Business 2.0, Design, Government 2.0, NGOs & Nonprofits, Presentations, Sustainability

Designing for Purpose

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the February instalment of Design Thinking Sydney, a monthly meetup for exploring design thinking practice.

I was stoked to be asked to present on the topic of Designing for Purpose. My presentation slides below:

I need to do a tiny bit of tidy-up on my notes, but I hope to do so over the weekend, and I’ll post them here once they’re done.

As I suspected a number of attendees at the session would be relatively well-versed in the ideas behind design thinking, I wanted to focus a bit on what’s different about applying these practices in a for-purpose context.

Given a tad more preparation time, I’d reframe a few of the points I made to be more positive (it may come across as a bit negative!) But I think these methods hold tremendous value, and that it’s really important that we continue to develop these practice—just that we go in with our “eyes open” and to be prepared for some of these differences and challenges.

The main points of difference I identified (and, of course, there are probably more than I’ve highlighted here) were in how we:

  • Define value
  • Embrace and frame “failure”
  • Engage with stakeholders
  • Encourage behaviour change
  • Measure and evaluate

Thanks to the organising committee for the invite, and for the participants who asked questions and came and spoke to me after—it was a great opportunity to dive in and explore and challenge the things I presented, which I found most valuable and enlightening!

Business 2.0, Design, Government 2.0

Richard Buchanan on service design

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.

Government 2.0, Social media & networking

VicRoads social media case study

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.

Government 2.0, NGOs & Nonprofits, Social media & networking, Sustainability

New resource on evaluation and technology

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.

Government 2.0, Social media & networking

Which is riskier: engagement or ignorance?

I’ve just finished reading Ignorance (of social media) is risk, a great post by Craig Thomler exploring the lack of social media engagement by public servants.

I think the issues that Craig raises reflect a lack of perceived relevance (and therefore importance) of social media by professionals in their own context. My experience has been that a lot of people working in a professional context (be it government or corporate) find it hard to determine how social media applies in this context. While many have Facebook accounts that they use for personal use, they are unable (or in some cases don’t want to, as social media is seen as, well, social) to connect this personal use into their work. While they see major brands operating in the space, given the differences in approach/context — e.g. between consumer brands and say public service — it’s difficult to translate this into their own sphere.

Also, they are often unaware of the “non-Facebook/Twitter” options that are available — such as Yammer, LinkedIn, wikis, blogs etc. This is understandable — we all have a tough time keeping up with the things that are directly relevant to our professional sphere, and if social media is not a high priority (either by mandate, crisis, or personal interest) it’s even harder to keep across all these different tools.

This, of course, creates a vicious cycle — they don’t understand how it might apply professionally, therefore they don’t engage, which means they don’t get experience, which makes it difficult to understand how it might apply… This is especially the case, I think, with tools like Twitter, where IMO you have to actively use the tool, and connect with others, to “get it”. Trying to make a decision on the basis of signing up for an account and looking at a couple of suggested feeds means you’re unlikely to truly understand the service. (The number of people I’ve spoken to that reflect this pattern of usage is pretty significant.)

I also suspect that some professionals and senior managers mistakenly see the “social media crisis” as a result of engagement — so “if we don’t engage, we reduce our risk” — “wilful ignorance” if I put it bluntly. This is problematic on a number of levels — not least of which is the fact that many crisis moments emerge because of lack of engagement, or similarly because of a lack of experience in dealing with crisis moments caused by lack of exposure. If this is the case and this kind of perception is bubbling beneath the surface, it might explain some of this lack of engagement.