Below are my Service Design thinkings, doings and all sorts of interesting design stuff. Enjoy!

May 2, 2012

Designing Services to Encourage Behavior Change in the Public Sector

After a whole year's hiatus from my blog, I find myself in a new home, new studio, new city and new country. It's a lot to sort out, so forgive the gap in entries.

I have taken to my post as Senior Service Designer at Ziba with great enthusiasm. Every research assignment has had the extra edge of working with new cultures, new places, new opinions and lifestyles. It's reinforcing my belief that the worst thing a designer can do is not spend even a little bit of time away from the wall of hypothetical Post-It Notes.

I've been keen to help refine the service design proposition at Ziba, and while many of the projects we have worked on will remain private for the time being, there is one in particular that I would like to share. My work leading a project for GOOD Ideas for Cities has helped me pursue public sector and policy work, and understand where the boundaries between public and private sector service provision lie.

That said, I'm not here to reinforce the status quo, but explore new relationships between public, private and third sector organizations and how they can better co-create services with the communities they serve.

The Challenge

GOOD Ideas for Cities is now in its second year of exploring the potential in relationships between designers and policy makers. I am hugely grateful to the team of fellow Zibites who volunteered their talent, their early mornings, late nights and weekends to shine a light on how this combination of design and policy can make lives better for the people of Portland.

The video presentation itself set the daunting task of a 6 minute summary for a 6 week-long project, but to further condense and summarize:

Our challenge was 'How do we get the people of Portland to consume less meat?' Given that most people are unaware that this seemingly simple action is in fact the most significant action any of us in the developed world can take to reduce our environmental impact, the project needed to both raise awareness and facilitate change. At the heart of the three services suggested lies a need for real understanding of the people of Portland.

Each service is backed up by a research participant and insight that was representative of many of the things we saw in our quick and dirty dive into people's homes, habits and fridges. The key to explaining this emotional, motivational and behavioural approach as opposed to demographically-led initiatives traditionally favoured by policy makers, was our behavioural persona matrix, further explained in the video.

It provided us with tangible, human personas to design for and was a breath of fresh air to our partners at the City of Portland. However, the challenge in future is shifting the emphasis from merely GOOD Ideas for Cities and towards GOOD Change for Cities.

We have a real convert and advocate in the City of Portland for the ability of service design and design principles and approaches to create new, innovative ways to improve the lives of Portlanders. But on presenting the findings in a lecture to the Rebooting Democracy conference, I was mindful that the practices and processes within those who might affect policy change may have to be transformed to capitalize on such efforts. For now, stage one is successful. Watch this space.

March 10, 2011

Designing Services in a Changing NHS

This article was first published on the Prospect website.

An Opportunity for Preventative Healthcare

Prospect joined GPs, NHS representatives, academics and other service designers last week for an event hosted by Imagination Lancaster, who recently released their report 'Design In Practice' to discuss the effects of the most radical changes facing the NHS since its foundation in 1948.

The event at the Design Council explored how service design can help GPs, local authorities and the public make the most of their new roles and responsibilities and facilitate change for the better.

1. Liberating the NHS

The Coalition Government's white paper 'Liberating the NHS' heralds the replacement of an entire stratum of NHS management with consortia of GPs. It aims to empower those in direct contact with patients to design, procure and provide new, better services. It also re-iterates the need to better integrate local authorities, social services and other partners to provide more holistic, localised and preventative care.

The two challenges on the surface are to help GPs gain insight into the wellbeing and behaviours of their local population to better meet their needs, and facilitating diverse groups of stakeholders to create joined-up and preventative services centred around people.

This is Service Design's back yard‚ and there is much the discipline can offer the NHS. However, this article also explores more complex organisational issues of this radical change programme, and calls for the application of strategic design thinking to resolve them.

2. Removing barriers to innovation and improvement

The removal of PCTs may well reduce bureaucracy and barriers to innovation, allowing GPs to more efficiently set up primary care services that can reduce the number of patients who end up in hospital and more costly secondary care treatments.

But as Dr. Mohammed Ali reflected in his talk, "GPs are a particular type of person; evidence-based, and if you can prove it, you can do it." Such caution is understandable for those in medicine, but it does not bode well for the culture of experimentation and risk-taking necessary to produce innovative new services.

However, using service design methodologies can integrate qualitative and quantitative to leverage new projects, and exploit the direct contact between GPs and patients to produce more appropriate services. Ethnographic-based research uncovers behaviours and service expectations that can inform and define new solutions. Iterative cycles of prototyping and testing allows for performance data, as well as qualitative feedback to be quickly gathered from patients and providers to ensure they are on the right track.

The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement has successfully combined such qualitative, experience-based methodologies with the quantitative data and evidence base required to leverage new projects and develop a business case for change.

3. Taking a longer view for a healthier population

The logic is clear for focusing more effort on preventative healthcare in order to reduce future demand for secondary care. As a representative from the Royal College of General Practitioners

"The lower down the food chain you are, the more difference you can make - we (GPs) have always known this. So much money is spent on intensive surgery procedures... if you took some of that budget and spent it on getting people to live more healthily, you would reduce the number of people who need surgery."

One such example is Activmobs. Developed by RED, a department of the Design Council, it encourages communities and groups to self-organise and live healthier, more active lifestyles. It incentivises everyday activities such as dog walking or aerobics groups for the elderly and augments them with nutritional advice, information and guidance, rewards and even the support of a personal trainer.

Such schemes can reduce the prevalence (and cost) of serious conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, as well as improving the mental wellbeing and productivity of the population. It reverses the cycle of increasingly costly treatment.

4. Fewer patients, but little patience for the long view

The rationale is obvious, but when secondary care funding is based on to the number of people who go through its wards and operating theatres, there is little incentive for secondary care managers to seek to reduce the supply (or ill people as they are also known), as a consequence is reduced budgets, closing facilities and job losses.

The new remit of GPs, however, will empower them to take that direction, scaling down secondary care in order to implement more primary care alternatives. GPs must go further and look 'upstream' - where the conditions from which chronic illnesses emerge - and invest in community care and longer term healthy population strategies to take the pressure off all services.

Measuring the outcomes and quality of experience of those who become ill is complex, but measuring the value of spending on preventing illness is near paradoxical: How many people would have become ill? What might their treatment have cost? Which of the many schemes the population will have interacted with can claim responsibility and secure funding, and how far in the future will they have to wait for their impact to be proven?

5. Shifting from Secondary, to Primary, to Community, to Preventative

The NHS was configured in 1948 with a focus on coping with accidents and injuries, communicable diseases, and provide palliative care. Since then NHS provision has fallen out of step with the needs of the population, and its demographic composition. Less healthy lifestyles have caused a large increase in long-term chronic illnesses; many of them preventable if healthier behaviours can be introduced early enough.

The 'Nicholson Challenge' of finding £20bn in cost savings in the next four years is daunting, to say the least. But the answer isn't found in simply scaling back the NHS and opening up markets to the private sector to occupy the vacuum.

The real challenge of the NHS in the 21st century is to reduce the need for the NHS by encouraging and facilitating a healthier population.

International studies have shown that where primary care is strongest, hospital activity is reduced and the supply of GPs in a region is associated with fewer hospital admissions (Source: RCGP). Data on health populations reducing the need for primary and secondary care is more difficult to produce and obtain.

How the health of a population is measured, monitored and improved requires an holistic approach which reaches beyond the NHS to better co-ordinate with local authorities, social services, police and hospices alongside private and third sector bodies.

The NHS atlas maps variation of healthcare, but also indicates different health challenges faced in different areas.

6. People at the Heart of Services

The Government endorses 'integrated care' as described above. The NHSi recommends the use of a 'Compact' - a more detailed agreement to outline relationships between clinical commissioners and community and partner organisations.

Imagination Lancaster goes further still, to endorse 'Community-Centred Commissioning', which also includes community leaders and public representatives to give their user's view of healthcare provision.

With a diverse group of stakeholders, a user-centred strategy can provide focus, aligning the objectives of different providers and ensuring that services dovetail without any gaps along the user journey.

Co-creative sessions, where designers facilitate the stakeholders to design services themselves, can be used to prioritise issues and collaboratively generate ideas for new services, which can be quickly prototyped, tested and improved.

Source: Design in Practice, Lancaster university
Such inclusive processes help instil a sense of ownership in participants and overcome resistance to change, and can even help mitigate conflicting supplier interests. By understanding the patient's experiences, and combining qualitative evidence such as ethnographic research outcomes with quantitative data, GPs gain the leverage required to justify replacing some secondary care with primary care, and some primary care with community and preventative care.

A user-centred approach to designing services can also filter out un-necessary targets. Over the years these have multiplied to obscure the primary objective of maintaining the well being of the population and staff, instead distracting care providers with the minutiae of meeting abstract targets, which can often get in the way of using good common sense to do their job well.

Conclusion: A Call to Service Design

The Imagination Lancaster event provided an optimistic view of the difference Service Design can make in this period of change to the NHS. However, it also uncovered deeper systemic issues and a labyrinth of entrenched and conflicting incentives and business models.

With the Government's announcement that PCTs are to be phased out, they have already begun dismantling before the Health and Social Bill has gone through Parliament. Those who remain are dis-incentivised to pass on their knowledge, and GPs will consequently have greater difficulty in grappling with these management challenges.

It's time for service design to step up, and apply its design thinking to develop new, balanced, sustainable and user-centred business models. Nothing short of a new proposition is required for the NHS - shifting away from, as one GP put it, "The public perception of the National Hospital Service," and towards encouraging preventative healthcare and a healthier, happier population.

October 14, 2010

Service Design vs. Bureaucracy: How Human is Your Business?

This article was published in the international Service Design Network's Touchpoint magazine in October 2010.

From handier tin openers to more intuitive interfaces, the ability of design to humanise ‘things’ is well known and understood. Services, however, in spite of being provided by people in direct contact with users, are often de-humanised by measurements and policies set at an organisational level.

Top-down directives intended to increase revenue, efficiency or measurability can actually undermine experiences for staff and users, and de-couple what organisations aim to achieve from what their users want.

Following are three examples for bridging this gap illustrating how service design can meet such organisational challenges. It affirms that by transforming the front line you can liberate staff, unlock innovation and provide users with the experiences they demand to help ensure that the bottom line looks after itself.

Customer and Organisational Needs

Service users have fundamentally different needs from consumers of products. They seek individual experiences that bring touchpoints and channels together. They require direct interaction (and often human interaction) with the providing organisation.

Organisations inevitably need to divide tasks between departments and as such, develop roles and incentives to keep each of its components moving, employing automation and standardisation to boost efficiency.

These differences in needs and behaviours can cause a gap to appear, diminishing the user’s experience and in turn an organisation’s fortunes.

De-Humanised Services and Market Stalinism

A fixation on operations and efficiencies can mechanise and de-humanise services. Siloed departments can quickly create bureaucratic hoops for customers to jump through. While customers seek customization, longer-term relationships, and largely measure experiences on qualitative grounds, organisations often consider success in quantitative efficiencies and short-term ROI.

Key Performance Indicators would seem to be a happy medium, but can become subverted by target setting and the shortcuts necessary to achieve them. The minutiae of how to achieve something becomes an end in itself, obscuring and even detracting from why you’re trying to achieve it in the first place. Mark Fisher calls this effect Market Stalinism’ [1], after the USSR’s White Sea Canal project. The primary goal of allowing access for large cargo ships and tankers was hijacked by target squeezing, box-ticking and PR concerns. The result was a glorious media review of an efficiently completed canal, but in truth it was only deep enough to accommodate the small tourist steamers on which the journalists sat.

Market Stalinism at work - Wherever you hear these signs.

The above example may be humorous, but this phenomenon is visible from small-scale interactions to life-or-death scenarios.

Gill Hicks, who was injured in the London Tube bombings of 2005, spoke at the NHS Innovation Live conference last year. She explained how it was those who broke the rules, and the moments when rules were broken, which meant the most to her recovery. From rescue paramedics bending resuscitation protocols, to hospital staff later sneaking her out of the ward to improve her psychological well-being, small moments of individual initiative that did not adhere to organisational rules helped her recovery immeasurably.
Although organisations need to have safety procedure and focus on the bottom line to maintain profits and value, being rule-bound can often have the opposite result.

The cost of dissatisfied users is a damaged reputation and a long time spent trying to win their confidence and custom back. By tying the hands of staff with policy, pragmatism, common sense and innovation are stifled and even discouraged.

Re-Humanising Services

Service Design is the vehicle for uniting desirable user experiences and outcomes (bottom-up needs) with operational necessities and efficiencies (top-down needs). Below are three examples illustrating how organisations can be transformed from frustrating empathy-void automatons to empowered, adaptive, innovative helpers.

1. See the design process as an end in itself:
Lewisham Housing Options

Co-creative activities during the process can be as effective as the final deliverables themselves, in establishing the right culture to sustain a service.

Lewisham Housing Options - Transforming services by engaging staff in the design process

ThinkPublic and the Design Council worked with Lewisham Council to understand how they could better serve constituents who required housing, some of whom were in distressed situations and housing emergencies.

Staff members were all given a camera, some training and then went about interviewing people who were waiting for or had just had their appointment.

Through the direct experience of gathering data, footage and insights, the staff were taken away from their desks, databases and forms. Being re-connected with the situations, fears and hopes of those they serve every day, they began literally to see things through a different lens, asking different questions and getting to the heart of customers’ problems in a personal, human way.

2. See services as constantly in “beta”:
Passenger Personas

Transferring tools and knowledge through workshops, training and method sharing is an often-overlooked activity. It greatly improves the sustainability of a service by equipping front-line staff and management with the tools and processes to improve and evolve the service.

One European airport group has an established protocol for understanding and improving their passenger experience.

‘Greeter’ staff are on hand to help and direct passengers as they arrive in the terminal. At quiet times, this staff put themselves in the shoes of a passenger persona, select a destination, and set off through the airport identifying gaps in wayfinding, accessibility or even maintenance and upkeep. Issues are dealt with swiftly, making the job more satisfying for staff and the experience more pleasant for passengers.

Embedding design and empathy tools creates a strong link between an organisation and its users, ensuring needs are understood. Empowering those who have the grass-roots knowledge of a situation to take action to fix problems means solutions are more informed and services are built coherently, not on an ad-hoc basis.

3. Refrain from imposing common sense guidelines:
Just A Routine Operation

Generic guidelines inhibit staff from trying anything new or different. They cannot best serve individual customers, nor fulfil their role as ‘silent designers’ – observing and changing the system incrementally.

Just A Routine Operation from thinkpublic on Vimeo.

This documentary, created for the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, follows a man's experiences during the sudden death of his wife, who suffered complications after a minor operation.

Rather than encapsulate what was observed through the film into another ‘framework for communications protocol' or a 'critical situation checklist', the film has simply been screened to 2,000 NHS staff. By more directly experiencing the situation the staff can draw their own conclusions, which mitigates the need for 'guidance' because skills and empathy are developed more directly.
To those who may balk at a lack of control, consider Nordstrom, a US department store renowned for its customer service. Until recently, its staff guidelines consisted of just 75 words, including:

“Rule 1: Use best judgement in all situations. There will be no additional rules.” [3]

This laissez-faire approach has empowered Nordstrom sales associates to go to the extremes of customer service. By increasing autonomy and lightening the touch of administration, barriers to common sense, ideas and action are removed, enabling a culture of innovation.


By using Service Design to address organisational challenges, you can create direct and dynamic links between operational necessities and what users want are created, reducing waste and increasing demand.

How well this is done is most apparent at the ‘front line’ where staff and users interact. Organisations need to trust and support the people they hire, so that they can efficiently provide effective services that are meaningful and desirable to people. That is true return on investment.


[1] Fisher, M (2009) Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (esp. p39, 43)
[2] Just A Routine Operation (2008, Thinkpublic)
[3] Spector, R. (2000) Lessons of the Nordstrom Way
With thanks to Thinkpublic and Sean Miller for case studies and images.

September 4, 2010

Designing the Future of Knowledge Transfer

I'm proud to report that a project I have been leading at Prospect to deliver a vision for Unlocking Knowledge Transfer (KT) in the UK on behalf of the Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network (CI KTN) is now complete, and the Unlocking Knowledge Transfer Executive Summary can be downloaded. It summarises three robust reports illustrating a number of new services, spaces and tools that will help bring academia and the creative industries closer together.

The three reports can be found in my Projects section - I recommend starting with the third of the three Opportunities for Unlocking Knowledge Transfer and digging further if that whets your appetite.


CIKTN needed a robust vision of the future of knowledge transfer between the creative industries and academia in the UK. We engaged a wide audience through workshops, online surveys and an online platform to develop future scenarios which inspired a number of new opportunities for KT.
Over the course of five months, hundreds of people contributed to inform the three reports which map out the future of KT in the UK, with 16 opportunities (actionable initiatives, services, spaces and roles) for improving KT in the creative industries.


Now, more than ever, businesses are investing in the knowledge economy to catalyse innovation. The UK's academic institutions are world leaders in creating knowledge and ideas. The Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network (CIKTN) invited Prospect to lead a strategic project exploring the future of creating, sharing and applying this wealth and better connecting academia and business.
Historically, the Creative Industries have not engaged with 'knowledge transfer' (KT) on the same scale as industries such as sciences and engineering, for example. Add to this a harsh economic climate and the increasing overlapping and competition between business and academia and you have a knotty problem; one that design is ideally suited to solve.


We used a holistic design approach and methodologies in a way that would engage a broad spectrum of people, and make sense of a diverse range of reactions, comments and ideas. This collaborative, co-creative process not only helped us gather information and insights from these stakeholders, but also encourage them to generate new solutions to possible developments in the future.

The project pivoted around the creation of four future scenarios, based on economic, social, cultural and environmental trends amongst other factors. These were designed to challenge and provoke participants and ask; 'How would you thrive in this new world?'; 'What do you fear?'; and 'What needs to be done?'.


Online surveys, expert interviews, future scenarios and five workshops conducted around the UK informed the three reports delivered through the project. The first, Baselines, documents today's landscape of knowledge sharing between the UK's creative industries and academia. The second, Scenarios, illustrates possible futures and documents how our participants reacted to them. The third, Opportunities, presents a series of robust reccomendations for future services, spaces and initiatives, balancing a wealth of views with feasibility and sustainability, realised through a powerful strategic design process.

August 4, 2010

How Social Media Has Made Brands Transparent

I've been engrossed in work on social media at Prospect over the past few months, and wanted to marry some of the insights and observations there with some ideas I've had in the pipeline for a while. This article is also available at, and covers three key points on why truth, not image, is the new branding.

In particular, we have seen how social media has brought about a new age of branding transparency, where the happiness of customers instantly affects the value of a brand. There are three trends which help explain this:

1. Branding Is Returning To Its Roots As 'Reputation'

Brands are simply the reputation of a business as it was upheld at any moment in the minds of its customers. Before the sophisticated brand machinery of advertising, design, semiotics and visual identity, this was entirely influenced by the quality and consistency of a product or service.

We are coming full circle. Social media's effect of increasing transparency has withered the power and persuasiveness of flashy-smoke-and-mirrors branding. Once again, the products and services must do the talking. Brand equity is directly and immediately linked to the quality of experience you provide.

A painful-to-watch example of this is United Airlines. A disgruntled band watched in horror out of the plane window as they saw their instruments being thrown around by baggage handlers. After nine months seeking compensation for broken instruments, they decided to complain by writing a song, which is approaching 9,000,000 views on YouTube. It's also credited as the main cause of a 10% drop in share price which cost United an estimated $180m. United's out-dated response was a schmaltzy ad campaign. Deflatingly, the online comments greeting their efforts were peppered with mischievous wails of 'United breaks guitars!'. The whitewash had not worked.

2. Customers Are The Advertising Campaign

'Happy customers are your best advertisement' sounds like a whimsical old cliché from a village butchers, but word of mouth has quickly re-established itself as the dominant marketing force and is more relevant now than it has ever been. And it's certainly not just about the small-scale and local who have that much face-to-face time with customers.

Apple, who recently overtook Microsoft to become the highest-valued technology company in the world at $152bn, have taken this to heart and apply it very well. For every expensive advertisement you have seen on TV or online you have probably had a dozen friends or colleagues nudge you to show you their latest iPhone app or tell you "PCs are rubbish. Why don't you get rid of that thing and buy a Mac like this one I'm hugging right now?"

These nudges aren't just happening in person. The savvy purchaser will do a little online research while weighing up their choices, and in a few minutes can be exposed to hundreds of like-minded opinions and experiences. What the customer hears in these critical moments holds a huge sway over whether they buy in or walk away.

3. Customers Are The Boss

Imagine your website as a high street shop and a new customer approaching it. Now imagine hundreds of previous customers standing outside, some shouting in protest and warning the customer away, others singing with elation, 5-star rating placards in hand.

You have the ability to influence the crowd, but the more you use the megaphone, the worse things get. You need to listen to every one in turn and try and resolve their individual cases. You cannot win over everybody, but you need to make sure that the new customer will be tempted in, and at the least, will not be scared away.

Moreover, you have the opportunity to get in touch with the disappointed customers, find out what went wrong, and try to convnice them to stay whilst improving your offer in the process. The customer is always right when talking about their personal, subjective experiences. It's up to the business to provide a better experience in the first place.


As this new mainline has opened up between customers and an organisation's brand, it is the customers, not the providers that have taken the initiative. It has accelerated the movement of feet, allowed easy comparison of competitors and lifted the roof of organisations to allow customers to look inside.

While there is much for businesses and organisations to be wary of, the greatest sin of all is not embracing it. Users will reward the provider who gets it right with loyalty, upgrading, compliance and spreading the word. And quickly. In a time of instantaneous brand re-assessment through social media, your reputation is what you do and your brand equity depends upon what your customers think of the quality of experience you provide.

May 28, 2010

Service Design Drinks London - 28th May 2010

This evening, come to the water poet near Liverpool street station for some service design thinking talking and drinking! Officially beginning at 7:00, but come straight after work!

Link: <
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With Jaimes, Lauren and Nick all enjoying well-deserved holidays I'll do my upmost to be a topmost host.

Posted via email from steveleedesign

May 25, 2010

Beyond Petroleum...No, really we are...

I miss making things and thought a bit of light humour and green advocacy was the perfect excuse to dust off the old CS4 and make a new BP logo for Greenpeace's latest creative lobbying experiment against BP. Check out their gallery here:

I know boycott's a little strong as everything's made out of or runs on the stuff, but if anyone can suggest a word beginning with 'B' that means "understand we're all responsible for creating a need for petroleum in the first place and therefore must reduce our consumption in little ways each day that mean corporations and governments don't do things we don't want them to" I'd be indebted.

Posted via email from steveleedesign

March 23, 2010

Using Film To Create Change In The Public Sector

This evening I attended thinkpublic's screening and talk 'Using Film to Create Change in the Public Sector" and was moved and inspired to share a few thoughts.

I wanted to do this firstly because over the past few years I have helped produce films as part of service design projects and have always been an advocate of the power of showing people what their customers are experiencing and saying about them. This is too often done through cleverly-written and clever sounding documents. What's less clever is that 60 pages of statistics, insights and pull-out quotes are far less effective at achieving this than actually showing people their own customers saying what they feel into a camera.

And secondly, because the talks that followed the two shorts uncovered the power of film as not just the means to an end, where a film is presented as part of evidence at the end of a research phase to validate and unlock the next phase,
but an end in itself. The two films each unlocked good points about this.

Just A minor Operation: Karen's Story

Just A Routine Operation from thinkpublic on Vimeo.

The documentary was created by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement. It followed a woman's experience during the sudden death of her husband, who suffered complications after a minor operation.

What struck the audience was how it refrained to encapsulate lessons learned into a 'seven point plan' or 'framework for patient dignity protocol' or a 'sensitive situation checklist'. Julia Schaeper from the NHS Institute for Innovation explained how the experiences and events were laid bare for the audience (so far at 2000 NHS staff and growing) to draw their own observations and conclusions.

Rather than giving staff guidelines as a result of the film, which seek to standardise and synthesise common sense, good judgement and empathy, the film was shown directly to staff, so that they experienced it. And from gaining experience we mitigate the need to provide often obvious 'guidance' because we develop those skills and emotions more directly.

The NHS is notorious for guidelines, targets and frameworks. But it's also rife across state institutions. Mark Fisher, in his book Capitalist Realism calls this situation in the UK 'Market Stalinism' - where the obsession with targets and how to achieve them obscures and even detracts from why you are trying to achieve them in the first place. We have already arrived in a place where the micro-motivations of efficiency overtakes the macro-motivation of care.

Lewisham Customer Experiences

Lewisham Council worked with the Design Council and thinkpublic to improve the experiences of those using their Housing Options services. many of these people are in crisis, including people who are homeless, running away from domestic violence or in one case, a woman who couldn't begin the application process until the day her house was reposessed.

Again, watching the film transferred more insight than what would have found its way into a research report. Furthermore, the interesting twist was that those filming the consultations and interviews were the council employees themselves.

Peter Gaddson, Head of Strategy and Performance with the Customer Services Directorate at Lewisham Council explained that the employees were 'looking through a different lens' and were suddenly asking different questions to those they would have asked were they working behind their desks, with databases and application forms. The film showed flaws in the system, sometimes satisfactory, sometimes distressing outcomes and a noisy, even chaotic scene in the background. Peter boldly (and bravely) affirmed that "In order to improve, you need to admit that you get things wrong."

A fantastic sentiment at a time when people are more protective of their performance and defensive of criticism, but in doing so, block the potential for real change.