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On Wednesday 9th November the CRISP team were joined by world renowned design thinker Don Norman, where we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to present the progress of the GRIP project so far and share Don's thoughts and insights. 

Don made some particularly shrewed observations that certainly give us food for thought. As we are about to embark on the hands-on phase of the project, working with a few different stakeholders as partners to test run our service model and ideas, this was especially constructive. Given Don's experience of multidisciplinary collaborations it was interesting that he focused in on the "define terms of stakeholder collaboration " stage in our service model diagram. Don's suggestion was that this stage should be moved from its current position, as a preliminary stage, to an integral part of the iterative cycle, after all, such is the complexity of these relationships, this is something that should be under constant review. Going further, Don recommended that we take a slightly different stance in the beginning of our partnerships. By fostering a company client [like] relationship as a strategy, we can build trust and confidence in our abilities, allowing us to slowly integrate our own design methodologies. I found this remark particularly insightful as it reminds me of a discussion within the GRIP team regarding how we might develop our data led service. As a group we are wary of developing partnerships where we essentially work with partners as if they were clients, as we believe that to develop a successful service we need to develop both the front and back end, and therefore, it is not enough to simply create visualisations for existing data sets. However, it is perhaps naive to think that you can build this from the beginning, and so Don's remark points towards an approach where we really get to the heart of our research question ("How can design successfully influence job related stress services?") by delving deeper into the existing stress landscape. Bearing this in mind GRIP should adopt a strategic role in the development of the service, facilitating both the collection and visualisation of data, as well as taking an active position in the co-creation process and design of solutions.

As a final point I'd like to refer to a question from the audience that day. In response to our concept of developing data visualisations as a means to trigger awareness, the question was floated: 

"Would people actually want to be confronted by their own stress and share this with others?"

This is a perfectly logical question, and something we have wrestled with. However, just because it might be confronting is not a reason to avoid this approach. The fact remains, within the modern workplace, job stress IS still considered career suicide. Any strategy towards stress must acknowledge this and attempt to break the cycle. To quote Maurice de Valk, one of the Experts we have spoken with during our research:

"Burnout only happens in sick organisations, not to people who are sick. Burnout is not the problem, it is the symptom."

This in essence explains our shift from looking at individuals to group solutions. Our focus should be on using group dynamics as a method to stimulate discussion on the issue of stress within the workplace. Everyone is in this together. In fact, you might state our role within the existing stress landscape is as facilitator, to help catalyse the dialogue and co-creation process. Our decision to focus on data is merely the trigger for this discussion. The way I describe this might suggest that I think this is easy – it is anything but. Personally, I believe the greatest challenge is to make both individuals and groups aware of how this data relates to them, in their specific context. This explains my eagerness to look at the whole process from data collection to data visualisation, to see how we as facilitators, can engage employees and motivate them to change. And this, in essence, is what I believe design can do.

Published: 23-Nov-2011 09:52


Projects, Grip
  • CRISP meeting with Don Norman

    Current GRIP service model presented to Don Norman