Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Live Well with Mayo

Very inspired by Paul Robare's work at Carnegie Mellon on Mayo's "beyond primary care" service design. Well though through, with some interesting ideas at the end. I suspect in the USA you get more room to experiment than the UK, where the domination of the NHS behemoth makes things a little trickier. Nevertheless, all good grist to the mill.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Black Cod

Just made black cod and man was it worth it. I've eaten Black Cod in a few places, best of which was Tsunami in Clapham. The recipe I followed called for the following marinade:

185ml mirin
125ml oz sake
225g white miso paste (available in some Asian grocers and supermarkets)
225g sugar
pickled ginger

Soak those bad boys overnight and you have a dark sweet fish that needs a few minutes under a hot grill, followed by 5 mins in a hot over. I had to substitute vermouth for sake, as the missus baulked at the price of the sake in Sainsburys! But she liked it so much, I think it'll be in the cupboard next week. Either that, or I'll do the shopping this weekend. Whatever - it still tasted great. Worth prepping on a Sunday for a Monday bonus.

Friday, 24 April 2009

How to embed design thinking in your team

Great video on what makes a good design thinking team. Drawn from California Management Review Article "Innovation as a Learning Process: Embedding Design Thinking" authored by Sara L. Beckman of Berkeley and Michael Barry of Stanford. The article was Awarded the 2009 Accenture award by CMR in March, 2009.

Want to get a handle on Service Design?

I highly recommend a listen to Peter Day's (one of THE voices of Radio 4) programme on design thinking. Great and hugely diverse references to impact as the true measure of design.
  • Great reference to Virgin's terminal experience (which Engine can be proud of). And the plane - if you want people to sleep on planes, don't give them a sofabed, give them a chair - and a bed!
  • And Churchill's vision for Design Council - "Britain can make it!" But what companies need from designers is changing - it's not the physical artefact, and not just an aesthetic. Systems, services and business models are now being designed and protoyped.
  • Street Car was a business model design idea from RCA graduates.
  • Buster drain cleaner: owner jumped on the designed demand programme. It hit "the soul of the company".
  • HMV Westfield store designed with online business in mind - the explosive website hits home - the shop is colour coded based on the online store. Not music, videos and games - instead listen, watch and play.
  • Air conditioner manufacturer who designed components which brought massive cost effeiciencies - within the product itself and also stock control

"Design thinking is an important idea who's design has come." Great summary of all that's exciting about service design right now.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Write up of the Open Gov event

I thought I'd get some notes down while it was fresh, and while my tea simmers on the hob. I went to the Open Gov event today, at London's British Computer Society. The programme can be found here. It was pitched as "A practical one-day conference to discuss the challenges and opportunities of social technologies to enable engagement, collaboration, and transparency in government." I think it had a fair crack at that, with a lot of good debate around the room. No zinging answers, but loads of questions. Look up opengov hashtag to find the train of thought. I think it's fair to say it still feels like a fringe discussion - lots of great ideas and evangelizing, but not much converting into reality. I'm still waiting for the tipping point. The point at which I can present open government as an effective, even essential, business opportunity to clients.

Anyway - these are just notes, so I'm going to chuck down cool things I saw as bullets. Not going to analyse the whole lot. Definitely not a complete list in, so apologies to any I missed. They reflect the key theme I liked from the day - simple to put up, effective, easy to use and meeting a clear and practical need:

  • Poly Wonk - Mitchell Sava, co-chair of the event, alongside Simon Grice. Sensible chap with sensible ideas. Trying to get govt to think the right way about this stuff. Believes we're on the threshold of biggest democratic transformation in last 150 years.
  • Debategraph - cool way to visualise debates. Mind you, doubtless not as much fun as having them in the pub.
  • Cabinet Office's netvibes page
  • Becta's Ning community - a beloved client of my employer the Team
  • The most excellent communal authoring site Mixed Ink - bear witness to the People's Inauguration Address written by 455 fellow americans.
  • Tweetminster - although if you find yourself spending too long on this site, you may need to get a life
  • An apparent "must read" paper by Pew Internet Society on the Internet's Role in [US] Campaign 2008
  • Apparently the south bank centre ran a treasure hunt using text messages, and used the data to help plan traffic flows around the building. Though I can't find nowt about it.
  • A bad way to do online democracy - Whitehouse 2 - too black and white. Too yes and no. Apparently.
  • Delib - tools for online democracy etc
  • Booking Bug - a smart booking system for people like wedding photographers, trying to make in-roads to government. Best of luck. Meanwhile I've told my brother - damianbailey.com
  • Digital Engagement Manifesto
  • Letting people talk about where they live on... WhereILive.org
  • A London City Charter - setting ideals by which the city will run itself for citizens. Marvelous.
  • The soon to come out of the oven Be Local - good luck to Simon Grice on that venture
  • Doing cool stuff with transport data - itoworld.com - these guys crammed loads of cool looking sites into a 2 minute slot! I didn't write them down. FAIL.
  • DIUS' sandpit - aka Sandbox - where they're doing some cool low cost, high(er) risk things on the fringes of the DIUS servers.
  • And DIUS digitalgovuk project running on delicious. Helps you find case studies for projects going on in government using a variety of social media. Gold mine stuff. And you can tag stuff too
  • And DIUS' own netvibes page of course
  • The lady Obama stole from google to run his online campaign, Katie Jane Stanton, who is coming to town this summer for a Q&A session. Should be fun.
  • Take photos of rubbish, it gets cleaned up I lovelewisham.org (but I still moved to Surrey!) Apparently they're getting bored old people to take photos of pot holes!
  • GovTalk - the home of government API on the net?
  • Job Centre Pro Plus - cutting through the crap to do postcode search on Job Centre Plus. Amazingly, this probably would have taken a month long, expensive change request via formal routes. Though site wasn't working last time I checked

Monday, 20 April 2009

National Tip Good Service Day

Why do only restaurants have performance based bonuses as standard?
Bell boys, taxis, barbers - a handful of others use them in a
pretty under-stated way here in the UK. I can think of many services
that'd be greatly enhanced by a tip. Department store sales reps,
guards on trains, nurses, dry cleaners, librarians. People that
provide me with a memorably good service experience should be
recognised regardless of their industry.

Which got me thinking. Perhaps we need an annual "Tip Good Service
Day"? It'll give rightful recognition to the fact that so many of us
work in service businesses. It'll give those who strive to give good
service an opportunity for recognition and reward. It'll give the
people who receive good service an opportunity to say thanks to those
that go the extra mile.

Like the occasional guard on my train who wishes everyone a good
weekend and checks ahead for service disruptions. Like the staff in my
local sandwich shop who remember what I want and ask how my day's
going. Like the mechanic that washes the car at no extra cost. Like
the binmen who can't get their truck down my street, so who wheel each bin all the way up and back, whistling as they go.

Everyone loves good service, but here in the UK, we often let it go in-
recognized - perhaps putting a £5 note in a Christmas card and leaving
it for the postman. But it all seems a bit patchy and unfair to me.
Let's join it all up and celebrate it once a year.

Crowdsourcing road building

A great example of people taking matters into their own hands. People unhappy about the service their government gives them, so they build their own road.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Pay to call your doc?

I think phoning my doctor would be a great service innovation. I have to make an appointment using a stupidly complex system that leaves the receptionists angry and me frustrated. The doctor and I then have to be at the surgery at the same time, normally during my working hours. The appointment is usually over in no time. With a two year old who can communicate through shouts and screams, this happens quite regularly.

I could call NHS Direct, but you have to go through all those questions every time. The great thing about your GP is the continuity of care. They know your history, so can get straight to the point. So let me pick up the phone at an agreed time in the day, or perhaps leave a voicemail for a ring back. But let me use the phone. If at the end the GP says "you better come in" then that's great. I'll make an appointment. But let me have the service option. It would be good.

They're doing it in America, but then - they're also charging people for the privilege. Not something we can do here with the NHS. Although I bet BUPA are working on something right now...

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Supersite security?

Eek. The Tories are finally making some manifesto pledges! Is the sky falling in? Well, it may be if you work on NHS Choices - or at least it's starting to develop some hairline cracks. They want the site taken away from DH and competing with private sector suppliers - which will likely include the previous NHS Choices contractor Dr Foster. Looks like some serious lobbying is required.

This was preceded by Michael Cross last week in the Guardian - speculating at the Tory options for Transformational Government.

I think all of this stuff is a bit short sighted actually. To summarise - the supersites are being attacked because they are somehow failing. That businesslink.gov.uk, NHS Choices and Directgov have significant budgets, but they aren't transforming things fast enough AND other government agencies and departments are still creating their own new websites. So not enough transforation and not fast enough.

Well, surprise surprise - telling civil servants they can't register new .gov.uk domains only means they register .net and .org domains. They are smart like that.

I'd suggest the answer is not closing the supersites, but instead enforcing the rule of "no new sites". If civil servants all had to put stuff on the supersites, and advertise that it was there (something Directgov is beginning to crack) you'd start to see them getting increased usage. Ideally that would convert into extra funding to invest in ongoing improvements to those sites. So the more people they get, the more funding they can invest in making the experience beneficial.

And a degree of patience please (*!political naivety alert!*). Capita are only recently in place at NHS Choices, Serco are diligently bashing through convergence at businesslink.gov.uk and Directgov appear to be getting traction with recent campaigns. Varney's three year challenge was very aggressive. Progress is happening. To snipe now will only play into the hands of the "keep your heads down and it'll all go away" hardliners that live off administration changes.

Great Government 2.0 resource

Stumbled on this great PageFlake, courtesy of the great FutureGov guys. Provides a great leaping off point into the busy, rumbling world of government 2.0. Where will it all end up, who can say...

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The post consumer era

Are we in a post consumer era? Are we really all producers now just because we twitter and blog, and maybe sell a few things on eBay? I'm not convinced yet, but I do like this diagram. And his thinking is persuasive. Kind of like Umair Haque talked about in Stockholm earlier this year. I'll be honest and say that the affluence of the last few years has always struck me as being a bit gross. I remember a visit to Bluewater a couple of years ago, looking around the car park and wondering how every other car was a premium vehicle, and that all their owners were shopping for the day, at a massive retail destination. It felt peculiar and it felt unsustainable. But I never foresaw the bottom falling out.

So I'm reading these articles and mulling it over. The first thing to go appears to be the bling. People can't stretch to it and it was always a bit silly. A fraction of the population is probably feeling severed from it, but they were setting themselves up for a fall anyway. The irony of bling was that it became a watchword for cheap, debt-driven consumerism - and not wealth.

And in its place, supposedly, rises thrift. In a sense a form of production, as rather than consume we fix - make do and mend. But the thrift is pretty much a lost craft. Note Mrs Sew and Sew's blog by the Imperial War Museum. People can save money by stopping buying things and by down-grading or down-branding to value brands and Primarks, but they're still consuming. David Armano's retail sales graph is more alarmist than it appears. Sales haven't dropped off the cliff. Retail has been growing year on year, but now it's shrunk a bit. Calamity! No year on year growth! What I like about Umair's talk is his questioning not just of the producer/consumer paradigm, but ten others that mark out the destructive nature of the gross capitalism we've had of late.

The common theme for both items is that we're retreating to an apparently more human view of life - permanent year on year growth suddenly appears illogical and unnatural, fixing something feels sensible, yearning for wealth through debt is so obviously harmful. I like that trend. Even if it is emerging in the shadow of economic insecurity, it's still a positive thing.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Twitter backlash

So I went on holiday and didn't miss Twitter one bit. I got home and slipped back into my old world, and didn't miss Twitter one bit. Then I started getting bombarded with stuff like this and, you know what, it all struck a chord. The backlash was on. My time is precious and Twitter was pulling me away from more important things (I can think of 10 things more important with a click of my fingers). And if a major learning of modern life is that you have to prioritise, then I'm prioritising Twitter out. I may check Facebook once a week on the train - if I've finished the current chapter of my book - but otherwise that's the line drawn. I think this is the thin edge of old age - where you start defending the things you like against the onslught of things you ought to like...

Service design laggard

I've taken my eyes off the service design agenda for a few weeks. Firstly for a well deserved holiday, which was wonderful, secondly because I needed to focus on the other side of my brain with a bit of pure creativity (see last post), and finally because I had some Big Things To Do at work - not al SD related. That all seems to have played out nicely and I'm now re-engaging the SD gear and starting to leave the garage again on a steady pedal. What better way than with a new book - New Service Development and Innovation in the New Economy. Which is under pressure as it has to compete with the rather excellent Child 44.

Tooled up

So I am all tooled up do some engraving. I bought a spitsticker, a graver, a tint tool, the inks, the paper - you name it. I went walking in the New Forest for some inspiration yesterday and had a couple of ideas. My first project is focused on texture and the theme is practice through blatant plagiarism! So thanks in advance to all those other wood engraving blogs I follow for the ideas ;-)