Global gathering of designers offers learning opportunities

Danielle Lake, director of design thinking, and Dawan Stanford, consulting director of design thinking, attended the Service Design Global Conference held Oct. 10-11 in Toronto.

Danielle Lake, director of design thinking, and Dawan Stanford, consulting director of design thinking, attended the Service Design Global Conference held Oct. 10-11 in Toronto. Themed “Building Bridges,” the 12th annual conference brought designers, design educators, and innovation leaders from around the world.

Service Design Network (SDN), founded in 2004, is a nonprofit institution dedicated to developing service design as a practice. It creates and delivers services we use every day. Service designers focus on how to help people have wonderful experiences that get the results they seek. Here’s a 3-minute introduction to service design.

Lake and Stanford went to the SDN conference hoping to find opportunities to enhance how Elon By Design serves student learning and new ways to explore design thinking across campus. They weren’t disappointed. They discovered ways service design is excelling and falling short, social and business application examples, as well as new tools for addressing design challenges.

Here’s some of what Lake and Stanford brought home:

1) Combine Journey Maps With Behavioral Science

Anne van Lieren from Livework Studio presented a half-day workshop on how to use journey mapping and behavioral science to design for behavior change. If you’ve been to the Center for Design Thinking for the Experience Mapping Workshop you know that a journey map looks at what someone does and experiences over time as they engage in a learning experience. LiveWork is examining the way cognitive biases, behavioral nudges and rational overrides impact behavior across the journey and redesigning experiences that can better support behaviors. Learn more.

2) System Design and Expanding System Awareness

Service designers create and refine services that interact directly and indirectly with multiple systems. Julie Guinn argued that designers need to bring greater systems awareness to the work they do. She highlighted tools we can all use to navigate and reshape systems like rich-picture mapping and the iceberg model. See the full list.

3) Service Design in Health Care

Josina Vink of the Oslo School of Architecture and Design lists consulting as a service designer at the Mayo Clinic as part of her extensive experience. She presented a talk called “In/Visible: Shaping Hidden Social Structures Through Service Design.” She opens a new space for design by revealing hidden assumptions and barriers preventing designers from connecting service design to ecosystem design. Learn more.

4) Transforming Communities Through Service Design

Fogo Island, the largest island off the coast of Newfoundland, was once a small community with a struggling population. Globalization and modernization represented threats to both the islanders’ livelihood and their traditional ways of life. To help revitalize and preserve Fogo Island, Zita Cobb founded an organization called Shorefast, which has helped the islanders become more culturally and economically resilient. Fogo Island exemplifies what is possible with context-aware design conducted as a community.

5) Service Design in Large Organizations vs. Startups

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from service design principles, but established organizations have very different resources from startups, which often operate on a shoestring. What does it mean to have to build from scratch versus working with an established system? These varying approaches require designers to apply their skills in unique ways.

At the conference, Jesse Grimes of Amsterdam-based Kolmiot presented a workshop titled “Service Design for Startups: Adapting Our Practice for a New Frontier.” Grimes, who is an internationally recognized service design thought leader, has intentionally focused on the unique needs of startups in his work. Though service design is still a relatively new concept in the world of entrepreneurial businesses, Grimes has found a variety of ways to use his talents to benefit small companies and has provided his best advice for succeeding as a service designer for startups.

6) Designing a Peer-to-Peer Overdose System

During his talk, “Overdose: Service Design in the Time of Crisis,” Tai Huynh of UHN OpenLab gave a presentation about how service designers can work in their communities to develop lifesaving services, using their skills to build relationships and trust. This work led to the Overdose Response Network prototype, which helps drug users link to their nearby social network with naloxone to create virtual safe injection sites.

What’s Next?

Lake and Stanford saw service design and design thinking continue to provide new ways of finding problems worth solving and generating responses to them in and with the world around us. With the conference behind them, they are asking, “Which ideas should we incorporate into Elon By Design and what the Center for Design Thinking offers?” Let them know what excites you: