I don’t blog here anymore.

Please check out my new blog at http://cocreatingchange.com
I have a portfolio site as well at http://jaxwechsler.com

Cheers : )

(This is an article I recently wrote for another publication)

Patricia Moore photo

Patricia (Pattie) Moore is a pioneering female designer, gerontologist (social scientist of the aging), author, educator and design thought leader. Pattie has been named by ID magazine as one of the 40 Most Socially Conscious Designers in the world. In 2000 she was selected by a consortium of news editors and organizations as one of the 100 Most Important Women in America. Syracuse University has selected Moore for a 2012 Honorary Doctorate for serving as a “guiding force for a more humane and livable world, blazing a path for inclusiveness, as a true leader in the movement of Universal Design.”

You could easily thank Pattie for many well designed products such as OXO Smart-Grip potato peelers that feel comfy in the hands of both kids and grandparents. But you should more importantly thank her for her contribution to Universal Design which is an approach to design that considers every ability, age and walk of life. Whilst Pattie is considered a founding mother of Universal Design this approach to design is also known as Inclusive Design . Pattie’s early experiences, which fuelled her passion for Universal Design, is an interesting story.

During the 1970’s, Pattie worked as an industrial designer at the internationally renowned Raymond Loewy design office in New York. It may sound strange to us today but at the time she was the only female designer there. Product design was then largely concerned with designing for caucasian, upper middle class “average users”, with 2.3 children. Have you seen a 0.3 child? Does an “average user” have one breast and one ball? At work Pattie would often challenge her colleagues as to how people with arthritis would use certain products and they would respond, “we don’t design for those people!”.

Frustrated by this attitude, Pattie sought to explore what it really felt like to be old in order to design products that are suitable for everyone including the elderly. Where in the design world we talk a lot about the need for designers to have empathy for the people they design for, this approach is taking empathic research to the extreme.

During 1979-1982, a twenty something year-old Pattie dressed up as an elderly woman wearing her grandmother’s clothes, uncomfortable shoes she made that she had difficulty walking in, plugs for her ears to distort her hearing, and thick glasses that significantly distorted her vision. During this three year period she travelled to 116 cities in America and Canada and pretended to be an 80 year old. With her body altered to simulate the normal sensory changes associated with ageing, she was able to respond to people, products, and environments as an elder. She created nine different personas which she would rotate, including a homeless woman and a very wealthy woman in order to reflect on how other aspects influenced her experiences. With the use of canes, walkers and a wheelchair, she was also able to approximate different levels of reduced mobility. Pattie was dismayed at some of the treatment she received, including being attacked by a gang that left permanent injuries including her not being able to have children. This experience helped her to intimately understand how difficult the world was to negotiate as an elder.

Pattie has published several book chapters on Universal Design and in 1980 she set up her own design firm which specialises in developing new products for senior citizens. These days Pattie works on designing health and housing solutions for the ageing as well as inspiring young designers to come to understand the potential of design through university collaborations. In a recent interview by the California College of the Arts, Pattie discusses the power of design.

“Design has morphed into the cornerstone of equity, culture, and socialisation. It’s about bringing resources to people who don’t have them …..The power of design is to look at each individual, their home, their community, and the infinite small things that make for success or failure of interaction in those realms….”

I recently had an article published in the Fall issue of  MISC Magazine | The Simplicity Issue called
Delivering Simplicity: Organizational Contexts and Service Design

I had an article published in the DMI Review recently about the importance of using frameworks within complex design projects.

The paper is related to the work I have been doing for my masters thesis. It’s a practice-based research project about my use of artefacts within a commercial human centred design project.

The article is called : Reflecting on Service Design, Frameworks, and the Service Organization

As part of a recent work assignment I was asked to do some contextual enquiry (interviews with stake-holders with-in their work environments) and was able to talk my client into letting me run some group co-design workshops instead.

The project was to produce a high level design for an online portal for financial planners to manage their policies by a large financial organization.

I spent a few days in Victoria traveling around to different financial planners of different sizes. From large groups spanning over many floors in the centre of the city to beach side offices with around 7 staff.

I ran some basic collaborative exercises with these planners and was able to extract information about how the existing portal doesn’t work for them in their current work flow, as well as some interesting ways they have developed to work around their issues. This was a good illustration of the fact that as designers we need to understand the work-flows of the users of the systems we are designing i.e. how it fits into the bigger context of their work, as well as the fact that users may not use the systems in the way that we think they will. Understanding context is such an important part of technology design particularly within the work-place.

For this project I ran a collaborative wire-framing exercise where I supplied web widgets e.g. Text fields, panels, images, blocks of text etc as made out of post-it notes and let the users design their own pages. I love using 3d objects for these types of activities. We use a certain % of our brains to manipulate these prototyping objects which allows us to be more creative and less analytical. The tactile quality of this type of activity is also engaging as it’s fun!

It was really interesting to see the similarities between the different groups designs. What was most interesting was the fact that all the financial advisors seemed to have a consistent mental model about their work which was not supported by the current systems logic. Instead of basing the systems work-flow on distinct policies, the planners organized their information and thinking around people as the central and linking object ie the owners of the policies. This fundamental difference in thinking was the reason why their experience with the current system was so poor. Through this exercise I was able to communicate to my client an alternative way of presenting and linking the sites information and functionality. I also had some wire-frames made by the users of the system to support my own design concept.

There was another benefit to these workshops as well. A less tangible benefit but extremely important. Playing the audio back to my client in the final presentation was gold! The planners were so chuffed to be able to assist with this project and it reflected so positively on my clients brand.

One of my workshop attendees stated:

“The fact that they are consulting us before the fact rather than after the fact is so good. Usually they show us stuff after its built and it’ too late to change anything much.”

“This is a true business to business relationship it’s a partnership not a master-slave one like it usually is. We are partners. They help us grow our business and thier business grows too”

Co-design methods can facilitate an important benefit of buy-in. When you ask people to help you design a solution it becomes “our solution” rather than “your solution” i.e. the solution that you are going to enforce on me. Co-design comes from an emancipatory sentiment where it was introduced in Scandinavian countries in the work-place during the 70s when businesses began making staff utilize computer based systems within the work-place.

This ides of buy-in becomes even more important within the context of service design where the customer experience is delivered by each one of the staff. Isn’t it important that people feel connected to the service experience and brand promise that they are meant to deliver to your client through each and every interaction?

I feel very fortunate about attending a 3 day workshop with Marc Stickdorn co-author of  This is Service Design Thinking over the last few days. It was organised by UNSW and consisted of a really interesting mix of people from diverse backgrounds including students, academics, professionals and UX/Service Design practitioners.

A note to the Service Design Community
Marc thinks that we need to share more in Australia! He thinks we should collaborate more and support each other. He said that instead of guarding our own slice of pie – if we share and collaborate more – we will grow the pie. With this in mind I decided to write an extensive post sharing my learnings from the seminar. Please share and leave me feedback if you like 🙂

1. Why You Should Care About Service Design

Some supporting literature

a. Experience Economy by Pine & Gilmore 1999

b. Service Dominant Logic  – Vargo, S. and R. Lusch (2004), “Evolving to a new dominant logic in Marketing,” /Journal of Marketing, /68, 1-17

c. The rise of Social Media: trust in peers more than trust in organisations.

2. The Workshop Format

Marc made us work but it was fun so it didn’t feel like work! We broke into groups and over three days used various service design tools to design a new service or solve a business problem. It was really great to learn new methods by doing. His process is really experiential and I do not believe that you can really learn it without doing it. It was great to do the activities and then reflect on them afterwards on a meta-level in order for us to experience the process as well as better understand  how to facilitate these methods.

3. The Process & Learnings

 3.1 Do! Don’t talk.

Marc gave us a really short amount of time to do things so we could not talk about it but had to jump straight in and do it. We created lots of “shitty first drafts” which we could then refine. This proto-typing method enabled the free flow of ideas – both shitty and not shitty. We started the day off creating a very shitty first draft of a new service in 5 minutes – so we got failure or the fear of it out of the way early on in the day.

3.2 What workshops are really about…

Workshops are about getting people who usually don’t talk to talk. They are about creating empathy with the customer within cross-disciplinary teams and about seeing things from multiple perspectives. Services are complex and co-created by many different actors over time. These workshops enable an understanding of this complexity, and it’s associated relationships, dependencies, value chains and power structures. All of which play important roles in customer experience and service delivery.

3.3 Activities

Some of the exercises that we did in our groups included. These can all be found in the This is Service Design Thinking book.

  • the mapping of value networks (example below) – who are the actors involved and what are their relationships and what values are exchanged?

  • quick ad-hot personas (although these should have been data-driven!)
  • Customer journey maps

  • Service Blue-prints
3.4 Story-telling and prototyping
Marc organised a Skype chat with the guys from Work Play Experience (also the guys behind  Global Service Jam) who use theatrical/role-playing methods (which they call “investigative rehearsal”) as a tool-set for modelling interactions within service design workshops. This is a form of experience prototyping whereby the group can act out the existing situation and understand the actors involved and their emotional experiences. Everyone can relate to a story and everyone can relate to a scene being acted out….and everyone can act! With this format there is no layer of abstraction which needs to be understood to consider or represent a service concept. “Investigative rehearsal” is a really good way to identify the real problems within a situation and explore alternative possibilities. Interestingly this method was inspired by Forum Theatre which was utilised in South America to understand the plight of oppressed villagers to understand and help improve their circumstances.
This exercise proved to us that PROTOTYPING HAS VALUE and a LOW cost!
Especially this type.
3.5 The Service Tweet or the Service Poster
Being able to explain your service in 140 characters or representing the key concept of your service within a poster is an important tool for you to keep focus. It is so important for everyone involved in your project to have a shared vision of what you are working on. (I have blogged about the need for all products/projects to have experience principles elsewhere – so important for product differentiation and consistent service delivery..)
3.5 The steak and the Sizzle
We need steak and we need sizzle.
Service design and the methods we learnt can help with both.
3.6 One common language 
There is one common language and that is the customer!
These methods enable a human centered perspective which everyone can understand.
These tools are powerful ways to break down internal silos and create delightful experiences for your customers, and subsequent customer advocacy and service differentiation! These methods can provide language and frameworks for conversation and service improvement and innovation.
THANKS to Mark Stickdorn, UNSW, Selena Griffith who organised this and to everyone who co-created this experience. Great to meet you all.
It was fun! I am hoping to be able to use my learnings in my practice really soon!

Below you will find a talk I gave at a recent conference/bar camp at http://govcampnsw.info

It explains what co-design and human centred design is and shows some examples of how it has been used to shape public services in the UK.

(An article I recently wrote for the Objective Digital blog)

It was sad news that Steve Jobs lost his fight with Pancreatic Cancer last week. We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the things that Jobs (and Apple) brought to usability and customer experience.

It is widely agreed that Steve Jobs designed “insanely great products”, many of which have revolutionised the way in which we interact with technology and create and consume digital content today. Many of these products could be described as ‘disruptive technologies’ i.e. technologies that were game changers disrupting existing markets. For example, the popularisation of the ipod and iTunes changing how we consume music, the Apple LaserWriter printer combined with true type fonts and PageMaker software (made by Aldus, now Adobe) started desktop publishing, making the mobile web accessible and sticky through it’s applications for the masses through the iphone etc. Apple products may not have always been the first of their kind but they were usually the first of their kind that were both easy to use and widely purchased. Whilst there were many engineers involved in the creation and design of Apple products, there can be no debate that Steve Jobs was an influential force in Apple’s successes.

In 1984 Jobs unveiled the Macintosh computer to a very excited audience which fast became the first commercially successful small computer with a graphical user interface and a mouse.


The Macintosh computer through its use of a graphical user interface and a mouse provided people with a mental model to understand how to use it through it’s metaphor of a desktop, folders and icons etc. It should be acknowledged that this new interface within the early Apple products revolutionised the usability of computers exponentially. Whilst many other engineers were solely focused on the technology, Jobs understood the value of considering the people you are designing technology for.This sentiment can be seen by the promotional material for The Lisa, the predecessor of the Macintosh, as “the personal computer that works the way you do”. From the iPad, to the iPhone, to the iPod, Jobs and Apple continuously delivered products that were easy to use and easy to love.

Jobs also understood the value of creating exceptional customer experiences. He infused Apple with a culture that valued design and cared about the details. According to Jobs: Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

This consideration of how things worked went beyond the design of products. Not only did Apple focus on the design of exceptional products, they also considered every part of the purchasing process, both before and after you open the beautifully designed box. Apple’s retail service has been meticulously considered and designed across the entire customer life-cycle. Got a problem with your Apple device? Make an appointment with the Genius bar where an Apple Genius will assist you. Need some help with how to use your new Macs’ inbuilt movie making software? Book in for some training. (NB The inclusion of software with computers too was an early Apple innovation). If you ring technical support and give them your serial number they will know your name and when your warranty expires. The personal service you get when you go to an Apple store and talk to a customer representative about your needs gives you confidence that you are investing in the right solution for you. It’s this understanding on the entire customer experience, the focus on ‘details’ and ‘how things work’ that make customers feel valued and create customer advocacy. Apple makes buying their easy to use products easy.

This holistic approach can also be seen by Apples’ investment and evolution of iTunes and it’s associated services and sister products. Through iTunes, Apple was able to develop a content and product eco-system (a Product-Service-System) combining their products with services, creating a lucrative business model which others are trying to emulate. Through a tightly coupled integration between multiple hardware devices, media storage, indexing, acquisition and consumption, Apple has all bases covered. With iTunes and it’s associated devices one can discover, purchase, download and then consume content in minutes, on one device without leaving your armchair. The fact that you can even purchase and consume media through iTunes on your PC is testimony to the fact that they think beyond just their products.

This meticulous attention to detail, a focus on how thing work, the requirement for well designed products, and the intentional design of customer interactions across multiple touch-points all contribute to superior customer experiences and unprecedented customer advocacy for Apple. Further, we can all thank Steve Jobs for popularising the idea amongst his business contemporaries that better design makes both sense and cents (well more like dollars)!

Steve Jobs was a true innovator, a brilliant designer who really understood what people need and a remarkable entrepreneur. Thank you Steve, you will be missed.

I was fortunate to attend the Service Design Network conference  in Paris last month.
You can view the talks at this URL: http://www.service-design-network.org/content/media-1

Whilst many of the talks were excellent, below are a few brief notes about my three favourites which you should check out.

  1. I would highly recommend the talk by Craig La Rosa from Contiunuum. Craig shared a case-study he was involved with for Holiday Inn. It was an impressive project where they created a prototype hotel reception in a ware-house out of 25 cases of foam which they used for acting out scenarios with the staff. Better to iterate in foam than bricks! They are big fans of prototyping. They showed too an artefact that looked very much like a ‘design pattern library’ (used in interaction design) which they supplied to their franchisees to help them fit out their establishment with different modules e.g. breakfast area etc. His most salient point was for this Holiday Inn project which lasted 1.5 years was that 25% of it was design work and 75% of it selling in design concepts. Video was a format used a lot on this project to help create buy in.
  2. I also really enjoyed the talk by Julia Schaeper from the UK NHS where she shared some case-studies of co-design projects being done in a hospital whereby staff and patients collaboratively improved that patient and staff experience. Julia has the task of spreading design thinking across the NHS. She showed a lot of video footage of this work in action which was good to see. She stressed the importance of using terminology that makes sense to the participants and at the NHS they have developed toolkits (www.institute.nhs) to empower their staff to create change and improvements from the ground up. Staff are encouraged to think in a different way…the playing field is leveled and staff can ask “how can we do this better” and then act! To facilitate this it is vital that this approach is built into the organisational phiolosophy.
  3. I also really enjoyed the opening talk by Birgit Maher who talked us through the homelessness project in Cologne Germany, Gulliver: A survival station for the homeless. Using this case study she articulated 10 service design basics. I have seen this project mentioned in academic literature a lot and it was really great to see photos of it in process and learn about the details. It’s a really great project which consists of a drop in center for homeless people i.e. people who are not so comfortable with the idea of a home.

Some learning from other practitioners

I have translated my notes from this 2 day conference and have provided a summary of related insights I gleaned from discussions as well as some of my own reflections.

  1. Good service design bridges business and design. As designers we need to be focus on business benefits and be able to show value in terms of both financials and business efficiencies. The next frontier for service design is  being able to communicate it’s monetary value.
  2. The design thinker and the business thinker working together = power! Service design never works alone. Whilst facilitation is a core competency of the service designer, we are more than facilitators. We are experts in visualisation and design process which lead to outside of the box thinking.
  3. Service design bridges user research and strategic business interests. There is a risk that as designers we do too much research. Getting to know when to stop the research component for maximum ROI takes practice.
  4. Service design is concerned with both front and back-office interactions and processes simultaneously.  Staff need to be aware of the whole picture. It is important for middle management to be able to experience from the customer perspective as this is where the problems usually get solved. Senior managers do not interface with customers or solve front line issues.
  5. Include the staff in your research! What motivates them? How is accomplishment measured by, themselves, their peers and the organisation? The buy-in you will get from this from the people that deliver the service can not be under-estimated.
  6. Service design involves “sell-in” to your staff. Participative techniques can help with this and can assist with change management as well. There is a need for the design to be sold in differently to different levels of staff addressing the why should we change?
  7. Empower your middle managers to manage change. Provision of tools and infrastructure to enable change within the organisation is vital.
  8. Your customers’ experiences are largely a result of your staff. Often a service design project involves the change of the service attitude of employees and it is so important to hire staff with attitudes that compliment the organisation. Happy staff make happier customers. Staff KPI’s should include metrics for customer satisfaction e.g. customer retention over sales. Good customer service should be rewarded. Make sure you map your stakeholders as well and try and get the people closest to the top involved.
  9. Staff need to be empowered and not stifled by processes where they can not can not think outside the box and graciously handle exceptions. The way that exceptions are handled makes all of the difference. Staff need to be empowered to handle circumstances that fall out of the usual process.
  10. Understand your clients motivations for hiring you. At the outset of the project explore not only what the organisational aims are but what are the personal motivations of the client side representatives. Understand too their expectations from you and agree on some KPI’s for the project and associated metrics. Further, have regular meetings with your client in order to ensure they are getting what they need from you to manage things on their end.
  11. Speak the language of your client. It is really important to be able to have a shared discourse for your service design work. This is why frameworks are so important. Customer journey maps/service clue-prints become a language whereby everyone in the company uses them and thinks in these terms. It is so important to ensure that these frameworks make sense and are relevant and embraced by the people in the organisation.
  12. Visualisation is key to making services more concrete as a formalisation of the concept. A lot of service design is about communication and sell-in. Good visualisations of non-tangeible services is crucial for getting everyone involved on the same page.
  13. The importance of execution. How you execute an idea is just as important as your high level strategy in the beginning.
  14. User research should be fun! The experience of the research should be part of the reward. People who take $50 for research are often boring. Research is about building relationships so don’t treat your participants as idiots if you want good insights. Extreme users are usually very willing participants if you provide them with fun activities and create good relationships with them. Extreme users often provide the most meaty insights.

Google Think


Seems like Google have started a new channel for “Business in Bites”

Good idea but I wonder whether the signal to noise ratio is going to make it worth-while?
TED is excellent. TED is curated.