Three things a city in charge of its destiny ought to know about software

2015 promises change in the way that Leeds, Yorkshire and England’s north are governed. Not before time, decision-making and funding are to be brought closer to us, to the cities and localities where we live, learn, play and work. This new settlement will arrive at a time when cities and governments everywhere are challenged to design … Continue reading Three things a city in charge of its destiny ought to know about software

On wellbeing in a smart city: when I hear the word dashboard…

On Friday, a group of us spent a couple of hours chewing over the question of wellbeing; specifically wellbeing in a smart city; more specifically still wellbeing in a smart city that happens to be coterminous with the Metropolitan Borough of Leeds. We were talking about this stuff thanks to Tim Straughan and the "Smart Cities – … Continue reading On wellbeing in a smart city: when I hear the word dashboard…

Real work only begins when we break out of our bubble

"Boy in the bubble" David Vetter passed his life in a sterile enclosure breathing purified air and touched only with plastic gloves. While his parents and doctors attempted to make his life as normal as possible, they lived in fear of the tiniest exposure to common impurities and infections. He died aged 12 in 1984, after a bone marrow transplant given in … Continue reading Real work only begins when we break out of our bubble

Seeing over the next hill – a service design pattern

Over the years I've worked with digital services in different spaces, from sports performance to house buying to students on campus and training in the workplace. And there's this one picture that resurfaces in service after service. I need to get it out of my head and into the world, where I hope others will help me develop … Continue reading Seeing over the next hill – a service design pattern

Some things I wrote down at Laptops and Looms

Three days in the spectacular Derbyshire countryside with a bunch of clever, skillful doing and making people. Lots to digest, but for now here's what I found in my notebook this morning..."simple single purpose things"learn > sell > make > record > learn >source > scale > repeatthe circus printerArtefact cards + iPad + Gorillapod + projector"do the … Continue reading Some things I wrote down at Laptops and Looms

Not All Mammals! In defence of designing for “people”

I've been thinking about this exchange with Roberta... @mattedgar Lots of people _talk_ about getting users in the room. This weekend @mHealthLeeds is actually doing it. #mhleeds @RobertaWedge @mattedgar Users of what? In a health-care context, the term covers layers of euphemism. @mattedgar @RobertaWedge fair point. Alternatives to the word 'user' gratefully received. (Often but not always "people" … Continue reading Not All Mammals! In defence of designing for “people”

How I learned to stop worrying and love the jam

A lightning talk at Service Design in Government... There’s a growing interest in hacks and jam events in the public sector. Over the past months in Leeds alone, we’ve seen events around open government data, mental health, cycling and public transport. Great stuff can happen at these events, yet they can also be unfulfilling for participants … Continue reading How I learned to stop worrying and love the jam

Annual Report Number Two

A couple of Fridays ago, 14 of my favourite people gathered down at the Leeds Museums Discovery Centre for a bit of a get-together. Besides being responsible for some pretty amazing projects of their own, they'd all been involved in some way in my first two years of independent service design and innovation consulting. I wanted them to … Continue reading Annual Report Number Two

The Lost Robot Manoeuvre

The lovely thing about designing for service is the intangibility. You can prototype it in conversations. You can act it out. No tin required - the virtual is so much more pliable. Then again, the maddening thing about designing for service is the intangibility. People have trouble getting their heads round it. How will service … Continue reading The Lost Robot Manoeuvre

Some things I wrote down today

"Managed by her nine-year-old niece." - Bryony Kimmings "We should create and imagine and lie. It's good for us." - Jane Pollard "Being creative is sometimes about connecting the dots and taking two things and combining them." - Kyle Bean "What file formats want..." - Kenyatta Cheese "'Unfortunately the Arts Council is interested in something Miss Littlewood isn't. … Continue reading Some things I wrote down today

Which part of “the customer is always a co-producer” don’t these people understand?

For the third time in the past few months I'm assailed by a survey so shockingly poor that I wonder why the service provider in question has bothered at all. First it was East Coast trains with a lengthy paper questionnaire about my journey, conducted entirely in mind-boggling forced-choice price/quality trade-offs. Then came a letter … Continue reading Which part of “the customer is always a co-producer” don’t these people understand?

A found Leeds litany, raw notes from an afternoon walk

Way back in June, as part of Andrew Wilson's wonderful HannaH Festival, a group of citizens fanned out from Wharf Street Chambers into the summer drizzle clutching maps to four quarters of our city. We briefed participants to look for evidence of Leeds' past, present and future. On returning to base we shared what everyone had found … Continue reading A found Leeds litany, raw notes from an afternoon walk

dConstruct 2013: “It’s the Future. Take it.”

It puzzles me that technology so easily becomes the dominant metaphor for explaining society, and not the other way round. "Self-organise like nanobots into the middle," exhorts dConstruct host Jeremy Keith as we assemble for the afternoon session at the Brighton Dome. We shuffle obligingly to make room for the latecomers, because everyone here accepts … Continue reading dConstruct 2013: “It’s the Future. Take it.”

In praise of the good enough

... what the designers and engineers see as “pain points” aren’t necessarily that painful for people. The term satisficing, coined by Herbert Simon in 1956 (combining satisfy and suffice), refers to people’s tolerance — if not overall embracing — of “good enough” solutions... Frankly, I discover satisficing in every research project: the unfiled MP3s sitting … Continue reading In praise of the good enough