Exploring Other Methods. November 7, 4:00 PM Understanding How Design Thinking, Lean and Agile Play within Service Design.
“Since service design serves as the umbrella discipline for delivering service experiences, there are many sub methods to address different types of problems. For example, Design Thinking is helpful on the front end to empathize and identify customer needs where Agile is helpful in software development and digital experience design. This group explores well-known methods and how they play a role in the service design universe.”
I’m back in Chicago and I would first like to thank everyone who joined my session about “Exploring Other Methods” for your participation (full house) and encouraging feedback. I hope to cross paths again in the near future. In the meantime, we can take advantage of LinkedIn to stay in touch. I would also like to express my gratitude to Michael DeJager and Tyler Peterson for all of their tireless help.
Here are the links for a couple of the items that I briefly discussed when providing context for Exploring Other Methods: a photo album of where I work, Nokia’s Chicago Technology Center, and the first version of the Human Factors Engineering Manifesto. Regarding requests about the slideware for my talk… I ran an interactive whiteboarding session with my iPad connected to the projector and I did not produce formal slides.
The discussion’s narrative was centered on how to best approach HSM, Human-Machine-Systems, to craft a compelling Service Experience. In that context, “Human” refers to relevant stakeholders and “Machine” to any technology involved. The “Systems” approach prompts a holistic undertaking which includes Front Stage, Back Stage factors and the continuum across the too.
Service Design is about innovation, whether capability-wise that qualifies as incremental, breakthrough and/or disruptive innovation. Today’s Service Design also entails a wide range of low and high-tech at any point in the process. While this is just anecdotal evidence, when I asked everyone about who can do away without any technology, there was an implicit understanding of the rhetorical nature of my question and, therefore, the obvious pervasiveness of digital experiences.
We are a technological society. Good design is concerned with human factors and crafts technological solutions to enable human experiences that contribute to our quality of life and the quality of the work we do. That is Human Factors Engineering (HFE) reason for being, a field pioneered by Nokia Bell Labs in 1947.
From that perspective, it pays to intertwine any relevant practices and tools for the healthy purpose of figuring out what combination works best for any given Service Design project. While process repeatability is a desired outcome, what makes an interdisciplinary team smart is the ability to mix, match and blend what’s needed for each undertaking.
We can think of it as an a-la-carte menu featuring elements from Design Thinking, Agile and Lean methodologies just to name a popular handful to start with. I did not discuss some other such as Concept of Operations, Goal Directed Design or Outcome Driven Innovation, but I do recommend expanding one’s horizons beyond the aforementioned few. Note that while featuring commonalities, each one works with different optics. A holistic approach to Service Design also requires a composite method, leveraging as much (or as little) as needed from any, and with any needed adaptations.
Rather than summarizing what I shared at Service Design Week, I’m taking this chance to further reflect on those insights. So, given that we operate in highly dynamic environments, why wouldn’t designers also apply dynamic methodologies?
I’d like to think twice about cookie-cutter and one-size-fits-all approaches because Service Design typically prompts problems and opportunities where fixed-gear-techniques that might have worked well in the past can end up betraying one’s confidence: they might no longer serve or be the best fit whichever purpose they were originally conceived for. Design typically takes us beyond our comfort level, and that makes it an exciting profession.
Statistically speaking, the more one does the very same thing, the closer one gets to mastering that craft (e.g. deliberate practice model). But, paradoxically, you also get closer and closer to confronting environmental deviations, anomalies and rare events in an ever-changing world with even-growing moving parts and targets (e.g. black swan model). Besides, Service Design practitioners shouldn’t deny themselves the benefits that come with continuous improvement. So, here is a quick recap: innovation in Service Design’s outcomes and method innovation go hand by hand. As Einstein put it:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”
“Innovation is a risky business and the failure rate is high. Traditional approaches to consumer research may exacerbate the problem. There are many shortcomings with traditional research approaches, and one of the main ones is that data collection focuses on what people say they do, rather than on what is actually driving behavior.” – Behavioral Science – Do people do what they say will do? by Innovia.
Tim works for Innovia Technology and will be visiting Nokia’s Chicago Technology Center, Naperville Campus, on Monday, May 8. He is a physicist from University of Cambridge, UK, with a research background on ballistics who has spent the past 15 years addressing human factors led innovation.
Tim will share insights from recent projects as well as highlights of work done for Nokia back in 2003. About 15 years have gone by and he will conduct a retrospective to unveil who ended up implementing those concepts in today’s market.
Post May 8 Session Notes – Tim’s talk covered the need for gaining a deeper understanding of people as both individuals and collectives to best inform the design of new products, services and business models. Tim emphasized the value of a holistic approach to problem solving and a focus on behavioral drives. He stated that conventional research solely looking at attitudes and beliefs can miss critical insights.
Nokia’s community can access Tim’s presentation and recording on my work blog.
I am now taking the chance to share my thoughts on this topic and, whether we call it “stated vs. observed behavior” or “reported vs. actual paradoxes,” the point is that those of use working on Human Factors Engineering and/or leveraging Design Thinking cannot just rely on product or service requirements as described by customers and end users themselves.
Therefore, on location ethnographic research coupled with instrumentalizing objects, tools and environments to gather telemetry as they are being used over their useful lives are also of the essence, given user permission as this entails privacy concerns.
“According to Alan Mulally, former Ford Motor Company CEO, Henry Ford said that if, when he founded his company, he had asked potential customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Quote Investigator.
Hawthorne Works was a Western Electric factory in the Chicago area, which is part of Bell Labs’ outstanding legacy.
I’m now inserting a side personal note: I now live Chicagoland and have worked with Bell Labs, now part of Nokia.
More than a century ago, going all the way back to the 1920s and 30s, Hawthorne Works undertook a study to assess what lighting levels correlated to higher productivity levels.
However, research findings revealed that (a) worker’s awareness of being observed in the context of (b) paying attention to their needs in the workplace elevated their motivation and productivity, which trumped other factors such as lighting levels whether they would be set low or high.
I would also like to share another interesting observation. This one involving Bell Lab’s own John Karlin:
“The Times, who refer to Karlin as widely considered the father of human-factors engineering in American industry, relates an amusing story of an earlier project–one that demonstrates his keen understanding of human behavior: an early experiment involved the telephone cord.”
“In the postwar years, the copper used inside the cords remained scarce. Telephone company executives wondered whether the standard cord, then about three feet long, might be shortened.”
“Mr. Karlin’s staff stole into colleagues’ offices every three days and covertly shortened their phone cords, an inch at time. No one noticed, they found, until the cords had lost an entire foot. From then on, phones came with shorter cords.”
Once again, I’d like to thank Tim for his talk and for the also interesting discussions that preceded and followed that session. We both agree on the positive impact of holistic and interdisciplinary practices, which lead to a disciplined and robust approach to defining value based outcomes.
This is about innovative solutions humanizing technology in everyone’s best interest. So, it definitely pays to leverage Behavioral Sciences and Behavioral Economics when addressing serial innovation programs.