Tuesday, 27 January 2009

My Wall

I guess that's my visual methodology... I can't really do drawing...
Not sure if my office-mates love me or hate me for the mess...
First door left is mine office by the way...
Welcome to pop in anytime for a nice afternoon chat :)

Thursday, 22 January 2009

conference and tourism

Just got an invitation from a design workshop in Taiwan - DeSForM.
what interests me is that they have a half-day scheduled on the programme doing guided tour in Taipei as part of the workshop. This then reminds me that the D2B2 conference in Beijing has scheduled a whole day for guided tour in Beijing... I am not quite sure whether it is a cultural thing or not, as I never recall any tour schedule in European conference (maybe they should do it?) May be it is simply because the Asian are very keen on impressing the foreigners with a cultural shock... It is very interesting how the host to make the city itself as a saling point for a conference! Guess if we host a conference/workshop in Dundee, we shall get everyone hike along the Tay or something ;-)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Service Design Drinks

Envy the people who are going... don't think I will make it all the way to London, but anyone nearby should go!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

D2B2 keynote speakers

Just got the list of Keynote speakers of D2B2 - looking interesting...

Dr Bill Hollins - I guess that we are all familiar with his commnet on Service Design on the Design Council's website. Also he is behind the British Stadard on Service Design and Design Management.

Gordon P. Bruce - Design policy and strategy specialist. Gordon has been involved in many extrem complex and large scope projects with IBM, Mobil Oil and Samgsung... think there will be interesting insights from him in project management involving multiple stakeholders!

Yao Yingjia - the leader of the first industrial design team in Lenovo... ops, they took over the laptop manufacturing from IBM years ago, wonder how they are dealing with the future of PC now?

Kathryn Best - the author of the brilliant book 'Design Managment', I love the book and have to say it is impressively beautiful as a management book (which is not an easy thing)!

Dr Thomas Lockwood - the president of DMI, another design management guru. DMI just had a feature on Service Design last year in one of their seasonal review.

Professor James Woudhuysen – another big name in social innovation, to be honest, I don't know much about him... gotta do some research…

Kobayashi Takayuki – from Sony’s VAIO group, I wonder how Sony is position themselves in the market now? Haven’t heard much about them after they lost the mp3 player war to iPod… although the legend of Walkman still go round in the text books for Product Design students :)

Anyway, it seems that I am going to the right place to meet the right people. Fingers still crossed for the paper acceptance and the funding to go to Beijing!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Three questions to the Service Design world

I proposed three questions as the conclusion of a conference paper to D2B2 in Beijing, and the paper is now going through the reviewing process (fingers crossed for me~). Well, I am not going to bore you with the literature review blah in the paper. In this post I only put forward the three questions to the Service Design world - mainly from a management perspective - and my thoughts for you to comment, advise and criticise. Happy reading :)

Question 1: How do we change our understanding of the design process in Service Innovation?

Traditionally, design processes were modelled on practices that create tangible objects such as a building, a product or an advert. Different theoretical models highlight slight variations in the stages, but the final outcome is always a synthesised plan that goes straight into production. The uniqueness of service design is that the design outcome is a living system that evolves over time as a result of rich human involvement. The distributed pattern of Service Innovation suggests that the result of the design process is open to future changes. The design outcome is not a solution to a certain problem, but a starting point for stimulating more innovations in the service system. This ties service design process closely towards concepts such as Open Innovation and knowledge diffusion science (see E. Rogers).

Question 2: What are the designer’s new roles while working with multiple stakeholders?

For service designers, working with multiple stakeholders acting as silent designers brings difficulties and opportunities to the development of new types of design practice. The service design practitioners in the field nowadays are mostly from a production design, interactive media design or a marketing related background. Therefore, for them to work in a service organisation, service designers are often facing questions such as: where are the hidden silent designers in a service system? What kind of specialized knowledge do they have that can be beneficial to designers? What kind of tools and methods can design provide to unlock stakeholders’ creativity? How do designers work beyond boundaries for collaboration?

Current service design practitioners use visuals and prototypes to interpret different stakeholders’ languages into a vision that everyone can use to relate themselves to the design process. However, they should be aware that a service system will have to be able to self-recover and self-improve after the designers step away. Therefore, service designers, rather than simply the creators of a system, have multiple roles. They are the explorers in discovering customer experiences and also the communicators of its complexity. They are the negotiators of value and the mediators that bring different stakeholders together. Most importantly, as members of a profession with a long history of employing creative methods, service designers become the ideal people to unlock the power for innovation within the organisation at all levels. Working with multiple stakeholders, they have the responsibility to turn the silent designers into active designers. This role of facilitator in organisation environments requires not only visual communication skills but also some basic understanding of ‘empowerment’ – a concept often found in power discourse, social psychology and even philosophy (see M. Foucault, Mary Parker Follett ).

Question 3: How would design’s value be recognised and accepted by other disciplines in Service Knowledge?

With a general recognition of the economic and social value of service, many other disciplines are also conducting new research and concepts in service related issues. At the same time, the awareness of building a multi-disciplinary service community has increased within service science, management and engineering (SSME). At the 2007 AMA Frontiers in Service Research conference, Epworth et al. used the metaphor of a ‘big tent’ that brings service science, management, engineering and art together with a central ‘tent pole’ of the service customer (see Fisk and Grove, in press).

Service designers, with special values to bring to this process of knowledge sharing, should be encouraged to get involved in multi-disciplinary research and practices. At the same time, design education should take the responsibility of introducing service knowledge to a future generation of designers. ‘T-Shaped’ design graduates with skills in design expertise and with a business vision in mind will be capable to work collaboratively with other people in multi-disciplinary teams to share the value of creativity.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Cambridge Service Science, Management and Engineering Symposium


"The field of Service Science, Management, and Engineering (SSME) has made substantial progress in recent years. There is a growing perception, however, that it is time to take stock and to explore the possibility of bringing some coherence into the emerging strands of knowledge and experience. "
It was a SSME conference in 2007, lots of paper from marketing and operational management.
Special attention paid to 'Services Science – The opportunity to re-think whatwe know about service design' by Chris Voss - a name you should know from the famous report on Experiential Service from London Business School. Find his idea of 'Service Achitecture' is very interesting... I actually used this phrase in my research discussion before (with a slightly different meaning) Mmmnn... may do a post on it later...

Monday, 12 January 2009

Touchpoint - The first Service Design Journal

From Service Design Network.

" The service design network will launch the first ever Service Design Journal; Touchpoint, in January 2009. Touchpoint aims at creating a forum for discussion and debate amongst Service Organizations, Professionals, Students and Educators of service design. Birgit Mager, Oliver King, Lavrans Lovlie, Fran Samalionis and arcel Zweirs being the contributors to the first edition, the journal features news and rends, interviews, insightful discussions and case studies."

Just put it in an order for the library again... hopefully it will arrive soon! Keep an eye on the library shelves ;-)

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Take a Do Good Pledge!

David Berman's book Do Good Design talks about designers responsibility in repairing our world.

1. I will be true to my profession.
2. I will be true to myself.
3. I will spend at least 10% of my professional time helping repair the world.

Also you can post stories of your own Do Good Design to their Flickr site: www.flickr.com/groups/dogooddesign/

I will say all the MDes projects should go on there!

I just order the book to the library, so you guys (in Dundee) should be able to find it soon when you get back to the Uni~ Happy reading~

By the way... On the front page I found something really familiar (with a smile): 做好设计不够,还需行善有益

Friday, 9 January 2009


New talents emergE everyday in our business... Now we get new types of design angencies that do not even work under a design title... how cool is that?

XPLANE claims to be a visual thinking company... the site is really interesting so are the projects (see the problem they solved~)!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

BBC use the power of Open Innovation

just noticed the BBC Innovation Lab website...

the briefs online covers different apects of BBC as a media group, I checked out the Scotland part in particular and find the team's discussions have a really interesting diversity.

I am always facinated by any practice in Open Innovation, where innovation is no longer the privileges of couple of specialists in the R&D team in labs that fulled with tubes and expensive machines. Designers used to be - well often still are - one of these specialists, especially if you are from a industrial design background. As a profession that deal with creative tools and process at daily basis, designers now have new roles to play and new value to provide. For example, in many Open Innovation cases, designer's abilities to facilitate the ideas stimulation and to synthesis the outputs of innovation process can provid more value than simply being the creator of these ideas. On the other hand, it does become a challenge to ask designer to 'hand over' (or possibly share is a better word here) the right to be the creative one(s). I still remember coming across this saying of 'designers are designing themselve out of job by passing their skills to others' in the conversation with Lauren the other day, and we both think that the changing role of designer should be understood as an opportunity for designers to move up the value creation chain rather than a dangrous terrior we try to hide from. It creates more jobs at strategic level for our future designers.

The innovation is changing, in service or product, in private or public sector, with the emerging of new apporaches to innovate such as Open Innovation. It is not only the design practitioners who are developing, the people they design for/with is developing as well. Developing the ability of giving away 'the right to design' (at the right time) might be the next challenge to both pioneering practitioners and design students.

by the way... here arecouple of other groups that champion Open Innovation... might be helpful if you are interested:

IBM - an innovator with a dramatic history, also a big supportor behind the Service Science concept... after turning itself from a PC manufacturer to an IT solution consultancy in the early 90's, IBM is still cited as a classic example of business transform towards the New Economy. I guess it definitely has something to do with the non-stop exploratory of new ways of innovations in not only their business offering but also business strategies.

Microsoft - Microsoft's attempt to arranged a design contest for building the next generation PC...

Lego - Lego join the community of Open Innovation by launching the Lego Factory, a site that combines mass-customisation and open innovation together to allow kids design their own Lego toys.

Nike - NikeID started the trend of have customised fashion and sports products ordered online. Like Lego, a move that reflects the development of mass-customisation technologies.

NineSigma - the biggest Open Innovation community online...

InnoCentive - another open innovation community that takes research and development problems in a broad range of domains such as engineering, computer science, math, chemistry, life sciences, physical sciences and business, frames them as "challenge problems", and opens them up for anyone to solve them.

Just discovered an interesting
Book Project using an Open Innovation approach to get people involved in the creation of a business model innovation book by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur ... check it out to see if you'd like to contribute :)

service or trap?

Personally I am going through a refunding war with Lloyds TSB and Amazon.com... I am not going to bore you guys with the frustrating details of the story but this experience actually makes me think about what a good service actually is.

I believe that both TSB and Amazon has invest hugely in their marketing, service process systems and trainnings, but still those investments only involve getting more customers to spend more money, otherwise interacting with the organisation becomes a total disaster. Interestingly, you see this clear separation between the 'product' and the 'service' (or often, 'customer service' or 'after-sale services'), even when the 'product' is a financial service or retail service itself. The 'product', clearly brings money to the organisation, while the 'service' often is considered as costing money - losing money to the customers. However, to the customer, it is one integrated experience that they had during the interactions with the organisation. And customers always notice failures in their experience, no matter whether it is in the ‘product’ or the ‘service’.

Good design can't be seen, only the bad ones get noticed because they get in the way. So true is it to design, so as to services. A service system needs to be designed to prepare for things to go wrong, and handling the errors at the same standard as the money-making situations. Otherwise we are only going to design services into beautiful traps. But do we design things to go wrong? We don't, obviously. Then why things go wrong so easily in service organisations? Because it is people we hand our design solutions to, not the assembly lines or the printers or the servers. And people interpret rules rather than simply follow. When the staff from ‘customer service’ departments have different (often more negative) attitude/understanding of the customer value than those from ‘product’ departments, they obviously treat the customer differently, even though both parts are in the same organisation, handling the same business offerings, treating the same customer.

A product designer of course can leave the ‘service’ matters to the service team. I am just curious... to whom can service designer leave these matters?

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Do service design need researchers?

A friend passed on this post from Choosenick to me…

It was Nick March from Engine commenting on a research assisstant position in Lancaster University. In this post he claims two of his concerns about getting university doing 'research' project in service design, which then concerns me, as a researcher myself.

Nick says:

“Firstly, the project is labeled as 'research', but its principally a (service) design project. Design is different from research in that it explicitly seeks to change and improve existing things, whereas research aims to study and understand existing things. Of course the two activities are intimately related, and you can't do good design without good research first, but I believe that if one starts a project with the intent to change practice it's a design project, and as such should be led by designers. Which leads to my second concern about the project - it should be being run by a service design company, with experienced service designers planning and facilitating the 'participatory design workshops', not a university and a project team of academics.
This project is exactly the kind of work that we're doing at Engine, and that others such as livework and Thinkpublic are also pushing hard to develop practice and projects around. Why is a university, supported by taxpayers cash, pitching and running projects that commercial agencies can do (better)? Not to mention that all the approaches (including the founding principle of Design-led public service design) being 'researched' are borrowed from agencies such as ours. They should be researching us, not competing with us.”

The so called service design methodologies/ approaches such as literature review, case studies, interviews, video ethnography and participatory design workshops do NOT particularly belong to anyone, design companies or academia. The statement of claiming that researchers are borrowing approaches from agencies is almost arrogant. I have not yet come across any ethnographer saying that service designers should stop using their camera for observation.

Secondly, the definition of research that Nick is referring to is very narrow in terms of academic research. Using practice-lead research in the field of art and design has now been generally recognised as a way for researchers to gain knowledge as a practicing designer. ‘can't do good design without good research first’, I believe that Nick’s definition of research here refers to one of the preparation/diagnose stage in the designer process. However, research as academic research is a reasoning process that aims at achieving new knowledge and understanding what’s happening in real world at both/either applicable and theoretical levels. University research projects, although often cooperate with design practitioners, should not be simply understood as descriptive reflections on what practitioner do. Instead, researcher has the responsibility of formalising the knowledge generated by their own practices and then feed insights back to practitioners such as consultants to improve their performance. I would rather see this relationship as an evolving development that benefits both sides rather than a competition.

I know many service designers are/were in academia themselves. I hope that this pretty arrogant attitude towards academic research does not represent the general relationship between practitioners and researchers in the field of Service Design.

a little bit more reflection here over the continuing conversation in Nick's (great place!)...
It can be dangerous to put research and practice in a versus. The two are one in their natural, only different perspectives. What I alwasy appraciate about the Service Design community is that close and support relationship between academic and practice. I do want we keep this relationship and move on together for the development of this discipline for good.

Also... an interesting arcticle from this issue of International Journal of Design on 'Why Do We Need Doctoral Study in Design? ' by Meredith Davis. Good arguements there!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

New Year~ New Start~

I had a lovely chat with Lauren Tan over dinner last night - a perfect beginning to get me back to work. It was very interesting that we actually started our PhD around the same time on very similar topics - excited! what's more interesting is that we started with very different in research methodology: Lauren with Grounded Theory so she start with data collecting; while I doing Case Study, starting with structure developing... but the results & reflections of our research so far echo each other so wonderfully.

This year I shall be doing the empirical part of my research and begin to writ up - excited again!!! I am really looking forward to having more conversations with design practitioners and other researchers - wish that they are as good as this one! And this might be the last year I work in the Master of Design course as a Teaching Fellow, so... really hope that all the students will do a great job in 2009! Besides, I agreed to help out DHTP with some teaching work so I am looking forward to meeting my group - also wish to use this chance to overcome I fear of 'young people' ;-)