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.