April 27, 2005

Bill Moggridge on Interaction and Service Design

IDEO's Bill Moggridge was on campus this week, giving a series of design talks and doing some recruiting. I sat in on two of the talks, on interaction and service design.

Moggridge, along with Bill Verplank, coined the term "interaction design" (after "SoftFace" was deemed too weird) to take the values that design had to computer science. Interaction design is about feeling results more than knowing them. Designers, unlike other disciplines, are able to move toward solutions that aren't wholly understood.

Interaction design, for Moggridge, is at two levels. At the broad level is that it's the design of everything that has technology in it. At the narrow level, it's about the subjective and qualitative in technology design. The main quality that determines something's interactiveness is its responsiveness.

Moggridge defined six categories of interaction design: games, screens (software), products (screens in an object), places, internet, and services. Games have the best feedback for failure in interaction design, because they vanish quickly if they don’t work well.

Services are the next frontier in design. The reason service design has become a design subject is because of technology--balancing technology with humans. Services are things we pay to use, not own. They are environmentally good.

Each service design project will have a different way of mapping it. Finding that "map" and analyzing it is part of designing.

Failing frequently means you are going to succeed sooner, so prototype things as quickly as possible. Don't worry about it being crude.

Couch important decisions as the client's. Put the information in front of them and let them choose. You can tell them you disagree, but you need to be modest--it's important that clients comes to the decision themselves.

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April 11, 2005

Innovating Healthcare Services

Ryan Armbruster, director of operations and design at the Mayo Clinic, was our guest speaker today in Service Design class. He was here to discuss a new initiative at Mayo called SPARC that's about designing healthcare services.

Healthcare has basically been delivered the same way for the last 50 years with little changes; there's very few industries you can say that about. Amazingly, more than 50% of patient satisfaction about healthcare comes through the delivery of that care, not necessarily how effective it was.

SPARC is a program to design better healthcare. It's a program to provide live-environment (read: real patients, real doctors) exploration and experimentation for the development of innovations in healthcare delivery. It's also an attempt to fuse design techniques with scientific rigor. All of the solutions SPARC comes up with need to be measured in some manner.

Started about three years ago, SPARC is both a physical space (a laboratory, although it's never called that, especially around patients), and a methodology. SPARC stands for See (user research, context, stories) Plan (translate stories into opportunities, brainstorming) Act (rapid prototyping) Refine (feedback from the prototypes) and Communicate (disseminate knowledge). SPARC's space was created for doing all these steps. It's embedded within a clinical practice inside the hospital. Modular furniture and movable walls allow for lots of flexibility. It was designed with the Wow Factor in mind; they like it when people say, "I didn't believe the Mayo Clinic could do things like this." It's staffed with people willing to accommodate and execute prototypes, which is very rare in medicine. The staff is mainly a blend of physicians and business professionals, with only a small number of people called designers there. The designers act more as facilitators than as traditional designers. "Design" here is about connecting the needs (especially the latent needs) of the patients with the resources of the Mayo Clinic. It's in the latent needs where true innovation lies.

SPARC isn't about the vision of the future. There are lots of initiatives around "the operating room of the future," but SPARC isn't one of them. It's not concerned with long-term vision; it's a learning lab environment. When something works, they ship it out like any traditional product release. This is how they create value--for patients and for the hospital.

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March 17, 2005

Tony Golsby-Smith

We had a visit from former Nierenberg Chair Tony Golsby-Smith. He's a design consultant in Australia, facilitating what he calls "strategic conversations" with "big organizations that don't usually hire design firms or even know about design." One of these is Price Waterhouse Coopers, and he brought along a client, Luke, from PWC.

Tony has these conversations so that by thinking together with him, the organization can better design their worlds. They are a way of turning on design thinking in organizations. During these sessions, they tackle big, strategic issues, examining them in a designer-ly way, not just an analytical way. This doesn't happen in most businesses.

In the past, organizations were much more focused internally, pushing products out into the market. But over the last 20 years, power has shifted to the markets, and the markets have turned organizations from inside --> out to outside --> in. Organizations now need to focus much more on the areas that design knows a lot about: products, services, and customers (users).

Luke talked about how PWC was trying to use design to create a competitive advantage by creating new products and services, forming better relationships with clients, and utilizing different capabilities from across the firm. To do this last item, PWC has created MindLab, a shared physical space that brings together their three service lines in order to better co-create solutions with clients using expertise from all three lines.

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November 11, 2004

Waiting for Mok

Once every couple of years, the Design Advisory Board pays a visit to the School of Design to make sure we're on track. This week was one of those times. After a flurry of frantic activity, cleaning studios and hanging posters, most of the grad students hung out in studio all afternoon Tuesday, waiting for a studio tour that never happened. Oh well. Hopefully the visit went well.

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November 03, 2004

Service Design

I crashed a session of Shelley Evenson's Designing for Service class to hear Mark Jones, head of service design for IDEO Chicago, talk about service design.

Service design is at the cutting edge of design, and it's not easy. Traditional design is about the relationship between a user and a product. Service design, in contrast, has multiple touchpoints (environments, processes, people) and is about these touchpoints interacting with users over time. Users can be exposed to multiple experiences via repeated exposure to the service, and it requires multiple stakeholders to make a service come alive, usually through complex choreography. Moreover, there are multiple pathways through a service; it's usually bigger than any one pathway, so you can't design the service in a controlling way. You won't be able to control the entire experience.

Most services involve person-to-person interactions in real time, thus the point of consumption is the same as the point of production. This is tricky and the stakes are high. You can't plan for every contingency or for the entire experience. However, you can design service moments, or small parts of the experience, which, when hung together, constitute the service and its experience.

There are four types of service design at IDEO. For new services: service validation and service innovation. For existing services: service audits and service improvements. Alongside traditional design research methods, role playing plays a significant part of their design process. Prototyping a service typically means finding service moments (granular parts of the experience), then creating scenarios around those moments and acting them out with clients and stakeholders.

It's important to remember that you aren't just designing for the end user, but also for the people doing the service. You need to resolve issues with all stakeholders for a successful and satisfying design. The earlier you get the entire team and stakeholders involved, the better the outcome and buy-in will be. If your designs involve significant operational changes, you are going to need internal champions to enact those changes.

In service design, small details can have power and impact to delight customers, and that's what you are looking for: to give users something extra that resonates with the company's brand. You can't really do service design with dealing heavily with brand. There's very little that's random in service environments. Even spoken words can be designed.

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October 29, 2004

Chaos Theory for Sustainable Design

John Body, assistant commissioner for information management for the Australian Taxation Office and CMU School of Design research fellow, gave a really interesting talk on understanding design through chaos theory yesterday. I'll summarize his thoughts.

The discipline of design is changing its face because design thinking is being applied to more complex challenges, challenges with multiple intents and many stakeholders that have to deal with experiences, products and services, processes, technologies, and people. The bigger the system you are dealing with, the more design needs different tools and techniques.

There are currently several ways of working with this complexity: strategic conversation, systems thinking, systems mapping and modeling, management theory, complexity theory (systems of many agents), and what John discussed: chaos theory. Chaos theory really began in 1961 with Edward Lorenz and really took off thanks to computing. Computers could run the many simulations and iterations that chaos theory requires. It could be shown over time that small changes have large consequences to systems (the famous butterfly effect).

There are four principles of chaos theory:

So what does this mean for design? Here's some lessons that came out of the discussion.

By understanding chaos theory and its implications, you can design so that the system continues to be successful, not just one product of the system. Chaos theory helps us understand how you can sustain a system over a long period of time: by getting the right balance of order and chaos, by working with attractors, by looking at multiple levels of the project, and by expecting the unexpected.

We can use chaos theory to support what we already know. But we can also use it to add something extra. In all systems, there are a whole lot of elements working randomly, but somehow all working together. Everything is interconnected, therefore unpredictable things happen.

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October 20, 2004

Courting the Nerd Vote

First it was VP candidate John Edwards' visit to campus a few weeks ago. Today it's the presidential candidate himself, John Kerry at a rally, accompanied by a cavalcade of B-level stars: CMU alumnus Ted Danson, Pittsburgh Steeler great Franco Harris, Liz Berlin and Jen Wertz of Rusted Root, and, as the opening act, Bon Jovi!

Some 10,000 people were expected, but I'm guessing it's about half that, and only a couple hundred or so get to see the actual proceedings; the rest stand around.

The campus is still a circus. Crowds chanting, secret service agents on rooftops, unctuous political operatives gladhandling each other, and news crews with their truck satellite dishes atop. It is a sight to see.

And the fun doesn't end here. Tomorrow: Condoleezza Rice! Tuesday: Michael Moore! CMU has become a swing-state stop on the campaign trail.

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October 11, 2004

Robert Reimann Visit

Robert Reimann, co-author of About Face 2.0 and currently the manager of User Interface Design at Bose, visited Carnegie Mellon last week for a few days, sitting in on classes and thesis meetings and giving at talk at the HCII seminar series. I got to sit in on a Q&A session and went out to lunch with and a group of interaction design students.

I jotted down some of Robert's answers to some questions that were asked by the master's students:

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October 05, 2004

Reading Images

VCU professor Ben Day is here for the week with us as we work on our Unfamiliar Place poster. We're picking images to go with other text for our poster, so he gave a talk on how to read images today.

There are multiple readings of any image; its content is slippery and malleable. A rope can signify a rodeo, nautical references, a hangman, etc. You should look for what Ben calls sign indexes: what the images are pointing to. A windsock is a way of capturing the wind. A cake at a wedding isn't food, it's content signaling celebration.

Gather your images, then start labeling them. Put down the pointers: where it comes from, what could it signify, what were your assumptions when you collected it, what could it mean metaphorically. Are there any contradictions or oppositions of content? So much of good design has to do with juxtaposition, Ben told us. Find interesting juxtapositions of images: explicit vs. implicit, before and after, time and movement, linear and non-linear.

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October 03, 2004

A Place You've Never Visited

Ben Day, co-author of Typographic Design: Form and Communication and communication design professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, is visiting CMU all next week and will be working my graduate typography course. We'll be creating a poster about a place we've never visited. It can be a real or imaginary place.

The poster is supposed to be very impressionistic. That is, we're not to get images of the actual place, but instead gather images and words about the texture, smell, architecture, and culture of the place. How we imagine it to be.

I've chosen a place I've always wanted to visit but have never gotten around to it: Iceland.

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