This page is intended to provide an overview of my work as a Service Designer and includes examples of key Service Design projects which I have either lead or supported, as well as articles I have written, and presentations and keynote speeches that I have given on the subject of Service Design and Design Thinking. My portfolio is therefore not intended to represent an inclusive collection of my work, but rather provide an indicative view of my Service Design experience, expertise and thinking.
Project: Speculative Prototyping
Sector: Social Innovation
Role: Tool Designer
Design Brief: In 2016, I designed a workshop tool to help local public service leaders start to think about what the medium to long-term future might look like. I’d been giving a lot of thought to how new technology could shape the way that citizens interact with public services and what the relationships might look like between the public sector and private sector, specifically the tech industry, in 10, 25 or 50+ years’ time? To provide some inspiration and provoke a conversation I created a short welcome to the 2060’s. The tool was essentially a table of potential futures categorised as either political, environmental, social or technological. I really enjoyed taking some time out to future-gaze towards the 2060s, but following the session, I reflected on the tool and decided that it hadn’t worked that well. It needed iteration. The future needed to be more tangible.
What I did: I was inspired to iterate my workshop tool after I watched an Aspen Ideas Festival lecture by Jane McGonigal entitled ‘The Future of Imagination’ and a TED Talk given by Anab Jain entitled ‘Why We Need to Imagine Different Futures’. In her lecture, Anab explains how through her speculative design projects she is able to bring the future to life in order to create experiences that people can touch, see and feel the potential of the world we’re creating. I decided to create some visual prototypes based on my original table of potential futures.
Outcomes: The tool is not intended to help people design a service for 2060, but moreover as a way of opening people up to creative thinking activity. My intention is articulated perfectly in the way that Anab Jain describes her own work – “this work isn’t about making predictions, it’s about creating tools; tools that help to connect our present and future selves, so that we can be active participants in creating a future we want”.
If you would like to use this tool please feel free – I would love to hear your feedback.
Visuals: The full set of posters can be found here.
Related Blog Posts:
Tool application – Design Fiction: A tool for visualising possible futures – March 2018
Tool visuals – Speculative Prototyping – June 2016
Tool inspiration – Design for the future public sector – April 2014
Project: Introduction to Design Thinking Training
Sector: Public Sector Innovation
Role: Training Package Designer & Training Package Delivery (Lead Mentor)
Design Brief: I identified an opportunity to design and deliver a structured training course to introduce public sector staff to design thinking methodologies and toolkits. During my time working within the Business Design Team at Shropshire Council, I have worked on a range of diverse design and innovation projects alongside front-line workers and back office staff. As the challenges facing the public sector increase, hiring designers to work with teams is no longer enough – we need to create design-thinking organisations. The two-day Introduction to Design Thinking is part of a suite of tools which the Business Design Team use to help public sector staff to think differently about how to tackle the unique set of challenges that the public sector is currently facing.
What I did: I created a two-day training course based on the design framework and toolkit I developed alongside colleagues from the Business Design Team. I designed the training to combine theory with live practical activity in order to allow staff to experience key elements of the design process for themselves, such as brief writing, research planning, journey mapping, design synthesis, personas, ideation and prototyping. the theme for the fast paced training is one of ‘doing not talking’, giving participants the opportunity to practically apply some of the tools they are introduced to. This balance of theory and practical work means that the training can accommodate a range of different learning styles.
Over two-days, my colleague and I take small groups of people (10-15) who are often in their own words – excited, apprehensive and unsure to a point of being enthused, inspired and informed. PowerPoint slides are kept to a minimum as we coach and mentor participants through a user centred design methodology using real life examples and case studies from the Business Design Team portfolio.
During the training participants work through a live challenge which we set them. For example:
- How might we . . . Help our population to live healthier lives so they do not need to access services in the first place?
- How might we . . . Build community assets and social capital so communities have more resilience to support themselves?
Providing participants with a live challenge allows us to introduce them to design thinking whilst at the same time providing them with an opportunity to contribute towards an important part of public sector strategy.
Outcomes: Through the training the Business Design Team are able to build relationships with potential internal and external clients, help embed design thinking within the organisation, help staff to think about problems creatively and provide them with an opportunity to develop internal support networks. The training course has been included within Shropshire Council corporate training programme and runs at regular intervals throughout the year.
Feedback: Following the training participants are asked to leave feedback. This is what they have said:
“Intrigued about what the training would be/involve. Pleasantly surprised how interesting design thinking was. Various elements involved but struggled with the fast pace (reflector). Facilitators were great!” – Training participant, Local Authority.
“I enjoyed the training as it was completely different to anything I have done before. It has given me an insight into design thinking and has made me think outside of the box. It was a challenge to speak to pharmacists (research subjects), but it’s good to put yourself out of your comfort zone now and again!” – Training participant, Local Authority.
“Useful information gave me food for thought and doing user research was tough, but a brilliant exercise. Very fast paced (but we were warned to be fair)” – Training participant, Local Authority.
“Good introduction to Service Design” – Training participant, Local Authority.
“I found it really useful to take a fresh look at design of services section by section with a new set of people. Good fun. Thank you.” – Training participant, Local Authority.
“Well organised, hard challenges, but certainly has given food for thought. Team leaders excellent” – Training participant, Local Authority.
“Really good. Great to meet new people. Great resources to take away. Just need to find a job doing it now.” – Training participant, NHS Trust.
Visuals: I have selected some photos which show some of the tools, templates and materials I designed to support the training programme as well as provide a – Training Course Showcase.
Client: Shropshire Council
Sector: Social Innovation
Design Brief: I identified an opportunity to setup an innovation lab within a Council owned trading company in order to promote innovation (both internally and externally), incubate ideas, and create new services and products that help people in our communities to live well. The iLab works independently of, but alongside all departments, and provides a platform on which to build relationships with partners and communities in order to co-design innovative new solutions to challenging social issues.
What I did: I founded the iLab based on extensive research and professional insight. Following an initial pitch to the COO I was asked to develop the iLab, taking it from a concept to a live working department. I created the brand identity, a process framework, and a design methodology based upon the double diamond design model.
Outcomes: In 2015 iLab worked through 24 ideas, turning 8 into design challenges as diverse as looking at ways to support people with disabilities into employment, and creating a movement to combat work based sedentary behaviour through gamifying office based exercise. Through Social Design Drinks the iLab has raised the creative profile of both the Council and company, and through #LabBlab and the iLab Voyager Update has fostered social innovation and creativity both internally and externally. In 2016 the iLab is set to go from strength to strength. As well as working on several high profile design challenges with external partners, the iLab will continue to find solutions to challenging social issues by running events such as Service Jam Shrewsbury, promoting service design and design thinking, and raising the profile of both the Council and company in the process.
Visuals: Alongside the design framework and strategy I created a visual identity for the iLab including a set of lab logos, a colour palette and image library. I also designed a range of tools and resources to support lab activities. Here is a snap-shot of some of them – iLab Showcase.
Client: Shropshire Council
Sector: Social Care
Role: Design Lead
Design Brief: The design brief for this work was to look at ways in which the adult social care system could be improved in order to provide a better customer experience at a lower cost to the Council. The design brief was open enough to allow the project team to be as creative as they wanted to be; The Director of Adult Social Care gave us only one strict stipulation – stay legal!
What I did: I provided lead design direction as part of a three strong ip&e project support team, which also included a project manager and one other designer. As a project support team we embedded ourselves within a team of 5 front line practitioners who were hand picked by a lead practitioner who was herself personally appointed by the Director of Adult Social Care. Non of the practitioner team had managerial responsibility in their day to day roles as Social Workers and Social Work Assistants, and were all working in front-line services at the time of selection. The duration of the project was 13 weeks, starting with an immersive week of discovery which included stepping the practitioner team through light ethnography, contextual interviews, customer journey mapping and persona creation. During the second week of the project a focus was placed on forming the team, which included team building activity, workshops and a project branding exercise. I lead the branding activity which included defining a set of design principles as well as supporting the practitioner team to come up with a name and a visual identity for the work; this proved to be an important factor in consolidating team buy-in and laying the foundations for the design work that would follow. For the next eleven weeks I provided lead design direction as we moved the team though an iterative process of live prototyping. Taking inspiration from the ethnography conducted in week one, the practitioner team immediately discarded the 30+ page assessment form in favour of a human centred design approach which felt more like a conversation than an assessment. As a support team we provided constant reassurance to the practitioner team, facilitating daily reflection sessions, and supporting them to design and develop an entirely new approach to case management, which included a new 5 page alternative assessment and monitoring form. I lead the practitioner team through a one day coaching workshop in order to equip them with a new set of skills which supported the less transactional person centred approach we had designed together. The work of the project team was communicated to the client through regular catch-up meetings and weekly infographics, which I designed along with a range of other project documentation in-line with the overall visual brand.
Outcomes: The learning derived from the STEP project was a contributing factor in enabling Shropshire Council to reduce the per-head cost of adult social care for the over 65’s by 31% (1) whilst also being highlighted in a CQC (Care Quality Commission) report as the best performing council. (2)
Client: Shropshire Council
Sector: Waste Management
Role: Service Designer
Design Brief: The design brief for this work was to work with our client to ensure that they were able to deliver on their key priorities to reduce the amount of household waste produced by residents, increase household recycling, and identify new sources of income from household waste materials.
What I did: I provided design direction as part of a three strong ip&e project support team, which also included a project manager and one other designer. We worked closely with our client and their waste contractor in order to gain a complete understanding of the existing end-to-end waste system and it’s various touchpoints. Through a series of workshops I was able to assist the project support team in engaging both the client and contractor in design thinking, leading to the formation of a strong working relationship with our client team. I provided design advise and guidance to the project support team, and contributed towards the creation of a research plan. Research took the form of contextual interviews undertaken alongside the client team with a self selected group of 25 residents, through which we were able to better understand customer behaviours and interactions with the waste services. We used interview transcripts and contextual photography in order to tell the user story and tease out key design insights. I lead the project team through a two day synthisis workshop which resulted in the creation of both an insights document and customer personas. We used our new found understanding of the practical barriers to recycling in order to design a 12 week prototype through which we were able to test two new waste collection services; the prototypes covered 200 homes and a range of different types of housing. Spending time building relationships with the people who lived in the streets that would be affected was a key factor in the success of the prototypes. The work of the project team was communicated to the client through weekly project meetings and infographics which I designed. At the end of the prototyping period the project team interviewed residents in order to gain qualitative story based feedback to compliment the wealth of quantitate data being fed back via our client’s waste contractor. I was able to use footage shot during these door step interviews to create a 10 minute vox pop video which we used to present our key learning points to senior managers.
Through the research we were able to highlight new insights which our clients were not already aware of, and were not included in guidance issued to Council’s by central government. Prototype results showed the potential for financial efficiencies, income generation and a better service for the customer, which included:
- Reduced waste to landfill by up to 30%
- Increased dry recycling by up to 37%
- Increased paper and cardboard recycling by up to 60%
- Glass and Metal recycling increased by up to 31%
- Recycling participation increased by up to 83% with those who had previously not recycled
Up to 50% of participants tried a new food collection service, which if scaled could equate to more than 11,000 tonnes of diverted food waste per year. A new county-wide service based on learning derived from the prototypes is planned to be launched soon.
Cardboard to be collected as part of new improved kerbside collection service – Shropshire Council Newsroom
Project: Mi Liverpool
Sector: Social Care / Health & Wellbeing
Role: Service Designer
Design Brief: This project was undertaken in partnership with PSS and Edge Hill University. The design brief was to provide Social Care students with the guidance and tools they needed to work analytically and creatively with communities in Liverpool – creating and testing new and exciting ways of supporting communities through social work.
What I did: My colleague and I took on a joint design role facilitating a design process that allowed students to form radical and innovative ideas to tackle social care issues. The project was design-led with a clear user centred focus ensuring that the students always considered what would work for the communities and those who would have to deliver the new services. Through the use of ethnographic style research techniques, as well as tools such as customer journey mapping, story boarding and persona creation, we helped the students to understand the real lives of the people we spoke to. As working with partners and community members can be difficult to plan and schedule we adopted a flexible approach to project management and delivery, whilst also planning ahead in order to make it as easy as possible for participants in terms of locations, timings, activities and accessibility. Throughout the project we helped the students to think about the use of technology in social care as well as introducing them to the wider concepts of social innovation. Our approach helped the students to change their thinking and prototype new ways of working.
Project: Service Jam Shrewsbury
Client: None (independent event)
Sector: Social Innovation
Role: Founder / Lead Coach
Design Brief: Why should the big cities have all of the fun? I identified an opportunity to bring Global Service Jam to Shropshire and set about organising an inaugural event, hosted by iLab. The objective of running the event was to generate interest for service design in Shropshire, increase the iLab network and start a self sustaining movement that could help to improve life for local people and our communities.
What I did: Service jams are the same as a musical jam, except instead of musicians coming together to have a good time, challenge themselves, learn new skills, and meet new collaborators, it’s people interested in using design to improve services coming together to do all of the above as well as develop ideas that they would never have had on their own. In the same way as a musician doesn’t come to a jam to record an album, a service jam isn’t a start-up event; it isn’t designed to create a business or new service on Monday morning. Jams place a focus much earlier on in the innovation process. I organised the whole event from scratch, engaging with the global community via social media in order to obtain ideas and support where required. I was able to use the community basecamp site in order to secure a jam twinning with the event taking place in Ljubljana, Slovenia. In the run up to the jam I branded and advertised the event, using social media and links with the VCSA in order to generate interest and engage with existing networks and social movements. I created templates and materials which could be used by the jammers throughout the course of the event, and ran an introductory session on the Friday evening in order to welcome jammers to the weekend, and introduce them to service design and the global service jam. Throughout the course of the weekend I ran a program of events and activities and provided coaching support to delegates.
Outcomes: Around 2500 jammers participated in over 100 jams taking place in 39 countries simultaneously. Service Jam Shrewsbury was one of 12 happening in cities across the UK and provided the opportunity to show the UK, and the rest of the world just how passionate we are about Service Design and Innovation here in Shropshire. At the inaugural jam we were lucky enough to be joined by 7 jammers including two people from charity sector organisations, one from the NHS, and four connected to the iLab. The delegate group included three people who I had never met before. From a founders point of view it was fantastic to see groups of people with varying degrees of service design experience and expertise, working together, each bringing a different set of perspectives and skills to the work they were doing together. Over the course of the weekend the jammers worked hard on two very respectable challenges, looking at ‘how might we enable young people to access new opportunities and encourage them to experiment to grow self worth’? and ‘how might we help people to do a little bit for someone else every day in order to grow more inclusive communities’? The impact from the jam isn’t found in the challenges or ideas that were worked on over the weekend, but more over in the legacy that it leaves behind in the form of work that will be done in the coming months by individuals who attended the jam – be it back in their own organisations or as part of a new network or partnership that the jam helped to facilitate.
Visuals: I created a visual identity for Service Jam Shrewsbury including the Darwin logo and I designed a range of tools and resources to support jam activities. Here is a snap-shot of some of them – Service Jam Shrewsbury Showcase.
Project: The First Course
Client: PDR SPIDER-HACK 2013
Sector: Youth Employment Opportunities
Role: Service Designer
Design Brief: PDR and Cardiff Council ran the SPIDER-HACK event at Chapter in Cardiff as a part of the SPIDER Project (Supporting Public Service Innovation using Design in European Regions). Over two days I participated in the event, joining teams of young people, businesses, third sector organisations, Cardiff Council workers, designers and developers in order to design better ways for young people to make decisions about their future using existing data that Cardiff Council holds on the jobs market.
What I did: I worked as part of a multidisciplinary team of six which included a web developer, two graphic designers, a UX practitioner, and a front line youth worker. Over the course of 48 hours I was able to bring service design expertise to the group, ensuring a user centred design approach was adopted across all work. I designed a research plan which saw the team take to the streets in order to quickly gather research data from real people through the use of tools such as vox popping and short interviewing – both on and off camera. I supported the team to synthesise the research and illicit key insights which we used to design a prototype solution to help young people better understand their employment options at a much younger age; placing a focus on embracing and nurturing their aspirations, rather than tempering them. I took a lead role in the presentation of the final prototype, pitching our concept to a panel of industry experts.
Outcomes: The First Course was chosen as best design concept and won the hack. One of my team mates has since developed the concept further as part of his final year degree course.
Project: Emergency Ration Box
Sector: Health & Wellbeing
Role: Service Designer
Rational: When I set out my vision for the iLab a key purpose was to provide a space where staff could land ideas and hunches that they had developed through personal experience or which were informed by insights and knowledge gathered through their day-to-day work. Another purpose of the iLab is to promote innovation internally across all of the ip&e departments. Through our work within the field of adult social care, along with our own personal experiences, several of my colleagues and I had developed an interest in the health and wellbeing of carers. We had observed that in the immediate aftermath of an initial crisis, the life of a person that assumes the role of a carer is turned upside down as much, perhaps on occasion more so, than the person who needs care. We felt that whilst the interests of the cared for are kept paramount, the carer can sometimes find themselves overwhelmed and time limited, in some cases neglecting their own health and wellbeing needs, especially at meals times. We felt that this set a pattern which often continued as the carer/cared for relationship developed. Two colleagues working in sales and marketing had shown a keen interest in Service Design so this seemed like an ideal opportunity to test two iLab principles at the same time. We set up a mission team and set ourself the following design challenge: How can we design new ideas that enable people to make healthier food choices, who through a life changing event care for someone.
What I did: I provided service design and branding support as part of a five strong mission team comprising of two colleagues from sales and marketing and two other service designers. I helped the team to create a research plan consisting of taking consideration of existing personal insights, interviews with carers undertaken in a hospital setting, an interview with a community based staff nurse, and an analogous research activty. The derived insights enabled us to design a prototype which tested a hypothesis: Given a choice people will choose a healthy snack option over an unhealthy snack option if one is available to them. We created an Emergency Ration Box which was stocked with a range of healthy snacks including fruit, nuts, porridge and flapjacks. The idea was that an Emergency Ration Box would provide healthy snack options for busy people who were looking for a breakfast option, looking for a snack in between meals, or looking for something to grab before a meeting. An honesty box was provided for payments. The prototype was conducted within our own office environment alongside an existing self-serve tuck-shop offering chocolate and other unhealthy snacks. Whilst aware of the ethical issues around doing so we decided to introduce the Emergency Ration Box without informing our colleagues that it was part of our prototype. Several unhealthy snack boxes had been introduced recently so the validity of the new box didn’t raise any suspicion. I was responsible for branding the prototype and chose a name and visual identify which was inspired by rationing in WW2. The prototype ran for two weeks.
Outcomes: In terms of the first iLab purpose; the prototype provided valuable insights including when people snacked, what people choose to snack on, what attracted people to certain snacks, what stopped people making a healthy choice, and what motivated people to make a healthy choice. Overwhelmingly the prototype provided us with the knowledge that in this context at least, given the choice people would take a healthy option over an unhealthy option. Following the prototype we were able to draft a service blue print based on our proof of concept. At the time of writing this case study the iLab is currently seeking a health related partner to help progress the work. One idea is to scale the service by introducing Emergency Ration Boxes in Hospital waiting rooms. In terms of the second iLab purpose; two team members were guided through a service design process and were instrumental in the success of the project, helping the iLab to fulfil it’s objective of embedding design based problem solving across the organisation.
Article (quoted): Service Design Impact Report: Public Sector
Publisher: Service Design Network
Sector: Social Innovation
Synopsis: This impact report is based on a worldwide survey with public servants and service designers and on 17 interviews with thought leaders in the field. In this publication the Service Design Network collate the experiences of various international organisations and designers in order to understand more about how Service Design activity impacts on our society.
Article: Innovating from the Inside Out
Sector: Social Innovation
Synopsis: In my article for this edition of Touchpoint I reflect upon the journey I undertook as a founding member of Shropshire Council’s in-house Service Design Team; a journey which includes mainstreaming design thinking and creating a business design consultancy within the council’s wholly owned company ip&e Ltd.
Article (profiled): What is the best example of using service design in the public sector?
Publisher: Design Week
Sector: Public Sector
Synopsis: Ahead of the SPIDER – Service Design in Public Services Conference in January 2015 Design Week asked the key note speakers to provide examples of the best uses of service design in the public sector. I joined the other speakers and provided my thoughts.
Sector: Social Innovation
Synopsis: I join other service designers from across Europe to talk about the benefits and challenges of using service design within the public sector.
Sector: Social Innovation
Synopsis: In January 2015 I was invited to be a keynote speaker at the SPIDER – Service Design in Public Services Conference which was held at The Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. In the presentation my colleague and I introduced the case for using design in the public sector, and highlighted some of the success stories we have achieved as part of a Business Design Team working with Shropshire Council and Liverpool CCG. The SPIDER conference brought over 140 staff working within public services from across the UK and Europe together to share, debate and learn how design can make public services more innovative.