When I started in the Digital By Design team at Stockport Council about two and a half years ago (as the first explicit service designer), I knew very little about what my future in design and government would hold. I had come more or less straight out of university to find myself in a completely new environment – all that was certain was my passion to use design for good, and my curiosity to explore new spaces where design and creativity could add value.
Time flew, and here I am a couple years later, as the ex-service design lead and a new role in Berlin with Tech4Germany (a programme bringing ‘fellows’ and central government ministries together for three months to work on a specific project). Leaving Stockport was a hard decision, but I like to think that my time there made this next adventure in my life possible in the first place. So, before I dive headfirst into designing an easier tax journey for German pensioners, I wanted to share what I’ve learned along the way.
Services Week is an annual celebration of transformation and end to end service design in central and local government. Many live and remotely hosted events happened across England and Scotland, and for the first time we at Stockport Council joined in.
What we did during the week
We started small this year to test the water, so our Services Week consisted of group viewings of the remote lunch time case studies and one community of practice session on user research. We want everyone to know at least a little bit about human centered design and service design, so the sessions were advertised and open to a wide range of colleagues from different areas and disciplines.
(Co-written with Eve Bello and Amy Wren. First published on the #DigitalStockport blog – August 30, 2019)
In our last post, we talked about how we approached developing and delivering a new recruitment journey for foster carers, and what each stage of the process involved. This time we will explain each ‘project’ in more detail and how we got to where we are now.
1. Website content – drawing people in and supporting them to take action
From our research, it was clear that the information on our website could benefit from improvement so that potential foster carers could feel engaged, informed and ready to start their fostering journey. We held interviews with foster carers, carried out competitor analysis and created empathy maps and personas to understand what information users needed from the website.
(Co-written with Rinto Cyriac. First published on the #DigitalStockport blog – April 18, 2019)
What we learned from this year’s Global Service Jam
This year’s global service jam took place from the 29th – 31st March. All kinds of people, familiar with service design or not, gathered at 124 locations worldwide to ideate and prototype around a surprise brief. We attended the sessions in Manchester and Liverpool and, as first time service design jammers, took away lots of learning that we hope to apply in our work going forward.
Previous blogs have mentioned our move away from a distinct digital programme to an agile organisation harnessing digital and other tools to meet the needs of our users in the most cost effective way. We have made significant progress in improving the relationship between IT and services and as collaborative teams we work together on the improvement of user journeys and jointly prioritise work.
A few months ago, the Digital by Design team started working with Stockport’s fostering team (part of Stockport Family, the council’s integrated service for children, young people and families.) Fostering was picked as a priority area to tackle, requiring an in depth discovery phase and the beginning of a holistic service re-design.
During my first few weeks at Stockport Council I noticed that many of the key principles and methods of service design were being applied, but not necessarily identified or externalized as such. This not only makes it more difficult to demonstrate the value service design has brought/can bring to the table, but is also a barrier to teams thinking more strategically about service design approaches.
To kick start the process of raising awareness of what service design actually is, what it entails and what terminology it involves, I ran a Lunch and Learn session (a casual 20 minute presentation). In “10 Things You Should Know About Service Design” I tried to capture what (I believe) the essentials around this fairly new design discipline are. To keep it short and blog appropriate, here are my top three…
Ed Whitlock is 85 years old. As I researched this article, he beat the world record marathon time for his age group by almost fourty minutes . Once he retired, he had time on his hands and got serious again . The reason I have introduced Ed is not only because I, strangely enough, also jog past a graveyard every day. It is because whilst passing the graves and tombstones, the future of ageing is often on my mind.
How can things remain physical in a digital, virtual world?
We are, undoubtedly moving towards a world in which the everyday things that surround us are becoming more virtual and less physical. One can find apps for absolutely anything, replacing much that once occupied physical space in digital format. Things like photos, music, movies and letters are, no longer tangible ‘objects’, but rather a file somewhere, on some device.
Simply put, my understanding of the circular economy has been waste equals food. However, I have just completed an online course (mentioned here previously) which has broadened that understanding and really shifted my perception of this highly promising approach. Continue reading “Closing the Loop”→