As should be apparent from the ideas outlined in this blog post, I see my interest in the ideas of design, systems thinking, community engagement and smart cities as very much interconneted. I have argued that I believe that effective design, especially design that is concerned with complex problems, requires community involvement. I have also argued that smart cities are an example of complex environments that require community involvement in design to achieve effective and impactful results.
This blog post focuses on the relationships between power, user research and design. Consideration of power and empowerment was central to my PhD research, and my community sector roles as well as my user research work. Based on all of these I believe that it is impossible to achieve anything more than incremental change without challenging existing power structures. As such vested power interests and existing organisational structures and hierarchies are amongst the most significant barriers to improving user experience in most organisations.
Since starting to work in the field of user experience I have become increasingly aware of dysfunctional products and services. My tolerance for them has also decreased as I have become aware of how they could or perhaps even how they should be improved.
Over the last few months I have experienced one of the worst experiences of customer service I have every received. It was from the UK passport system, HM Passport Office. If they were deliberately trying to design a dysfunctional system, I’m not sure what else could be done to make it worse.
In this post I briefly outline the evolution of design into how it is now being applied to address complex problems. I discuss how systems and design thinking are being combined in this space and consider some implications for skill requirements. I also reflect on my own background and what I may have to offer.
The shift in design from a process focussed purely on the aesthetics and functionality of products towards one that also includes services is now firmly established…..
Today Argos and DHL gave me the gift of poor customer experience. It’s only a gift, for me, because I’ve been working as a user researcher / service designer and so it’s actually useful for me to see what poor customer service looks like. It provides me with insight into how services could be improved. […]
As part of my commitment to personal development, a while back I did a course in service design. It was an intensive 5 day course delivered by the people who wrote the book on it, the book This Is Service Design Doing (TiSDD). Something that struck me by the end of the week is that, I am a service designer. During the week it became apparent that there is a lot that I have done during my lifetime, even if at the time it wasn’t always delivered with a service design label on it.
The course emphasized that service design is broad and evolving and due to this nobody is an expert in all areas of service design, all service designers have their strengths and weaknesses, so when I say I am a service designer, I am not saying that I already have expertise in everything that could fit within the service design box, nobody can say that. What I am saying is that I have a lot of skills and experience that can be packaged into a service design box.
The course focussed on what they defined as the four pillars of service design, research, ideation. prototyping and implementation. I outline below the expertise that I have that fit within each of these pillars.
In my transition from academia into user research I have found that not only have I been able to bring with me a lot of expertise from my research background, but I have also been able to apply understanding from management roles and facilitation skills from my performance background.
I argue that the combination of my academic, professional and lived experience is quite unique. They have given me deep understanding of how to improve the healthcare system and how to digital technology could be applied to improve healthcare efficiency. My motivation is not financially driven, it’s more that I have gained skills and understanding that could be applied to making the system work better and my life experience has shown me just how important that is.
As a brief taster, my PhD findings indicated that technology could not improve efficiency alone. To make the system work better, it is important to create different relationships with and through information technology. It’s not just the technology that is used that is important, it’s how the tools are used and how they are integrated into the system that’s important. For more detail feel free to: read my thesis, contact me or even better, hire me to work with you to help make the system work more effectively, or at least to improve one part of the system.
From the above it should be clear that whilst the involvement of consultants in the UK contact tracing system has not always resulted in improvements I am quite different to the consultants that have been part of the current mess. The combination of my academic, creative and health management background gives me a unique set of skills and understanding that I could apply to help address this issue. These in combination with 6 months of experience in evaluating Covid19 contact tracing in the UK this year make me uniquely placed to help fix the problem. I also add that my motivation for wanting to be employed to help address this issue is not primarily financial. I would certainly not be asking for anything like the £7,000 per day rates that have been allegedly charged by some consultants. The tag line for this blog is digital innovation for good. I want to help primarily because given the opportunity I could help. I would like to help as I believe that improving our contact tracing system would help save both lives and livelihoods as I outline in this earlier blog post and this piece in the BMJ.
In this peer reviewed academic journal article I outline and define and discuss the concept of smart community in the context of healthcare efficiency. I argue that this digital concept contains insights to improving health care and healthcare efficiency.
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