I recently presented this talk and a paper at the European Academy of Design 10 Crafting the Future Conference in Sweden.
I recently presented this talk and a paper at the European Academy of Design 10 Crafting the Future Conference in Sweden.
I recently presented this talk and a paper at the European Academy of Design 10 Crafting the Future Conference in Sweden.
Hey Hey (Swedish for Hi)!
I write this post from an airport in Gotenburg in Sweden where I have just spent the last few days at a conference called Crafting the Future held by the European Academy of Design. Here I learnt a lot about the topic of sustainability and fashion from academics Dr. Kate Fletcher and Professor Simonetta Carbonaro from Milan. These talks have led me to rethink my own shopping behaviour and I wanted to share some of their sentiments with you.
Sustainability is a complex issue. Sustainability and fashion together is extremely complex. Whilst many brands pull the green / sustainability / eco card – what does that really mean? Does this approach to sustainability have enough impact? There is an inherent paradox in the term “sustainable fashion”. If you think about it, how can any brand that wants us to buy more stuff be truly sustainable. Eco-alternatives may offer products with a smaller ecological foot-print but they still promote consumption. Are the business models and economic paradigms of the fashion industry more problematic than their manufacturing and distribution processes? The key issue with sustainability and fashion is quite simply that of mass consumption and as Kate and Simonetta both articulately argued at the conference – the problem is not a tactical or technical one but a political one. Where globalisation has spread consumerism to the far reaches of the planet, consumption is a huge and growing problem.
Some symptoms of this complex and wicked problem have been summarised below:
In order to understand the relationship between sustainability and fashion it is first important to recognise fashion as an economic and political system. The fashion industry has made us value ‘cheap, fast and good’ clothing. The mechanism for growth is for consumers to buy more, hence the ‘going out of fashion’ idea. This idea is also discussed as ‘fast fashion’.
Kate argued that we are so focussed on the short-term that we forget about the long-term and we need to understand that instant gratification through consumption is having long-term consequences for current and future generations. We need to take responsibility for our role within this political system as consumers and understand the long-term consequences of our purchasing decisions.
Both Simonetta and Kate stressed that new economic systems will bring sustainability to fashion. They both discussed a growing trend of craft- based design and DIY fashion which extend the value of fashion to something that is enduring and personal and not throw away. Simonetta stated “the era of fashion that goes ‘out of fashion’ is finished”. We are (hopefully) on the dawn of a new system for fashion.
Below I have shared a few contemporary fashion labels/sites with interesting business models/systems.
> Patagonia : are very transparent about their supply chain and foot-print and encourage the lowering of consumption through their Common Threads Inititaive. They are probably the first organisation who encourage consumers to buy less through advertising.
> IOU Project : A wonderful site where you can read profiles about the artisans who make your clothes. Ethical and sustainable fashion with an interesting business model. It’s a social site through which they have built a community around their brand, also giving their clothing a unique and human face.
> Etsy : A site where people can make clothing and accessories and sell them to the public. It’s full of unique, niche, non-mass produced craft based products.
> Made In Jail : is an Italian fashion label that is manufactured by people in prison. These garments have a “uniform” style and you can be assured that they have been locally produced.
> DIY fashion movements : there are lots of DIY fashion blogs where people make and shape their current wardrobe. For example, Local Wisdom is a digital platform project by Kate Fletcher exploring the ‘craft of use’ where people can share their stories about the craft of use with different sites for different countries.
> Filipa – K : is about a belief in the quality and timelessness of their designs as they buy their products back for resale.
Now some questions …
After reading this post I urge you to consider some questions. Please try to remember these questions next time you “need” something new.
> Can fashion be a driver for a better future?
> Can we create maximum value for as many people as possible through our purchasing decisions? How?
I urge you to stop out-sourcing your responsibility and start being conscious about the long-term impacts of your consumption. Get rid of your “single-use” mentality and start being creative. Can that item you want to throw out be re-purposed for something else?
The fashion train is evolving. Round up your friends, sisters and brothers … and jump on board!
My friend of Miriam Hechtman has started a new site Wonder Women Sydney . She asked me to write an article for it about design relating to the theme of women. I wrote about Patricia Moore who is one of my design heroes. The article can be found below:
Design Pioneer: Patricia Moore – Mother of Universal Design
Patricia (Pattie) Moore is a pioneering female designer, gerontologist (social scientist of the aging), author, educator and design thought leader. Pattie has been named by ID magazine as one of the 40 Most Socially Conscious Designers in the world. In 2000 she was selected by a consortium of news editors and organizations as one of the 100 Most Important Women in America. Syracuse University has selected Moore for a 2012 Honorary Doctorate for serving as a “guiding force for a more humane and livable world, blazing a path for inclusiveness, as a true leader in the movement of Universal Design.”
You could easily thank Pattie for many well designed products such as OXO Smart-Grip potato peelers that feel comfy in the hands of both kids and grandparents. But you should more importantly thank her for her contribution to Universal Design which is an approach to design that considers every ability, age and walk of life. Whilst Pattie is considered a founding mother of Universal Design this approach to design is also known as Inclusive Design . Pattie’s early experiences, which fuelled her passion for Universal Design, is an interesting story.
During the 1970’s, Pattie worked as an industrial designer at the internationally renowned Raymond Loewy design office in New York. It may sound strange to us today but at the time she was the only female designer there. Product design was then largely concerned with designing for caucasian, upper middle class “average users”, with 2.3 children. Have you seen a 0.3 child? Does an “average user” have one breast and one ball? At work Pattie would often challenge her colleagues as to how people with arthritis would use certain products and they would respond, “we don’t design for those people!”.
Frustrated by this attitude, Pattie sought to explore what it really felt like to be old in order to design products that are suitable for everyone including the elderly. Where in the design world we talk a lot about the need for designers to have empathy for the people they design for, this approach is taking empathic research to the extreme.
During 1979-1982, a twenty something year-old Pattie dressed up as an elderly woman wearing her grandmother’s clothes, uncomfortable shoes she made that she had difficulty walking in, plugs for her ears to distort her hearing, and thick glasses that significantly distorted her vision. During this three year period she travelled to 116 cities in America and Canada and pretended to be an 80 year old. With her body altered to simulate the normal sensory changes associated with ageing, she was able to respond to people, products, and environments as an elder. She created nine different personas which she would rotate, including a homeless woman and a very wealthy woman in order to reflect on how other aspects influenced her experiences. With the use of canes, walkers and a wheelchair, she was also able to approximate different levels of reduced mobility. Pattie was dismayed at some of the treatment she received, including being attacked by a gang that left permanent injuries including her not being able to have children. This experience helped her to intimately understand how difficult the world was to negotiate as an elder.
Pattie has published several book chapters on Universal Design and in 1980 she set up her own design firm which specialises in developing new products for senior citizens. These days Pattie works on designing health and housing solutions for the ageing as well as inspiring young designers to come to understand the potential of design through university collaborations. In a recent interview by the California College of the Arts, Pattie discusses the power of design.
“Design has morphed into the cornerstone of equity, culture, and socialisation. It’s about bringing resources to people who don’t have them …..The power of design is to look at each individual, their home, their community, and the infinite small things that make for success or failure of interaction in those realms….”
The paper is related to the work I have been doing for my masters thesis. It’s a practice-based research project about my use of artefacts within a commercial human centred design project.
The article is called : Reflecting on Service Design, Frameworks, and the Service Organization
I recently had an article published in the Fall issue of MISC Magazine | The Simplicity Issue called
Delivering Simplicity: Organizational Contexts and Service Design
My article is on page 52 and can be viewed as a PDF
There are some good articles in the magazine which you can read online or get at stores.
Here is a copy of an essay I recently write for a publication.
Scaffolding Innovation Through Design Artefacts
This short essay will reflect learnings from a case-study I am working on as part of my masters research. My thesis constitutes a practice-based research project about a specific human-centered design project for a large company which I worked on as an independent consultant. My research seeks to explore the potential for design artefacts (that is visual representations and models used within the process of design) for enabling cross-disciplinary collaboration, conversation and empathy for customers amongst diverse internal audience groups in order to enable innovation within the organisation.
Businesses and governments are turning to design as a way to facilitate sustainable economic, social and environmental innovation globally. Strategic design consultancies are popping up all over the world to help organisations innovate through design and the popular business press is reflecting this trend with an increasing number of related publications. There is an increasing demand for design professionals to fulfill an increasing number of emergent design roles such as that of the service designer, the design strategist and the experience designer to cater for this demand for strategic design capability. There is also growing discussion about customer-centricity, customer-experience, design-led innovation and human-centred design practices in both business and design publications and blogs.
In 1969 Simon put forward the notion that design is a process of transforming actual situations into preferred ones; and innovation, or rather the generation of novelty, is considered an inherent aspect of the profession of design (Lawson, 2006). Innovation is a powerful shaping force for both the history and the future of human-kind. Essentially, innovation is concerned with change and in our current economic and environmental landscape many are putting forward the notion that, to borrow Tim Brown’s words, we need “change by design” (Brown 2009). Innovation involves continuous and iterative change and requires on-going conversation and collaboration between multiple people with divergent perspectives, mental-models, motivations and affiliations. Innovation rests on ideas and their execution, both of which depend on people.
Designers can help to scaffold innovation through mediating cross-disciplinary conversation and collaboration through the provision of well designed artefacts. A ‘scaffold’ can be defined as:
“A temporary platform, either supported from below or suspended from above, on which workers sit or stand when performing tasks at heights above the ground.” - The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2000)
The term ‘scaffolding’ is used in the title of this essay as it refers to organisational members being enabled to undertake work related tasks in order to create tangible structures. This paper will put forward the view that designers can help to scaffold innovation through the delivery of consciously crafted design artefacts which can be used by staff members to enable and facilitate service improvement initiatives i.e. incremental innovation (“doing better than what we already do” – Norman & Verganti 2012, p. 5).
Design is a social practice which can be described as an individual activity that takes place with-in a social context (e.g. Bucchiarelli 1994). Designers need to build consensus amongst a number of stakeholders and act as facilitators within the context of design-led innovation initiatives. Senge (1990) maintains that innovation stems from the ‘creative tension’ between current realities and future possibilities. For innovation to occur, future possibilities which compliment the values of its participants (i.e. both internal staff as well as customers) need to be defined, articulated, and communicated. Artefacts can play an important role in communicating this design knowledge and helping to enable collaboration and conversation across business units, which is extremely important given the notion that innovation stems from collaboration and knowledge sharing across organisational boundaries (Fagerberg, Mowery, & Nelson, 2005).
Design artefacts can be considered as mediating devices that can inform innovation initiatives within the organisation in various ways. These include; the provision of models and frameworks for collaboration and conversation between members of different functional groups within the organisation; as mechanisms to bring the perspective of the customer into the organisation; as well as the provision of visualisations that make complex non-tangible systems and services seem more tangible and discussable. By considering the environment in which a design artefact functions, its purpose and its qualities, artefacts can be created by designers to support and scaffold the innovation efforts of individuals and groups within organisational settings.
Where innovation is reliant on people and their ability to converse, collaborate and share knowledge and ideas, designers should consciously design their artefacts in ways that can effectively support these activities within organisations. A real opportunity exists for designers to help facilitate and support innovation initiatives within organisational contexts through the delivery of consciously crafted design artefacts.
Brown, T., 2009, Change by design: how design thinking transforms organisations inspires innovation, Harper Collins NY, USA.
Bucciarelli, L.L. 1994, Designing Engineers, MIT Press Cambridge MA, USA.
Fagerberg, J., Mowery, D.C., & Nelson, R.R(eds) 2005, The Oxford Handbook of Innovation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
Lawson, B. R. 1990, How Designers Think, Butterworth Architecture, London,UK.
Norman, D. A., & Verganti, R. 2012, “Incremental and Radical Innovation: Design Research Versus Technology and Meaning Change” Accessed on 3rd May at 6:30pm at http://precipice-design.intuitwebsites.com/Norman___Verganti__Design_Research___Innovation-18_Mar_2012.pdf
Senge, P, 1990, The Fifth Discipline, Doubleday, NY, USA.
I thought I would share a few of the notes I took at his talk:
> creativity comes from communities that share a cause i.e. passionate communities that both share and compete creating better ideas together.
> creativity is about combining things in new ways not brand new things
> it comes from looking at things in new ways (from the view of your service recipients!)
> Frustration feeds innovation when it is combined with hope ie hope for something better, innovators encourage and respond to frustration and respond with hope and opportunity.
> Keep the jargon out of conversations about innovation as it can be very alienating.
> 5 P’s of Public Service Innovation
+ PRODUCT : What is your product exactly? are you trying to find people jobs or improving their employability?
+ PRODUCTION : How is it produced? You need to think about things in relationship to their entire life-span.
+ PLACE : Where does it happen? Can it happen in a place you wouldn’t expect it to happen?
+ PEOPLE: Who produces it? Is it co-produced? How?
+ PAYMENT : Can it utilise a new business model? Get the people interested in the financial side involved as early as you can – dont leave them last.
> Scaling innovation – start in stealth – be ready to fail and lern and iterate. – ‘launch to learn’
> Build metrics into your innovation program from the start and make sure you have a base line of the before state.
> THE ENEMY OF INNOVATION IS COMPLACENCY!
I delivered my final deliverables and a presentation to a national audience via video conferencing last week at work. It seems that these were extremely well received by the organisation. This positive reception was good for the visibility of my UX team and the work we do, good for the user group this work was representing and the possibility of them getting an improved experience with the organisation, and good for members of the organisation who now had some new artefacts to help them fight the good fight for the customer and attain the funding required to execute on the recommendations.
This had an additional significant importance for me. It confirmed my hypothesis about the opportunity that well designed artefacts reflecting user research can bring to commercial organisations who are trying to enable customer-centred thinking, dialogue and decision making. Stay tuned for more of this type of talk as I get more of my thesis written.
Also, I am really excited that an article I wrote for the forthcoming issue on collaboration in the Design Management Review Journal will be in print in June. The article discusses how I see the role of service designers when interfacing with commercial organisations as consultants and the importance of their delivering of frameworks and discourse to help facilitate collaboration and customer-centred thinking within organisations. I will post this article once it has been published. There is a bit more to it than that.
I am really looking forward to the next few weeks of reflective thinking about my practice, thesis writing and beginning interviews with UX and Service Design practitioners about their artefacts. I am also looking forward to more activity on this blog!
As part of a recent work assignment I was asked to do some contextual enquiry (interviews with stake-holders with-in their work environments) and was able to talk my client into letting me run some group co-design workshops instead.
The project was to produce a high level design for an online portal for financial planners to manage their policies by a large financial organization.
I spent a few days in Victoria traveling around to different financial planners of different sizes. From large groups spanning over many floors in the centre of the city to beach side offices with around 7 staff.
I ran some basic collaborative exercises with these planners and was able to extract information about how the existing portal doesn’t work for them in their current work flow, as well as some interesting ways they have developed to work around their issues. This was a good illustration of the fact that as designers we need to understand the work-flows of the users of the systems we are designing i.e. how it fits into the bigger context of their work, as well as the fact that users may not use the systems in the way that we think they will. Understanding context is such an important part of technology design particularly within the work-place.
For this project I ran a collaborative wire-framing exercise where I supplied web widgets e.g. Text fields, panels, images, blocks of text etc as made out of post-it notes and let the users design their own pages. I love using 3d objects for these types of activities. We use a certain % of our brains to manipulate these prototyping objects which allows us to be more creative and less analytical. The tactile quality of this type of activity is also engaging as it’s fun!
It was really interesting to see the similarities between the different groups designs. What was most interesting was the fact that all the financial advisors seemed to have a consistent mental model about their work which was not supported by the current systems logic. Instead of basing the systems work-flow on distinct policies, the planners organized their information and thinking around people as the central and linking object ie the owners of the policies. This fundamental difference in thinking was the reason why their experience with the current system was so poor. Through this exercise I was able to communicate to my client an alternative way of presenting and linking the sites information and functionality. I also had some wire-frames made by the users of the system to support my own design concept.
There was another benefit to these workshops as well. A less tangible benefit but extremely important. Playing the audio back to my client in the final presentation was gold! The planners were so chuffed to be able to assist with this project and it reflected so positively on my clients brand.
One of my workshop attendees stated:
“The fact that they are consulting us before the fact rather than after the fact is so good. Usually they show us stuff after its built and it’ too late to change anything much.”
“This is a true business to business relationship it’s a partnership not a master-slave one like it usually is. We are partners. They help us grow our business and thier business grows too”
Co-design methods can facilitate an important benefit of buy-in. When you ask people to help you design a solution it becomes “our solution” rather than “your solution” i.e. the solution that you are going to enforce on me. Co-design comes from an emancipatory sentiment where it was introduced in Scandinavian countries in the work-place during the 70s when businesses began making staff utilize computer based systems within the work-place.
This ides of buy-in becomes even more important within the context of service design where the customer experience is delivered by each one of the staff. Isn’t it important that people feel connected to the service experience and brand promise that they are meant to deliver to your client through each and every interaction?
I feel very fortunate about attending a 3 day workshop with Marc Stickdorn co-author of This is Service Design Thinking over the last few days. It was organised by UNSW and consisted of a really interesting mix of people from diverse backgrounds including students, academics, professionals and UX/Service Design practitioners.
1. Why You Should Care About Service Design
Some supporting literature
a. Experience Economy by Pine & Gilmore 1999
b. Service Dominant Logic - Vargo, S. and R. Lusch (2004), “Evolving to a new dominant logic in Marketing,” /Journal of Marketing, /68, 1-17
c. The rise of Social Media: trust in peers more than trust in organisations.
2. The Workshop Format
Marc made us work but it was fun so it didn’t feel like work! We broke into groups and over three days used various service design tools to design a new service or solve a business problem. It was really great to learn new methods by doing. His process is really experiential and I do not believe that you can really learn it without doing it. It was great to do the activities and then reflect on them afterwards on a meta-level in order for us to experience the process as well as better understand how to facilitate these methods.
3. The Process & Learnings
3.1 Do! Don’t talk.
Marc gave us a really short amount of time to do things so we could not talk about it but had to jump straight in and do it. We created lots of “shitty first drafts” which we could then refine. This proto-typing method enabled the free flow of ideas – both shitty and not shitty. We started the day off creating a very shitty first draft of a new service in 5 minutes – so we got failure or the fear of it out of the way early on in the day.
3.2 What workshops are really about…
Workshops are about getting people who usually don’t talk to talk. They are about creating empathy with the customer within cross-disciplinary teams and about seeing things from multiple perspectives. Services are complex and co-created by many different actors over time. These workshops enable an understanding of this complexity, and it’s associated relationships, dependencies, value chains and power structures. All of which play important roles in customer experience and service delivery.
Some of the exercises that we did in our groups included. These can all be found in the This is Service Design Thinking book.