Meaningful innovation

COFA + Saasu presentation follow-ups

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I’ve been remiss in not posting up some follow-ups to the presentations I made (not so) recently at COFA and the Saasu Cloud Conference.

COFA have posted a “highlights” that I think captures the essence of the presentation quite well, I think, so probably easiest just to pass that along:

The Saasu presentation happened not long after, and shares some of the themes and examples, albeit less focused on service design’s application to social innovation and more directly outlining the benefits to small to medium businesses.

I’ve posted the slides to Slideshare:

The deck with associated notes (including links and follow-up references etc.) can also be downloaded as a PDF (6.8MB).

Service design presentation at Saasu Conference 2012

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Saasu Cloud Conference 2012

I’m really looking forward to be joining the crew at Saasu and a bunch of great speakers, including Stillgherrian and Phil Morle at the Saasu Cloud Conference 2012.

Perhaps unsurprisingly I’ll be talking about service design. As one of the founders of Saasu (full disclosure: Saasu is a Zumio client and I personally remain a shareholder) I know that the principles of service design have always been a core part of what the company does. This commitment, I think, is reflected in my conversation with CEO Marc Lehmann when he first spoke to me about the conference. He was emphatic in making it clear that the conference will be 100% focused on supporting Saasu customers, not spruiking products or services.

So my talk will be exactly that — I’ll be exploring service design from the perspective of Saasu’s customers and how it impacts SMEs, accountants and the finance industry. I’m looking forward to sharing some of our learnings on how design thinking can deliver practical benefits and to get feedback from participants at the conference on how they see service design working (or not working) for them. I’m looking forward to attending the whole conference — it’s shaping up to informative and inspiring day…

3D printers and mass customisation

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I had the opportunity to catch Lisa Harouni: A primer on 3D printing on TED recently. It’s a terrific introduction to what 3D printing is and why it’s important, especially for the manufacturing sector.

In preparing for the Stepping up workshop one of the themes that emerged in our thinking was “mass customisation” (including its relationship to “authenticity” which also manifests in social media). Mass customisation refers to the ability of customers to selectively design the products they purchase. Lisa highlights how this can then be extended to allow customers to produce the products at home as well.

Products can be quite complex, as the AirBike demonstrates. And 3D printers are rapidly decreasing in cost, with basic DIY models like the MakiBox coming it at USD$350. That provides some indication of what Harouni is referring to when she says their affordable and crossing over.

In her TED talk, Lisa also explores how just product data can be shipped, instead of physical product, to deliver a product to a customer. She also outlines how distributed manufacturing might work, where a customer defines their requirements and the data is shipped to a local manufacturer for production and delivery (with the potential of significantly lowering carbon footprint).

This type of distributed model brings to mind RiverSimple, which is a new car concept based on the principles of the hyper car, introduced by the Rocky Mountains Institute and outlined in more depth in Natural Capitalism.

Part of RiverSimple’s vision is to distribute manufacturing to local hubs, rather than centralising manufacturing in one country, or distributing manufacturing across a global supply chain. (As an aside, I see this approach as having both parallels and coming into conflict with Porter and Kramer’s “industry cluster” principle for creating shared value. Perhaps for another post…)

I’m interested in seeing how technologies like 3D printing develop, enabling these kinds of decentralised manufacturing models and enabling companies like RiverSimple to fulfil their vision. It’s worth noting that 3D

Art, Design and Social Enterprise at COFA

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Photo from one of Mickey Kovari’s Flashpoint Labs at Evans High School. Photo by Nana.

Photo from one of Mickey Kovari’s Flashpoint Labs at Evans High School. Photo by Nana.

Just a quick note to say that I’ll be doing a short (<20 min) presentation and joining a panel discussion with Mickey Kovari and Janine Cahill at COFA on Tuesday night (3 Apr).

The theme of the evening is Art, Design and Social Enterprise and we’ll each be exploring our experiences in designing for sustainability. Given the depth of experience of the other panelists I expect I’ll get a lot out of the evening.

The event is part of the COFA Talks series. Details are:

Date: April 3, 2012
Time: 6–8pm
COFA lecture theatre: EGO2
Cnr Oxford Street and Greens Road
Paddington, NSW

Stepping up your business in 2012 – launching a new public workshop

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If you took a quick trip through the archives of this blog you would probably notice that we facilitate a lot of workshops and presentations (both for our clients, but also at public events and conferences), especially on topics that encourage sustainability and social innovation.

With that in mind we’re delighted to be running our first stand-alone workshop on 28 & 29 March 2012 on these themes. Zumio associate Allison Heller, the wonderful Connie Comber at Re-Imagine Business and I have teamed up to develop a two-day program that ties together our combined learnings into what we hope will be an engaging set of sessions for business owners and managers.

From the workshop blurb:

Business models for driving profitability are changing.

Customer loyalty, high performance teams and strong business networks are increasingly reliant on collaboration and building long-term relationships.

Businesses need to be engaged in the new socially-networked economy and that means accepting greater transparency and adopting socially-aware values and principles.

Clients and communities expect more of businesses today.

This workshop will:

  • Provide you with an overview of latest trends shaping the business sector: collaboration, shared value and harnessing the power of the socially-networked economy to your advantage.
  • Lead you through a series of case studies of businesses that have been transformed to build resilience and achieve sustainable growth.
  • Provide you with practical tools to develop a resilience-based business strategy to drive new market opportunities.

The first day will focus on the clear trends impacting the business community, representing both risks and opportunities depending on an organisation’s preparedness. The second day will focus on specific case studies of local and international businesses that are harnessing these trends and getting ahead of the curve.

As with all of our workshops, the two days will emphasise interactive and hands-on activities to help apply the key principles and learnings that emerge from the sessions in a practical way.

There’s more detail over at the event booking page. We’d be delighted to hear any feedback you have on the event and outline.

And you can get a 5% discount by using the discount code “earlybird” before 9 Mar 2012.

P.S. if you think someone else might be interested, we’ve got a PDF flyer you can send around or print (if you must) that contains all the essentials.

Richard Buchanan on service design

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Just finished watching Richard Buchanan’s keynote at the Service Design Conference 2011 (via @pennyhagen).

There were lots of points that were interesting to me, but a couple stood out. One was the purpose of an organisation not being profit, but instead the delivery of goods and services. The second was three key areas that he highlights where service design is of particular interest: health care, community design and public services design. The third was the need to extend service design into the culture of an organisation.

Overall a thought provoking talk very much aligned with my perspective of service design and Zumio’s approach/purpose.

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  • Published: Dec 19th, 2011
  • Category: Housekeeping
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Holiday trading hours

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Just a quick note to mention that the Zumio office will be closed from today 18 Dec 2011 through to 2 Jan 2012 inclusive — we’ll be back on deck from 3 Jan 2012.

All the best for the holiday season from the team here — we hope you stay safe over the break. And please consider supporting a charitable organisation over the festive period — we’ll be supporting some of the inspiring and amazing Kiva entrepreneurs as part of our giving program.

See you in the new year :)

VicRoads social media case study

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In mid-2009 we had the pleasure of working with the VicRoads team on a series of workshops for staff from across the organisation as an introduction to social media and networking.

The workshops were in part presenting these tools to staff, as at the time they were still quite new, and in part to inform and generate ideas for a broader social media strategy for the organisation.

So I was delighted to see that one of the folks involved in that initial strategy, Jonathan Roper (at the time with Paris First, now running Briarbird) has posted a series of video interviews talking about a recent social media initiative using an internal blog to gather feedback and generate dialogue for organisational improvement.

There’s some great stuff in there for anyone considering how to apply social media in a government organisation — well worth checking out. It seems that some of the ideas we were talking about in those early workshops are really starting to take shape within VicRoads, which is fantastic to see.

New resource on evaluation and technology

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A few weeks back I received this invite via email from colleague Duncan Rintoul, of the Institute for Innovation in Business and Social Research (IIBSOR) at University of Wollongong. Given the topic, I thought it was worthwhile sharing here also:

AES tech-eval: A new SIG focused on the intersection between evaluation and technology

These days it is no surprise to see mainstream and niche programs making use of tech-based platforms: web-based self-help tools, mobile applications, SMS-based reminder systems, viral videos, conversations on social media… the list is much longer than this, and ever growing.

We need to develop capacity among evaluators to work confidently in this environment, designing and executing sound evaluations that understand what these technologies are, how they can be used and how their impact can be measured.

There are also great opportunities for using technology in our evaluations — wikis, online forums, online surveys, social media monitoring… again the list is long and growing.

Spilling over from one of the parallel sessions at the 2011 AES conference, a crew of around 15 people has started pulling together a new AES Special Interest Group around this intersection between evaluation and technology: AES tech-eval.

It’s early days yet, but two things you can do for now:

  • Join the email listserv
  • Check out v1.0 of their resource library of conference papers, published evaluations and other resources for evaluating tech-based programs and program elements.

Go on, join them! If technology freaks you out, swap fear of the unknown with curiosity and see where it takes you. If you’re already working comfortably in this space, help lead your colleagues forward.

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  • Published: Nov 21st, 2011
  • Category: Design
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Insights into co-design

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Zumio co-conspirators Penny Hagan and Natalie Rowland have just published an excellent introduction to co-design methods over at Johnny Holland: Enabling Codesign.

While I could quote some excellent points from across the whole piece, I’ll start with this introduction:

Involvement of ‘users’ early in the research and ideation phases of the design process is often equated to “asking users what they want”. (A certain quote oft attributed to Ford comes to mind). Codesign however, goes well beyond this. The premise is that ‘users’ become partners. Rather than being viewed as a source of information to be input into the design process, those impacted by the design are invited to work actively with designers to shape the definition and direction of the project. Participation can include sharing personal experiences and perspectives, contributing to the generation of new design concepts, the evolution of those concepts, analysis, interpretation, decision making, evaluation and more.

When taking a codesign approach it is our role as designers to facilitate that participation. At the beginning of the design process we work with users to understand the design project in relation to their everyday lives including their habits, rituals, dreams, attitudes and experiences. These then become resources for inspiring design concepts and direction. In order for people to actively and effectively participate in the design process they must be able to imagine, access, and express their experiences and expectations. Simply asking people questions is not enough to facilitate this process. This is because people are not explicit sources of information. As humans we are limited in what we can express by our existing frames of reference, we can only talk in the language that we know.

This (perhaps unsurprisingly) reflects Zumio’s approach, and our process is strongly geared towards enabling this type of participation. Penny’s and Natalie’s article does a great job at providing some insight into the thinking behind some of the methods we employ to achieve this goal. Congrats (and thanks) to Penny and Natalie for producing yet another great resource for the UX/service design community…