Sunday, 21 December 2008

xams reading list...

stocking up the flat with food, snacks and chocolate, and having some peaceful reading, that's the plan for this xmas... will do it in Guildford though, not Dundee this year...

The Hitchhiker's Guild to the Galaxy - I reach the restaurant at the end of the universe eventually~ also got the audio radio play from Jonathan last week... I so love the cleverness of it! well... also will get the chance to make up some 'serious' reading that I own myself due to the lovely holidays and the bloody writtings...

Innovation in the Service Economy - it is called the new wealth of the nations... guess it is pretty good then... as a economic book it is actually not really hard to read (well... it is only one chapter I have gone through so far, maybe it is still too early to say so...)

Management - an introduction to management... it is a full-colour print, a pretty book as a management literature... the book belongs to Fan, but I can have it for the two weeks... after all, it is always good to review some of the basics!

the Culture of Design - yes, I am still on it... only get to the end of Chapter 4... it gets interesting since Chapter 3, the bits about consumption ehos the bits of the customer experience in my own study...

and possibly will watch some movies as well... any recommendations?

p.s: oh... forget to take Fan's Management book with me... Jonathan made me read Tipping Point instead...

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


A design group that looks at how design can be used to help social innovation.

At Participle, they say:

"We believe there needs to be a new settlement between individuals, communities and government - new ways for people to get involved in determining their lives in a meaningful way, new approaches that mean some people do not get stuck at the bottom of the heap for generations and new bonds that mean people can flourish and bring their dreams alive. "

I guess Participle = participating + people ...

Design Council looking at public service design

Design Council UK is launching a series of service design projects with local goverment exploring the potential of improving public service with design.

The case study provided are looking very interesting and also remind me of an earlier research done by DEMOS, the Journey to the Interface.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Design Serving People

Liz Sanders's paper on how design can serve people's creative activities. It describes the changing role of designer from the output creator towards the creative process facilitator. More and more we witness service companies such as IDEO, Engine and Livework design toolkits for partcipants and client to create their 'own' service system, which provides an possibility for the client to sustain the innovation the organisation at different levels even after the designers step away.

Liz did some interesting workshop with the M.Des years ago when she visited, and I wonder if we can invite her to do another one the current M.Des on designing tools for participatory design approach next year sometime... emmnn...

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Design Thinking Blog

Tim Brown's Design Thinking Blog... talks about co-developeding the toolkit with small holder farmers. Check out their HCD toolkit developed, can be used as a starting point of prototype with customer or to create various versions of it for individual design program. There is no need to re-invent the wheel !

Here is his talk on TED about creativity and play. He talks about how to take role-play seriously with customers can improve the design of intangible systems such as service ans social relations. The emotional attachment people spend on the role-play can be used as an empathy tool for both designer and stakeholders to understand the set-up situation. Playful exploration and playful building are the other two tools he mentioned in the speech... worth checking out as well :-)

He is brilliant, isn't him?

management innovation

“why can’t we bring as much innovation, adaptation, and engagement to our organizations as we do to our development of products and technologies?” Gary Hamel asks, in his The Future of Management. When it comes to innovate in a process that is not centered in a R&D group, the power of innovation gets lost in the day-to-day 9-5 operation. Same challenge to service companies, how to keep the creative spirt in the organisation during the continous growth of service systems? The answer is to do it with its people. By people I mean everyone involved, not only the top managers or service managers. The power of innovation, the people-centered approach, the design toolkits, should be deliveried to the contact employees, the customers, the accountants, the external enterprises, the logistics, the part-times, the full-times, the I-have-no-time-being-creatives! Engaging people in the design process is just one part of the job of a service design manager, there is a even more challenging part: to keep that engagement in the organisation and let it grow with the service system.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

where is design?

After one and half run of breaking down and putting together tons of literatures and couple of theory models, I had a very interesting converstation with B last week, about the difficulty to define design as a financial resource (from his research) or a service management resource (from my research)... this inspired me to devote my first research paper to discuss 'the lost design in the service management literatures'.
Wish me good luck with the writing... 10 days 10 pages :o)

Monday, 8 December 2008

Visualising Information

Came across this piece about Information Design via Puting People First. Being a follower of Tufte and Wurman, I always believed the power of visualisation when it comes interprate complex information. As a typical diagram freak, I am very keen on getting the story behind the image across to the audience. A good piece of information design work should allow the reader to read the meaning and also tell a story in great details while combining the media materials with their own imagination.

Also thanks to JB, I found this beautiful video that presents the wonderful use of motion diagrams to tell a vivid story about how the world is changing from Hans Rosling on TED.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

stupid research

The importance of stupidity in scientific research, by a PhD surviver, Martin A. Schwartz... wonder if it applys to design research as well ?! Guess most of the designers are hit by the 'nobody did' problem on an everyday base...

Thanks to Naida for the link... we are on the same boat of being stupid, productively hopefully :o)

power and creativity

"... no one can give us democracy, we must learn democracy. To be democrat is not to decide on a certain form of human association, it is to learn to live with other men..." by Mary Parker Follett (re-print by Graham, 1995)

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


I have been trying to understand Service Marketing as one of the major component of the theories around service management. Now I have a confession to make... it seems that Service Marketing, somehow like Service Design, is growing into this vague grey area where everything becomes a part of Service Marketing.

In The Evolution and Future of Service, Fisk and Grove argue that the science of studying service systems starts in the study of Service Marketing. The marketing managers are the first ones devoted to improving the situation of angry and unsatisfied service consumers in service operations. The study of customer needs and the implementation of all kinds of marketing tool that influence customer behaviours in the service system, slowly extended into the involvement of other subjects such as service engineering, information system, human resource management, financial analysis, policy science, even social science. Gradually, the publications on the topic of Service Marketing seem to have a say on everything in the service system, from employee enrolment, business strategy, to branch office interior environment. In his book on customer relationship, Gronroos proposes this idea of everyone in the organisation taking the responsibility of a ‘part time marketer’. Interestingly, Gronroos’ idea looks very similar to the concept of ‘silent designer’ – a popular concept used to describe the managers who takes the design jobs in organisations.

I wonder if in the real world the marketing employees, even marketing managers, have such a big impact on the service system development. It seems that the role of putting together a cross-departmental cooperation is still often left to the CEOs. A vision that requires everyone in the service system to share cannot be achieved just as simple as coming up with the brightest idea around any single stakeholder, such as customer. I am confused, yet, I love the word ‘nudge’ used by Lisa, a bright colleague of mine, when it comes to describe the designer’s impact in multi-discipline project on not-so-design topics.

Ok, here is the question I really want to ask, what do service designers do to maximise the impacts that they expect on the service system, after they become the ones who know everything about the customer?

Monday, 1 December 2008

the Culture of Design

I was given this book to read in order to help out the lovely DHTP guys next year with some teaching. It was a book for the Level 3 undergraduate students to read. My job is to host seminars for discussions, linking their own design practice with the content of the book.

Going through the first three chapters, I found that Julier gives much in depth review on how design comes to shape, as an academic discipline and as an industry. His ability of weaving architecture, product design, and advertising all into the stream of design history throughout the early 30's till now is pretty impressive. This holistic view it takes can provide the students an snap shoot history of the field that they are going to step in after graduation, and it also echos the 'big design' idea we try to get through during the teaching.

However, I would not describe this book as a easy-reading... so... good luck reading :-)

the rising far east

Divya, a former MDes took a senior design position in the first experience design consultancy in Inida - Idiom. The company has been using customer experience researches as the base of their design practice. Most of the clients are in the field of retail and identity. You will be able to find couple of pages in their webspace talking about their Design Philosophy and about Desig Thinking in Inida.

In China, the next Design2Business Conference in Beijing will be 'looking at evolving frames of reference in which both Asian and Western organisations are grappling with new concepts in product and service design.'

Clearly, the rising design force from Asia has been quickly developed with the same quickly boosting economy and the fast growing marketing needs. How will the new generation of Asian designers be able take the chance of the changing global evironment and, in the same time, develope new insight within their unique local economic, cultural and social environment in their design practice?
Coincident or not... the Design Management Journal published this November has a special issue discussing the topics of 'Managing Design in Global Environments'. In this issue Song and Chung (from KAIST South Korean) talked about how CEO can play a role in Design Management exercises and clearly suggest the importance in approaching design practice with a close cooperation with the hight level management roles. Griffith and Tan discribed how the western design methodologies do *not* work in the Asian market - the 'Simple Complex', as what they call the situation.

the Economist, again, 'predict' the world power tranfer from the U.S. and the European countries to the other countries like China, Russia, India and Brazil in the lately published 'the world in 2009'. In this coming new year, every individual, organisation, country in this world perhaps will have to work out (then adjust again and again) where they can fit in this changing world, so do us designers.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Good News ~!

Got an abstract accepted for the D2B conference next April~ shall be busy with writing again!

By the way, am going to Amsterdam for the Service Design Conference tmrw... early flights from London... eh... happy that Jonathan is coming as well as the 'local' guide - seems that he already has the trip planned!
Also plan to meet another PhD student from Swedem for a chat - should be good!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

in India now...

Hello~ I am in India now... and finally the hotel internet get working ~
Say hi to everyone and I will see you soon!
Also I am going to meet a M.Des from last year - Divya.
Will be unreachable on internet for about two weeks time since now...

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Questions & Hypotheses Conference Snapshot

Kowning that I only have 5 hours before my flight to India... I still want to provid a really quick snapshot of the Q&H Conference I attended in Berlin. I am happy that all the 15 presentations really reflect the on-going rich design research with a large varity of methodological approaches. The research questions, although some unmatured at the early stage in the research process, are all very interesting and largely human-centred.

I was especailly impressed by Dag and Cucuzzella from the first day presentation. Prof. Findeli, as the keynote speaker, talked about the relationship among research questions, design questions, design answers and research answer in PhD study. I learnt a lot from his talk.

The second day we had our own Lisa - who did excellent and impressed everyone! I particularly found second day presentations interesting, since many of them are very similiar to what we do in Dundee...

God... the taxi is waiting outside... I shall be back in 3 weeks and will refelect more on this wonderful event in Berlin! By the way, the next Q&H might be hosted by Dundee :-)

Oops... that is me and my poster in the conference!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Master of design memories...

I sometimes got aksed what my Master of Design experience was like when I started teadching about two years ago. I think I would discribe it as learning to swim – you gotta get your head under the water to feel the panic moment to learn how to go with the wave. Till now, half way through my PhD, I still get confused from time to time in the process, but I don't panic anymore. I know it is just part of the journey, as far as I stay calm and confident I will be able to see the beauty of this advanture and learn a lot along the way.

Yesterday, I did a talk on Action Research Methodology and Research Methods with the new M.Des students this year, reviewing my Master's project as an example. I hope that my experience as a student two years ago would be helpful to them – even just a reassurance that the messiness is a natural part of the research process and literally everyone experiences it.

My Master's year is a life-trunning point to me. It's a shame that the Computing world lost a very talented software engineer when I decide to switch to pursue Design as a life career—ha ha, I'm not joking ;-) Unlike many other disciplines, the knowledge of design often emerges and diffuses through practice. Practitioners gains highly respect by conducting successful design and research practices that impact the waywe live everyday. The knowledge and experience gained through research are then presented in a visual way that communicate to its audience/ users/ stakeholders, creating impacts on their behaviour, emotion, thinking, even perseption of the world. This ability to externalize their thinking amazes me. I guess this is why I choose to pursue Design after my Master's year—I so want to be part of this active group that shapes people's life in such a beautiful way.

This year we had a wonderful group of young designers enrolled for the Master of Design course—as we alway do! Nice diversity in multi-disciplinary design experiences and also mixed cultural backgrouds among the students. Here is a list of some of the blogs of the current students on the course—very talented and wonderful people who always make me pround to work with!


Tuesday, 21 October 2008

See you later!

I will be off for conference + vacation + conference for the next five weeks!!!

Germany: 22nd Oct - 27th Oct, Berlin, Cologne
India: 29th Oct - 19th Nov, Chennai, Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Bundi, Bijaipur and on and on...
England: 21st Nov - 23th Nov, London
Netherlands: 24th Nov - 28th Nov, Amsterdam Service Design Conference

Good girl go wild~!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Questions & Hypotheses

Questions & Hyphoteses is a conference I am going to attend this week. My second visit to Berlin - should be good. Also I will visit Cologne to have a chat with the Service Design guru in Germany - Prof. Birgit Mager from KIDS. Excited~!

The main body of the poster I'm going to present in the conference:

Friday, 17 October 2008

David Townson Visits...

Had a wee chat with David Townson early this morning on the service design managing topic... Bits about the Service Architecture concepts and the on-going organisational structure revolution... Couple positive feedbacks on some of my ontological assumptions of new design practice and knowledge diffusion - an inspiring guy he is!

I am really looking forward to meeting him again after my wild travelling later this year for a small pilot - hopefully my thoughts will be more matured and research questions sharpened(!)

David gave a lecture on his experience as a product designer + service designer + design manager this morning. He did a session with M.Des and MDE students this afternoon on a detailed case study on Move me and blueprint as a method.

Glad that David also touched on probing, mock-up, quick prototyping, prototyping test, persona and scenarios... I will talk about these methods next Tuesday, so it's always good to have these words buzz around for the students!

Doodle of the day~

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Don't simplify the things that can't be simplified... eg. life

Had a meeting about the new student Plone this morning... one thing lead to another, now they are going to have a showcase website for themselves as well. I often wonder if we go to meetings all the time to solve problems, or to create more problems to solve...

Bryan Lawson wisely says:" design solutions are parts of other design problems". Yeah, welcome to the world of ticky toffee pudding!

Monday, 13 October 2008

timetable clashing

One of the joy of working on M.Des course is handlling four timetables and trying not to mix up... perhaps we spend more time on making these timetable rather than completing the tasks on it...

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Innovation Showcase in Dundee

Innovation Showcase

This inspiring free event will be held in the Dalhousie Building at the University of Dundee on the 18th of November 2008. Reserve your seat ASAP~

Peter Day, the BBC News' Business Correspondent and presenter of BBC Radio 4's In Business and Global Business on BBC World Service, will host the first day session... also Tom Inns & Colin Burns will give a seminar together on innovation - it seems really interesting!!!

Also, the day after, there will be the Innovation Showcase - for students. Anyone who is interested in creative entrepreneurship might find some inspirations there...

What a shame that I won't be here in November... if any of your guys are going, please please let me know what happens on the event!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


Not sure if it is correct to say that IDEO have a new face for their website... eh... at least different from the last time I saw it.

Impressive portfolio of them, and interesting way of presenting. IDEO claims to be behind the emergence of Service Design by supporting/mentoring several small design practitioners (such as Livework). They then start their own service design practice in the early 2000's. Given its human-oriented approach and creative business model, this move is not surprising. As one of world's biggest global design consultancy, they have offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Chicago, Boston, New York City, London, Munich, and Shanghai, doing research and practice in the disciplines of design, engineering, social science, and business strategy.

Also find a lot of job opportunities there: I have my eye on business design specialist and human factors... mmmm... look interesting!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Randomness & Chaos - what a life!

Managed to get up early this morning for Seaton's 'WICKED PROBLEM & STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING' - a lecture for the Master students I teach in the School of Design. Unlike scientific problems, most of our design problems, of course design research problems included, are wicked problems that are not only complicated but also complex... solving such problems (eh, perhaps handlling would be a better word) is like putting your finger into a sticky toffee pudding - sticky & messy. It is just impossible to pull out one bit... everything is linked and of course nothing is easy to be left behind.

Right after that, my friend, also a PhD researcher, Emma Murphy talked about research methodology. I am really happy to see that my talk in two weeks time on Action Research and methods will fit perfectly into hers today...

Right after Emma, Space&Place has Dr Norman Alm talking about Randomness. His example of the importance of randomness in Darwin's evolution, in comparison with artificial intelligence and computer programming , is a very interesting one. Basically he is saying that there are very simple element of any system: natural or artificial. And these elements make complicated results by re-producing itself according to some simple rules. What makes situation complex and also allows the system to survive any comlpex environment or solving complex problem is the occasional randomness inhabits in the system itself. Therefore, for a species to survive, the gene has to create random mutant that allow itself to increase the change of adaptability. For a robort, it has to be able to make random decisions to allow it to jump out the cyclic reforming codes - you know all these 0&1... One thing learned today: random number can be produced by computers automatically and it needs to pass a randomness test to be a qulified random number!

Also contribute to Emma's talk, here is my 'doodle of the day' - don't mistake it as a negative sign towards lecturers, my doodles can only be stimulated by really inspiring speeches!

Monday, 6 October 2008


Case Tranfer, by Rosan Chow on SDN Symposium 2008, is proposed as an improved verson of Case study method especially to be used in design context.

Chow uses 'Transferability' to describe 'the quality of knowledge generation and application in design projection'. Here I hear the eho of a old friend from design management - knowledge transfer. To me, the Case Transfer tempts to answer the question of 'how design knowledge can be transfered from one project/artefact to another?', presuming that artefacts are the resource of knowledge and that knowledge is transferable. Interestingly, Chow's research focus lands in the same area as mine - service design. Chow studies cases of design systematically to articulate aspects/methods/tools that makes service design knowledge transferable. While my study looks at how service management knowledge can be tranfered to service design practices in the context of organisational dynamics.

Service Design has gain a lot of attention currently in the design research - replacing Experience Design and becoming the new buzz word. One of the reason I can think of is that as a new descipline where no established theories or authorities yet exists, therefore, new concepts are more likely to be recognised and accepted. Arguement is encouraged and confusion is tolerated. The inter-discipline nature of new service researches allows more and more creative thinkers from all backgrounds to contribute to the knowledge pool of SSME (Service Science, Management and Engineering), a new discipline pioneered by IBM and Carnegie Mellon University.

So, what role does transferability play in inter-discipline cooperation in service design? According to the principles of complementarity, there is no use to have an excellent design that cannot be transfered to the agents of change in the organsiation. As dynamic social system, service design solution only works when it can be easily adopted by the relevant agents of change. By agents, I mean fuction groups, or even individuals that relates to all organisation activities - sometime we call them stakeholders. The transferability definitely is one of the key criteria when it comes to evaluate the service design solution and, of course, designer's capability. As designers, it is crucial that they are able to identify the agents of change, then create design solutions that influence the behaviour even mental states of certain agents. To achieve such influence, a clear awareness that sees both macro and micro levels of organisational changes becomes the key characteristic of service designer or design manager. Here, the knowledge of management and the knowledge of design meets and sparks !

By the way, a book called SSME is just published. Nice book: easy reading and lots lots of interesting concepts and case studies... if you can't find it in the library, it is because I have it... but everyone is welcomed to borrow it from me ;-)

Monday, 29 September 2008

circles and arrows

Sometime I wonder what other people's research *look* like?

Mine, according to Jonathan, is 'circles and arrows'. Well... definitely spot on!

Well... I am a sticky notes & wallpaper freak as well... I guess if you look into my mind... you see these pink, orange, yellow and green notes all over...
Have to have a wall full of sticky notes diagrams on it in the office - that I call a 'Thinking Wall'...

Just modeled my PhD research landscape with Tom. We tried to play with some 3D ideas this time... just for fun... but it seems working fine, even simply with sticky notes - yes, how can you live without them ?!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

a new world

Terry Iwrin's lecture on the first day of Master of Design course, very impressive!

Terry talked about how assumptions projected by designer's world view influence their way of working and thinking and, of course, design. She talked about we as designers should find the balance between specialising in content and details and seeing connections between things.

She continued to argue that our worldview influence what we can perceive and what we cannot perceive, and designers (or professions that engage any kind of cooperation with other beings... basically that is everyone on earth...) should be aware of this pre-set bias of our own worldview and accept 'other ways of thinking'. I agree that the most important point here is that there is really no 'correct' way of thinking, only different styles of thinking. However, we as human have the power of influencing other ways of thinking by method, as simple as, conversation. Awareness is much more important than correctness!

Her touch on chaos theory is interestingly related to my own research in organistional dynamics, where certainty and control has become out-of-date way of organising. Instead, navigating through 'wicked problems' is the new topic. Understanding, exploring, and tolerating new phenomena, either inside or outside any individual/ group/ organisation becomes the key of surviving.

'Chaos is creative, flexible and often stable, but it always defies predictability and control. '

She also talked about 'wicked problems' (the problems that are often ill defined and has more than one solutions and... change over time...) and 'tame problems' (well, the opposite...) in terms of design problems. I just notice that Prof. Seaton Baxter is going to do a lecture on wicked problem on 7th Oct. He never disappoints me with his unique presenting style and always refreshing points~ can't wait!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

I am not a designer...

I came cross Nathan Shedroff 's quote about experience design on the website. His Experience Design is the first book I read about this subject -- about three years ago. Interestingly, Shedroff has a very complex and vague way to describe what is experience and what designer is doing with experience encounters. Emotions, Trust, Privacy, Ambiguity, Delight, Satisfaction and Personality... seems all relevant but also far from what one can 'design'. This vague view perhaps is a honest reflection on this pioneer designer's feeling of his own position in this changing world, as many other design pioneers.

Shedroff bravely states: I am not a designer.
" ... I believe that all experiences share particular characteristics that make them successful--whether these are online experiences, such as websites, or real, physical ones, such as theater, meetings, parties, products, environments, buildings, etc. In order to build successful, engaging, and meaningful experiences we must understand what makes experiences wonderful in all media. Certainly, most online experiences are pale and unsatisfying in comparison to those in the rest of our life.

The development of all experiences must create solutions to problems of information creation, interaction, and, of course, sensorial media (the visual, audible, tactile, and other sensory displays that form the solution that people experience. Issues of understanding and meaning (information) and usability and appropriateness (interaction) are cerebral solutions that are only expressible with very sensory components. However, the real problems--and the most interesting solutions--lie in these cognitive processes and not in the beauty of the finished experience. This isn't to say that beautiful experiences aren't important, but beauty without purpose is, ultimately, meaningless."

Perhaps, by saying 'I am not a designer' we can eventually free ourselves from the limits and bias we set for ourselves.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

visual thinking - are we thinking in the same way?

Wonder if they are referring to designer and their client...
When visual thinking becomes the new buzz word in business world...
Are we really talking about the same kind of thinking?

Thanks to Ralf Beuker for the source :)

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Design Dictionary

See how the Design Dictionary defines Service Design...

It takes four pages !!

information resource: Service Design Network

Friday, 25 July 2008

Experiential Service

Prof. Chriss Voss and Leonieke Zomerdijk published this review on innovations in Experiential Service from London Business School. They introduced the concept of Experiential Service, where services focus on fulfilling customer's experiential needs rather than carrying out service transactions in the traditional definition. The interesting bit is the five areas they point out as having important impacts on customer experience: physical environment, service employees, service delivery process, fellow customers and back office support.

I am thinking of how to build this into Schmitt's Customer Experience Management Model... and also how it might work with the whole 'sensing, feeling, thinking, acting and relating' themes from Experiential Marketing... mmm...

Thursday, 24 July 2008

transfer presentation

Just realize that I haven't left anything for the transfer presentation, which is about a month ago... the title is Mind the Gap: theories and practices in service design. The presentation is mainly used to associat with a 9000-word writen document.

The presentation and the document mainly report the results of the literature review, research development (or let's say actually it is research agenda focusing down), the proposed methodology and timeline. Literature review consists six essays. Five are synthesis of different literature themes: service, experience economy, experience design, design and design management. The six is a brief review of current service design consultancies in UK.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

What's in my paper ?

This is a piece of software that really sum up what I wrote in an abstract for a conference in Korea:

A great way to get the key words out automatically... wonder if I write the paper first, will it product the abstract for me ?!

Add in another one, made from a other abstract for the Design Connexity Conference next April... a bit editing on the text and see very different result this time - although service design is still the theme...

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Strathclyde Service Science Workshop

Got a call on Sunday and I was on my way to Glasgow on Monday... ignoring the promise of transfer report delivering deadline on the same day...

It is a workshop under the name of 'Service Science'. And according to the key presenter Raymond Fisk, the name doesn't really matter, you can add whatever you are doing after the 'Service ____?'... so basically 'service design' is a correct term in this sense...

In the morning a presentation was given by Prof. Ray Fisk, a marketing guy from Texas State University. Starting with the story of the elephant and the blind men... ha ha... which is surprisingly suitable to describe the situation in service ____? nobody really knows what they are doing, everyone just see a part of the whole thing, while the whole thing is just too complex for one discipline/perspective to totally understand. His proposal of changing 'service science' to 'customer science' particularly interets me, as the argument in my research is always putting the customer in the heart of organisation operation. Also, he touch the importance of arts (design included), in terms of embracing emotions and creating joy.

the main point of the afternoon discussion are: the concept, the cross-discipline collaboration and the T-shape professionals who can realize the former two. Our group discussion is mainly focused on cross-discipline/function units collaboration: its efficiency, its effects (overall maximisation), and the power of organisational culture on these issues. Very interesting discussion among the group, we've got a manager from RBS, two academia from marketing, one from NHS doing risk management, one IT engineer and me, designer. I notice the use of language is possibly the main bia in communication, each profession has its own glossary to describe the same thing with slightly different words... somehow it becomes confusing. Although within 'service science' most of the jargon are agreed, still once the concept was understood with the existing knowledge in different disciplines.

A paper comes with the workshop is the white paper from IBM and Cambridge University, called Succeeding with Service Innovation. Worth reading! Funny enough that it starts in almost the same time as I started my PhD, and this publication is out in April,2008. Most of the arguments in the paper are the same as mine -- only in more beautiful sentences... I am happy that it means I am on the right track here. Although disappointingly, the definition of Service Science is the short for SSME-- Service science, management and engineering. In the footnote, it says SSME can be extended into SSMED -- Service science, management, engineering and design. Seems that the theory construction of design is still a dearth.

Monday, 2 June 2008

giving feedback

It is not easy to give feedback to the others... especially students...
you have to be positive, and constructively critical... and patient...
In general I did fine today with the help of my lovely colleagues, well, couple of feedbacks on my performance there:

'don't talk too fast' - when I gets nervious, I start to talk fast like hell... pause with questions like 'do you understand?' or 'you know what I mean?' help to give other people some time to *think* what I just said... God... I sometimes talk faster than I think... scary,isn't it?

'dont sit too close to others, leave them personal space' - I obviously dont have a issue with personal space, which... then cause trouble to others... I get to close to them -- damn it... too eager to show that I am friendly... I gotta be a bit teacher here... right!

'sit face-to-face to the people you talk to, so that you can see their reactions' -- very good one, and solve the problem of getting to close to them... will do that!

Monday, 26 May 2008

Here is the solution and what was the problem?

I found this quote in the poster of the Questions & Hyphothesis Conference, organised by Design Reserach Network. I am currently writing up an abstract for them... Fingers crossed for me!

It states a interesting but ture situation in design research (eh, I guess it is the same in many PhD researches in the field of social science):
"Design Research has been self-conscious about its lack of systematic methods and theories in comparison to other academic disciplines. This self-consciousness, on the one hand, to a certain degree, has advanced the quality of design discourse; on the other hand, it has resulted in much research that is methodologically rigorous but conceptually weak. ‘Here is the solution and what was the problem?’ seems to describe the unfavourable character of much design research. It is forgotten that it is questions and ideas that give meanings and values to meticulously executed research."

I can clearly recall a discussion with my surpervisors about how PhD is sometimes a pot-rational process... Ooops... promised not to tell ;)

Friday, 23 May 2008

Naomi Klein's speech in Dundee

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Naomi Klein gave a quite powerful speech yesterday in Dundee University. It was mainly about her new book The Shock Doctrine. A thesis about what happened after a national crisis. She showed a rich knowledge about her researches into couple of Latin American and Affrican countries, along with a broad view of the global environment that impacts the crisis strategy carried out in these countries.

I 'd better not talk too much about the content of her book, as yet I haven't read it... Do not want to mislead anyone, including myself...

the movie on her website is worthy check-out.

I happened to read through one of her articels on her website about the earthquake in China, and her opinions on the current goverment reactions in the crisis strategy. Unfortunately, I cannot say I would totally agree with what she states... obviousely she still needs more time to do her research on China. As a country with a quite different history in captallism development, it might be too rough to judge it simple with a westernised evaluation system. Especially with her political position, it might be difficult for her to capture a strong, yet often over-looked by many researchers in the west, a cultural perspective in China's crisis strategy.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Mind the Gap...

Tom proposed the research title to be 'Mind the Gap: differences between theories and practice in the emerging field of experiential service design.' The first stage can be described as 'locating the platform...' mainly refer to the literature on existing theories and practice...

I've been given some thoughts on the conversation Bill had with me yesterday...
the ontological assumptions are out there, even with three graphs to go with ( well done~ us! ) the conceptual model is just started, we kinda get a blured image of what it is... it is not (yet) a model or process... the order and hierachy is not that important at this stage, get things out there with lots and lots of ontological assumptions will be the point. So far we settle with a 'checklist', framed according to the organisational activity or components... if we use Bill's favourite term 'skeletal' to describe the conceptual model, then we now have the backbone!

This morning, I actually think this is more of a map. To be honest, I don't even think the sequence is such a important thing while flexibility is what we propose. A map is more suitable, as there will be certain hierachy in it, but it allows more freedom to creat different pathways in different situations.

So maybe the second stage can be called 'bring a map...'...ha ha... I love it!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Dundee Degree Show 2008

went for the Degree Show in Dundee on Friday and find something very interesting in IPD (innovative prodcut design)... the three 'service design ' students that I talked to earlier in the semester have progressed well. Especially the idea of writ to the future has a strong potential to become a very interesting service system if developed a bit further. The text-order-music one is a bit pointless to me, maybe just because I am not a techy kind of persone...

It is quite funny that when students start to play with in this concept of 'service design', you see it turns from designing one product into designing many products... or one poster into a poster that shows on your mobile, on the wall and on the TV... something is missing there... eventhough I am not quite sure what is missing.

Compared with real-world practice, most of the student work stop in a conceptual level. The nature of inter-discipline in a 'service design' project somehow is lost if it stays in a conceptual level. Fundemantally it is the use of a service system that makes it valuable. By its nature, most of the services are produced simultaneously. Design ideas fail apart when it is produced, if the delivery system cannot work actively with the provider and consumer althoghter after implementation. Once designed, a product can be re-produced by machines at a certain quality guarantee. While service system have to be designed with a people system in mind. As for the education in service design, the people aspects as producers are still isolated from the design process.

For people as producer to be considered, the conceptual of management -- the science of organising people -- is inevitable here... that brings another level of complexity to the problem solving process... maybe 'service design' itself is really too complex and not possible to achive a full understanding at tha undergraduate level education... but I am still very happy to see students try to tackle such problems. Even the rising of such an awareness itself is healthy move to bring in fresh ideas...

I am very happy to see one of the service design solution is designed by a student coming to the Master of Design course next year... hope that she can carry the interest on 'service design' onto the master programme. It would be exciting to see people brings all these new thoughts into the research of service design!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Service Design Conference 2008

Just find this conference seems fit perfectly into my research...however, I am not going...wish that I could though...
All the presenters are quite heavy-weight researchers and practioners in service design...
Hope to go next year if they still have one!

" This year the service design conference takes place at the Hong Kong Design Center.

The conference will explore a range of issues in the customer’s journey such as how to look at the service process through the eyes of the customer; how to create visible evidence of customer value and lasting impressions of the service provider at touch points; and how service design can offer policy makers and practitioners a vision for the transformation of public services. Case studies will show how design-specific competences can be systematically developed within service organisations including those in the public sector. "

see the website of Service.Design.Network for details...