resilience and resourcefulness for creative types #part two

So in part two of this two-part article, I explore why I connected with Helen Carnac’s own reflections, through #10thingsIlearnt? and what approach did I take to becoming more resilient and resourceful in my own practise.

I will share some of my own approach and journey from my background in craft to my new career in Service Design and will use the #10thingsIlearnt framework to try and anchor my own interpretations and express why her slow theme resonated so strongly with me.

Having already acknowledged that there are primary differences between creatives, I can only reflect on how I have developed my own resilience and resourcefulness in making the transition from the skills and thinking required in craft, at one end of the spectrum – working largely alone and creating unique artefacts, which can be valued by a relatively small number of people to Service Design, at the other – collaborating with others to create or improve service experiences, which co-create value for a much larger number of people, but can be personalised to feel unique.

I have also begun to focus on what constitutes my own “belief system” as a designer who serves others? I have asked myself rhetorical questions too, such as ‘if my brand values are passion, purpose and integrity, what kind of clients and contexts can I apply my design skills and experience to serve’ and ‘how will I communicate a “*meaningful selling proposition” for servicejunkie?’

*Thanks to Shan Preddy for that twist on unique selling proposition during her presentation at #10thingsIlearnt.

I wrote the comment below on Helen Carnac’s blog a few days ago, to show my appreciation to her for sharing her thinking…

Now for the 10 connections I made…

Her #1st thing “Slow comes in many speeds” makes me think that one needs to remember that the beginning is often a slow start in the creative process; when one needs sufficient time to understand the true nature and cause of a problem, but this can be uncomfortable for clients, who are not familiar with how strategic designers work. This is the stage of the project when there is often a high degree of complexity and ambiguity, which the designer needs to feel comfortable with first, by exploring the context of the problem in greater depth with the client though cycles of convergent and divergent thinking. Exploring the Why? can be a real return on investment, because by everyone taking time to think clearly and understand the challenge and define the project goals, this first stage in the design-led innovation process can significantly reduce the risks of failure, later down the line.

Her #2nd thing “Gestation…allowing space and time to analyse and question… having and giving time for reflection” is how i’d describe my own creative approach and I have been a designer long enough to realise that this needs to be made explicit at the beginning of a project for a designer/client relationship to work and produce the best outcomes for everyone.

In my experience, clients are often too rushed to reflect on the strategic thinking, the Why? behind what it is that they are asking you to design. “Designing the right thing, not just designing the thing right” quote: Oliver King of Engine Service Design

Design brief’s (which are often bullet point statements of requirements and business goals) are often rushed, and as a result are poorly planned, structured and written.

As a Service Designer, I always try to persuade new clients to get me in, ‘before the train has already left the station’, to help them manage the process of defining the brief through a design process. This co-creation process is designed to ensure that the Why? is carefully considered in a strategic context before committing valuable resources to a project.

This creative strategic thinking process will ensure that any outcomes of projects are more useable, useful and desirable for the customer and more efficient, effective and differentiated in the market. This is true whether the outcomes are new or improved products, services or processes.

Her #3rd and 4th thing “The value of Networks” and “Sharing and generating knowledge, collaboration…talking and listening”. Firstly, I think networks can be interpreted as neural networks, using the brain’s ability to connect seemingly disparate and unconnected thoughts to create new ideas and emergent thinking. This is creative fusion, when interconnected thinking can join little ideas together to create the big idea, distilled from a messy, complex problem.

Secondly, new networks and communities of practice is also something I have spent time and resources developing, during my own startup process. I have been networking and testing my elevator pitch at every opportunity, whilst working continuously and iteratively on servicejunkie my own Service Design consulting business, adopting a lean start-up approach in launching it with a minimum viable product. I have reality-checked my service offer with my peers and business networks and also with potential clients, and based on feedback, I have continuously developed my thinking and service offer, over time, during my extended start-up period. It has not been easy and I have had my ups and downs but have developed my resilience by trying things, failing quickly and often but learning from my mistakes.

Consultant designers accumulate knowledge over their career, knowledge of people, technology and business, often by working across different market sectors and organisational boundaries.

In using my resourcefulness to develop professional resilience, there are now four different designer roles, in which servicejunkie can offer added-value to the capabilities of a new or existing client.

Designer as expert – the more traditional perception of designers. All knowledge has value, but to hold value, new knowledge acquisition has to be a continuous process, balanced by continuous application of knowledge. By doing this, a consultant develops deep expertise in some areas. Experienced “designers with bandwidth”, who are used to working across organisational boundaries, can always contribute added-value more broadly than the client often expects. quote: Dick Powell of Seymour Powell

Designer as innovator – Innovation can often happen when two or more seemingly disparate thoughts fuse together. Usually this moment of inspiration only happens when the designer collaborates with people not like them, who are facilitated to contribute to the innovation process by sharing their tacit knowledge and ideas, in workshops during a structured process of co-creation.

Designer as facilitator This collaborative approach not only creates a more evolved strategic relationship between client and designer, but also includes facilitating engagement with the customer/service user/service provider in certain stages of the creative process. Evolving from the traditional role of designer to facilitate the creativity of others, is often a role single-discipline designers are not trained for and not comfortable with, because they can no longer be the experts.

Designers as facilitators can usefully lend themselves to process consultation. “Process consultation is a set of activities on the part of the consultant that help the client to perceive, understand, and act upon the process events that occur in the client’s environment in order to improve the situation as defined by the client.” quote: Edgar Schein, MIT Sloan School of Management (1987)

“Process consultation takes a human-centred, open-ended approach that shifts the emphasis away from the expert who provides the solution and replaces it with the idea of a facilitator who can help the organisation understand its own circumstances and realise its own solutions. The skills of an experienced designer (communication, synthesising complexity, visualisation, teamwork, and creativity) seem perfect for taking such an approach.” quote: Design Management Review – Volume 22, Issue 4, pages 70–75, December 2011

Designer as researcher designers have a human-centred ethos and so design research into users (behaviour/experience/needs/motives/what people value) is within most designer’s capability, using the tools and methods already developed to understand these. This user research complements the more strategic research into trends beyond design, which influence the market in which client’s operate.

Her #5th thing “Being resourceful” I interpret slight differently and my current thinking was influenced by this quote in a thought-provoking article written by Emma Campbell from the Royal Society of Arts.

“Design & Society argues that design will be fundamental to closing the gap between behaviour and aspiration because of the particular resourcefulness that designers represent. Ready to improvise and prototype, brave in the face of disorder and complexity, holistic and people-centred in their approach to defining problems, designers have a vital role to play today in making society itself more resourceful.”

Other resourcefulness can be demonstrated by accumulating knowledge, gathered in a physical and digital library, full of ideas/processes/tools/case studies, which can be read, understood, processed and stored, so that these resources are available for the designer to retrieve, as and when they need it.

Her #6th thing was “Allowing for accidents to happen…noticing the un-noticed”, which I interpret as failing often and learning from one’s mistakes and …uncovering people’s unmet needs, by collecting participants stories, using the processes and tools of ethnographic and design research.

Her #7th thing I didn’t try to interpret.

Her #8th thing was “Long thinking”, which I interpret as the antithesis of the notion that good ideas can be an outcome of “everything being done in a rush”.

Her #9th thing,“Taking time”, made me think of dedication to one’s own craft over a lifetime of continuous learning. During a holiday in St Ives last year, I came across something written by Bernard Leach on a wall in the Leach Pottery.

“A potter is one of the few people left who uses his natural faculties of heart, head and hand in balance – the whole man. His is a way of life. Good pots require the ardor of vocation and the devotion of a lifetime.” quote: Bernard Leach, Belief and Hope (1951)

Leach’s quote strongly resonated with me, as I consider design to be my true vocation and I have certainly devoted myself to the pursuit of a design career, using my resources to evolve and develop in order to try and remain relevant and I have also learned how to be more resourceful in finding new and interesting work, over a career that has kept me purposefully engaged for 27 years.

Her #10th thing, “Developing and sustaining practice” I think relates to the likelihood that if your design practice begins slowly and organically at the start-up phase, the business is more likely to become sustainable over time, because you can test the validity of your offer and learn to continuously evolve it, to meet the needs of your clients but not grow too quickly or take on too much, so that you end up spreading yourself too thin.

As Sidekick Studios Nick Marsh, speaking at the same event pointed out, in his #10thingsIlearnt – the secret of success is to “do something you love with the people you love” 

When servicejunkie grows, this is the 11th thing I learnt and have already taken to heart.

ⓒ richard louis arnott 2012

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About servicejunkie

i AM servicejunkie “A designer works through and for other people, and is concerned primarily with their problems rather than his own” — Norman Potter, What is a designer? (1969) In my view, the only important thing about design is how it relates to people and this belief lies at the heart of everything I do and have ever done as a designer. My passion is using people-centred design as a process to make things better for people. I design and facilitate creative workshops, which enable people to learn how to ‘think and do like a designer’ co-designing solutions that create new forms value for the people the organisation serves, its customers. My purpose is to serve, by helping my clients frame more human problems to solve using design thinking and codesign. My integrity reflects a consistency in my actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes.
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24 Responses to resilience and resourcefulness for creative types #part two

  1. Very interesting couple of posts, Richard. I like the designer as expert, innovator, facilitator, researcher. OK, I’ve been reading a paper recently by Martyn Evans and Rachel Cooper based on surveys of those working in the consultancy sector and their clients. It is a chapter in the book “The handbook of design management” but does not appear to be anywhere online, which is a shame. Anyway, one theme coming out of this is that clients consider that one core competence required of designers in the future is “to provide clear leadership and thinking, moving away from application and activity”. However, they and others have observed that this is a role that consultants tend to shy away from. I wonder how you see that role within your own practice and how it can be best developed and focussed.

  2. @MikePress thanks for your thoughts, they’re very welcome. I think the role you describe is the one I expected to play when I finished my MA in Design Strategy & Innovation at Brunel under Naomi Gornick and John Boult. But I was unable to make the transition straight away (I wasn’t very well) The MA gave me the confidence to move into a different professional phase in my career journey. Plus Oliver King and Joe Heapy of Engine Service Design showed me a new door to go through – it took another 8 years to open it though! Again due to poor health.
    My Masters had importantly given me pause for reflection and learning but also the rigour to embrace desktop research to acquire knowledge and synthesise it in context to create some meaning out of the ‘noisy’ and sometimes very distracting world wide web.
    I’m no wallflower when it comes to seeking mutual respect, I learned this lesson in my BA in Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins from Uri Friedlander, a designer who knew how to fight his corner (with clients and engineers). Resilience is something I have built through years of working to achieve my true potential. I think my tenacity to get to where I want to go will see me through, even though it is somewhat overdue! I’m optimistic and confident, particularly now I have something to really focus on.

    • carnac1 says:

      Hello Richard. This is great. I want to respond properly and will do next week when I have proper time, but just want to say thank you for writing this. Helen

  3. Hi Richard, I really like your work here. A few things resonated with me. It’s a pleasure to read your reflections on your experiences, which clearly have taken time and been the fruit of effort and motivation. There’s so much written in the form of rules, or propositional thinking: “the 6 rules to…, 7 steps to follow…, 8 step path for managing change…” Somehow when these abstractions get written they lose the human experience that generated some worthwhile insight in the first place. Yours was more personal, more nuanced and more interesting. It takes some courage to write like this, I think.

    Also, I finished my PhD this year after working on it for 7 years, part-time. This took some doing when running a business and working at a local university. It was something of an emotional roller-coaster: am I up to it? will i get it done in time? am I doing something worth doing here? What exactly am I doing…?! Your point about gestation and allowing time and space really sunk in. It was only through endless iterations of mulling over questions, options, actions that I ended up doing something I felt proud about. There was little predictability, plenty of learning, grit and perseverance. I handed in something genuinely novel and I’m convinced this ‘slow work’ was fundamental to that.

    Resilience: at the end I wrote something that I simply couldn’t have as a less-resilient 20 year old. The layering of my own life experiences, in and out of work, joyous and difficult, helped me get it done. Reflecting on all this has made me more interested in how we build resilience through our lives. I don’t know the answers to that, except that, for me, having experiences, reflecting on them, gaining something positive/hopeful from them seems to help.

    All the best, Rob

    • Hi Dr. Rob Sheffield!
      I really appreciated your encouragement and congratulations on your PhD. Goodness! that sounds like quite a marathon part-time, well done for sticking it out, you must have been so relieved when it was behind you!
      I experienced a similar ramp-up in the mettle required to get a dissertation out of my system, which still met the academic criteria.
      The MA dissertation gave me a very useful writing experience and most of the thinking was developed around “How business can leverage design more effectively to create strategic competitive advantage”.
      No one probably ever read it, except myself and the MA Design Strategy & Innovation tutors and it is probably gathering dust somewhere in Brunel University. I still remember the reaction when I criticised Brunel University for not publishing students work online, ten years ago.
      Yet, as a vehicle for moving on from my industrial design training and thinking, the Masters dissertation did do its job, as it recognised thinking from the early pioneers of what has now become Service Design, which was still in its infancy in 2001, but also the importance of Creative Strategic Thinking in developing business strategy.
      Reflecting back, I do think the work took me to another place professionally, and I’m still rather proud of my achievement.
      I also recall a conversation I had when I was a ‘new’ MA graduate – looking for that first ‘hybrid job’ in ‘experience engineering’ – a better descriptor than Service Design?
      It was some good advice by @ShanPreddy, who I now think of as a key person in my career, as she is still advising designers like myself how to become more business-like, in her excellent talks and books.
      She was also speaking at #10thingsIlearnt and I have tweaked the copy of the 2nd article, in order to credit her for introducing me to the phrase “meaningful selling proposition”. In 2001, she advised me on developing my capacity for thought leadership, something I can still aspire to today? Many thanks again for your thoughts.

  4. Justin says:

    Hi Richard, thanks for a couple of very good posts. They were especially interesting to me as I’m not a designer, yet spend most of my time thinking around and working on people’s interaction experiences (on and offline). I’ve also experienced ‘interruptions’ to my career and have to constantly work on my own resilience. I’m going to take some time to review the points in more detail and will feedback more then.

    All the best,
    Justin.

  5. jemimag says:

    Hi Richard,

    Lovely post and great ideas. My favourite “things” are No.7: “Place… our’s, the product’s, the project’s” – wonderful example, and so true. I recently read that one secret of centegenarians was that they’d seldom moved far from where they were born and I think this connection with your roots, and expression of them, may be intrinsically important to most people (though of course can be interpreted in different ways).

    And of course No.11 – thanks for adding that one! How can anyone disagree? In fact, I’m taking that thought off with me to work now 🙂

    Jemima

  6. Dave Ellender says:

    Highlighting the importance of slowness is very resonant with me: I am now working as an academic designer/researcher and it strikes me very plainly that in the commercial world there is a strong tide towards faster and faster design and research methods for at least ten years or more.

    Personally, when I think I understand a project and its requirements, it usually turns out I don’t. Some aspects of context or requirements reveal themselves readily, but not all. With a little more research or reflection, I always realise the context of use is always a lot bigger, more messy, conflicting and criss-crossed with constraints. For me this can feel like a failure, sometimes, but it does breed resilience: and it is ultimately more stimulating of the persistence that is required to actually understand things.

  7. Matthew Payne says:

    My initial reflections on your pieces are firstly, thank you for sharing your ‘gatherings’ and thoughts. Secondly, I strongly endorse your opening sentiment that ‘some creative people underestimate their value and potential to make the world a better place, either on their own or by collaborating with others who are not like themselves’. By forging new alliances of people, places and processes will the true potential for transformational change be made real. How do foster such collaborations?
    Thirdly, your view of the place of reflection as critical to personal development is spot on; how do we make reflection critical?
    In your commentary on Helen Carnac’s presentation, I was drawn to the idea of noticing, and noticing the unnoticed. John Mason has produced the core text on noticing and in particular how you can use reflection to ‘notice what you are noticing’ and its connection to challenging the drift into unconscious competence amongst professionals.

  8. Hi Matthew, many thanks for your response. I was really intrigued by ‘notice what you are noticing and its connection to challenging the drift into unconscious competence’ I found this link to further explore “the Discipline of Noticing” by John Mason, which I hope is the book you were referring to? http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415248617/

    • Matthew Payne says:

      Richard, that is indeed a link to the book. I wrote a short piece on noticing on my blog page (I am not as diligent at posting as you! )http://mepayne.blogspot.co.uk/

  9. Dave, thanks for your thoughts, which are very timely, as I have recently offered to support a new client with a front-end process facilitation stage to manage this type of messy complexity and am waiting for a response. This is where my new role and added-value as a Service Designer, will undoubtedly test the business-as-usual innovation management process.

    I reflect that in the recent past, when design was mainly only a single-discipline activity and the design brief (usually generated by people working within the marketing function of an organisation) was simpler to interpret, there would be very little opportunity to question the brief other than perhaps to reflect back the designer’s understanding and manage the client’s expectations of the design process. I always found this stage revealed the Client’s weakness in managing design as a strategic resource, which is why I decided to undertake a two year MA in Design Strategy & Innovation at Brunel University.
    To exemplify this weakness, I recall writing a proposal for one project, when I was still working as an industrial designer, where I added a (hidden) acceleration fee, because the Client’s expectations of the timescales necessary to design a product from “art to part” were unreasonable and would considerably stretch the studio design resources I had at my disposal (people and computer aided design and concurrent design engineering) and I knew would demand extra hours of studio overtime for my team to meet client deadlines.
    Having stretched the capacity of the studio in order to deliver the 3D data required to accurately manufacture the product as we intended, the project then failed at the production stage, because of the client’s (unknown) inexperience in managing the manufacturing process. This failure can only be attributed to the client’s inexperience in production engineering and an over-optimistic Taiwanese toolmaker, who tried corner-cutting by sub-contracting, to try to meet the ridiculously compressed timescales for tooling, with disastrous results!
    Now I’m working as a Service Designer, my offer is to use process facilitation to manage the client’s exposure to risk, although in a completely different context of “design for service”.
    In offering to work closely with the client and other stakeholders at this early stage, to share knowledge and manage expectations, I am clearly stepping into the challenge with both feet first, but from experience, I know that by doing the groundwork properly and offering to help co-create a Project Initiation Document, the project roles and expected outcomes will be clearly defined and the expected benefits will be worth the investment of precious resources. This offer to use process facilitation internally requires careful communication and I anticipate it will be both challenging and demanding, but I feel it is the ‘right’ approach and I believe I’m demonstrating the professional integrity needed in this situation.

  10. Shan Preddy says:

    Thanks for the mention, Richard. Glad to have been of help!

    For the benefit of anyone who hasn’t yet encountered the Shan Preddy ‘Meaningful Sales Proposition’ thought, it goes like this:
    1 – The search for the holy grail of a USP (Unique Selling Proposition, as coined by Rosser Reeves in the US in the 50s for consumer goods) is eating up too many design firms. Stop it immediately. In this ever-changing, crowded and largely undifferentiated marketplace they operate in, the search will only give stress and grief.
    2 – But here’s the good news. People rarely buy things (products, services, anything) because they are ‘unique’. Well, if they are rich enough to own a Rembrandt or the Koh-i-Noor diamond, maybe. The rest of us buy on ‘meaningful’. It’s what the thing being purchased will do for the purchaser (whether that’s meeting functional or emotional needs, or both) that matters.
    3 – Therefore, stop that hunt for the USP. Work instead on expressing Meaningful Sales Propositions, or MSPs (a) to your whole target market (b) to each sub-sector within that market and, yes, (c) to each individual you encounter in a sales situation. Never waste the golden gift of a one-to-one encounter by throwing generic propositions at the person. It’s nowhere near as hard as it looks; mostly, it’s variations on a theme.

    So what’s our MSP at Preddy&Co? Training and consultancy for the design sector. Unique? Probably not. Meaningful? If you’re a design firm, certainly.

    • Shan, Thanks for your professionalism and contribution to the theme and this interesting feedback and resonance, I appreciate it and I am sure other readers will too. Thank you! Richard

  11. Hi Richard,
    Thank you both of these posts that I found really interesting and insightful.

    One of the things that jumped out at me was when you talked about the client ‘getting you in before the train has left the station’. What struck me about that was the clash of perspective, needs and priorities that exist between those in organisations that want to get stuff done and get moving and designers/creatives who would like to get things right. Whilst I agree with the idea and value around the ‘slow’ approach this can prove difficult from a client’s perspective and I wonder if collaborative and iterative design and thinking runs counter to this approach where designers and organisations work together to iterate their way towards a better solution. This, perhaps, requires an agreement up front that states that we will both be more wrong than we will be right in this process but that in doing so we will iterate and inch our way towards a better solution.Therefore, maybe the old saying: ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right’ in this context is wrong?

    What do you think?

    Adrian

    • Hi Adrian,
      I’m a little unsure of the focus of your question but firstly; I don’t believe in ‘them’ and ‘us’. Design and business are interdependent, and the existing barriers need to be broken down at the level of education (more on this below).
      “Historically, design has made a big distinction between itself and business, driven primarily by the fact that design is employed as a service in most situations. But that distinction is blurring rapidly as design and its competencies are recognised as having a broad range of applications and value in building businesses.” Quote: Leveraging Design’s Core Competencies – Design Management Review, Summer 2004.

      In my opinion, design has and will increasingly become critical to any business wanting to survive and thrive tomorrow. If new sources of innovation happen at the intersection of three of businesses essential components: People (desirability) Business (viability) and Technology (feasibility). Then design should be a strategic competence and represented at Board level.
      Design is no longer limited to creating new products, but can now applied to services, business models, processes, interactions and new ways of communicating and collaborating with others. The interest in Design Thinking within the business community is a reflection that in business, design has become too important to be left to designers alone.
      Have a look at my comments here and you’ll understand where I believe things need to change in order to create the integrated thinkers, necessary to create a better future.

      I recommend you also read this observation on the benefits of recruiting “hybrid talent” in UK Business from Dev Patnaik, CEO at US firm Jump Associates http://bit.ly/HpyQIi

      • Hi Richard,
        I fear that you may have misunderstood me and that I have not expressed myself very well. My comment was primarily a reflection on and around your comment: ‘getting you in before the train has left the station’.

        However, I do agree that ‘design’ skills need to become a more integrated and integral part of what all businesses do now and in the future, particularly in the area of customer and employee experience.

        But, my perception is that there is a difference between how we would like things to be and reality, at present, and we have to find ways to encourage the increased understanding and appreciation of design skills and their quantifiable business benefits.

        Adrian

  12. dansouthern says:

    “Being creative won’t necessarily make you resilient to change.” Richard, thanks for this post: your ideas on resourcefulness remind me of the words of Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the USA:
    “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

  13. Richard – some very enjoyable reflections here. “Just being creative won’t necessarily make you resilient to change.” I liked that.

    You also have reminded me of a favourite quote of mine, from Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the USA:

    “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

  14. laurentan says:

    Hi Richard. Nice to see lots of reflections and also your generosity with sharing them. I just submitted my PhD last month on the different roles of the designer in public and social sector innovation. These roles include the designer as: Co-creator, Researcher, Facilitator, Capability Builder, Social Entrepreneur, Provocateur and Strategist, a number of which you reflect upon above. The fascinating thing to emerge from my research was identifying the valuable contributions of designer in assuming such roles. This is important because the thing I have found in my research, is that if designers aren’t able to properly articulate what they bring to the table in such roles (eg. what they bring to the table in terms of research that is different to marketing and different to ethnography) then this is where the trouble begins. My PhD is currently under examination and I will endeavour to publish a shorter version of my findings soon. For now, I’ve written a bit about three roles (researcher, strategist and facilitator) and their value I observed in the Dott 07 projects here: http://tinyurl.com/4sq9daa

    • Hi Lauren, it is great that we have met in real life at Service Design drinks, London and share similar thinking about the challenges of the business/design interface. I have written more on this here: http://palvelumuotoilu.fi/design-the-new-business/#comment-9
      I previously found your article from Demonstrating the value of design (thinking) when in my start-up (research) phase in 2010 and ordered the (very beautiful) publication direct from Billy Blue College of Design in Australia. I noticed that although the book appears to be out of print there are still also other sections still to be found online.
      Apart from your article, which was well written and researched (bless!) I also resonated with this one from Roger Martin called “Designing relationships – applying design to interactions at work” http://bit.ly/IdDwQZ which is exactly what I am trying to do with the NHS right at this moment. It is challenging, in the early stages, to be kept at arms length. Thanks for your comments and look forward to you sending me a link to your PhD it sounds like an interesting read. Richard

  15. laurentan says:

    Hi Richard. Nice to see lots of reflections and also your generosity with sharing these reflections. I just submitted my PhD last month on the different roles of the designer in public and social sector innovation. These roles include the designer as: Co-creator, Researcher, Facilitator, Capability Builder, Social Entrepreneur, Provocateur and Strategist, a number of which you reflect upon above. The fascinating thing to emerge from my research was identifying the valuable contributions of designer in assuming such roles. This is important because the thing I have found in my research, is that if designers aren’t able to properly articulate what they bring to the table in such roles (eg. what they bring to the table in terms of research that is different to marketing and different to ethnography) then this is where the trouble begins. My PhD is currently under examination and I will endeavour to publish a shorter version of my findings soon. For now, I’ve written a bit about three roles (researcher, strategist and facilitator) and their value I observed in the Dott 07 projects here (which I think you are already aware of): http://tinyurl.com/4sq9daa

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