Posts tagged ‘futuregov’


Back in March, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) publicly announced the launch of the Patchwork pilot, led by the UK-based digital public service design company FutureGov with a consortium of local councils. The focus for the pilot was in the Maternity and Child Health (M&CH) sector.

Patchwork is a simple and powerful person-centred, self-directed tool for connecting a practitioners with practitioners. It’s a thin layer that takes the ‘detective work’ out of practitioners finding, locating, chasing up different parts of a client’s network.

As part of the engagement MAV also asked FutureGov to take a service design view exploring what frontline service delivery might look like into the future and how that might be supported by technology. This was where we came in, taking that specific look at Maternal and Child Health Services, mapping out where technology and service change could help a rethink in how M&CH practitioners are supported to do their job.

Four months on and here’s an update on the Patchwork Pilot from Kirsty Elderton, Patchwork Project Lead.

For our part, what follows is a snapshot of the service design experience we shared with the Councils.


Describing a service that can be designed

We set about undertaking a rapid service design process going deep with one Council – Wyndham City – and workshopping, prototyping and iterating opportunities with a range of Councils and the expertise of FutureGov; the usual service design stuff:

  1. Getting the intent right with the people we’d be working with – effectively conscripting Wyndham Council nurses, managers and administrators as part of the design team.
  2. Doing background research into what everybody said about the service or how they think things are supposed to work.
  3. Researching in the field with all the people involved in different aspects – from the frontline Enhanced and Universal nurses in their MCH Centres, and the so-called “Administrators” (who we discovered were really “Practice Managers”) in the back rooms answering the phones and navigating incompatible systems, to the managers and executives who make the decisions and manage a bigger business than just MC&H. All of whom we found to be passionate, engaged and engaging, and excited to be part of a different kind of conversation about the service.
  4. Analysing and synthesising all we’d found to get ready for workshopping and prototyping with more councils in Melbourne. In the workshop we were able to explore the service as a whole to see if what we heard matched what they experienced. We validated the different users we saw emerging and prototyped different service components to explore how Nurses and Managers would actually use solutions based on what they actually needed (beyond what they said they wanted, or thought they wanted).
  5. Finally, researching and matching possible technology solutions that would improve the service. This included working with FutureGov expertise to flesh out the possibilities from a UK-based view.


The end result was a comprehensive service design for a future service improved and supported by technology enablers. We delivered:

  • SD Aims

    Principles to guide decision-making

    Current State experience map that illustrated the insights and themes that emerged from field research and workshops.

  • A future state service system map and view of the future system from the perspective of future users.
  • Typologies of the key MCH and service systems users:
    • Carers – be they mother, father or other family
    • MCH Nurses from Universal to Enhanced
    • State Departments
    • State Councils
    • MCH Administrators and Co-ordinators
    • Associated Service Providers, GPs and Practice Nurses
  • Principles that could guide technology enabler decision-making for improving outcomes for children and families.
  • 17 technology enablers, including features and benefit that might help make things more efficient now (6-12 months) or improve service into the future (12 months to 2 years).


Where it’s all at now

A review of the MC&H service has been underway since April 2013 and we were able to present our findings to the Review Team and State Department representatives.

It was great that one of the key things that resonated with practitioners and Council managers in the workshops and as we presented back to Wyndham and MAV also resonated with those conducting the review. That is, user typologies – the description of the people in the system described based on what they’re trying to achieve, the role they play, and what kind of future experience would support them.

We believe strongly – from client and user feedback, and from our own philosophy on service design – that the typologies are the cornerstone of any service design. That is because services are designed for people using them.

We’d like to thank the wonderful people involved in the project that we’ve been involved in since November 2011:

  • MAV
  • Wyndham City Council
  • City of Melbourne
  • Brimbank City Council
  • Yarra City Council staff
  • Kingston City Council
  • And of course, FutureGov, and especially Kirsty Elderton the Patchwork Lead.

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FutureGov is a UK-based social innovation and change Agency that we’ve been following and been friends with for a while now. After catching up with Dominic Campbell on one of his trips to Oz in 2011 we discovered a shared approach and goals, even if our technical disciplines were quite different.

So we’re pretty excited about the public announcement of the global expansion of one of their key innovation products, Patchwork, to be piloted in Victoria, and our role as FutureGov’s design partners on the project.

Working with the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and a consortium of local councils, we will be supporting FutureGov and Patchwork as they seek to transform the way governments interact with vulnerable families in maternal and child health (M&CH), and youth services through this pilot. One of key areas of our focus in the collaboration will be mapping out where technology and service change could help a rethink in how M&CH practitioners are supported to do their job.

We have had a long personal and professional interest in the vulnerable families and children space – including working with the ACT Public and Child Advocate as far back as 2008. At a time when Governments can think the solution to better client care is to implement large enterprise systems, we can’t wait to see how the pilot of this eloquent technical solution, founded in a service approach, will fundamentally and quickly help practitioners in the space and in the end, support vulnerable families and children themselves.

So thanks for having us on board Dom, Kirsty and the Patchwork team – we can’t wait!

You can keep up to date with the pilot progress at the Patchwork blog.

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Thursday saw the start of something big (we hope) for Canberra – the launch of a local edition of Service Design Think and Drinks Australia, presented by Service Designing Australia.

Service Designing Australia is coordinated by Damian Kernahan and Suze Ingram and is a home for information about service design community events in Australia. The get-together we had was part of a series of informal events the guys run for anyone interested in service design to meet up and share idea, stories and thoughts.

Damien from Proto Partners did a great job of gathering local service designers together (no mean feat from his Sydney base) and also bringing the author of ‘This is Service Design Thinking’ – Marc Stickdorn to town as a guest speaker.

We had an interesting mix of service design consultants (such as ourselves) and public servants from some key agencies at different stages of embedding design in some form.

Marc Stickdorn's book

We were also joined by Dominic Campbell from FutureGov who made it along after appearing earlier in the day at the Web 3.0 conference (and braved a trademark Justin Barrie mini-tour of Canberra in the family wagon).

The event was a pretty free-ranging couple of hours of conversation. Here’s some of Justin’s reflections:

• Service design, and designers in general should embrace other disciplines.

Marcus in particular was very strong (and I agree completely) on the fact that often designers can get defensive of their own discipline and as a result ignore the masses of knowledge that exists in others such as marketing, sociology and research. We should be looking to utilise, link with and collaborate with all of these professions.

• In Canberra we are a little obsessed with influence and hierarchy.

It’s really common for service design discussions in Canberra (due to the large amount of public sector design) to come around to design’s lack of influence over the hierarchy of Departments and Minister’s ‘not getting’ design. Firstly – I don’t buy the Minister line. Unlike Department Secretaries politicians actually have to face up to the public to get their job back and I’ve always found them to have an innate understanding of the importance of customer focused design (and service design).

In terms of the hierarchy issue I simply say, you can spend as long as you want trying to evangelise to senior bureaucrats or you can just make difference at a project level and not worry about it. I know which approach I prefer. And if you get it right people at all levels will listen!

• Designers aren’t resilient enough to force change.

This was a reflection from Dominic on the difference between Change Managers (which he identifies himself as) and Designers. He bravely opined that very few designers have the resilience to force change and revert to an ‘if it’s not perfect it can’t work’ position (my words not his).

This was a interesting take on the discipline, particularly as we had been discussing iteration and collaboration as designer strengths, but in some ways I agree with him. Of course if depends a lot on personality and clearly there are some amazing designers who support and drive change but I think Dom is right that some designers can be guilty of wanting ‘the perfect methodology’, or ‘the perfect design outcome’ and this simply doesn’t reflect the reality of the operating environments of our clients and ourselves.

It also reinforced for me the point about needing to collaborate with a range of disciplines to deliver quality service design outcomes, which is exactly what we set out to do at DMA.

As well as these larger points of reflection, I’d also add these highlights as things I will definitely follow up:

• The use of ‘investigative rehearsal’ as a technique to discuss the heart of a design ‘problem’ sounds fascinating
• The discussion of linking with Universities in Canberra for Service Design networks is very much worth following up
• The discussion once again proved to me, through the examples people gave, that visualisation is a key tool to quickly engage decision makers
• The fact that Marc sees Asia and the Asia Pacific as the real growth market for service design and pointed out Korea as a nation getting it right (time to do some market research)

It was also a highlight seeing a visiting Brit and Austrian seeing their first ever ‘cook your own steak’ indoor bbq ;)

So – some challenging conversation and lots of things to think about. From that point of view, the drinks served their purpose and then some.

Thanks again to the organisers and particularly Marc for leading of the discussion. Looking forward to the next one!

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