Service Design in Government memos

So the Service Design in Government conference came to an end.

Sitting on a train back from Edinburgh, I have stopped to think about what to write for this post, whilst periodically peeking through the window admiring fantastic moving landscapes.

Of course, the conference was great and Edinburgh is such a beautiful place (it was the first time I had visited Scotland, YAY).

But what made the conference so interesting?

People. People with a shared passion for design and public services. People helping to drive change for the better in services, and people who were sharing knowledge and experience. Inspiring.

….ah…the sea outside is so calm and beautiful basking in the sun.

I’ve learned a lot about how others are applying design thinking and a user-centred approach to improving public services.

For example, the way local councils like Bexley work on their journey to build a design culture and invite the community to be part of it.

How ‘play’ could provide different lenses on difficult subjects and how a ‘playmobil’ can be used to describe difficult and painful life moments and get users engaged in designing a better solution for bereavement services.

It was fantastic to see Vita speaking about applying design thinking and design sprints.

She emphasised the importance of including users and stakeholders in co-design workshops and described how a design sprint is constructed. She encouraged the audience to:

‘Put users first. Work in the open.’

On the first day after the talks, Leanne and I went for a Ghost Bus Tour. It was ‘scary spooky’ fun with a bit of history of Edinburgh. And we learnt where: ‘saved by the bell’, ‘dead ringer’ and ‘graveyard shift’ came from. Ha!

The most impactful and influential part for me was a workshop about strategy, over 3 hours long but super good. Sophie Dennis explained the difference between a bad strategy, a good one, and how to create a strategy that works.

We did a few exercises on creating

‘a coherent plan to achieve a goal that will lead to significant positive change’,

writing a problem statement and understanding what made JFK’s moonshot speech a good example of a strategy. Also how to deal with engaging stakeholders.

I’ve got plenty of notes and materials to put together that I would like to share with the team as it was a very valuable and insightful workshop. Looking forward it will be great material for the next blog post.

I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and learning from their experience whilst spending time with my colleagues in different surroundings.  It was also great to go for a walk in a sunny, picturesque but (freezing) Edinburgh.

Really wanted to climb the volcano …next time then.