Archive for ‘Workshops’

November 29, 2008

Service design conference in Amsterdam: spolights and shadows

The first conference of the Service Design Network in Amsterdam is just ended. I found it very interesting, not just for the presentations, which, after all, were not memorable. But rather for the quantity and quality of contacts I had in this conference.

My general impression is that there is only one place where someone is really doing something on service design, UK. However there are many places where people THINK about service design, therefore experiment methodologies, add knowledge. It sounds like there is a huge potential to start a new kind of innovative activity, this potential is restricted by the lack of knowledge on service design on the companies and public administrations’ side, but the pressure for using this knowledge is becoming very high and sooner or later there will be an explosion of cases. The fact that there were so many companies, business associations (e.g. Confcommercio, the association of retailers in Italy) and government institutions (e.g. Erhverv og Byggestyrelse in Danmark) demonstrates that public perception of service design is increasing.

The panel on Scandinavian design, which was quite boring, anyway (I think it should have been organized differently, because the speakers had much more to say), suggested me another consideration: while in UK the professional profile of service designers is very well defined, in the other countries such profile is totally unknown. This is probably preventing business and government to think of service design as a resource, or to frame service design correctly. I’m aware, for instance, that the Danish government considers service design as a branch of the traditional Danish design, therefore assuming that traditional product designers will be able to solve the systemic complexity and the organizational issues related to the design of services.

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A methodological consideration: I’ve seen many projects in this conference: all of them used the same methods and the same terminology. The metaphor of the “journey” was new to me – I always preferred to use “scenarios” instead- however I discovered that almost everyone is using it. The homogeneity of the methodology could be a good sign, it may mean that we are somehow consolidating a tradition of working in this area. However I have my own doubts about what I’ve seen. I had the impression that service designers are learning very well how to involve users and stimulate participation and coproduction. I think the exercise proposed by ThinkPublic was very significant in this sense. However I’m wondering whether the metaphor of the “journey” is good enough to describe the systemic perspective of service design. When we have a journey we usually use some tools (unless we walk to Santiago de Compostela). We may use a train or a car or we may fly. My impression is that the focus on the journey casts the spotlight on the experience (and in fact a lot of works were coming from the experience and interaction design area), but leave the backoffice in the dark. Furthermore when we travel we intersect our journey with the journey of many other people: other customers, but also people who are supporting our journey. What about the journey of the flight assistant? And what about the journey of the air traffic controller, which we never meet during the journey?

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I would like to see some works that mixes the two perspectives of front and back office. It is also a matter of changing the scale of observation: a journey corresponds to the 1:200 scale in Architecture, whereas we need a 1:1 scale for certain types of interaction. I tried to work on this scale with Use Cases, but I had no chance to discuss this scale, because there were no cases in the conference discussing this.

In other words this conference was the reverse opposite  of what you read on service design on management and engineering books: whose books (see Ramaswamy, Hollins, Pugh and others) emphasise the organizational and functional aspects of product service systems; they do not organize services from the users’ point of view, but rather from the perspective of an organization. What I’ve seen in this conference is a focus on users, whereas the organization, or the mechanism that support users’ experience in a service, was possibly forgotten.  I should say, though, that this is what the conference showed and what it did not show, as in the normal activity of service designers I the functional and organisational issues of a service system are not ignored. Engine, for instance, presented an interesting case in the Kent city council, but only if you visit their website you discover that, beyond what they presented they also worked on a “service specification document“.  Perhaps showing and discussing this to the conference would have improved my (and not only mine) overall impression about the presentations in this conference.

Finally I had a fantastic idea from this workshop: I’m working on services and infrastructures for elderly people and I thought that there could be a lot of projects in this area. The one I’m most interested in is an exploration of Web 2.0 tools for ageing people. Is there anyone interested in working on this?

September 27, 2008

Final considerations on video sketching

At the end of the Ludinno worksop I would like to add some final considerations on how videos have been used in a user-centred design activity

ANALYSIS: Video has been used for analyse users in their own working/life environment (an example of this will be added soon).

INTERPRETATION: the videocard game has been used to interpret the video analysis together with users/clients and to identify direction for the concept development phase

CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT: instead of pencil and paper students have represented the concept by acting it. Here the process have been slowed down by the time spent in learning the video software and in planning the video, even for quick and dirty videos

TESTING HYPOTHESES: videos have been used to test users behaviour in special conditions

PROPOSING CRITICAL VIEWS ABOUT A CONCEPT: In those cases the use of the video emphasised emotional or social implications of certain concepts, thus proposing a discussion or opening a problematic perspective

PROVIDING NON VERBAL INSTRUCTIONS. This is the case of using videos instead of written or spoken communication, for users who are not able to understand them.

PROVIDING ADDITIONAL INFORMATION THAT CANNOT BE PROVIDED IN OTHER FORMS OF COMMUNICATION. Video are able to provide the emotional involvement of the spectator, creating empatic links between the designer and the user

…and, of course, videos have also been used for the PRESENTATION OF THE FINAL CONCEPT

September 20, 2008

Video Sketching

Video Sketching is a very effettive technique to support communication between designers and customers during the concept development process, rather than at the end. Here videos are used instead of paper and pencil sketches, to give customers and clients a clearer idea of the concept to develop. This technique may prove particularly useful in service design and in any cases in which users are involved in the co-production of value.

Instead of drawing sketches students are acting their ideas and recording them on videos.

Videos are used also for testing hypothesis and simulating behaviours.

Video sketching does not necessarily imply sophysticated video techniques,. Even stop motion techniques, using drawings or simple objects can give a very good idea of the concept.

Video Sketches of the workshop are available at the LUDINNO wiki. Any comment to the students is more than welcome and can help them improving their project

September 17, 2008

Video for User Driven Innovation

In this period I’m quite busy, working in the Ludinno workshop, a workshop on user driven innovation. The workshop is part of the project funded by the Nordic Innovation Centre (NICe).

The first week of this workshop was on using video to get information and involve users in the analytical part of the design process. Users have been observed, filmed in their own working/life context, and interviewed. At the end of the week students and companies (some of the companies were in fact organisations representing the users themselves) discussed the video and generated a patterns of relevant themes for the following design phase.

The second week is about developing a concept. However, unlike usual design processes, here paper and pens are banned. Students have to express and develop their concept through videos. They can use any kind of video technique (from stop motion to chroma key, from 3d animation to simulation using lego briks) and they must shoot videos until they define a concept that can be presented to the industry partners. On Friday they will discuss the video and the followin week they will have the chance to refine the concept in a final video.

May 6, 2008

Some interesting links on service design

I found some interesting links on service design, which I would like to share:

Erik Mohr proposes some thoughts on service design in his Blog. In his recent posts he also links to the podcasts of the recent “Emergence 07” conference on service design and to information on Carnegie Mellon’s work on service design. This page also include an interview to Dan Boyarksi, from Carnegie Mellon, on service design
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November 30, 2007

Lunch currier project

After quite a long time, here it is a (very partial) overview of what happened in the workshop:

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June 5, 2007

In those days (from 29.5 to 15.6) we are working on a workshop for the development of a new food delivery service that should provide meals to people working in the city centre. The service is promoted by Focus Folkeoplysning (the same people as Kafe Fair) and will employ people with low employment capability. The service represent a new way of interpreting activation policies for unemployed, and at the same time is an example on how design can contribute to social issues.

A Wiki for the workshop is available at the page http://conspect.de/aalborg/

February 27, 2007

Here you will find information material, discussions and any other material about the workshops I’m organising,such as:

Pune (22-25.3.2007)

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