Last month we welcomed Rory Mertes to our Team.  Rory joined us as one of many young people across Scotland looking for work experience through the Kickstart Scheme.  He’s taken up a new role of Media & Marketing Assistant and he has been a real superstar so far.  Read Rory’s story in his own words here.

Kim Anderson, SDA Consultant has been helping Rory to settle into his new role. As well as service design, Kim is passionate about accessible and inclusive design, she is continually developing her knowledge and skills in both these growing areas. She believes that all services should be inclusive and accessible and is proud that this thinking is at the heart of the design approach at the SDA.

 As our expert on accessible and inclusive design, Kim put together some top tips for Rory to help him in his work and we thought we’d share them with you.

Top tips for accessibility

Woman with laptop



A good colour contrast on text, images or graphics, makes it easier for people who have visual impairments, colour blindness as well as those viewing on small badly lit mobile screens to see the content better and easier.  You can check the contrast of any two colours using this online tool, there are different values for size of font and graphics. This tool will give you a pass or fail for all of these.

Combinations to avoid 

Green & Red; Green & Brown; Blue & Purple; Green & Blue; Light Green & Yellow; Blue & Grey; Green & Grey; Green & Black. These can be hard for people who are colour blind to see.  Helpful article on colour designing for colour blindness


ALT text 

Alternative text or ALT text should be assigned to all images on social and the website. This text gives users that use assistive technology a short description of the image where they cannot view it. Best practice for creating ALT tags



Open sans is the SDA brand font, this font is considered to be accessible and easy to read.


Larger pieces of text should be left-aligned, this makes it easier for people who are dyslexic to read and follow.


Text should only be underlined when it is a link (hyperlink), otherwise it can be confusing for users who expect it to act as an active link.


Capitals should be used sparingly and only for small pieces of text. The use of capitals can make it harder to read, for example for those with dyslexia it can make it hard to distinguish between the words. When you use Sentence Case or small case people read by the shape of the letters/combinations in words, blocks of text in capitals removes these shapes making it hard to read.

Social post specific

A handy article here:

Best practice is to include small amounts of text in images if any at all

If text is included in the image, it should be included in the body text of the post as well. Here are a few examples

example of social posts

ALT text on social:

You can add ALT text on social images.

Linkedin                    Twitter                       Instagram

Hash tags

When using hashtags use CamelCase which has capitals on each word – For example: #ServiceDesign (not #servicedesign)

This makes them easier to read and works better with assistive software.

We hope you found these useful. If you’d like to hear more about the challenge and opportunities that arise from implementing Inclusive Design, Kim will be part of an expert panel with Vanquis Bank (details and link in the Events section below).

We’re recruiting

The demand for education and training in service design just keeps on growing. Recruitment is well underway for the PDA in Service Design starting in August and we have an expanding list of clients looking for us to deliver tailor-made programmes to empower their teams. If you’re interested in working at SDA, please apply. Applications close : Friday 28th May.

Great short reads

When we fail to understand the relationships that exist between our organisation and the people we interact with it - we compromise our ability to deliver great services

3 essential relationships that help us deliver great services


How might we create a non-judgmental space where teens can press pause and seek help?


Events worth planning for

Service Design Day 2021


Designing for Inclusivity with Vanquis Bank


June 9, 2021
7:00 PM to 8:15 PM GMT+1

Join Kim Anderson, SDA Consultant to experience the challenge and opportunities that arise from implementing Inclusive Design and be part of the creative solutions that the Vanquis Bank team explores during this journey. 

Digital Leaders Week


14-18 June 2021

Take part, because those with the answers and those who are driving forward digital transformation in the UK are speaking, running workshops, sharing the very best practice and offering solutions that are practical and real.

As always, we’d love to hear if:

You have an article to share with our community of changemakers

You have an event happening and want to spread the word

You’d like to talk about any of our courses or business course funding opportunities

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Leo Tolstoy

This issue is dedicated to the journey you are taking as a changemaker. Once you start adopting service design tools and methodologies, you’ll probably find yourself reflecting on your old ways of thinking and working. That’s a good place to be, indeed it’s our aim!
We have witnessed transformations in people and teams who have embraced service design. They:

are aware and equally wary of functional silos

create multidisciplinary teams and give all experts an equal voice

are more holistic and able to understand the bigger picture

embrace uncertainty

co-design with their staff, customers and stakeholders

maximise realism and minimise self-deception

have an open and curious mind

have fun while working

"Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it'll always get you the right ones.”

John Lennon

You should treat service design like a trusted friend who has been in your situation many, many times before.

Like a true friend, service design is ready to ask difficult questions and push you out of your comfort zone. The service design tools provide a starting point, a guide, and a robust set of processes to take you on a journey.

We can use service design to: 

put users at the very heart of a business

bring customer centricity and an experimentation culture to internal process development

create a shared language and an agile and customer focussed way of working

augment the nature of our role and relationship with customers, seeking alternative mechanisms to meet customer needs and thereby better manage demand

identify services or areas that will benefit from a service design approach and where specific projects can be supported and improvements delivered

That true friend will help you:

with an easy toolbox to adapt and apply to different types of services, work and life situations

as a proven tool to create new, innovative services in a fast, efficient, and holistic way

as a guide on how to create new ways of working in the digital era

to ensure that you have looked at your service from all relevant angles

to introduce a shared language and a common methodology to a multidisciplinary team

as a visible, fast and easy way of communicating your work to other people, and encouraging them to give relevant feedback

Like all true friends, they’ll support you, rather than do the work for you to have: 

a creative and results-oriented mindset. The tools will never create awesome results by themselves. At the end of the day, you, and your team drive performance 

a humble attitude. You must be willing to throw away precious or sacred ideas 

the ability to listen to your customers and colleagues

the confidence to deal with irrelevant and obtuse feedback

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new."


At the Service Design Academy, we believe that the ability to question, be curious and interrogate is as important as knowing the methods and mapping the journeys.
Our accredited education programmes are developed for learners to grow as confident design thinkers and leaders.

We keep learning. We explore and learn from others. We research and test our ideas thoroughly and take time to reflect and change.
Visit www.sda.ac.uk to find out more.

Great short reads

5 benefits of making service blueprints when you build or improve a service

What is Service Design and Why Does it Matter to Your Nonprofit? 2 Tools to help your business

Scaling service design in organizations

Service Design beyond design thinking, journey maps and personas

Beyond the blueprint: methods for service design implementation

Events worth planning ahead for

Service Design in Education Thinks & Drinks – 19 April
Helena Good and Ruth Cochrane will inspire with Daydream Believers new Creative Thinking qualification and resources.  Tickets free, but limited.

Converge & Emerge – 14 May
The Great Open Space Gathering for System Changers
Magnify – the inclusive design & research conference – October 6-7
Service Design Global Conference 2021 – October 21-22
Take a deep dive into the trending topics, insights and developments shaping the future of our practice. While details are still in the works, we guarantee you this online experience is not to be missed. Sign up for the SDN newsletter here

As always, we’d love to hear if:

You have an article to share with our community of changemakers

You have an event happening and want to spread the word

You’d like to talk about any of our courses or business course funding opportunities

Dundee and Angus College is determined to support local businesses and just one of the ways it can do that is by helping them make use of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund. This funding allows access to a suite of training specially designed to help businesses recover and flourish, from Service Design and Mental Health First Aid through to Management, Digital and Health & Safety.

Last year Jessica Chan, Business Development Manager at Shelter Scotland applied to the FWDF through D&A College. Jessica explains, “Shelter has an ambitious new strategy and we need to ensure we have the right skills and capacity to deliver our ambitions. We were keen to use Service Design to find new and better ways of working. Taking this approach has helped us better understand the needs of our client groups and we are looking forward to using the FWDF again this year.” 

coloured post its with text

Caron Sandeman, Service Design Manager at the Service Design Academy reflects on the process, “The availability of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund means businesses can access support to create better customer experiences and aid post-Covid recovery. This will be a year of rebuilding, and organisations must re-imagine, re-think and re-design everything that has gone before.”

Civil engineering contractor Kilmac has also benefitted from the FWDF. HR Officer, Sean Davidson explains, “This funding has given us the opportunity to advance our employees’ skills at all levels across the company. We selected training courses with a specific group of employees in mind. For example, HAVS, Dust and Noise Training helped our construction site staff increase their awareness around this very important aspect of their work. I opted for the Microsoft Excel course which has shown me an array of different functions I can use in my role, improving overall efficiency.”

coins with plants

Meanwhile, Bairds Malt offered various sessions to all its employees. Project Coordinator Isla Prentice says, “I found each training course very valuable as it allowed me to develop useful skills, most of which I was able to apply immediately at work. In particular, I found the Project Management course very informative and beneficial. It really helped with my performance and confidence in my new role.”

Caryn Gibson, Economics Partnership Manager at D&A College says, “This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to think to the future. Whilst Covid has brought challenges it has also brought opportunities and an acceleration of the evolution of digital and technology. We would urge businesses to use this fund to upskill or reskill their workforce ensuring they have the internal skillset required to allow their businesses to benefit from these advancements.”

For more details visit: https://dundeeandangus.ac.uk/businesses/flexible-workforce-development-fund/

As we all look to a post-Covid future, in a world that’s still uncertain and changeable, one thing is certain: compassion, creativity and collaborative problem-solving have never been more important. People with these skills are more and more in demand as business, local and national governments and the third sector seek to harness the power of service design.

coloured post it notes with text

Our (only good) News piece this month focuses on service design jobs, but first …..

Great reads to put a spring in your step

“We need to stop designing faster and learn how to start designing less”


“Mezzanine levels in Service Design”


“Let’s stop talking about products and start taking about service design”


In case you missed it: This was Services Week 2021


(Only Good) News

Design for Recovery

THE V&A Dundee is to develop into a national centre for design over the next three years as Scotland recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

The museum will work in partnership locally, nationally and internationally to position design as one of Scotland’s greatest resources and to develop the country’s design capacity. Supported by the Scottish Government, it will look at the role of design in Scotland’s long-term economic and social recovery from Covid-19. The Scottish Government is providing additional funding of £2 million a year for three years to support V&A Dundee’s operations as both Scotland’s design museum and centre for design.

Service Design Careers

We’ve been talking to Scottish Government who are kicking off a large recruitment drive to fill around 40 vacancies over the next few months. There’s a mixture of permanent/ pensionable, temporary and consultants’ posts. We’ll post links on our socials as an when they are advertised. If you don’t already follow us, we are on Twitter @SDA_Scot

If you’re looking for a job in Service Design, we’d definitely recommend https://www.servicedesignjobs.com/ one of the very few (if not only) job board focused only on Service Design, there are 173 open vacancies from across the globe listed there. Follow on Twitter @sdxjobs

Many of you reading this will either be in Service Design roles or looking to get a Service Design role. The problem is that many companies don’t even know they need Service Design roles, yet!.  So, if you want to be a Service Designer – and are still wondering where to start, Caron Sandeman, SDA Service Design Manager shares her thoughts with a few pointers:

“You don’t have to be a designer, but you do have to adopt design mindset and methods. Start identifying opportunities to test out service design methodology in your current workplace. Find ways to run rapid experiments, to show value, to get buy-in, and to creatively apply service design concepts to your area of focus. Engage others in what you bring and how you bring that, use maps for links and understanding and to show the value of service design. This will help you to shift personally and help to change mindsets.”

If you have questions about a career in Service Design or need support in raising awareness at work, the team are happy to have a cheerful chat with you. Please do contact us.

Design skills are becoming increasingly essential for careers in any sector. No matter your role or your organisation, you can apply a human-centred design thinking approach at work.

We’ve developed 4 2-day courses for those looking to take their first steps into service design. Demand has grown for these spring & summer courses for individuals and small corporate groups across all sectors. Participants will learn by doing in live online classrooms, to then apply new skills back in the workplace. These courses are for anyone

who hasn’t used Service Design Tools and Methodologies before and wants an energetic, hands-on and insightful introduction

who wants to drive innovation and problem solve on a whole different level

For the many who’ve navigated the path into service design roles without any accreditation then the Professional Development Award in Service Design is just right for you.  There are limited places available for our April 21 cohort.

All our courses are accredited by the Service Design Network guaranteeing you the very best service design education in the world.

text and graphic

Events you won’t want to miss

Curious as to how design can enable a more sustainable business? Join Livework Studio’s webinar. Climate change has become impossible to ignore. Last year saw an explosion of commitments to zero carbon goals. The challenge for many organisations is translating good intentions into real change. This is where design comes in. 

Wednesday 17 March @ 10am


Service Design in Education Network‘s monthly Thinks and Drinks!

18 March: Thinks & Drinks organised by SDinEducation is a monthly gathering of service designers, subject experts, co-creators and education enthusiasts to share knowledge & ideas!


13 April: Learn about UX and service design research at this special UX Research & Strategy + Service Design Network crossover event with Erika Hall


22 April: Join FutureGov for Transitions 2.0 to hear the real stories of change shaped by the toughest challenges we’ve faced in a generation.


1 June: Service Design Day – Join the buzz and shake up the world


We’d love to hear if

This gave you a little lift, or if it didn’t do tell us why

You have an article to share with our community of changemakers

You have an event happening and want to spread the word

You’d like to talk about any of our courses or business course funding opportunities


We need each other more than ever right now! If we can focus on reaching out to connect with others and doing our best to be a good friend, our acts of kindness and connection ripple out and impact so many more people than we realise – and they also boost our own happy hormones too!

If you haven’t seen the Action for Happiness Calendar yet, check it out at www.actionforhappiness.org

Calendar for February

Sharing the love with some great articles, it’s the month of love after all

(Only Good) News

The Scottish Funding Council are offering business support packages up to £15,000. We’ve designed a 90-minute FREE workshop to examine exactly what you need to fill the skills gap in your business.  From there you’ll design a training package that’s just right for you. We’ll help you with the funding application process and as well as service design, you can access expertise in marketing and comms, leadership/change management, digital marketing, social media, e-commerce, growth mindset and procurement: securing contracts. Applications are being taken on a first come, first served basis, so do not delay, talk to us now to secure your free Discovery Workshop.

This pandemic has exposed many flaws and vulnerabilities in our structures, practices, and ways of working that have been ignored for too longReflect & Reset is a brand-new workshop designed to celebrate your team’s successes, capture what has worked well and identify areas for development. The session will:

Re-engage individuals by encouraging reflection

Celebrate and document your successes

Encourage team collaboration 

Identify where your focus should be next as a team or organisation

Introduce service design tools you can use again and again

Bring your team with you on the planning journey

Our online, impactful, and interactive short courses for changemakers are open for bookings.  Fast-paced and insightful these courses are the perfect introduction to service design essentials, giving you all the foundational knowledge and tools, you need to kick-start your own service design journey.

Applications for our PDA in Service Design are open for April 21, August 21 and January 22.

Events you won’t want to miss

#UoDEntWeek21 Service Design for Business Success, 24th February – 2.30-4.00 pm – Virtual


Services Week 2021, 1st – 5th March


Creating clarity at a time of uncertainty 10th March, 9.30-11.30, Virtual


How did we do?

We’d love to hear from you if you

loved the new look newsletter, or if it didn’t appeal to you so much tell us why

have an article to share with our community of changemakers

have an event happening and want to spread the word

you’d like to talk about any of our courses or business course funding opportunities

By Caron Sandeman, Service Design Manager

“The right customer experience plan can be implemented quickly, saving time and creating organisational resilience”

The week we started the Student Engagement & Service Development Project 2020 in response to the COVID pandemic at D&A College I read Andrea Cooper’s blog Working From Home. It’s a reminder that investing in anything, from a small home-spun project to building a team or changing a whole organisation, isn’t easy and there are seldom quick fixes.

Our Service Design team has been working with the College for 3 years now, and we’ve made great steps towards improving ways of working and cultivating a focus on their customer wants and needs. Our Service Designers work collaboratively with teams across all services in the College. This lets us take a holistic view of the services that we offer and influence how we make the most of the benefit to their customers, the students and staff.

The College is used to change following a merger, restructure and a cyberattack. We introduced service design in 2017 when 600+ staff spent a day Designing Good to Great; an ambitious change programme driven by data and powered by service design for which they were awarded the Public Sector Reform Award. We were relying on the lessons learned and the successes of the past to drive Project 2020.

Project 2020 was a new piece of work, there were no partially formed solutions, there was a just a problem. 

How do we deliver all the services we provide to students on campus, during a pandemic?

We needed to take all the frontline services that were once delivered face to face on campus, at the start of each academic year, into the new Covid_19 ways of working. Where once there was a smile or a comforting and reassuring chat, which we knew from research and experience was often needed for new students in their first days, weeks and months in College, we were working out how to do things remotely and physically distanced. 

We were not looking for a one-off fix. Solutions were needed to design accessible and easy to use services no matter whether they were delivered wholly online, remotely by staff or face to face on campus. The focus of the design effort was not so much on any single service but across the whole organisation. There needed to be a concentrated effort to shape a personalised offering around each individual student.

We faced a ‘wicked’ problem in that we were working without rules. And by this, I mean, we did not know if the campuses would be open and what operational restrictions might be in place for Session 2020/21. The continual flux in guidance and directions made this seem for many, like the problem was insurmountable.

Our approach

We started by mapping the current on campus end to end service so we could highlight every digital and physical customer touchpoint – whether they were emails or text messages the customer received or an on-campus conversation with our staff. This holistic view let us see everything the students interacted with on their journey.

Project timeline

Working with the delivery teams, we applied their known qualitative and quantitative research and expert insights to the map. This was key to making sure we were bringing others with us on the journey. These people would be working on the detail, so their input and awareness was crucial. When we did this, we could see the digital and physical interactions our students had with us and identify where services could easily be moved to a remote delivery or where there was potential for friction. And importantly, we saw issues might arise with a remote service delivery, or where the physical interaction could no longer take place face to face. We also identified areas where our insights were not enough and where we needed to ask questions of our customers.

Once we identified the problem areas and made sure they were backed up with insights, we were able to prioritise any problem areas with the teams. This was essential to make sure we didn’t create silos of work and that the services were considered across multiple groupings for planning and prioritisation. Identifying dates that services must be in place for helped us plan the work schedule.

The Process 

We ran two workshops for managers introducing them to working collaboratively in a remote environment using Zoom and Miro. We set prework to familiarise them with the online tools. We introduced Lou Downes principles of good service and we worked on several generic journey maps to familiarise individuals with the sessions we would facilitate.

Before team sessions, managers introduced the timeline and journey mapping techniques on Miro to staff and at the team sessions we planned to concentrate on ideation. Some team sessions where staff had completed the pre-work were more successful than others. The sessions also highlighted capability and competence issues. The remote collaboration brought technical skill frustrations to the fore and it took mindful facilitation to keep sessions on schedule and accessible for all participants. Seven team workshops took place over two weeks. 

coloured posts of a journey map

Teams worked with their live boards following the session and were able to call on our team for help at any point.  Weekly progress meetings took place to ensure the plan was running on schedule.

Key outcomes

By overseeing the work of multi-disciplinary teams and bringing them together, facilitating workshops, gathering and articulating insights, and looking at our services from an end-to-end point of view we were able to

  • identify where teams were well placed, and confident, to redesign and deliver the service themselves
  • break down silos when teams came together to co-ordinate a service
  • adopt a holistic approach to some services reducing duplication and improving the student experience
  • look at a service in its entirety and identify where there were gaps between team knowledge and business knowledge
  • provide focus to various teams and cross-college groups on previously unknown customer needs and problems that needed to be solved or investigated further when new problems were identified

While change felt slow to start as teams learned new ways of working, small wins quickly started to build on each other, proving that change really was happening and that building of momentum showed that the problem wasn’t insurmountable after all.

What has this delivered?

Leann Crichton, Head of Administrative Operations at the College led on the Student Engagement and Service Development workstream of Project 2020. We asked her how using service design has improved the pandemic journey for students and staff at the College?

“We’ve definitely seen a culture shift where people previously conditioned to find solutions now spend more time exploring problems. We have services for several possible scenarios and phases so the right customer experience plan can be implemented quickly, saving time and creating organisation resilience.

The ability to get ahead and respond quickly with the right service delivery plan to minimise disruption for teams and customers has meant less stress and a feeling of being in control, as much as you can be in uncertain times!  Being able to imagine and visualise the service and experience for several likely operating environments has equipped us to respond quickly when the situation changes allowing for more considered processes and reducing the interruptions to services.

Because we’ve designed carefully and proactively, we’ve avoided an impact on student satisfaction and that endorsement of the Project 2020 outcomes was the real result for us”.

Average number scores

In 2019/20 Jessica Chan, Business Development Manager at Shelter Scotland took a Professional Development Award in Service Design alongside five other Shelter Scotland colleagues.

We spoke to Jessica to find out the impact that their programme of learning, funded by FWDF had on her, and the business.

Why Service Design?

“Shelter has an ambitious new strategy and we need to ensure we have the right skills and capacity to deliver our strategic ambitions. We were keen to use Service Design to find new and better ways of working, introducing a shared language and tools across teams so we could work together to innovate. We have started to embed the service design mindset, we now talk about discovery phases, better defining problems through user research, involving the right people to develop, test and implement solutions. It’s a process that develops ideas really well and means that different teams can work together in the same way”

Red and Black graphic

What did you get from the course?

“I enjoyed learning and using the tools back at work, running workshops on live projects. It gave me the chance to think through and try out new ideas. Because the Service Design Academy’s PDA has an assessment for every unit, it means that we were always putting our learning into action.

It’s hard work and takes time, lots of planning and energy – you are under pressure to complete assessments. You are rewarded with better ways of working and delivering new services. It’s a course I really enjoyed

What impact has the programme had on the business?

“At Shelter, user research can be challenging because it’s not always appropriate to ask our clients to get involved when they are in a housing crisis. Service design has helped us think differently about who we should speak to when designing services to ensure insight of clients is captured, such as volunteers with lived experience, our advisors and other frontline workers from partner agencies.

Taking a service design approach has helped us understand the needs of our client groups that use our different services more deeply. It means that we can design better services to successfully secure funding.  Thinking in different ways and hearing different voices has brought a positive impact to how our services are designed.”

How does online training work for you?

“It’s fantastic how we could collaborate in the virtual world. It has made remote working easier and I’ve learned how to facilitate group working at Shelter online.”

What’s the FWDF application process like?

“Making a FWDF application is very straightforward. The D&A college team were super helpful in getting our funding approved and our Service Design training arranged. We look forward to using the FWDF again in 2021. A specially developed programme by the Service Design Academy will introduce service design to more teams across Shelter Scotland and develop another cohort of service design champions.”

Graphic with a woman smiling

Caron Sandeman, Service Design Manager at the Service Design Academy reflected on the process

“This type of learning is exactly what the FWDF money has been designed for. The aim of the fund is to provide eligible employers with workforce development training to up-skill and re-skill their existing workforce. This training enables employers to address skills gaps within their workforce and allow them to become more productive and efficient.

Last year, Shelter Scotland chose to have 6 of their team complete the Professional Development Award in Service Design. This meant the staff gained an accredited qualification and worked on business -related projects putting their learning to use straight away in the workplace. This year we will work with them to co-design the training they need, for the context of their organisation, to upskill and embed service design across the teams.

2021 will be a year of rebuilding from one of the most horrific times in modern history, organisations must re-imagine, re-think and re-design everything that has gone before. This applies to almost every economic sector from transport, health, media/digitisation, communities and city planning, communication, banks, insurance, food and shopping, to name but a few. The work of service design is to create a future that doesn’t exist yet and the availability of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (£15,000 for Scottish Levy Payers and £5,000 for SME’s) means organisations can access support to grow a community of change makers to create better services and customer experiences to aid post-Covid recovery and increase their resilience for the future.”

If you are interested in accessing FWDF monies for service design training, get in touch.

It really is a case of it being the perfect partnership.  Storytelling is such a huge part of service design and the whole design thinking process. Storytelling can help you in so many ways throughout your service design journey.

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today”

Robert McKee, Scriptwriter

Service Design gives us powerful stories to tell.  

We have been telling stories for as long as we’ve been human – they are an essential part of our day-to-day communications. When done well, storytelling can do wonders for a project: it can create a sense of empathy, generate enthusiasm and win the loyalty and affection of audiences. 

We want to share three ways where you can deploy storytelling to support your service design journey.

Problem, Solution, Impact

The first is to better understand and to articulate a problem. One of the key principles of service design and design thinking is that we need to understand the problem before we can come up with potential solutions and being able to tell the story of the problem is a good place to start.

As service designers we listen and share the human story behind the problem. It could be that people can’t find a service, or that they can’t use it unaided. It could be that the confirmation email hasn’t been sent, or the explanation in it is not clear. It could be that having to pass between the silos created in organisations means the service becomes frustrating for people. Whatever it is, there’s a story behind why that service doesn’t work, and why the user is not able to do the thing they set out to do.

All our courses are hands-on, with a learn by doing approach, our learners are required to listen to, and share stories. When teams come up with their idea, there is a story behind it. Telling this story and the background context lets everyone know why something needs to change.  

And that’s the second part, we can share potential solutions to the problem. It’s about telling a scenario of what could be possible in the future and if we are trying to get buy in, or help people to understand our solutions then telling it in a story format is going to be much easier for people to absorb and to understand.

“Storytelling connects us, helps us make sense of the world, and communicates our values and beliefs. A good story makes us think and feel, and speaks to us in ways that numbers, data, and presentation slides simply can’t.”

Celinne Da Costa

Thirdly, you can tell the story about the impact you have made. Going through the service design process means that you will initiate some sort of change, being able to tell the story of that change, tell the story of what it was like before and what it’s like now and the impact the change has had. This part is not just about the change, it’s the difference that change has made to individuals and potentially the broader community as well.

We’d been thinking more and more that Storytelling had an important part in service design and we wanted to test our idea. The team got together with Kevin Anderson from The Story Edge for some training. It struck us how intrinsically linked our worlds are and how important it was for service designers to be able to tell their stories well. A workshop was arranged with some of our past and potential clients and we fleshed out the idea. At that time, we were undergoing our Organisational Accreditation with the Service Design Network and Birgit Mager, joined the workshop as part of our assessment. Birgit was intrigued by the idea and saw real value in adding a Storytelling element to our core learning. 

Move on several months and we’ve just introduced 8 self-study videos created by Kevin to the PDA in Service Design. The short lessons take you through Kevin’s Story Stack model.

When the story is very relatable, like when you’re using real-life examples gathered from user insights, it has the added benefit of making it easier to understand and more memorable as it’s personally relatable, the audience empathises with the character in the story.

Stories provide meaning, create context and evoke a sense of purpose. Businesses are increasingly recognising the importance of storytelling to better connect with their users, create a connection with their brand and to share successes!

Being able to tell a powerful story can be the start of a service design journey and a tool that will help you through the whole process.

We live in uncertain times and now more than ever the tools of service design are helping to find new, creative mindsets and innovative ways to solve our challenges.

The future is bright, the future is …… yellow and blue and white and green

November at the Service Design Academy has seen us very much looking to the future.

The publication of The Future of Service Design, the After the Pandemic Symposium, the launch of our new website and the announcement of increased Flexible Workforce Development Funding are shining a bright light on the road ahead.

Service Design is always aimed at creating a future that doesn’t exist yet

Liat Rogel, Service Designer at Housing Lab

We knew that to move forward we had to  be in a really great place, and that meant a 6 month zig zag journey through the design process which led to the development of our remote delivery courses. Yes that’s 6 months of work right there!

And that means that from January 2021 our Professional Development Award in Service Design will be delivered remotely, so it doesn’t matter where you are in the world you can study for a service design qualification, accredited by the Service Design Network and the Scottish Qualifications Authority. Find out more and apply here.

Our short course programme for 2021 is now available there’s a range of 2, 3 and 5 day options to suit you whether you’re starting your service design journey or taking that step into learning for the future.

Until the 30th of November you can enjoy an Early Bird price on all 2021 short courses.

… and the streets are yellow, and pink and blue …..

Lady with umbrella walking across the street

When it was announced that a Dundee city centre street was to close to through traffic in May 2020 many were upset and sceptical about the potential benefits.

SDA worked with UNESCO City of Design Dundee and Dundee City Council to facilitate a fast paced, compelling, and responsive engagement initiative with businesses to support the pedestrianisation of the city’s Union Street. Find out what happened when we service designed a city street here

….. and the adverts are yellow and pink and green ….

We have been eagerly awaiting the announcement about the Flexible Workforce Development Fund 20/21 and we weren’t disappointed. This year our funding allocation has increased to over £600,000!

As part of Dundee & Angus College we are the only service design educator where you can use FWDF for service design education and training.  Eligible businesses have £15,000 to upskill their workforce through our PDA and Business Courses. Whether you need to adapt to recover, change to grow, or are ready to drive innovation and problem solve on a whole different level, we can help.

We have Business Advisors who can walk businesses through the application process and if our courses aren’t quite what you’re after why not let us design the perfect solution? We will work with you to co-design learning to exactly suit your needs where your people will work on live business challenges, set by you, to immediately put the learning into context.

If your employer is eligible for the funding, contact your HR/OD team to ask them to support your learning through FWDF.

As the only College in Scotland with a Service Design curriculum we look forward to welcoming people from across the country to study with us.

The future is …………..

Have you spotted our new brand colours yet?  We’ve been introducing them on social channels and in our workshops recently, they match our newly launched website www.sda.ac.uk, check it out and let us know what you think at info@sda.ac.uk

As always for the latest news we’re on Twitter and Instagram @SDA_Scot

When it was announced that a Dundee city centre street was to close to through traffic in May 2020 many were upset and sceptical about the potential benefits.

The Service Design Academy worked with UNESCO City of Design Dundee and Dundee City Council to facilitate a fast paced, compelling, and responsive engagement initiative with businesses to support the pedestrianisation of the city’s Union Street.

Funded by Scottish Government and managed by Sustrans Scotland, Spaces for People is a temporary infrastructure programme in Scotland offering funding and support to make it safer for people who choose to walk, cycle or wheel for permitted journeys and exercise, while physical distancing is in place during Covid-19.

Dundee City Council (DCC) has moved to make the city’s streets more walker and cyclist friendly, to encourage workers to use active travel as lockdown eases. DCC is committed to improving engagement with, and services for, its communities, putting employees, customers and partners at the heart of all transformation and innovation.

DCC has recognised that to maximise community engagement and to increase the pace of improvement, they must harness and embed a way of doing things that encourages innovation and collaboration.

UNESCO City of Design Dundee (UCODD) partnership started with the Service Design Academy in 2018. What started with sharing a brief for an SDA User Research bootcamp, “What can be done for design in Dundee and for the designers in the City”,  soon developed. UCODD were impressed with the depth and breadth of the insights produced by the SDA delegates. They were confident that the refreshing approach taken by SDA – challenging assumptions and not jumping to solutions –   was exactly what was needed. Listening and understanding the needs of local businesses and residents would shape the redesign of a busy thoroughfare to be car free and pedestrian friendly.

Let’s take a moment to understand why UCODD and DCC believed that a Service Design approach was ideal for Union Street to be redesigned with not just for the community.

Service Design is concerned with how things work for people in practice. It looks at the lived experience, behaviours and aspirations of people and organisations, and how these are influenced by broader system drivers and conditions. It helps to connect policy intent with the complexity of how things are practised on the ground

Taking a project through human centred design stages ensures that you

Its collaborative processes create an environment where:

The Programme

In partnership with UNESCO City of Design Dundee (UCoDD), Service Design Academy (SDA) facilitated two activities:

Development of an interactive online tool for local citizen engagement and user research. We introduced users to Padlet, for citizens to share their thoughts and insights on the pedestrianisation of Union Street. It was prepared with thoughtful, open questions and distributed throughout online platforms with the support of UCoDD.

Two dates were arranged for online collaboration. This brought together local businesses, representatives from the local authority and elected members. Both events were led by SDA Consultants using their card game “Connecting Communities”

Chris Muir, SDA Consultant explains “The game is designed to increase democratic engagement, for participants to feel empowered in providing solutions to real life problems and challenges. The gamification of service design tools is a pioneering way of engaging groups quickly to encourage collaboration and empower decision making. Participants worked through themes and levels of the game to discover and define problems before moving forward with developing solutions through speedy idea generation.”

Workshop activities were designed to maximise interaction between participants, enable collaborative working and expose everyone to a range of creative service design methods and tools.

The groups were overwhelmingly positive on the content of the workshop, how it supported creativity, challenged assumptions and supported deeper understanding of stakeholder needs.

Workshops Overview

The session started with a social dreaming exercise, engaging participants to consider what the City Centre of 2030 looked like.

Next, we took an empathic approach to thinking about Union Street by using an empathy map and asking key questions such as, how are people feeling about the road closure? What are they seeing, hearing and noticing all around them? The map looked at the current picture from 3 perspectives. A business owner, the Council and a local person.

A shared vision exercise followed, to bring individual aspirations together to create a cohesive vision based on what is important to the stakeholders moving forward. After the vision exercise, the Connecting Communities game started. Participants were asked to pick what kind of street they would like to work on. This resulted in four groups working simultaneously through their understanding of a cosy, safe, vibrant and communal street. Ideation was introduced at this point to get initial thoughts, ideas and suggestions out on the table.

We paused ideation, asking the collective to consider what the ’Street from Hell’ would look and feel like. This ‘flipped thinking’ exercise was incredibly useful in discovering what the participants did not want their street to become.

The last activity looked at keeping it local. How do we put the community at the heart of Union Street? This resulted in more creative ideas being produced and identified individuals whom the participants would like to be involved.

Encouraging the third sector to get involved was a popular idea. Striking up impactful relationships with local charities, putting on pop up events to increase footfall in the area, would bring a real community feeling to the street.

Outputs supporting delivery and implementation included using natural materials to create space for outdoor dining by installing wooden planters, maintained by Bonnie Dundee volunteers, and selecting bold, bright welcoming colours for the street mural designed by recent DJCAD graduate Callum Laird, 

Valuable additional outcomes of SDA’s Connecting Communities approach with Union Street’s local businesses and residents are:

The pilot programme due to run until the end of September has now been extended until the end of January 2021.

84% of traders say that the changes have been positive for the street, with 62% saying it has been good for their business. In the survey carried out on behalf of Dundee City Council, retailers in Union Street also report 68% of their customers saying that they feel more positive about the area.

Mark Flynn, convener of Dundee City Council’s City Development Committee said:

“Keeping vehicles off the street was a way of doing something different to try to open it up to locals and visitors so that they had more time and space to use the shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes. 

“It has gone down so well that the street will remain closed to through traffic until the end of January, but we will continue monitoring the change carefully and engaging with businesses over the coming months.”     

Photo © D C Thomson