The future, imagined by service designers - A Festival Story from London College of Communication.

Following the biggest Service Design Fringe Festival to date, we're sharing the highlights of our talks and workshops with the global community, so everybody can join in discussions around our industry. Continuing in a series of short stories, Lawrence Richards, a student at London College of Communication, writes about their events at this year's festival, where students curated an evening of talks and workshops from a global trio of speakers around the theme of Service Design Futures.

Service Design Futures was an evening curated by the Service Design Innovation students at London College of Communication (LCC). The theme of the night called for guests to consider the prospect of future scenarios, speculative design and how service design might address those new concerns, all the while thinking about how service design as a practice might evolve over time.

Phillippa Rose, lecturer at LCC, introduced the evening, delivering the key message of a future where services are essential to everyday life; with 80% of the economy now coming from service sector. Phillippa highlighted the servitisation of industries; ones which are moving from product-based models, to more ad-hoc, service-based models.

Image courtesy of   Rodrigo Maia /   London College of Communication.

Image courtesy of Rodrigo Maia / London College of Communication.

The evening started with presentations from three speakers; Celia Romaniuk from Fjord, Stephen Graham from Deloitte Digital, and Itziar Pobes from We Question Our Project. They were tasked with talking about their work in a future context, and in their own way contributing their own predictions of the future. Certain themes peppered the three talks, and cross-pollinated the different backgrounds and workplaces of the speakers.

The first theme was the emergence of employee satisfaction, and the need to consider employee experience within the ‘Precarious existence of modern workers’ and the delivering of services that might be implemented by a service design agency. Celia described a balance between designers pushing their designs versus client need. Furthermore, the potential balancing of being a good designer and also making your life easier (and being a better manager of people). Celia went on to talk about how we need to rethink the methods and language we use when working with clients to get them to understand the importance of the user experience. Stephen Graham made note of one statistic from the transport sector; the main reason in 2016 people were joining TfL was no longer career progression, but employee experience.

Another theme was the discussion of the insight, how it needs to be delineated from fact and how it often manifests out of many different inputs of information from different sources, building a complete picture of an interaction. In a video showing the improvement of Victoria Coach station, Stephen demonstrated it was essential for the Deloitte team to understand the whole process as a user, and that meant as a staff member using the antiquated equipment to record bus and coach data. Celia spoke about what service design was at it's core and how the way in which we measure qualitative user experiences is changing. Itziar explained how you really have to think about validation of data to make it legitimate especially when the source can be unpredictable, she gave the example of weather ‘insight’ that influenced a project whereas it was purely incidental. Itziar finished on the reality that as a service design ‘your focus is on value’.

Image courtesy of   Rodrigo Maia /   London College of Communication.

Image courtesy of Rodrigo Maia / London College of Communication.

The workshop continued the future theme by getting groups to think about the future of transport, what the worst possible service experience could be for users in this context. This unusual format seen through the eyes of various personas helped those new to service design to empathise with the users, and learn new service design tools, whilst the more experienced designers of the teams could help direct and give real world experience of working on such briefs. The teams then swapped groups and attempted to ‘fix’ the worst service generated by the first group. At the end of the night the groups made enthusiastic pitches back to the whole room.

Image courtesy of Phillipa Rose   @phillirose  , illustration by Christina Ohanian. Twitter:   @ctohanian

Image courtesy of Phillipa Rose @phillirose, illustration by Christina Ohanian. Twitter: @ctohanian

The evening finished with a short panel discussion using the graphic wall created by Christina Ohanian, a graphics illustrator. Guests posed questions about the events and topics of the night as well as directed at the practice of service design in general.

View/download Stephen Graham's slides here.

View/download Itziar Pobes' slides here.

Some quotes from guests of the evening:

"I really enjoyed the format of the event. There was also a lot of time to network and talk to other people there. There was a good mix of students and professionals from different industries.”

“The workshops arranged in the second half of the event the end gave us the opportunity to work closely with the other people from different disciplines and learn how we each tackle a range of service design problems from our own perspectives."

"The addition of the graphic facilitator was a great way to visualise the event and create a live-archive of what was discussed over the course of the evening."

Image courtesy of   Rodrigo Maia /   London College of Communication.

Image courtesy of Rodrigo Maia / London College of Communication.

Hats off to all the LCC students and tutors who worked incredibly hard to organise such a big event so professionally. The positive feedback above shows the impact the evening had on guests, and we hope to collaborate again next year.

Thanks very much for reading one of the festival stories!

With love,

The Service Design Fringe Festival Team