Events Service design

Design Thinking Drinks with Chris Vanstone: Creating social start-ups

Design Thinking Drinks is an event organised by Deborah Kneeshaw and sponsored by Thoughtworks. It’s on every couple of months and last week’s event attracted a big and curious crowd for Chris Vanstone design co-lead of The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) and one of the founders of agency In With For.

The speaker:

Chris Vanstone – previously a founding member of Participle and participant in the UK Design Council’s RED service design program which involved design agencies in social welfare, health and public housing design projects. The RED project provided some fascinating case studies and Chris has brought that experience to Australia. South Australian to be exact whose government provided seed funding for TASCI.

The model:

Develop “social start-ups” with design thinking methods:

  • Defining the problem/s with evidence based and participatory research. Conceive the solution from the problems evident in the data (from the ground up) as opposed to prescribing them with policy from the “top down”.
  • Prototyping and iterative stages to both service delivery and tools used e.g. test what training is required, prototype service interaction to develop service blueprints, test the skills and capabilities required for roles, test and iterate measurement tools
  • Follow various stages of incubation to launch fully fledged social services
  • Build teams around the solution that can keep iterating and developing the service

The projects:

Family by Family, A Bit Better, Weavers, Sharing Zone Co, Meals with Mates, The Opp Store and Care Reflect.

The tools of service design implementation

The hope:

That alternatives to government funding will provide resources for incubated services to continue and for the “business models” of the social start-ups to stand-up as self-sustaining and self-funding entities. It will be interesting to see what happens when the South Australian government seed funding ceases.

My take-aways:

This was an energising presentation and In With For’s model of mixing the expertise of design with business development and social science demonstrated compelling stories.

My main take-away from the night was to pursue methods of measurement for service design projects as a design challenge in their own right.

Read more about the talk and the case studies presented over at the official event blog (it has much nicer photos too):

The Work Experience

Flexibility for work-life balance

[work life] imbalance is hurting companies’ bottom lines. As Slaughter points out, companies that have progressive work-life balance policies are more productive on the whole… “Examining 130 announcements of family-friendly policies in The Wall Street Journal, Arthur found that the announcements alone significantly improved share prices.

…At the end of the day, says Slaughter, this work-life balance debate is not just about women. It’s about creating more progressive, flexible office cultures that benefit all employees and improve productivity. And that’s the kind of company culture that attracts — and retains — the very best employees.

Read more:…

The article goes on to prescribe 4 ways business can offer flexibility: flex time, telecommuniting, job sharing and paid maternity leave. It will be interesting to see how business defines flexiblity in the workplace over the coming year particularly as the topic gets traction in the political arena closer to the 2013 federal election.
The Work Experience

How to (Finally) Quit Your Job – Daniel Gulati – Harvard Business Review

people’s inability to quit their current roles had little to do with the perceived riskiness of their new professions, their financial situation, or general economic conditions. The real barrier for most of us is not external. It’s our own psychology: We overthink decisions, fear eventual failure, and prioritize near-term, visible rewards over long-range success.

The Work Experience

Getting training to stick: Google Revamps Its Workforce Education Programs via

Getting these programs to work, though, is tricky. Management experts say it is all well and good to send employees to classes, but to get the lessons to stick, employees need to apply them to their daily work lives. Employees often take a class and “say, ‘Gee, this is great,’ and go back to their jobs and do the same old thing,” says Professor David Bradford, director of the executive program in leadership at Stanford University.

Google thinks it has found a way to make its learning stick. It has become more exacting about when it offers classes and to whom. It uses employee reviews of managers—similar to the instructor reviews that college students fill out at the end of a semester—to suggest courses to managers. Ever data-obsessed, Google uses statistics gathered from current and former employees to recommend certain courses to managers at different points in their career, say after a move to a new city or joining a new team.


The Work Experience

Measuring An Employee’s Worth? Consider Influence via Fast Company

Chatter, which was launched two years ago, is not the only company working on a metric for influence within organizations. Yammer and National Field, other enterprise social networking tools, are also taking a stab at the problem.

The most progressive organizations have always realized that the informal connections employees make with others and the amount of knowledge and expertise they share outside of prescribed work responsibilities contributes mightily to the bottom line. But until now, they haven’t had an empirical way of measuring that activity.

The Work Experience

Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside the Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture That Felled a Tech Giant | Blogs | Vanity Fair

It was always much less about how I could become a better engineer and much more about my need to improve my visibility among other managers.” Ed McCahill, who worked at Microsoft as a marketing manager for 16 years, says,

The perils of creating a culture where your staff compete with each other instead of against the competition.…