At Open we identify and examine customer issues. At DNA we deliver on that thinking.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

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Service Design

Making organisations human – Addressing the Fragmentation of Organisations

In my previous two posts, I’ve been reflecting on my work over the years in the design of products, services, and organisational systems. I’ve called the overall effect of these design projects, “making organisations human.” I looked at the effect humanising an organisation has on its customers; that it breaks down the divide between ‘producers’ and ‘consumers’, helps organisations understand the exact value they offer customers, tracks changes in customer needs, and helps the organization prioritise internal project work in response.

In this post I’m going to focus on the effect of these design projects on those employed by an organisation, both in terms of how they can change the experience for their customers, and how it shapes their own role in the organisation.

There are various ways employees contribute to what the organisation offers, depending on the part they play in the production or delivery of the product or service. However, employees often come up with questions or ideas for improving the organisation – and its offer­ – that require access to multiple parts of the organisation to explore or test.

This is where things get difficult.

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Service Design

Does the poverty package have design merit?

"What government must do is put children and families at the centre and then organise services and interventions accordingly" says New Zealand's Finance Minister Bill English in regard to addressing poverty. Noel Brown questions whether the Budget does anything to address that statement and considers where design could play a role.

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Service Design

Public Sector Service Design in NZ.

DNA’s Chris Jackson is interviewed by the Service Design Network (SDN), an organisation headquartered at the International School of Design in Cologne, Germany. For their February 2015 'Insider' interview, they were keen to get Chris’s comments on how service design is doing, and how it is done in New Zealand.

As part of the interview, Chris elaborates on the challenges and barriers he’s experienced working in Government and in practice at DNA working for Public sector organisations looking to make progress against Result 10 and other drivers.

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Service Design

Stockholm Syndrome

DNA's Service Design Lead Chris Jackson was recently fortunate enough to attend the Service Design Global Conference in Stockholm. It was a great opportunity to dispel any personal FOMO Chris had, and a very valuable chance to locate the Service Design and CX practice at DNA amongst that of overseas studios. It was also very thought provoking when considering New Zealand’s place on the global stage, across Service Design in both public and private sector contexts.

What follows are Chris's four key outtakes from the conference.

 

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Design

The future of design in New Zealand

Recently I have posed this question – and now I think I have the answer – to what the New Zealand design community needs to focus on, and deliver to.

We have been an active contributor to and practitioner in New Zealand’s design and business communities for over 23 years. In that time we have seen a degree of evolution and maturation in the industry, and a growing need for and value recognised in what design is and what it can realise. However it's been too slow an evolution and too poor an adoption for the economy and many New Zealand businesses to have benefited to the degree required.

We believe that design, the thinking that fuels it and the values that underpin it are critical to New Zealand’s future. If we are to be a truly and wholly prosperous nation we need to overcome three large and interlinked challenges. 

We must:

  • Compete internationally to fund the social provision we became accustomed to in earlier, more prosperous times in spite of unhelpful age demographics
  • Maintain our prime asset; our environment asset in spite of climate change economic and population pressure
  • Build social cohesion in the face of galloping income inequality.

The challenges are significant, but they are not new. We cannot rely on luck, we should realise cost management can only ever get so far, understand the vagaries of market dynamics and appreciate the fast pace of socieltal, technological and economic change.

Design thinking brings the ability to solve current problems and forsee emerging issues. It allows testing, iteration, learning, collaboration and de-risking of products, services, business models and markets.

When these challenges are surmounted, we will see:

  • Our cities be vibrant, creative and supremely liveable spaces
  • Our wild spaces, mountains, rivers, forests, wetlands, oceans and coastlines be pristine, valued and thriving
  • Our productive land high yielding and sustainably managed
  • Our primary exports dominated by branded foods, clothing, hi-tech wool and timber products, neutraceuticals and furniture rather than logs, carcases, milk powder and fleeces
  • There will be dozens of Fisher and Paykel’s, dozens of Icebreaker's, dozens of Formway design’s, dozens of Xero’s, dozens of Gallagher’s – multitudes of companies succeeding at the top end of international markets
  • Our growth based on firm fundamentals not disasters, bubbles, consumption and debt
  • A well-funded health system serving everyone’s needs
  • Our schools actively equiping all to fully participate regardless of their background. Futures will no longer be determined by your school’s decile
  • Iwi will be prosperous and able to support Maori wellbeing
  • Immigrants will be welcome, integrated and contributing to the fullest rather than driving taxis and cleaning.

These will only happen when (amongst other things) design in all its forms has been intelligently, vigourously and holistically applied to most of our endeavours.

The companies and organisations that we see succeeding are the ones who have adopted and integrated design into their practices. The companies that have sustainable futures are the ones that are designing resilience, agility and value into everything they do. The companies that will unlock the most value and realise their full potential are the ones that put users first and use design to solve problems and unlock innovation.

Design is a powerful force when its understood, valued, applied with purpose and measured.

The future for design requires companies to actively explore it – and for designers to enable applying design to old and new problems in more flexible and inventive ways than ever.

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Service Design

Jamming with the Government

For the majority of people, the term “Service Jam” is a very foreign concept, and no, preserving fruit is not involved. I will attempt a quick explanation. To start with, a definition of service design is: “The application of human-centered design methods, tools and thinking to the creation, planning and organising of all the various people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service.” Add to this the idea of a jam, as in a bunch of musicians coming to together, riffing off each other and making music. What you get is a Service Jam – a gathering where people come to collaborate in a fast paced design session, working on service challenges and opportunities. Much like a music jam, these can be run for a number of different reasons, to create brand new service offerings, to solve some specific challenges, or just to learn. 

Jamming with the Government

Towards the end of last year a few of us from DNA had the opportunity to work with fellow Service and Experience Designers from government and other Public sector agencies to put on a two day Government Service Jam (Gov Jam), this being the second one we’ve run, the first prototype was earlier in the year. Right at the end of the second day a participant came up to me and said: “I can’t believe we came up with such a good idea, I mean I think this could actually work”. She was talking about the ingenious prototype solution she and her team had just made in under a day. This is something that I have seen time and time again. 

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Design

What a difference (a) design makes

Grenville Main September 2012

The Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ) should be applauded for adding the best effect award to the best programme.

We have lagged for a while - across town CAANZ have AXIS and have brought the Effies in to play (they are now a few years on and here to stay) - the MA and TVNZ have been focussing on outcomes and effect in their annual awards, and TUANZ and others have made the ROI of any given entry central to their recognition. These categories and awards programs have always been spot on when they have celebrated by asking "not what you can create, but what can creative do for your client".

The parallels around the world are the likes of AIGA and DBA in the UK (The Design Business Association) - both of these organizations are champions of effective design that is accountable, delivering both creatively and commercially.

Meanwhile we have too often been seen as just the colouring in guys. Don't get me wrong - there is value and merit in the craft of design delivery that we need to uphold and celebrate…but the 'Best's' have been a bastion of that alone for too long.

The industry has struggled to have top table conversations and be taken seriously by much of NZ business, and we have lagged as a contributor alongside the likes of NZTE's Better by Design programme. That said there are many smart design thinkers, and some very strong examples of effective design delivered annually - but to me this still signals the need for a growing determination by New Zealand design Inc (not just by the institute) to elevate the debate and highlight the success stories we have to prove the effectiveness of design for New Zealand business.

The best effect finalists represent a broad, deep and significant contribution to New Zealand business. Amongst the effects are moving primary produce up the value chain, revolutionising pest management, making people care about their power usage, deploying digital media inventively to enrich engagement whilst slashing costs.

The challenge for design has been to be taken seriously by business for many years. That imperative is all the greater in these constrained times. The effect of any activity is scrutinised in ROI terms. What we do is no longer commissioned because of what design is – but rather because of what design does.

For the record - this post was first published by Idealog - to see more of Grens ranting check out Idealog's design ruminations.

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Is 'below the line' simply a pejorative?

Noel Brown December 2011

I have been wondering for a while about the genesis of the term ‘above the line’ to describe mass media advertising – and its corollary, ‘below the line’, for everything else.

A little bit of online research hasn’t unearthed the source, other than to clarify its association with the same term used in financials. And that’s fascinating. In financial vernacular, the line separates where you make your money from where you spend it – and guess what – above the line is where you make money.

Business managers understand the difference between investments and costs, and what that means: maximise the return on the former and minimise the latter. It’s not absolute, but the things to invest in are mostly found above the line and the costs to minimise are found below it.

 

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Service Design

Like changing airplanes in mid-flight

Stephen Maskell November 2011

A client the other day used the analogy of changing airplanes in mid-flight to describe what service design is like for most businesses.

Imagine yourself flying along at 31,000 feet in a rather old aircraft that is getting a bit tatty around the edges – it smells a bit, rattles and shakes constantly, is not very fuel efficient and the food really sucks.

A brand new shiny, gleaming, fuel efficient and much more comfortable plane – representing what your business could and potentially should be – is flying right next to you. You really want to be on the that plane and not the one you are on.

It's easy to want to be on that other plane – the hard bit is transferring yourself and all your passenges (customers) while you are in mid-flight.

Through applying service design thinking it may be relatively easy to identify what needs to change with your business – the challenge still remains how you will make those changes especially when your business probably doesn't have the funding, resources, capability or time.

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Service Design

Mean What You Say, Say What You Mean

Increasingly we are seeing clients purporting to be this, that, and the other; all entwined in highly crafted/litigated value and corporate mission statements. The reality of gaining consensus from the populous for such things means ending up with generic statements that can be applied the world over: like ‘People focussed…’ or ‘Trusted…’ or ‘Integrity…’. Excuse me, but aren’t these baseline requirements of doing business today? Worse still are those that are bandying around words like ‘innovative…’, ‘responsive…’ or ‘genuine…’. By golly, you start putting these up, you’d better be prepared to be that. So, the danger is in being too vanilla in one sense, or over-promising in another. Finding an organisation’s true character, one that is expressed uniquely with a healthy dose of reality is a much harder game. You can run all the group sessions you want, but you’ve got to dig deep for the golden grains; the nuggets of irrefutable truth. They generally won’t come from the mouth of the CEO (or his wife), but from someone who’s doing the hard yards, like the call centre operator doing the graveyard shift. Time to tune into a bit of old-fashioned, fine-tuned listening.

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Service Design

Poverty is a design issue.

The design stories less told are those that don’t result in one of the artefacts we have come to associate with the design process – world beating products, engaging aps, powerful communications, alluring brands, stunning interiors or seductively simple customer experiences in retail. This artefact-less design approach is increasingly being labelled design thinking. In our view it is just the underpinnings of good artefact design applied to something a little more esoteric or intangible.

Late last year in an interesting sign of the times Treasury asked New Zealand at large what it thought government should do about the large numbers of New Zealanders trapped in poverty. At least two responses used design thinking to shape their replies. One was a workshop run by Thinkplace, organised by Auckland city mission and the Auckland council, the other was the Kiwi Gov Jam, a DNA, Thinkplace, Optimal and DIA result 10 session for government designers. 

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Service Design

Working at DNA is different.

‘Eating our own dogfood’ is DNA shorthand for practicing what we preach, and our business model gave us a real opportunity to do just that. Three years ago we applied the design thinking that is central to our approach to the very way we employed people and ran our business.

We rely on talent and the talent we need is rare.  Operating across many disciplines in two locations and serving the needs of a large client base whilst being still a small organisation, means there is often a miss-match between supply and demand – too few people and too much work or the opposite. 

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Service Design

Is Service Design sustainable?

A 2010 study by the University of Massachusetts found that although the production of a DVD had 78% more embodied energy than the same web-streamed movie, the latter had a carbon footprint almost double. 

Services are intangible things, increasingly pushed through digital channels, meaning the complexity and the effort required to deliver them often remains hidden. Which begs the question: Do we really understand the environmental impact of a service?

Industrial design is a discipline that has struggled with the environmental impact of its artifacts for many decades. It’s widely recognised that products should be environmentally friendly, yet the “the paradigm shift” to cradle-to-cradle remains a distant mirage.

 

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Service Design

Great jam, pity about the sandwiches.

Over two days in July, 30 plus people involved in service design in government agencies came together to jam. Over the day and a half of extremely intense activity those new to the service design process are introduced to some of its basic techniques. Then in small teams all participants have a nine to five day to address a particular service design challenge.  

This is the third kiwi Gov jam that has been run and is based on the annual international service design jam concept. The Kiwi Gov Jam is a public good initiative from, DNA, Optimal Experience, Thinkplace, UCOL and the Designers Institute of New Zealand(DINZ). The Result 10 team at DIA provide governmental support, hosting and logistics.

Over the day and a half of extremely intense activity those new to the service design process are introduced to some of its basic techniques. Then in small teams all participants have a nine to five day to address a particular service design challenge. The day includes live research on Wellington streets which sets the scene and grounds the teams in real user experiences – this apect exposes the passions, disappointments’ and points of pain that real users and citizens experience in current services.

 

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Service Design

Service Design: A Formless Art

“I have not invented a "new style," composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from "this" method or "that" method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds. Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used” — Bruce Lee

Jeet Kune Do is a style of combat and life philosophy developed by Bruce Lee. He referred to it as “a style without style” or “the art of fighting without fighting”. Lee believed that many martial arts contained ostentatious movements therefore JKD uses directness to achieve maximum impact and draws on the best “tools” from different pugilistic arts including Kung Fu, Fencing and Boxing.

Service design is also a philosophy and a combination of tools from a number of different disciplines, including business, technology, design and social science. At DNA, we also want to use directness to produce maximum impact for our clients, and like Bruce Lee, we believe in learning from experience and in being lean and agile in our process to respond to rapidly changing environments and opportunities.

Catalysed by increased interest in design thinking, the tools of service design are being employed by diverse groups to deal with big challenges in both public and private sectors. Here in New Zealand there are a number of service design teams that have been set up in departments across Government. Although these teams contain highly capable individuals with diverse backgrounds, in my experience, they lack the design leadership required to achieve significant impact within their organisations. This can also result in a dogmatic approach to methodology, a natural default when teams are required to build capability “on the job”. At DNA we see an opportunity to provide leadership and assist internal teams to develop confidence in design tools.

We also believe there is potential for experienced designers to evolve popular design methodologies. Practitioners who understand design culture and have the confidence and experience to remove the ostentatious can adapt new influences and enhance service design practise. Like Bruce Lee, we want to edit out the superfluous whilst taking on new influences and respond to each individual situation in a lean and agile way.

We believe in doing this without compromising intellectual rigour, creativity or value.Both business and user value need to be equitable, otherwise the risk lay in skewing outcomes and missing opportunities for innovation along the way. A user-centred approach balanced with business and technical requirements are pivotal to the success of any project, be it an iterative improvement in a single channel customer experience or end-to-end service transformation.

We do not see Service Design as distinct from Customer Experience Design, or only successful if it uses this method or that method, and we hope to free our clients from clinging to styles, patterns or molds. Remember that service design is merely a name used for designing and delivering excellent services in the most customer-centred way possible.

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The business of design

Grenville Main October 2012

Design can no longer be consigned to just the visual layer - or in the inimitable words of a number of our clients and technical partners over the years - the colouring in stuff! Design has always been more than that but stereotypes can become defining.

Whether it’s digital, retail, identity, communications, product or service design, every part of what is done is designed. Not all people on a project consider themselves designers but the design process includes them and often design thinking is what they are contributing. This means our clients design, non-designers design and customers design things alongside us.

Design is no longer the domain of a select few. Instead, it is an approach to solve problems creatively that works best when it is inclusive and openly collaborative. This is something that has crept up on designers by and large, but its not a bad thing. Listening and observing are things we've been known for, brainstorming and the vagaries of the creative process have always relied on a range of external inputs and a dash of serendipity.

When more people are contributing to design, the challenge is never to loose sight of what you are using design to do. The trick is to remember that design is about thinking your way to a solution by observing, ideating, testing and prototyping, not by dictating what you want it to deliver at the outset - sticking to these rules is definitely required in a collaborative forum. As design professionals our role is as the guardians of the process as much as creative provocateurs or even the party accountable for executing the solution. This means we need to share our ability to focus on the gap, the challenge and the opportunity and design a solution that is differentiated, feasible and viable. It also means we need to be adept at proving the likely impact of that solution - before we embark on building it.

But going a step further and having 'customers' help you design is a challenging notion for some. It means identifying and then engaging intimately with your consumers and being open to having the solution be determined by others. It requires openness, but also some rigor so you are guided by deep seated goals and needs and in order to not be sidetracked by grinches, gripes and unrealistic, un-commercial or unfounded desire. Its challenging sure - but it seems it’s here to stay.

If design is a more collaborative endeavour now - are consumers better off? The customer centricity, relevance and intimacy evident in the design of everything from airline travel to banking certainly suggests so.

Is design better off? A diversity of perspectives, a balance between the voice of the consumer and the will of the guys down in IT and Finance can't hurt. Having the customer or user at the centre of a solution is fundamental, best practice for the design process and becoming indicative of the power of the likely outcome. A few notable local examples are Trade me, Air New Zealand and Powershop - so that should prove it has some worth.

And finally, is our industry better off? It will be when more of the profession adopt and adapt to these new methods. Collaboration, co-creation and co-location are common in the projects we do now - while business imperatives, customer needs and goals direct what we deliver. The new way of designing is here to stay.

For the record - this post was first published by Idealog - to see more of Grens ranting check out Idealog's design ruminations.

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Service Design

Wear more black

Sherryn Macdonald June 2011

Black has always been in style for the customer, so its great news companies are on board to. The thing is, I think they always knew, but it was all too hard. After all service design is all about rhythm and sequencing. It’s synchronising the front of house shown to customers with the back of house behind the scenes systems and processes.

As customers we are highly sensitive to the rhythm of service design. We feel the irritant of the lunchtime queues as staff go on their own lunch break; of nifty internet banking calendars which tell us when my visa is due but not the amount; of calling the 0800 number and having to tell each person I am passed onto my account number; of having to print out and remember my discount voucher even though it is sitting on my phone.

Check out the capitalized statement which upsets the rhythm on this brand spanking new homepage. Front end, all bright and smiley. Back end, business as usual. Am sure their mortgage customers wished they had worn more black.

The absolute good news is black is always in style. Ask any designer or architect.

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Service Design

Not all services are designed equal

Grenville Main October 2011

Every service experience you love or loathe has been designed – maybe in bits, sometimes as a whole. And that includes even the really, really bad ones. Lately we have been 'talking' Service Design with a few of our clients and 'doing' Service Design with others. What we have observed is that Service Design can be both a big, scary spectre and a liberating and transformative opportunity for businesses. People have described it as either small, iterative and manageable or all- encompassing and holistic – but, simply put, Service Design is the practice of delivering great on-brand customer experiences using optimised and efficient business systems and operations. 

The thing we've noticed is that many businesses look to improve customer experience, and many also look to streamline processes, improve their offers, migrate to the channels and Touchpoints their customers most use, cut costs and so on. Service Design is the practice of doing both in unison.

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