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The theme of this year’s Service Design Global Conference (November 2-3, Madrid) was Service Design at Scale.

Through continued practice, widespread capability building, and successful implementation of service strategy and execution, the face of organisations is changing to deliver great experiences for customers and employees, and business impact for the organisations that deliver them.

The videos of all keynotes and plenary presentation are now available. They are listed here in the order of the programme.


Scaling Service Design in government – A new approach to service design in large organisations [30:32]
Opening keynote by Louise Downe, Head of Design at the UK Government
Like in many countries, the UK government is the nation’s oldest and largest service provider. Most people who work in government are involved, in some way, in delivering services. Everyone wants to help make the best service they can. But the very structure of government often works against them. Government is vast – and old. It is set up in siloes. It isn’t set up to deliver services. The challenge in government isn’t in convincing people of the value of service design. Or the value of building things for users. The challenge is linking people up so that they can work together and deliver joined-up end-to-end services that can be sustained over time. In this talk we’ll show how the approach of...

This Anthro Life is a round-table, open format discussion of an anthropological take on the people, objects, ideas, and possibilities of everyday life around the world. They are hosted by Adam Gamwell and Ryan Collins and there are nearly 100 to chose from. Here are three:

The Yin and Yang of Design Anthropology with Dr. Elizabeth Dori Tunstall
October 11, 2017 – 01:04:37
In this Conversations episode of This Anthro Life, Adam Gamwell and guest host/TAL correspondent Matt Artz explore the world of Design Anthropology with the help of Dr. Elizabeth “Dori” Tunstall. Design Anthropology is a subject near and dear to our hosts, who have been excited to devote an entire episode to the subject. But, what is Design Anthropology? If you’re scratching your head, no worries. Adam, Matt, and Dr. Tunstall have it covered and describe the five iterations of design anthropology using examples of their use in the field. Over the course of the episode Adam, Matt, and Dr. Tunstall briefly cover issues of ethics within design anthropology as well as a touching upon how to find jobs in design.

Is Corporate Anthropology Selling Out? A Conversation on Consulting with Vyjayanthi Vadrevu
July 19, 2016 – 00:54:22
What is anthropology like in the business world? Vyjayanthi runs an anthropological consulting company ( that draws on social science and design to...

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Marc Fonteijn, co-founder of the Dutch service design studio 31Volts, has been creating quite an impressive roster of video interviews with some of the leading service design players on his Youtube Service Design Show. The goal of the show is to inspire and connect the global Service Design community by providing material for a richer and deeper discussion. We selected a few of the recent interviews.

How to increase the influence of service design
Gilles Rougon, Collective Innovation Catalyst at EDF and Executive Board Treasurer of the World Design Organization (WDO)
16 November 2017
You think Service Design is the new kid in town? Well, Gilles Rougon has been involved in this field since 2000! In this episode he shares how the field has evolved and where it’s heading. We also talk about what’s needed for Service Design to reach its full potential.

Design is a political act
Anne Stenros, Chief Design Officer, City of Helsinki
19 October 2017
Anne Stenros is the Chief Design Officer for the city of Helsinki in Finland. In this episode she talks about her role, the future of cities and why design is by definition always an political act.

What it means for service design to grow up
Louise Downe, Director of Design and Service Standards, Government Digital Service, UK
21 September 2017
New challenges emerge as service design is...

It’s tempting to think of the mind as a layer that sits on top of more primitive cognitive structures. But Ben Medlock, co-founder of SwiftKey, argues that the layered model of cognition is wrong.

The point is that long before we were conscious, thinking beings, our cells were reading data from the environment and working together to mould us into robust, self-sustaining agents. What we take as intelligence, then, is not simply about using symbols to represent the world as it objectively is. Rather, we only have the world as it is revealed to us, which is rooted in our evolved, embodied needs as an organism. Nature ‘has built the apparatus of rationality not just on top of the apparatus of biological regulation, but also from it and with it’, wrote the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio in Descartes’ Error (1994), his seminal book on cognition. In other words, we think with our whole body, not just with the brain.

The post The body is the missing link for truly intelligent machines appeared first on Putting people first.

The introduction of autonomy into urban environments creates a unique opportunity to do things differently. This, writes Maya Pindeus (CEO and co-Founder of Humanising Autonomy) requires us to encourage a human-centered perspective towards urban mobility and to step away from traditional urban planning models.

2050 does outline a promising future but also creates the danger of turning this future into a dystopian vision. The good news is that it is in our hands to define an approach that develops cities we actually want to live in. Let’s do a thought experiment: How will our future selves in 2050 look back at today’s cities; what would we want to keep, change, and improve? In order to figure out the best approach when designing the future of mobility, we might want to take a step back and have a critical look at today’s cities and think about how we can use emerging trends in technology to make things better. If we encourage a bottom-up approach — and develop an autonomous future with the human in mind, we will hopefully be able to avoid repeating mistakes from our past and build an autonomous future we would enjoy.

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Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age
by Matthew J. Salganik
Princeton University Press
2017, 448 pages
[Read online]

An innovative and accessible guide to doing social research in the digital age

In just the past several years, we have witnessed the birth and rapid spread of social media, mobile phones, and numerous other digital marvels. In addition to changing how we live, these tools enable us to collect and process data about human behavior on a scale never before imaginable, offering entirely new approaches to core questions about social behavior. Bit by Bit is the key to unlocking these powerful methods―a landmark book that will fundamentally change how the next generation of social scientists and data scientists explores the world around us.

Bit by Bit is the essential guide to mastering the key principles of doing social research in this fast-evolving digital age. In this comprehensive yet accessible book, Matthew Salganik explains how the digital revolution is transforming how social scientists observe behavior, ask questions, run experiments, and engage in mass collaborations. He provides a wealth of real-world examples throughout and also lays out a principles-based approach to handling ethical challenges.

Bit by Bit is an invaluable resource for social scientists who want to harness the research potential of big data and a must-read for data scientists interested in applying the lessons of social science to tomorrow’s technologies.


The world is experiencing a merging of media and minds that we haven’t yet created a vocabulary for.
We know that user experience design has the power to respond to what algorithms deem “suitable” to us, but have we understood that this changes the way our brains work in symbiosis with our machines? What if we could understand these changing neurological dynamics as Cognitive or Rich UX as the starting point for our designs to purposely deliver desirable human outcomes?
From using design to combat smoking addiction to nudging concept recognition and formation for autistic users through designed media content to navigation by instinct in immersive environments, Professor Karen Pollitt Cham is exploring all this with her work at the University of Brighton.

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A few months ago a new channel Workplace Anthropology Matters popped up on Youtube that profiles workplace anthropologists, whose work directly influence their own workplace processes. The video series is part of a workshop in the Business Anthropology Matters initiative, run by Dr. Jan English-Lueck, Professor of Anthropology at San Jose State University and Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for the Future.

As people increasingly spend their waking hours at workplaces, anthropologists need to understand those experiences. The practitioners profiled here have used anthropological skills to access, document, analyze, and relate the lives of workers and businesses that employ them. Organizations employ anthropologists to understands the variety of worker related issues in organizations, ranging from design to strategy. These interviews explore the practical, theoretical, and ethical issues that must be resolved to do workplace anthropology.

Interviews so far:

  • Tamara Hale, design and user experience anthropologist and Principal UX Researcher at Workday [15:09]
  • Timothy McKeown, applied legal anthropologist and Former President, National Treasury Employee Union Chapter 296 [24:39]
  • Paul Thibaudeau, applied design anthropologist working with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada [21:35]
  • Thomas Robinson, innovation strategist with Swisscom [34:11]
  • Alexandra Mack, design anthropologist and Senior Fellow in Pitney Bowes’s Strategic Technology and Innovation Center 21:32]
  • Kyle E. Jones, User Experience Architect for Environmental Systems Research Institute [28:18]
  • Eric Gauldin, Translational Research Anthropologist, works as a contractor with the Marine...

As debate rumbles on about how and how much poor statistics is to blame for poor reproducibility, Nature asked influential statisticians – Jeff Leek, Blakeley B. McShane, Andrew Gelman, David Colquhoun, Michèle B. Nuijten & Steven N. Goodman – to recommend one change to improve science. The common theme? The problem is not our maths, but ourselves.

Jeff Leek (associate professor of biostatistics at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland) says: “To use statistics well, researchers must study how scientists analyse and interpret data and then apply that information to prevent cognitive mistakes. […] We need to appreciate that data analysis is not purely computational and algorithmic — it is a human behaviour. […] The first step is to observe: what do people do now, and how do they report it?

My colleagues and I are doing this and taking the next step: running controlled experiments on how people handle specific analytical challenges in our massive online open courses3.

We need more observational studies and randomized trials — more epidemiology on how people collect, manipulate, analyse, communicate and consume data. We can then use this evidence to improve training programmes for researchers and the public. As cheap, abundant and noisy data inundate analyses, this is our only hope for robust information.

The post Five ways to fix statistics appeared first on Putting people first.

The latest eGovernment benchmark report of the European Commission shows significant improvement on cross-border availability of digital public services and accessibility of public websites from mobile devices in EU Member states. The study also indicates a need for improvement in transparency of public services delivery and use of supporting technology like eIDs or eDocuments.

Performance is measured as an average of scores for four top-level benchmarks, covering important EU policy priorities:

  • User Centricity – indicates the extent to which a service or information concerning the service is provided online.
  • Transparency – indicates the extent to which governments are transparent with regard to a) the process of service delivery; b) their own responsibilities and performance; c) the personal data involved.
  • Cross Border Mobility – indicates the extent to which customers of public services users can use online services in another European country.
  • Key enablers – indicates the extent to which technical pre-conditions for eGovernment service provision are used.

Europe appears to be getting closer to the 100%-landmark with regard to user-centricity. However, it scores less well on the other three benchmarks, especially in terms of exploiting the potential of Key Enablers for public services.

Experientia is proud to collaborate with the Digital Transformation Team of the Italian Government, particularly on the topic of “SPID“, the eID authentication system that provides citizens with secure access to digital public services, applying participatory and service design...

The Policy Methods Toolbox is a repository of policy development methods that helps policy practitioners identify and select the right approach for their policy initiative. It is developed by The Policy Project, a unit of New Zealand’s Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, aimed at building a high performing policy system that supports and enables good government decision making.

This first release of the Toolbox is focused on newer methods. Over time, the Toolbox will be expanded to include a range of new and traditional policy development techniques. The Daepartment’s own approaches, such as Start Right, are also be located in the Toolbox.

Start Right
Start Right is a lightweight approach to making the best start in policy projects. It is backed up by a growing list of tools to make your job easier in these early stages.

Behavioural insights
This involves the study of human behaviour, often drawing upon the empirical research in fields including economics, psychology and sociology.

Design thinking
Also known as human-centred design, co-design and participatory design.

Public participation
Engaging individuals and groups in the process of policy design and development, including the provision of information, consultation, collaboration and participatory decision-making.

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Two excellent Medium articles by the people of Humanising Autonomy, a London based startup that works towards a vision of intuitive interactions between autonomous systems and people:

Child-Friendly Autonomous Vehicles: Designing Autonomy with all road users in mind
November 14, 2017 – written by Leslie Nooteboom, COO and Co-Founder of Humanising Autonomy
To make sure interactions [with self-driving cars] are safe and efficient, it is important for the industry to tackle very specific scenarios. One of these specific, and very critical, scenarios is the interaction with children. Right now pedestrian injury is one of the leading causes of child casualties in the US. Autonomous vehicles have the outstanding opportunity to improve this, but children require different computer vision analysis and interaction than the able-bodied adult. These challenges have not been solved yet.

Autonomous technology for the people: a human-centred approach to autonomous vehicle legislation
October 12, 2017 – written by Raunaq Bose, CTO and Co-Founder of Humanising Autonomy
As our interviews across different demographics in London proved, people just don’t trust autonomous vehicles — and probably rightly so. While a lot of attention has been put on the inner features and passenger experience of autonomous vehicle concepts, not enough consideration has gone into how people outside the vehicle feel when interacting with these autonomous vehicles, and how these vehicles can show that they have acknowledged their presence and intent. [This brought about the creation of an] Autonomous Manifesto, [setting out] a...

Human-centred design in global health: A scoping review of applications and contexts
By Alessandra N. Bazzano (1), Jane Martin (2), Elaine Hicks (3), Maille Faughnan (1), and Laura Murphy (1)
PLoS ONE12(11): e0186744.
Published: November 1, 2017

Health and wellbeing are determined by a number of complex, interrelated factors. The application of design thinking to questions around health may prove valuable and complement existing approaches. A number of public health projects utilizing human centered design (HCD), or design thinking, have recently emerged, but no synthesis of the literature around these exists. The results of a scoping review of current research on human centered design for health outcomes are presented. The review aimed to understand why and how HCD can be valuable in the contexts of health related research. Results identified pertinent literature as well as gaps in information on the use of HCD for public health research, design, implementation and evaluation. A variety of contexts were identified in which design has been used for health. Global health and design thinking have different underlying conceptual models and terminology, creating some inherent tensions, which could be overcome through clear communication and documentation in collaborative projects. The review concludes with lessons learned from the review on how future projects can better integrate design thinking with global health research.

(1) Taylor Canter for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, Tulane University, New Orleans (USA)

Making Cities Smarter – Designing Interactive Urban Applications
by Martin Tomitsch
Jovis Publishers
March 2018, 208 pages

More than half of the world’s population is now living in cities, and this number is predicted to rise. This means that more people than ever before will share the same urban infrastructure, and city governments around the world are heavily investing in smart city technologies to prepare. At the same time, scholars argue for a movement toward smart citizens and more participatory approaches to city making.
Making Cities Smarter focuses on an often-overlooked element of the smart-city discourse–the interface between citizens and smart-city applications. This volume translates principles from the field of user experience design to explore city-specific challenges, such as integrating physical and digital experiences. Offering a practical perspective on the concept of the smart city, this volume is the first comprehensive publication to focus on the citizen as the end user of smart-city systems.

The author
Dr Martin Tomitsch is an Associate Professor in Design and the Head of Design Lab at the University of Sydney, where he teaches interaction design and human-computer interaction. He is the Director of the Design Computing program and a member of the Design Lab, an interdisciplinary research group within the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning.
His primary research interest is the application of user-centred interaction design methods and the study of user...

Wide ranging partnership also covers collaboration with design schools and public events on service design

“Finding the way forward for independent design means building new business models for service design consultancies in the age of the company buy-out.”
Michele Visciola, President, Experientia


It seems the business world is finally realising that service and user experience (UX) design has a strong relevance outside of web and app development – and consequently the last half-decade has seen an increase in companies active in finance, health, automotive, home care, and many other industries, either starting their own in-house UX teams, or alternatively, purchasing existing UX design companies 100% and swallowing them into the company infrastructure.

While this brings a valuable approach to the company, it also risks diluting the UX approach within the dominant company culture and limits the exposure of the UX team to developments and talent in the service design world beyond that particular industry. In an attempt to find a third model, Experientia – an international UX and service design agency with offices in Lausanne (CH), Turin (IT) and Singapore – has been exploring alternatives for its future as an independent design consultancy. Now, Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s largest banking group, has signed an agreement that gives them a minority share in Experientia.

The collaboration will see Experientia working with Intesa Sanpaolo on a wide-ranging partnership that will include innovating products...

Designing Better Services: A Strategic Approach from Design to Evaluation
by Francesca Foglieni, Beatrice Villari and Stefano Maffei (Polytechnic University of Milan)
Springer International Publishing, 2018
VIII, 115 pages

This book provides accessible, comprehensive guidance on service design and enables practitioners approaching the discipline for the first time to develop the strategic mindset needed to exploit its innovation potential. The opening chapters trace the origins of service design and examine its links with service innovation, as well as its strategic role in service organizations. It then offers step-by-step guidance on tackling a service design project, explaining the main design elements and indications of various useful design tools. It also introduces the topic of evaluation as a support practice in designing or redesigning better services, and providing evidence concerning the value of service design interventions. The third chapter explores how evaluation is currently approached in service design practice through the analysis of a number of case studies. Based on these experiences it extensively discusses evaluation, with a particular focus on service evaluation, and explains its importance in supporting service design and fostering innovation throughout the service design process. Further it describes pragmatic directions for setting up and conducting a service evaluation strategy. The concluding chapter uses an interpretive model to summarize the role evaluation could have in service design practice and focuses on interdisciplinary competences that need to be acquired...

Ideally service designers deliver our best value when we stay outside the “Scrum” (literally and figuratively), fulfilling our strategic role and avoiding the hectic pace and too-narrow focus of two-week sprints. Our work, writes Jesse Grimes in the most recent edition of Touchpoint, the magazine of the Service Design Network, should provide guidance to tactical and operational activities, rather than playing a direct role in them. But sometimes such a detached position isn’t feasible, and we need adopt the Agile mindset, accept that we’re led by a product owner (and not a service owner), and find a way to work within a team.

Fear not, service designers in Agile settings! Here are six hacks you can carry out to expand your strategic perspective and influence, while still working to tick items off a product backlog and get that next iteration of your product (service!) out the door. These have been devised thanks to Informaat’s consultancy work and hands-on experience with several large Dutch organisations who have transitioned to Agile, and where service designers such as myself have played a role in Agile teams. After all, while being limited by an operational role makes true service design difficult, the Agile transformation itself does provide chances to strengthen the role of (service) design in the organisation.

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The design industry’s reigning paradigm is in crisis. It’s time to evolve from human-centered design to humanity-centered design, write Artefact’s Rob Girling and Emilia Palaveeva.

If followed blindly and left unchecked, this cult of designing for the individual can have disastrous long-term consequences. A platform designed to connect becomes an addictive echo chamber with historic consequences (Facebook); an automation system designed to improve safety undermines our ability to seek information and make decisions (the plane autopilot); a way to experience a new destination like a local squeezes lower income residents out of affordable housing (Airbnb). Each of these examples is recognized as a real product or service design feat. Yet by focusing on the individual user alone, we often fail to take into account broader cognitive and social biases. By zeroing in on the short-term impact and benefits of our designs, we spare ourselves asking the really hard question: Are we designing a world we all want to live in today and tomorrow?

To be agents of positive change, we as designers need to think more broadly about the direct and secondary consequences of our work. We need to be clear-eyed about what we are striving to do and minimize the chances of creating more problems than we are trying to solve. To do that, we need to integrate our discipline with systems thinking, which entails understanding...

“Customers are really the most unpredictable, the most unknown, and the most difficult-to-quantify thing for any business,” said Tricia Wang, ethnographer and co-founder of Sudden Compass, in an interview during the IBM Data Science for All event in NYC. She spoke with Dave Vellante and John Walls, co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio

It’s crucial to marry big data with “thick data,” which is difficult to quantify but may hone in closer to consumers, according to Wang. Ye olde marketing data variables like education and income are so-so predictors of consumer behavior.

“The new networked customer of today has multiple identities and is better understood when in relationship to other people,” Wang said. Quantitative data science is indispensable for sca; however, thick data takes individual consumers’ temperature more precisely and offers depth. “That’s why you need to combine both to be able to make effective decisions,” she added.

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