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

Track shoe

Making ideas work

Design Sprints: Not just solving problems faster.

The pace of change has been increasing every year for most businesses and the criticality of making those changes has equally increased. In fact, there is bound to be some algorithm that perfectly represents the rate of that change — but who has time to work it out. Right?

Being in the business of helping organisations address some of these change related problems and opportunities, we have seen the organisation grapple with the significant impact on time, resource and budgets that change related projects bring.  Often times the projects aren't just fast and big, they are also very complex.  More


Making ideas work

Designs on the future

DNA’s most recent recruit – Junior Service and Experience Designer Rachel Knight – was asked to reflect on her recent journey out of the frying pan (university study and an internship) and in to the fire (service design in an agency). Rachel shares her experience on what helped her determine her career focus, and her views on what students and the design industry can do to smooth the ride and improve the clarity of purpose for budding designers. Rachel also comments on why designers and their clients should expose students to the value of design and growing disciplines such as service and experience design.

Last year as the end of my university days were looming – like a cliff I was blindly running towards with no idea if I’d fly or fall when I reached the edge – I didn’t know what opportunities, support, or communities existed, or how to become a part of them. As Lillian Grace (CEO of Wiki New Zealand) recently said, “communities are double-edged swords; they're great when you belong to one but can be intimidating from the outside”.

Nine months, two internships and a new job at DNA later, I've started to feel like a part of the working design community. It's been strange for me to now be on the inside and hear both public and private sector colleagues ask where to find good designers with specific skills that they need to either fill a gaps in their team(s), or help them deliver user-centered business solutions.  More


Making ideas work

Aucklandia – our future?

Developing New Zealand’s regions does not seem to be high on our political agenda but a systems design analysis suggests it’s both important and urgent.

New Zealand is dominated by Auckland to a considerable degree. Current policy settings will see that dominance accelerate. There is a compelling case for Auckland growth. Creating a vibrant, internationally connected city that drives prosperity through the flow of people, capital and ideas is rational. But the current rate of growth comes at a high price – a price paid by Aucklanders and non Aucklanders alike.

Auckland contains a third of the New Zealand population and generates more than a third of total GDP. By 2043 NZ is predicted to grow by 1.1 million people. 60% of those (nearly 700,000) will live in Auckland, edging Auckland’s population beyond 2 million. Then Auckland will have nearly 40% of the population.  54% of all New Zealanders will live in Auckland, Waikato or Bay of Plenty.

There is momentum behind Auckland’s growth – a spiralling chain effect of – people following jobs following people – which is perhaps unstoppable. Auckland’s gain is not necessarily the rest of New Zealand’s loss. But if we allow the provincial regions and the secondary cities to decline New Zealand as a whole will suffer. As economist Shamubeel Eaqub puts it “the regional economies are of course complimentary economies that fit together to make the national economy. Supply chains are often stretched across many regions. The regions are strongly interconnected through flows of trade, capital and people.”   More


Making ideas work

Advice for start-ups

It's better to have a smaller piece of something big, than a bigger piece of something small… that is an old adage, but a great one.

Advice for startups… everyone seems to have it, and well, sure, what do we know? Not everything, but we’ve developed a couple of products, invested in and advised a bunch of startups over the years – and heck, even started one of our own back in the day.

What we’ve seen is the same old same old – a few traps that many still fall in to – here is our take:  More

weather news

Making ideas work

Content and access

Content is essential for successful customer experience. Whether you are attracting, transacting with or assisting your customers – the way they access and use your content has evolved – which has implications for businesses. We share a prediction for brands, and some advice for consumers...

Content, content, content, it is to brands what location is to property. It’s often been said, and its never been more true, but the way content is delivered and the needs of a customer at the time it is sought have seen major shifts in content strategy, generation, management and optimisation.

It's not just this that businesses need to get their heads around – it is the access that organisations now make available to customers. It's this proliferation of access channels and the multiple use of them by customers that is changing how content is created and deployed.

Add to this the flip side, that consumers have been given multiple ways to engage with you – and your products - and you need to not only consider customer needs and goals when writing content, but the access point in the journey they are taking as they engage with you. Across mobile, desktop, social, call centre and counter, not least the service or product itself – content needs to be on task, goal directed – only then it will be ‘on brand’ as your customers see it.

The proliferation of channel options brands now have to access consumers has merely become more ways to ‘push their content’. This is a trap many organisations fall in to as they tell their story, and seek to engage customers. Too many end up presenting their information in overly complicated ways, explain their offer in a competitor rather than customer oriented manner, and too many put their needs to the fore – even as they purport to care about customers and their needs. .

As a consumer it’s increasingly hard to escape brand-related content, but if it's bad, you are going to be more determined to avoid it than ever. You have goals, needs and jobs to do, content for you should help you get in, do whatever you seek to do and get out, quickly, easily, confidently and successfully. For you, content needs to be delivered effectively, and where and when you need it – that's all you want.

So where does this all lead, what do we see happening and what advice do we have for brands and consumers?  More

party icons

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.   More

sd stockholm

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.


jam biscuit

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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Making ideas work

Why R&D alone won't set New Zealand free

“Research and development funding is not the economic elixir it used to be and New Zealand needs urgently to move beyond that thinking.

This country is struggling to turn filed patents into commercial successes but throwing more R&D money into the problem – or pigheadedly trying to commercialise products that lack a supporting ecosystem – will get us nowhere fast.”

Associate Professor Suvi Nenonen and Professor Kaj Storbacka University of Auckland Business School's Graduate School of Management. New Zealand Herald 28 May 2014.

At DNA we heartily agree with this analysis. The departure of LanzaTech for the USA is just the latest in a long series of local R&D successes seeking better integration offshore, i.e. more potent and appropriate infrastructures than can exist in New Zealand.

“Customers buy those products that create value to them, and generally this value creation is completely dependent on the market ecosystem in which these products are being used.”

The sort of design we practice at DNA, starting with the customer and working back, is one of the things, beyond R&D, that New Zealand needs to deploy in order to change its fortunes. Interestingly the term used for one of the key disciplines of customer experience design (CXD) is ecosystem mapping. Until you understand the ecosystem, starting with the customer or end user, you can’t solve the problem. Design it and they will come is a mantra of an earlier age of design – as viable today as steam power. 

But let's get back to the case in point – LanzaTech’s gas fermentation process takes carbon-containing gases, typically industrial flue gases from steel mills and other processing plants, and uses its proprietary microbes to produce ethanol and hydrocarbon fuels as well as platform chemicals that are building blocks to products such as rubber, plastics and synthetic fibres. In other words it reduces greenhouse emissions whilst reducing the use of finite oil resources – a potentially wonderful and game changing innovation.

After several years of development in New Zealand, and substantial tax payer investment, LanzaTech has moved is developmental activities and head office to Chicago. Largely in order to fit more seamlessly into the international ecosystem of industrial processing, emissions control and green tech initiatives. Also, in all probability, the government infrastructural support available to them is greater than that on offer in New Zealand.

Losing LanzaTech and all its predecessors robs us of high value jobs and their contribution to our economic and societal wellbeing. But the problem is even greater. As things currently shape up, keeping the front-end and on-going development jobs a fully global LanzaTech could provide is the best New Zealand could hope for. The bulk of employment in such an organisation needs to be close to market i.e. not in New Zealand. To achieve global scale, R&D successes like LanzaTech have had to seek overseas ownership and capital. Initial commitments from overseas owners to keep the New Zealand R&D function central to the operation have often not lasted the distance.  

A radical reshaping of New Zealand’s fortunes requires us not just to keep hold of the developmental end of our scaled up enterprises, but to own the lot and so repatriate the profit streams and taxation flows from all the necessary offshore jobs and activities.

The lack of capital and expertise in New Zealand is often identified as the impenetrable barrier to this happening.  

In reality funding the growth of a raft of LanzaTechs’ to global scale from New Zealand would require government money. The widely touted mantra that governments cannot own successful enterprises is not supported by the facts here or overseas. Air New Zealand has been exceptionally successful under majority government ownership, and the success of the plethora of state funded Chinese and Singaporean corporations, for example, support this.  

Provided such organisations had appropriately skilled governance and management (from offshore if necessary) and the Government stakeholding’s vital interests were enshrined there is no reason why we could not build high value, highly innovative globally leading enterprises on the back of our R&D expertise -  That is provided we deploy the vital CX design processes to get the ecosystem right.

As we see it, design brings the ability to solve current problems and foresee emerging issues – two areas that have been fruitful in innovation up to this point. Design Thinking allows testing, prototyping, iteration, learning, collaboration and de-risking of products, services, business models and markets.

The companies and organisations that we see succeeding are the ones who have adopted and integrated design in to their practices – and this is not at the expense of technology or material advances. The companies that have sustainable futures are the ones that are designing resilience, agility and value in to everything they do. The companies that will unlock the most value and realise their full potential are the ones that put the ecosystem at the heart of their thinking and users first – using design to solve problems and assist in unlocking and delivering on innovation.  More


Brand Experience

A view from the front row

Fashion, and fashion shows – are they all the same everywhere – or do we do fashion and fashion week just a little bit more 'our way'… recently I got a taste of one local event that helped me see that its a bit of both – but that is a good thing.

I went to one of the Wellington Fashion week events – the catwalk show for the new season release of Kathryn Wilson and Miss Wilson shoes – and was firmly in the 'corporate' crowd in attendance (as opposed to the 'fashion crowd'). That said I was keenly interested as to how we meet the world class standard, and yet deliver a uniquely New Zealand experience or bit of X factor in to the mix.

We arrived, got the swing tag, grabbed a glass of Champagne and started to mingle (as you do). We met Kathryn who was doing the rounds – but managing to lock on to everyone she spoke to in a genuine and engaging way (points for integrity and a genuine charm – but then Kathryn is special).

The chatting, the champagne, the canapés and the anticipation in Wellington's BMW showroom which was the venue for the show were all great. We could see upstairs to what are offices by day but were where the models, the minders and the hair and makeup were all getting the finishing touches. We we're chatting next to the latest mini models and awaiting the catwalk to unleash the collection on models of another kind – in fact I was talking to the Mole (the Mrs that is) and we thought we could have been anywhere – the leggy models, toney crowd, techno music and snappa gallery all waiting for the show to begin.  More

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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.  More

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Making ideas work

Making organisations human – Engaging customers in design.

In my previous post I shared some initial reflections from my years of creating products, services, and organisational systems as an ‘Experience Designer’. I described the effect of this work as: 'making organisations human', and said that I would flesh this out by looking at the effect of this work on the customers, employees and senior leaders of these organisations. In this post I'm going to start by focusing on what happens when customers are engaged in the design of products and services, rather than just the use of them. 


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Making ideas work

Making organisations human

Every so often you get the chance to pull out of the trenches and reflect on what is happening in the fast-paced world of designing products, services and systems for organisations. I’ve pulled together some thoughts on the overall effect I am seeing we have on businesses as we conduct these design projects.

I get asked every so often what it is that I do as an 'experience designer'. With projects as varied as defining new consumer products to bring to market, through to developing digital platforms for bankers, the field of experience design covers a lot of territory. But one way of thinking about it that has stuck with me over the years is the idea of "reintroducing organisations to their customers".

Every new organisation starts by meeting some form of customer need. It then develops a way to consistently meet that need over time through the profitable delivery of a product or service. After getting established, the business usually sets about optimising the delivery of these products & services, making more products & services, and growing the customer base.

Over time however, the people working within their different parts of the growing organisation (marketing, engineering, sales, management, etc), become more and more unable to maintain a clear sense of the customer need the organisation was setup to meet. There are everyday demands in their roles: meetings, emails, angry customers, angry workmates, server crashes, job transitions and new workmates. These things take center stage in employee’s minds as they do their work. It becomes increasingly difficult to get their head around the complexity of their role, let alone the complexity of how the whole organisation works together to meet the needs of customers.  More


Making ideas work

Customer 3.1 outtakes

In May I presented at Customer 3.1 in Auckland. I was asked to talk about trends in customer experience, which I did by combining highly visible global trends with things we are seeing locally at DNA and a few personal insights - as I had the pleasure of a captive audience.

Since the presentation I have received some great feedback, but also identified three key themes that different people have asked me to explore further.  More


Making ideas work

Users first?

Organisations that seek to solve problems without fully considering user, and human, needs and values, risk miscuing the size, type and focus of the designed solution.

First up, it's important to note that balance is key – a technology or business led approach to solve problems and design solutions is going to be biased and imperfect, of that there is no doubt. Equally, prioritising users needs over all other considerations will create a risky imbalance.

The critical thing is to work hard, and yes it will likely be hard at first, to balance the various needs (business, technology, user and human) within problem solving and solution design. This is where user-centred design methodologies come into their own. When applied well, they help to hear and balance the many voices that contribute to the decision or project, to interrogate and synthesise what they are saying and to identify the commonality between them. It is here, on this common ground, that the opportunity to design the right solution resides.

Designing for users and humans may sound like one and the same thing, they aren’t. User centred design means taking inspiration from users values, behaviours and actions. It requires being mindful that interactions, reactions and decisions take place in natural contexts rather than controlled settings. Clever user-centred design takes the user on a journey from understanding what exists to discovering what is possible. It then extracts all that the business needs to know from users about the ‘possible’ journey.



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.  More


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.   More


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.  More

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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.



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.  More


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.   More

bruce lee

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.  More

Customer Experience

Customer Experience Design and Service Design: Different, but the same…

What is Customer Experience Design (CXD), what is Service Design (SD) and what is the difference – the debate often rages here at DNA between practitioners and offices… but I think the answer is simple.

Many people assume CXD is more commercially driven by organisations that are in competitive segments, and that SD is focussed on when there is less competition or where the organisation can be more focussed on their needs, their processes, their ROI and on lowering their cost to serve. Not so. Its true, CXD overtly starts with the customer in mind, and SD is often employed because of change and or transformation. But that is too simple.

True of both is that they place users at the heart of the solution, and unless business value is clear, then a solution is not the right one. Important to both are changing technological, organisational, ethnographic and social science factors. Design is the common base of the service we deliver to each.  More

open working style

Brand Experience

Working in style

Grenville Main April 2013

A question I pondered recently – is service experience able to be designed, or does it already need to be in your DNA in order to happen? The following story sets out an answer:

Working Style – the eponymous mens tailor recently saved my bacon (well, actually my gut from hanging out)… and I am not just indebted to them, I think I actually love them.

Recently I was in Auckland, had carefully packed everything to attend a toney black tie event – shoes, tick; matching socks, tick; suit, tick; bow tie, tick; cufflinks, tick. You get the picture. So all day I worked in the office, got a ton done but as usual was running a little late for the event when I raced to the men's to change… and there it was that the terror of not remembering the fundamental black tie trap – the white shirt (tick) needs those pesky little metal studs (cross) – cause it doesn't have buttons like a normal shirt.

So, the sweats break out, I try (yeah I really did) to see if I could fudge closing the shirt with two pairs of cufflinks (fail) and then started to panic. The options seemed clear (and there were really only 3). One – figure out something with paper clips or maybe double sided tape; Two – just don't go, feign illness, lie to the other half about why you couldn't make it, but don't show up with your shirt open at the beginning of the evening; Three – think of something else real fast – surely you know someone close who might be able to help…

So it came to me – Working Style, off to the website, grabbed the Chancery store number (where I'd bought the sodding shirt the year before for the same event!) and call… they have just closed, but hear the panic in my voice, seem to actually care enough to stay open while I sprint semi-clad through downtown Auckland rush hour traffic and help me out. Arriving at a serene and somewhat closed store, I tap at the door and are allowed entry. What awaits was a lifesaver. The guys had already denuded a mannequin of said studs and had them ready in the change room for me, after changing wouldn't take my money, re-tied the bow tie I'd managed to mangle on my cross town dash, and wished me a fantastic and more relaxing evening ahead. Then off I went, out into the bright lights of Auckland, the AMP Scholarship annual awards dinner and a great night.

Saved. So, you see, I have to love Working Style.  More

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