Our process is informed by over 15 years’ experience, drawing upon the success of Design Thinking and Lean Startup approaches in responding to the challenges of delivering products and services in complex environments.
We tailor our approach to the specific needs of our clients, depending where they are on their journey. Not all projects will follow the process outlined below verbatim. However, the following model outlines a “broad brushstrokes” view of how we approach our work.
First, we immerse ourselves in your business. We tap into your team’s expertise to understand the opportunities and challenges, get a handle on what is already known and where there may be gaps, so that we can target our activities to provide the most value. We define the challenge(s) we are trying to address and develop a clear set of objectives for our work, including establishment of key evaluation criteria and questions.
We work with you to assemble a project team with relevant internal stakeholders from across your organisation. We gain a sense of your organisational culture and the processes, policies and structures that may impact our work as new services are envisaged and turned into reality.
We also seek to understand your business from the perspective of external stakeholders. [Ethnographically inspired research] techniques reveal stakeholder needs, motivations, barriers and context of use, and identify any misalignment between customer perceptions and expectations and organisational perspectives.
With a shared understanding of the project outcomes and organisational objectives, and the needs of the people we aim to serve, we collaboratively develop a conceptual design of the service or product.
Through co-design, we align our activities with direct understanding of customer and business value, along with our criteria for measuring impact. We may also engage relevant experts and specialists to assist in developing the conceptual design. Engaging the relevant internal stakeholders who may be impacted by, or be involved in the delivery of, the proposed solutions is also a critical part of this process.
We employ rich and visual methods—such as ‘scenarios of use’, service blueprints, personas, and role-play—to explore the mechanics of the new service. These make things tangible, often uncovering unexpected “gaps”, but also strengthen understanding and communication of concepts with key stakeholders, such as executives and staff, achieving a shared vision of “success”.
Execute (and evolve)
Working with something in the ‘real world’ tests a design and can uncover opportunities for improvement that may otherwise be missed. Getting a prototype into the hands of users quickly is an inexpensive way to turn ideas and conceptual designs into something tangible early to fast-track this learning.
An iterative approach—designing while progressively testing and incorporating feedback—uncovers potential issues before they become costly errors. For example, learnings from prototyping and testing may challenge the overarching strategy, allowing us to adjust course in a timely manner.
Prototyping also helps us to build and test the internal supporting structures required by your new product or service—for example, organisational policies or new team accountabilities—to ensure that the proposed solution is sustainable and feasible from a business perspective.
Our work does not finish with the launch of the product or service. We continue to engage metrics and data collection (quantitative and qualitative) to evaluate the success of the product or service in meeting its objectives—both organisationally and from the perspective of the people we aim to serve. These evaluations then inform the further evolution and refinement of the service or product over time.
We apply a variety of techniques to solve a particular challenge or set of challenges, depending on the context and requirements of the project. While the specific tools we employ will differ from project to project, the following matrix outlines the a number of common methods that we employ.
If you are interested in learning more about the service design and design thinking approaches that inform our work, the Service Design Tools is a great place to start. We have also documented some tools, such as mobile diaries in further detail on our blog.