On the 18th October we set off to San Francisco for the Service Design Network Conference 2012, where we were scheduled to hold a GRIP workshop, titled Job Stress: From Taboo to business. The trip, apart from a welcome change of scenery, was an opportunity to share our process so far with a mix of experts from service design, business and academia. It was also, a chance to gain more of an understanding of service design and to fill in perceived gaps in our knowledge. In that sense I think we had perhaps been a bit too hard on ourselves. Prior to the event we were concerned that our approach might seem somewhat amateur. In fact, what we learned was that in many ways our approach was quite forward thinking.

The Service Model, which we had been regularly revising and updating, acted as the starting point for our workshop. The aim was to, in effect, take the workshop participants from the initial stages through one, complete loop of the iterative cycle. To do so we began with a short presentation illustrating our process so far, followed by 3 exercises to help stimulate the discussion on this topic. We also hoped to replicate the challenge of co-creating a service with multiple stakeholders, therefore, we decided to begin the workshop with a roleplaying exercise. The participants were divided equally into four groups, each representing a specific stakeholder group within the existing stress landscape: Stress Expert, Technology Provider, Company and End User. Each group was provided with a case study and template containing service related questions to help set the tone for discussion. In the second exercise participants were placed into mixed-stakeholder groups and invited to develop a service focusing on one of the stakeholders as client. With this exercise we hoped to highlight the issues and differences of developing a service targeting customers other than end users. We anticipated that participants would learn that, in the creation of new products or services, it is important to empathise with stakeholders other than solely the end user, as this approach can provide richer and more diverse input. Unfortunately, in this exercise, [some] participants appeared to forget or even struggled to remain in their role. This might be because they found it difficult to identify themselves with their role (though this was certainly not the case with the end user group). Alternatively, perhaps they misunderstood the exercise as four stakeholders sharing the same goal rather than a true negotiation? At the very least it did appear that it was difficult for the majority of the participants to empathise with one another when they did not share a common goal and as a result some of the groups struggled to find a focus. This does of course beg the question, if participants had remained in the same stakeholder groups that were defined in Exercise 1, would they have found it easier to co-create their service? In hindsight, perhaps there should have been an additional exercise between Exercises 1 and 2, where individuals in multi-stakeholder groups were invited to share their issues, needs and resources, thus highlighting potential areas for collaboration. We assumed that this would happen naturally, but in reality, by immediately jumping into service creation, many of the groups slotted into a typical end user focus. One approach we might consider for the future would be to give each stakeholder group props, such as clothing or objects, to help individuals get into character and stay in their role. Funnily enough, though, these issues were almost exclusive to the 2nd exercise, for in Exercise 3, we introduced data.

In this final exercise the multi-stakeholder groups were asked to consider the potential impact of data upon the service they defined in Exercise 2. Participants were invited to contemplate both data collection and presentation considering related data issues such as Group versus individual, active versus passive, public versus private etc. For those groups who had had difficulties finding a focus for their service, it seemed as if suddenly the light had come on. Our aim all along, had been to let participants experience our service model in action (without explaining the why), to discover if the participants might come to similar conclusions to ourselves. In this final exercise the advantages of a data led approach became apparent, revealing hidden insights and offering the potential for new, evidence based design solutions. On reflection, perhaps our aims could have been made more explicit from the outset, however, we felt that by letting the participants come to the ah-ha moment themselves, that we would gain a more honest opinion of our service model. In that sense the confusion from Exercise 2 may have been avoided if we had been more clear of our goals from the beginning. However, you could also argue that had we taken a more creative approach we may have stimulated more of a discussion amongst the multi-stakeholder groups. For example, during the presentation we gave quite standard examples of data visualisations which may have influenced the groups approach to data collection and visualisation. Similarly, the lack of data in Exercise 1 and 2, or at least not being explicit in which exercise data would appear, may have led to some confusion in terms of the aims.

But we're being quite critical of ourselves. This was the first time that we had presented our concept outside of the GRIP / CRISP environment, and while we were optimistic of the benefits of the approach developed over the last 6 months, we were cautious as to how it would be received. Thankfully the workshop was successful in giving us the confidence needed to move forward with our concept as it was clear that industry professionals could see the potential for our data led service.

Published: 22-Nov-2011 14:40


Projects, Grip
  • GRIP Workshop @ SDNC 2011

    GRIP Workshop @ SDNC 2011