Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

thinkpublic makes Marketing Weeks top 50 agencies

It’s pretty cool to see that we made Marketing Week’s top 50 agencies this year.
Being the first Service Design specialist to make the top 50 category.
Its great to see service design starting to be recognised alongside other design disciplines.

We’re looking forward to 2013!

The power of time off

I’ve just been watching Stefan Sagmeister’s Ted Talk on The Power of Time off, thanks to the lovely Julia from the NHS Institute who sent it to me. Every seven years, designer Stefan Sagmeister closes his New York studio for a yearlong sabbatical to rejuvenate and refresh their creative outlook. He explains the often overlooked value of time off, which I’m wondering if you can or can’t draw parallels with when you are on maternity leave?

I.AM innovates

On Wednesday night I was luckily enough to get invited to the RCA Innovation Night 2012, with – Musician, Entrepreneur and Director of Creative Innovation, Intel Corporation, as the guest speaker. Previous speakers include Burberry Creative Director Christopher Bailey, Apple’s Jonathan Ive, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley and Sir James Dyson.

It was really interesting to hear how is using his fame and fortune to do so much great work in local communities across the US. Including launching I AM Auto, a car company that brings computer-programming and car-engineering skills to the deprived neighbourhood where he grew up.

The three tips I took from the talk included:

Don’t forget to dream, as dreamers mould and create the future, and right now we need to dream.

Being a palm tree right now is the best thing to be, as they have deep roots and after storms they are the last things standing.

We need to bring science and design closer together, which I think is really exciting!

Ikea Avenue

I’ve just been reading that IKEA have plans next year to start building a neighborhood in East London, named Strand East. It will include car-free streets, 1,200 houses and apartments. With plans to provide residents an events calendar of things that are happening in their community, I hope that doesn’t include building any IKEA furniture!

I’m sure Ness and Abigail will want to can share with them the outcomes from our current neighborhood project in Trafford.

Tasty ways to improve customer experience

Today some of the thinkpublic team were at the Public Sector Efficiency Expo in Olympia, getting people involved in making lemonade, to demonstrate how prototyping can help create outcomes that are even tastier. Only joking, we were bringing to life the importance of using prototyping to quickly and cheaply involve communities and staff in the design and testing of new services.

The lemonade went down a storm…. To be honest I was surprised how good it tasted! Well done James for designing the stand.

Leading The Way

We are proud to announce that the IntergerenationAll programme we have been developing with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has won an award! The work was recognised as Leading The Way in the recent United For All Ages Awards.

You can have a look at the other categories and winners here.

But (before we crack open the champaign) this work is by no means over. We are still busy on the programme currently looking at ways we can support each IntergenerationAll project think about sustainability and enterprise. We will also be turning our learning into a tool-kit for people who are interested in prototyping and running innovative intergenerational ventures in the future.

If you are interested in finding out more about this work, or any of thinkpublic’s work in aging, please get in touch:

We have won an award

understanding Ambulatory Care

Last week Ness and I found ourselves at Weston General Hospital A&E. Thankfully, our visit was a planned one, in support of a project we are doing with the NHS Institute for Excellence and Innovation into how we can use patient and staff experience to improve Ambulatory Care services.

Before I go any further I think it’s only right that I break down what Ambulatory Care actually is. The term is derived from the word ambulant, meaning walking, and refers to treatments that can be provided to patients on the same day, without the need for an overnight stay in hospital.

Within the NHS there is strong support for extending Ambulatory Care services in hospitals. For the NHS, Ambulatory Care is appreciated for reducing the number of people admitted overnight to hospitals and so reducing costs. For patients, Ambulatory Care can offer a convenient alternative to an overnight hospital stay.

In recognition the growing importance of Ambulatory Care, the NHS Institute asked thinkpublic to investigate how these services can use insights from patients and staff to drive future service improvement. Responding to the brief, we arranged a series of visits to hospital throughout the country, each at a different stage of developing Ambulatory Care services.

We designed we designed a number of tools to support our visits. On our visit to Weston General, we asked staff to photograph key elements of their service from both staff and patient perspectives. These images then facilitated a group discussion, with staff exploring how each group experiences or feels about the service, using descriptive adjectives such as ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘comfortable’ and ‘anxious’.  Later on, patients were encouraged to use a basic storyboard tool to reflect on their experiences at different points in the service. We also made use of informally conversations and observation to understand how the service was working.

Overall, our visit to Weston-Super-Mare was extremely worthwhile. The Ambulatory Care team were incredibly welcoming and generous with both their time and insights into how their service works. Likewise, it was a privilege to be able to spend time with and learn from so many of Weston’s patients.

We’re still reflecting on our visit but already it is clear that it has yielded valuable insights. For instance, staff identified signs to the Ambulatory unit as a source of confusion for patients and irritation for staff. Elsewhere, patients told us simple things such as staff greeting them by their first names made them feel at ease. By acting on these insights, Ambulatory Care services will be able to improve patient and staff experience of their service.

Over the coming weeks we will develop a more detailed appreciation of how patients and staff currently experience Ambulatory Care and where improvement opportunities exist. We will also be exploring with patients and staff how services can better capture and make use of experience-based insights in their everyday works. We will, of course, let you know how we get on.

Designers as drivers of Entrepreneurialism

It’s about time someone wrote something nice about us designers and our ability to create businesses that can change the world. Thanks to @CassieRobinson I’ve just finished reading @brucenussbaum article about how designers are merging their ways of thinking with startup culture. I love it!!

My 3 favorite points are:

‘One key to entrepreneurs’ success is that they frame things differently, they connect existing dots in unique ways.’

‘The more important change from big business to new business is conceptual. We need new conceptual categories to deal with the new turn toward entrepreneurship.’

‘We also need to know a lot more about “meaning,” not just the data gathered by ethnography but knowledge that takes us much deeper into understanding culture.’

I can’t wait to hear more!

Lets write less and draw more!

I was invited to speak at the Business Analysis Conference Europe last week about the strategic importance of creative thinking and innovation for business analysis now and in the future.

After a long discussion on why we thought creative thinking and innovation was important, we ended up discussing the basics of bringing ideas to life by drawing. Which was prompted by a story from one of my panel members George Sadler, from Npower. Many years ago he had inserted two chapters from Moby Dick into a big report and it got signed off with no changes! I loved that story, for me it just highlights the importance of visualising your thinking to excite people and to make things happen. I then shared the simple tools we use like story boarding, journey maps and animation to bring an idea to life. Clive Holtham for the Cass Business School, who was also a panel member, then told us that they are now teaching all their MBA’s how to visualize their ideas too!

My personal action is now to sharpen up my drawing skills, to write less and draw more!
(This drawing is quite clearly not by me…I still need some practice, watch this space).

What’s the point in living if you are not enjoying yourself

I was lucky enough to be part of the Action for Age launch in Lisbon last week, which saw students, designers, and practitioners come together around the theme of ageing and intergenerational activity.

It’s been a privilege to meet people from both Portugal and the Uk who are working passionately to improve life for people of all ages. You can read more about programme here

Three of the gulbenkian funded intergenerationAll projects also got involved in this event. We were able to spend some time on the site of one of the Portuguese projects in altar Lisboa who are doing some incredible work bringing urban farming and community led regeneration to a new housing development on the edge of Lisbon. It is one if the first examples of a Portuguese community leading and producing a public space strategy in their area.

I have thought a lot while being here about the value of looking at the ageing challenge with a much more holistic perspective. How can we, for example, create environments, services and products that enable everyone to age well, age with joy and live the life they want to live.

As Paul Cann said, from Age UK Oxfordshire, “What’s the point in living if you are not enjoying yourself?”

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