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Service design podcast – Public Sector Design Network

Public sector design community colleagues have been meeting to talk about service design; what it is and why it matters. The podcast they’ve produced is relevant to our service improvement work at the University and well worth a listen.

The session was organised by Registers of Scotland, and is part of a broader series of podcasts they’re producing.

I recommend the 18 minute podcast if you want to learn a little about what Service Design is, and how other public sector organisations are approaching this revolutionary and (relatively) new discipline.

Listen to the podcast

Listen to the podcast on Audioboom

In conversation are:

  • Anna Henderson, Head of Service Design at the Scottish Government
  • Hilary Brownlie, Head of Service Design at Registers of Scotland
  • Clare Barnett, User Experience Lead at Registers of Scotland

If you attended the Public Sector Design Network event we hosted at the University late last year, you may well have chatted with them.

Read our blog post about the Public Sector Design Network event we hosted

Also, Clare and Hilary kindly came to one of our UX Lunchtime Meet-ups last year to give a talk on the intersection of disciplines: business analysis and user experience.

Read previous blog post about the our lunch time meet up session on business analysis and user experience

I had hoped to join the conversation, but unfortunately couldn’t make the date. The podcast doesn’t suffer for my absence…

What’s in the podcast discussion?

The group talk around a series of questions, providing insight and experiences from their day-to-day work to illustrate the more theoretical or philosophical side of their answers.

I’ve jotted a few notes and thoughts on each of the topics covered to hopefully pique your interest.

What is a government service?

We should think of services as including everything that goes on up front and behind the scenes to enable things to happen. Some of these elements might be invisible to the end user, or indeed to some of the roles involved in the service delivery within the organisation(s).

What is service design?

On the surface it’s simple: the design of services. But unpacking the design of services is a complex thing.

A service is a set of systems, processes, tools and people who when brought together and orchestrated can meet the needs of a user; enabling someone to do something or to satisfy a goal.

It’s about joining the dots for the user (or customer or citizen) so that they can meet their needs or solve their problems without having to encounter the organisation’s hierarchy or back end systems.

What is the ‘Scottish Approach to Service Design’?

This is something that I’m particularly interested in and excited by. We (as a University) have a great opportunity here to learn and benefit from the pioneering work being done in the Scottish Government to fundamentally change and improve how services are envisaged and developed.

Anna talks about this exciting initiative in the Scottish Government which is bringing a support framework together to help the public sector make better services.

Through internal research and engagement Anna’s team uncovered that government services:

  • Had no standard methods or tools to guide their development
  • Were organisation, rather than service user-led
  • Had uneven levels of capacity to develop and deliver them

Exactly the same as in the University of Edinburgh.

To address this, they’re developing a playbook.

It’s currently in first iteration for senior leaders, to help them create awareness and buy in to the concept of user-led service design.

Anna illustrates all this by giving an example about the life-event of a relationship breakdown. How do government and third sector organisations (there are over 40) provide services that combine to provide support to couples in a wide range of scenarios?

Understanding users is fundamental, which means that user research is fundamental to good service design. Especially in situations like this example of relationship breakdown, where there are likely to be high levels of emotional investment and stress for service users.

Anna encouraged listeners to get in touch about the Scottish Approach to Service Design. I have a copy of the playbook, and am happy to support colleagues in the University to engage in this approach.

How are the Registers of Scotland approaching service design?

Hilary talked about how their executive leadership team has sponsored the establishment of a service design team, which has been in part facilitated by the Scottish Government’s establishment of the Scottish Approach to Service Design.

At present they’re pulling together staff from a range of disciplines, learning from experiences on certain projects that have adopted these practices over the past couple of years, and looking to formalise things this year.

So in many ways, what’s happening in Registers of Scotland is similar to what we’ve been doing here at the University of Edinburgh with the UX Service.

What’s the best way to get into UX and Service Design?

We all agree that a great way to learn more and get into this area is to tap into your local communities of practice, and take advantage of events happening in your area.

With that in mind, the conversation ends with a plug for our Public Sector Design Network, a safe space for anyone (not just designers) to share and learn more about how we’re all working to develop better services for our users.

The next Public Sector Design Network event is being planned for late April 2019.

Join the Public Sector Design Network mailing list to be informed of future events

The Public Sector Design Network Twitter feed #PubSecDesign

Previous blog post on the Public Sector Design Network event hosted at the University of Edinburgh

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