On Wednesday 18 of November 2015, Kaja Misvær from the Design for Public Services Research Group at AHO and Ove Kenneth Nodland from Samfunnsinnovasjon (Social Innovation) answer a plea to work differently when addressing the Refugee Crisis in Norway from the politician Ketil Kjenseth. The next day, Kaja and Ove Kenneth were talking with him at the Parliament and they agreed to facilitate a design-driven process that would culminate with a workshop right there, at the heart of Norwegian Politics. This event opened a huge possibility for design to contribute in a meaningful way to an urgent and pressing wicked challenge.
The following day at AHO, Kaja storms more excited than usual to my office to tell me all about this. A 'Dugnad' is a Norwegian term for voluntary work done as a community or collective. This tradition -which can be traced back to the 14th and 15th Centuries- is exactly the approach Kaja wants to embrace to start creating a team of volunteers. If you want to know more about a dugnad, go to The Foreigner.
After a few calls and lots of support, 22 volunteers show up (after one-day-notice) at a kindergarten in Oslo on a cold Sunday morning. Many designers, social anthropologists, public servants and even a biochemist, were feeling the desire to contribute with their creative skills, optimism and apply the service design tools that effect people-driven social innovation in so many areas.
Confused, but intrigued facial expressions when staring to unpack the Refugee Crisis in Norway from multiple points of view.
We started by sharing our hopes and fears regarding the process and the final outcome. When different topics started emerging, we divided into three groups to address: 1) User & Systems Process, 2) Outcomes and 3) Meta-level issues.
This is just the beginning of hard work ahead. We realised that it is not difficult to mobilise many individuals in almost no time. Now the big challenge is our capacity to collaborate on such a pressing issue with no formal structure. We are setting up the tech platforms to support this ambition. We need help on gathering insights on refugee´s needs, conducting user interviews, mapping the landscape, contacting experts, and planning the workshop at the Parliament. After the workshop we will need support synthesising the process and making our contribution tangible and actionable.
We are not sure if we are starting a 10-year-long process... Anyhow, are excited to be part of such an amazing team of contributors.
If you want to get involved or hear more about this, just email me at manuela.aguirre@aho. We need all the support we can get!
*research by design (Sevaldson 2010) is the process of doing research through modelling, sketching, prototyping and testing solutions. In other words, you use design interventions to understand how the system reacts and learn from those reactions as a form of research.
Public services are designed and delivered by public organisations and financed by public resources, where citizen participate in this exchange by paying their taxes every year. In return, governments provide people with essential services like public security, health, education, transportation, sanitation services, and the list can go on. Most public services are experienced as complicated, time and energy consuming, inflexible and bureaucratic. Many governments around the world are investing in changing this by attempting to make their public services easier to navigate, more efficient and that meet the demand of highly connected and mobile people.
As Eric Trist, “we act like systems in creating large-scale problems, but we act like individuals in trying to solve them” (Trist, 1981). All of these challenges are interconnected adding to complexity, and systems thinking approaches are needed to solve these challenges by identifying the problem´s root causes and understanding how they interrelate. We also need to work together. Even though service design is an emerging field; it´s 20 years of development is starting to mature to potentially be applied to tackle the world’s most complex problems by harnessing creativity, collaboration and community-centered approaches (Meroni & Sangiorgi, 2011). Service design tools should be complemented with systemic design approaches in order to understand the complexity (Aguirre, 2014; Jones, 2013) that governments face when designing and delivering public services.
November 10th 2014
This online seminar is to understand "what creates change with and for people most on the margins." They state that "if you’re like us, you’re inundated with lots of new concepts: innovation labs, design thinking, collective impact, theories of change. But beneath all the words, what’s actually generating results and what’s not? We’ll share lessons learned from a decade of work to redesign welfare systems & social services in 6 countries and 15 cities."
Next seminars coming up:
Making Solutions for Impact (Nov 28 & Dec 12 2014) $149 - Register here on Eventbright
The first session will be to learn how to reframe outputs to outcomes and understand how mechanisms for grounded change play a role. The second session will teach us how to reframe change theory to change evidence and to adapt program activities to create local solutions
Building Capacity to Innovate in Services and Systems (Nov 22) $29 - Register here on Eventbright
How do we get out of the trap of meetings, workshops, and planning sessions? And actually think and do differently? What's it take to organize work from the bottom-up, rather than the top-down? And what's it all mean for how we hire, train, support, and performance manage teams versus individuals?
During the session, you will explore how to curate interdisciplinary teams: See how IWF hires, trains, and establishes working routines, and how to enable prototyping practice. Ask the Manager from a large, social sector agency what it will take to re-organize staffing to introduce and embed innovative practices.
September 14th 2014
This course will be taught by Zaid Hassan in a webinar format over the period of 3 months, every thursday for one hour. It will look into wicked problematiques like Public Education, Mental Health and Climate Change to explore the social lab techniques. It starts this Thursday 18th of September and runs until November.
The course is organised into 5 modules:
September 11th 2014
Last May I had the opportunity to attend a conference organised by Mars Solution Lab in Toronto, CA.
This conference brought together different experiences from the emergent practices of Government Innovation Labs. These labs seek to disrupt current policy and public service models. They do this by applying creativity and design tools, systems thinking, social change, psychology and implementation sciences. Design tools include prototyping, stakeholder engagement, co-creation and building mechanisms that leverage informal networks of co-production, facilitated by government platforms.
Key speakers in this conference were:
He starts reflecting on what are labs, how do we lab and what´s after labs? Then he classifies labs by typology which you can see in the first picture below. He criticises that labs are not tackling the job market and in that sense, the most interesting place to intervene is a the systems change level. That is the big problem, even if you have the best ideas, if they are not implemented or scaled up, there is no systems change.
He mentions an interesting quote, "turkeys don´t vote for christmas," meaning that if you get the same stakeholders in the room, they will reinforce the status quo (they will not vote for systems change). He also sais that humans "complicate themselves to understand, but we become simple to act" meaning that practicality cuts across complexity.
September 3rd 2014
During the end of the spring semester 2013, I received an email from a great friend, Isidora Ovalle, that works in the renown Chilean NGO called TECHO (previously known as Techo para Chile) asking about Design Thinking. She put me in contact with the leader of their organisation, Juan Cristóbal Beytia, and the planning process started. Basically what Juan Cristóbal explained to me is something designers can relate to very well, which has to do with their culture as an organisation. Their previous model was to build emergency and temporary housing to get people out of slums, but now they are changing into more service and educational models. They have build 6.000 emergency shelter homes in Chile and have active 2.600 volunteers every weekend working with communities in slums.
They got interested in design thinking and service design since they transitioned from a tangible output into an educational and learning output, from standard inputs that you can hammer and measure to the inputs being people, which are definitely not abstract and even the smartest volunteer might not have empathy and patience for teaching.
We divided into 8 groups of 8 people to do an experience process map, inspired on co-production concepts outlining the relationships between community members and organisational teams based on one of the four programs that they are providing (learning to read, peer-to-peer skill transferring, entrepreneurship mentoring, back-to-work mentoring). By referencing the Family by Family project done by TACSI in South Australia we could understand how the design team build a platform for matching people seeking for solutions to those who have an answer and facilitate peer-to-peer support networks. We had interesting discussions on the visualisation of abstract processes, actors and co-production models.
This workshop would had not been possible without the great support from Isidora Ovalle and Juan Cristóbal Beytia from TECHO and the great designers, Dámaris Sepúlveda, Antonia Undurraga and Polinka Karsulovik - which literally were cutting out paper and making the templates for the maps on the floor 20 minutes before we got started. It was also inspiring to use the back of old posters as the maps, this reminds us that accessible and cheap (or free) material is many times the best source of innovation.
You can look through the presentation slides here:
June 12th 2014
Happy to have been part of Service Design in the Government, which gathered amazing people from Europe, specially public servants and designers. Key speakers were Sarah Drummond from Snook and Government Digital Services (GDS) was represented by their head of user research, Leisa Reichelt, and head of design, Ben Terrett.
My presentation was about designing for complex public services using a systemic approach to service design, using the case study of Designing for Dignity. Here are some of the slides:
May 13th 2014
On Monday 31st of May, 2014, we held a workshop at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) to map out the design and healthcare landscape in Oslo, Norway. By connecting stakeholders from different places we had the opportunity to understand in which areas we are working, and which others are emerging, also our main barriers and main learnings together with imagining our future roles. Participants were mainly students and academics from AHO, designers from several consultancies, leaders and administrators from the Norwegian Health Directorate, researchers from the Norwegian Knowledge Center for Health Services, doctors from Ullevål University Hospital, designers from The Norwegian Center for Design and Architecture and the design director from Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation.
This workshop was facilitated by Lorna Ross (Director of Design Mayo Clinic), Kaja Misvær (Project Manager DOT at AHO), Birger Sevaldson (Professor of Systems Oriented Design at AHO), Adrian Paulsen (Systems Oriented Service Designer at Halogen) and myself. We had over 25 attendees and there was great energy and interest in continuing these conversations.
A report with the summary containing the main findings will be published soon, however the preliminary findings include that there is a lot of demand to talk about these topics, evidenced by so many people showing up in such short notice. Designers need better tools to navigate business models, organisational challenges, policies and cultural mechanisms that direct how healthcare organisations operate. Designers need to work proactively, instead than against demand. We are all working in specialty services and solving discrete problems, while we need to shift towards community engagement, prevention and emergent services. We also need to present design projects in non-design settings and understand better health reforms and implementation processes.
May 2nd 2014
...the author considers rethinking care models and leveraging the role of the community to facilitate the experience of wellness in populations. Here, transformations in policy are considered in an effort to reconsider new business models that can, in turn, influence better care models that may ultimately define more positive health care experiences. The author presents this as a kind of funnel, suggesting that designers become more adept at spanning within this funnel, from the macro view (policy innovation) to the micro level (care experiences), understanding the interdependencies that arise from connecting across these different scales. In practice, designers often discover strategic long-term opportunities that can easily become jeopardized by short-term priorities.
...service design tools should be complemented with systemic approaches in order to understand the complexity that characterize health care and intervene within the root causes of problems. Besides exploring the most common design tools like patient journeys, scenarios, storyboards and personas, Jones suggests proven new approaches with great design potential. The methods introduced — video-ethnographies, sense-making tools, Structured Dialogic Design (SDD) and Giga-Mapping — may allow designers to more successfully innovate in powerful spaces, like health policy and business models. It also balances the user-system continuum by introducing empathic approaches (capturing individual human needs, for instance) and coupling them with participatory tools to map out larger systemic challenges.
November 9th 2014
These are some of the textual notes from his presentation that can be found if you scroll down.
"How design and cybernetics reflect each other? When we are faced with the complexity of the world, we have two approaches: one is to grab everything and shovel it in. The other approach is to try to strip down, and hopefully theres nothing to say about nothing. The simplicity is intentional and possibly offensive. What is the difference between cybernetics and systems? What is cybernetics? What is design? At the end, cybernetics and design are the same thing from Ranulph´s point of view.
Side note: he doesn't use slides because slides pre-program everything and don't leave space for improvisation. Power point is a medium for presenting assertions rather than arguments.
Cybernetics and Systems: both groups are very antagonistic, they feel threatened by each other. Cybernetics in its modern usage came in 1940 (Wiener), the Human Use of Human Beings (1947) shows that cybernetics is a way of thinking and being in the world. In 1949 Bertalanffy published General Systems Thinking, that both were published around the same world created rivals among both academic fields. Cybernetics tends to be more abstract and Systems tends to be more pragmatic. In cybernetics, it really doesn't matter what words you use. If there is another different, Charles Francois composed an encyclopaedia about cybernetics and systems. Cybernetics is the dynamic complement of systems, if that´s the case, systems people are interested in the nodes, and cybernetic people are interested in the arrows.
Steering. It´s a very difficult thing to do. The world does not behave in a predictable way. When we steer, we don't just point some way and go, but we all the time have adjusting what we are doing. What cybernetics is based on is two things: one is error. We accept that there is always error. The question is not to eradicate error, but how do we manage error. Turn errors into opportunities. The other thing is that it is responsive. Cybernetics doesn't initiate, but it responds to changes in situations and adjusts. The name to this process is feedback (because it suggests that it is something tiny that goes back to something big). He prefers circularity. Ross Ashby (1956) one of the founders of cybernetics claimed that cybernetics are subject to the laws of information. In a circular system, aspects of control are not linear, but the interaction of the two components balance each other - so both control each other.
In 1968 Margaret Mead was one of the first anthropologists to put into practice the notion of participant observation. She talked to the American Society of Cybernetics to apply principles of cybernetics to their own community. Cybernetics should behave in a way that is self-consistant, so that is second-order cybernetics, where the observer is not optional, but intervening in a circular fashion in the system.
Design: The world design is extremely difficult because it has many meanings. "He had designs on her, meaning he wanted to get her into bed." Dutch said "form-shaving," the German was Gestalt, which means "has holes, or incomplete." The English, designare and designare, one means drawing and one means designating. Pattern finding is designing in latin. The world design is noun and a verb - for people who practice design, it is a verb, for people who research design, it is a noun. When we talk about design, do we talk about an outcome of a design activity, about the design activity or the intention?
The Art School vs. the Engineering University: These two different traditions started around 1850. The Art School approach is interested in novelty and is interested in good enough and believes in practice. The Engineering University gives us scientific rigurosity, interested in bestness. These two world views involve different aspirations or ways of thinking.
The earliest definition of design is the best, from Truviest. The 3 principles of design are be well constructed, utilitas (functional), venustas (delight). Delight brings the difference between being a human and a machine.
Conversation is the bridge between cybernetics and design: Conversations are between two people, when you forget how you started and how you got to a certain topic. Conversation is a way of being with someone else where you don't necessary have the same world views. Conversations are circular activities, with two participants. We have more than one persona within us. We are many people and we can have conversations with ourselves. Designers hold conversations with themselves, not merely problem solving. They wonder through the forest and find a beautiful place to sit down and understand, thats why I took the walk in the first place.
Designers look at errors as opportunities, by holding conversations with themselves. Designers leave room for the delight, and this form of activity are entirely cybernetics."
October 1st 2014
The Chilean government just formed a GobLab - and according to vice-president of Corfo, Eduardo Bitran Colodro, it´s the first public innovation lab in Latin America. I would argue that Chile has a lot to learn from Laboratorio para la Ciudad in Mexico City, since they have been challenging and prototyping in this space for quite a while.
GobLab, just like MindLab in Denmark, is located in the intersection of three Ministries: Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Secretary of the President (Secretaría General de la Presidencia) and the Ministry of Finance (Ministerio de Hacienda). The GobLab is a Corfo committee that will act as a flexible instrument to enable collaboration between different public stakeholders. It´s goal is to design better services and increase government productivity together with citizen´s quality of life. Watch the two hour session with Christian Bason at Corfo here.
September 26th 2014
How are different governments opening up to include ideas from other departments (inside government), universities or research institutions, and receptive to voices of normal citizens and frontline staff. Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood from the UK government explains how open policymaking allows for more inclusive policies, better services and systems that can actually get implemented. You can watch his short video here:
More on open policymaking from the UK government here.
September 24th 2014
This book claims how planning processes are not sufficient to solve the worlds most complex problems. Social labs are introduced as an alternative to solve wicked challenges in an iterative, experimental and actionable way, by having diverse and "soft" influential teams (Zaid 2014:115) that facilitate processes that may empower change agent and create systemic spaces. Systemic spaces allow for experimental learning to emerge, support "creativity, innovation and problem solving" (Ibid: 23) These types of systemic spaces are what Zaid Hassan defines as "a social laboratory" (ibid).
September 14th 2014
Josina Vink is a systems designer and facilitator working in the mental health space in Canada trying to achieve systemic change. She just shared with me this resource from the Watersfoundation that illustrates in a very simple way 13 habits systems thinkers have. By using these principles, you can start different conversations about how to design ideal, flexible and resilient systems.
September 10th 2014
September 10th 2014
Next week we will visit Istanbul with the SOD students for a week to observe how the city behaves, be inmersed in its patterns of interactions, and explore the concept of "resilience." I understand resilience as the ability to adapt and flourish, either after an unanticipated event that shakes the landscape, or as a normal mechanism to cope with good and bad life situations. Resilience is well connected to the concept of Emergence, which Steven Johnson claims as a collective intelligence. Resilience and emergence will be systems thinking concepts explored during Istanbul, to study the complexity of the city.
In preparation for this, I stumbled upon an article written by Frances Westley for the Stanford Social Innovation Review about what can resilience teach social innovation, and what can social innovation teach resilience.
September 9th 2014
Optum Labs partnered with the Mayo Clinic Center for Science and Healthcare Delivery to understand the health experiences of people in their communities, beyond the bricks and mortars of health care institutions using big data. With Electronic Health Records (EMR), Patient Reported Information (and Outcomes), Consumer Experience Information, you can aggregate and synthesise many patterns that can provide rich insights about people´s experiences towards health.
How do you create trust in data? Its not about collecting data, its about how this data is used. Optum recognises the importance of community health workers and the demand side of data. Its about how to improve systems and health outcomes.
How do you make medical knowledge relevant for other communities, different from the context where that knowledge was created? Optum labs compares cities and uses the example of Rochester MN and finds other cities in the US that might have similar characteristics than Rochester.
September 4th 2014
I just heard about the Street Store, launched in Cape Town, South Africa to help people who live in the street. The street store thrives out of donations by community members where homeless can live shopping experiences with the ability tho chose and browse through clothes, instead of going through dumpsters. This simple model is open source and has spread out to many other cities in the world, where inspired individuals can simply print out the store, position it in public spaces, do some free marketing through social media and start attracting donators. This is a great example of connecting with a marginalised community through the act of prototyping in a low-cost and rapid way, and then making those props available for others to experiment if agreeing to the ethical terms and conditions the organisation establishes. This is also a good example of a leverage point within a complex social system where sometimes the smallest interventions can have the biggest ripple effects. I leave you to their video:
September 3rd 2014
Together with some ex-colleagues from Mayo Clinic CFI, we have been reflecting for a while on the idea of implementation. Implementation is usually understood as the last step of a linear, factory-type design process as the Design Council illustrates it with the Double Diamond (1. Discover, 2. Define, 3. Develop, 4. Deliver), where the delivery stage can be conceived as equivalent to the implementation stage. Using this type of thinking we face many problems with implementation since many of the key components of our design ideas and prototypes, when being rolled out to the larger ecosystem, are confronted to diverse unforeseen challenges. This happens when not properly understanding, or untangling the complexity of the system during the design phase resulting in design concepts that don´t go anywhere. You either adjust solutions to the system or seek for systemic change that makes space for new innovative solutions.
Many have criticised service designer´s lack of ability to implement great services, as Geoff Mulgan argues, designers creative skills do not match the ones that allow them to understand the implementation system, like challenges related economics, politics, culture and organisations (more about this in Geoff´s publication Design In Public and Social Innovation). Following similar lines, Andreas Moan, when presenting the Breast Cancer project done by the Oslo University Hospital together with Designit, explained the "home alone" feeling when the design team finished their job and the implementation process started. In my opinion, as design consultants, design researchers, design academics or design students we never work in isolation, we are part of a larger socio-technical system. That said, we are implementing or enabling change with every interaction. Perhaps a type of change that is not sustainable or scalable, but we create these interactions to poke the system and understand its behaviour by analysing how it reacts.
So, what are change mechanisms for grounded change? Sarah Schulman, Jonas Piet, Muryani Kasdani and Daniel Mohr released an interesting publication last week that reflected on their 10+ years of experience in the social innovation space. Mechanisms for grounded change are defined as "activities that quantifiably change the motivations and behaviours underpinning [intended] outcomes" (pg. 7) They offer a methodology that avoids jumping from problems to solutions (without even thinking about the final outcomes). Their approach is to reframe problems by using ethnographic insights and then define the good outcomes for that particular challenge. Its important to note that the good outcomes might be different for the system and for end users. The mechanisms are positioned between the outcomes and interventions (or solutions).
Each mechanisms is linked to a particular user group, and InWithForward´s strategy is to always start with you positive and negative deviants, like the marginalised folks that don't engage with services and systems and the folks that even under extremely difficult circumstances, are doing surprisingly good. These mechanisms are the result of detecting patterns when doing numerous project in the social sector in many countries, and realising that they keep designing the same types of solutions, but their solutions have various degrees of effect. The seven change mechanisms include:
May 20th 2014
On Friday, May 16th 2014, the Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, announced the new agenda of “Productivity, Innovation and Growth.” This agenda had a section for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which included seven areas, from supporting early SMEs and decentralizing the Startup-Chile program, to public and social innovation. She announced the creation of a new public innovation lab to design and develop innovative projects that can solve public programs and improve public services for citizens. The lab will integrate expertise’s from both the public and private sector in their co-design processes. This was not mentioned, but I think citizens should also be included in the co-inquiry, co-mapping, co- design and co-production of new public programs and services.
January 15th 2014
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I am happy to connect with anybody wanting to create sustainable transformations for the public and social good using creativity, prototyping and systems thinking. I am taking a practical phd, which means researching by designing and exploring (some say that´s the best way to really understand the materiality and substance of problems) so if you are directing a government innovation laboratory, or prototyping public services with citizens, public servants, policymakers, designers, anthropologists, sociologists or change agents, please get in touch.
My studies are supported by The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) and are being carried out between September 2013 until August 2017. My background is in integrated design from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and in systems oriented service design from AHO. Before starting the PhD, I worked as an embedded service designer within the multi-specialty integrated group medical practice of Mayo Clinic, in their Center for Innovation located in Rochester, Minnesota.
During my master thesis, I worked on a project called Designing for Dignity which was recognised by Core77, The Norwegian Design Council and Norsk Form. This was a collaboration with Jan Kristian Strømsnes, the emergency hospital in Oslo, the Oslo Police and Social Services to improve the response systems to sexual violence using creativity, design, participation and holistic thinking.