That organisation design and service design might be separate. Iain Barker challenged us to take on organisational design and the strategic use of design. Because we don’t separate internal service capability from the outward service, this was an interesting distinction and perspective.
Things we wish we would have / could have said:
- When Lisa Herrod (@scenariogirl) asked us how we built inclusiveness into our research and design we had no answer. It’s a great point and as public sector service designers we should be demanding that this is included in our work. We intend to rectify the situation and have in fact already contacted a client of ours who we think should be doing some work in that space.
- When asked about capability we spoke about the ‘stamina of designers’ (yes @DominicCampbell we used your name in vain) to make change, and stated that we weren’t a ‘change management consultancy’. Further to our point about organisational design above, we do actually think we change organisations and leave lasting legacies for the staff. We don’t necessarily get engaged as ‘change managers’ but we do (and know) that to affect change at all levels is inherent in making service design stick.
Things we shouldn’t have done:
- Driven! As always with Justin it’s a long story but next time he promises his Nanna that he’ll deliver some boxes of relics to a Melbourne brotherhood he shouldn’t do it on a Friday night and then have to drive back to Canberra because he needs to be at his son’s soccer game the next morning because his wife is away for the weekend with her mates (see, it’s a long story)
- Eaten everything in the goodybag in one hit after drinks at the Spice Bar and then Lot7 (but Mel’s a risk taker – it’s how she rolls).