As a sponsor of the recent Service Design in Government conference, we had a prime opportunity to engage with the service design community from our stand. Rather than taking the usual approach of using our position as a sponsor to purely “sell” ourselves, we wanted to openly gather and share some insights into the Service Design community.
We are always experimenting with new ideas, tools and techniques within our UX Design Practice, and have recently tried some of the concepts from LEGO Serious Play. Instead of participants using the usual UX design staples of post-it notes and sharpies, this method facilitates meeting, communication and the problem-solving process with LEGO. While I encourage you to read more about the methodology, our main takeaway was that we found LEGO to be an effective and constructive facilitator for tackling thornier matters that are typically hard to discuss. For example, we asked everyone in the team to express their main frustration with work by building a LEGO representation of it. The difficulty and slowness of of articulating abstract concepts in such a concrete manner – as well as the inevitable collaboration that ensues in such situations – forced everyone take time to consider their frustration from different angles and establish a much more rounded perspective on their concern. Furthermore, the playfulness of the approach took a lot of the sting out of the subject and channelled it towards something more creative.
Based on this positive experience, we thought it would be fun to try a version of this technique as a means of gathering and sharing insights into the community at Service Design in Government. To keep things simple, we posed a single question with a prompt to answer it with 5(ish) words and an accompanying LEGO model. This format also meant we were able to pose a different question each day of the 3-day conference to keep things fresh for us and attendees. The aim was to see if any themes might surface and provide all attendees with visibility of the responses:
Here follow the 3 questions we posed along with thematic samples of models (and associated descriptions) that were produced by conference attendees.
What is the biggest challenge you are facing on your current project?
What is the biggest challenge you are currently facing within your organisation?
What will you do differently after this conference?
More widely at the conference, we met lots of interesting people, had numerous fascinating conversations and learned all sorts from the sessions.
One theme that emerged throughout was the community beginning to recognise that Service Design can perhaps be overly focused on deep understanding of the problems and questions at the expense of actually addressing them. That is, many people we met and sessions we attended showed phenomenal capability in research, synthesis and ideation, but less so in the design ‘craft’, the realisation of ideas and their delivery. It is going to be intriguing to see if, or how, this changes as Service Design begins to mature.