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Rory, SDA Social Media and Marketing Assistant has been sharing the value of Service Design Academy’s programmes since April. To understand more about service design, he’s been observing our PDA learning labs. When the chance came up for a hands on experience in our 2-day Tools for Problem Solving & Innovation course in early June, he jumped at the chance. In addition to building awareness of service design first- hand, he was excited to gain new skills to co-design marketing campaigns with the team. He shares his story here.

I attended the SDA Tools for Problem Solving & Innovation course in early June delivered by SDA consultants Chris Muir and Claire Hartley . They were both excellent at keeping us engaged and conveying information in a way that sunk in. Which was great as although I work for the SDA, I’m still quite new and don’t have a deep grasp on everything Service Design yet. Let me break down what happened and what I learned over the 2-day course.

 

Day 1: Love The Problem

As you might expect, at the start of Day 1 there were some fun ‘icebreakers’, a nice way to relax us into the main activity ahead.

We started by thinking about 4 typical work issues everyone could be familiar with ‘Leadership’, ‘Silos’, ‘Conflicting Priorities, and ‘High turnover’

We worked together to uncover key themes behind these issues – ‘Conflict’ ‘Us and them’, ‘Emotions’ and ‘Communications’. With a technique described as affinity mapping, we formed groups to work on a chosen theme.

 

My team, Rory, Eliza and Maureen, our team name was Rested and Ready (REM)

My team researched current day problems relating to our theme. Then we collated the data we found by using a ‘Problem Framer’. Before we reached for a solution we first needed to properly frame the problem, in this case our problem was “Loneliness Due To Covid”. These “discover and define” phases of the process that Chris and Claire shared with us was a complete flip in mindset for me. I like to think quickly about solutions to any problems, but this tool helped us really dig deep into understanding more about the issue. As Claire said, we need to love the problem first!

Problem Framer - It allows us to capture barriers and align to specific opportunities. Problems can be acted upon immediately, or banked for later.

A jam-packed day was drawing to an end. I’m sure the rest of our group felt as buzzed as me, we were all quite talkative and responsive when we were having group conversations throughout the day.

Day 2: Flower Power and Prototyping

Chris and Claire started by explaining that we were moving into the develop phase of the design process, it was time to start ideating. Claire showed us how to use our next tool, SDA Sunflowers. It’s a simple tool which helps you start with an initial idea and develop more ideas around them. This was a fast-paced exercise – filling up the idea petals in one sunflower before expanding on more ideas to how to make this idea happen. With 8 idea petals on each sunflower, and 8 sunflowers we could have come up with 64 ideas, a daunting but exciting and fun challenge for my group. Chris helped us by explaining that it was better to focus on our preferred ideas and then work on those ones.

Next we had to bring forward our favourite solution and prototype how it would work, we chose:

Walking Group – “Themed walks for where ever you are! In the countryside? You can do some birdwatching! In the city? You can do some sightseeing!”

Drawn Walking routes for Rural and Urban, enjoy nature or see the sights in the city!

I drew a sketch of the different routes that could be taken and the kind of activities you can have during the walk, I love drawing, so this was a pleasure for me. Service Design builds confidence in everyone to use visualisation to get ideas across to people you are designing with.

Walking Group Storyboard - Joing the group, meet up, time to walk, see the sights, stop for a snack, make friends, chill out, discuss future walks, become a full time member!

To round off a very busy 2 days, all the teams gave 3 minute presentations to share their prototypes.

Time always flies when presenting, and we overcame our nerves to do a great job! We enjoyed the other teams’ presentations, it was good to hear feedback from them and the consultants.

R&R Walks Presentation Graphic, Rural+Urban, experience the 5 senses,1 stick person saying "I love walking" another stick person responding "Glad you joined!"

Summary

The course was very enjoyable, Chris and Claire were great at keeping it engaging. The tools really made me think and work through a problem with others in ways I haven’t done before, I certainly wasn’t taught like this in school! It was easy to collaborate online and I’m happy I was able to further my knowledge on Service Design.

For those interested in looking at our courses, there’s a link to the courses page below!