Speakers at Intersections 2011

I recommend having a look at the speaker profiles on the Intersections 2011 website. The list is increasing and I’m excited at what a great list of speakers will be at the event in March.

Anne Chick, course leader for the MA degree that I’ve graduated from is going to be part of the sustainability panel session discussing ‘The most beautiful curve is the triple bottom line. Does it make sense to be first to this market?’ I’m interested to hear what they have to say and see how they can make the discussion engaging for their audience.

Speaker profile

Seeing Anne’s prestigeous write up on the website reminds me how lucky we were to have such an influencial and inspiring tutor running the course!

The two day conference is going to look at how during global financial turmoil, political change, unprecedented cuts and local protests, we are finding ways to innovative and find sustainable solutions to the challenges of our times. The key themes are going to be:

* Business transformation
* Emerging trends in technology and design
* Sustainable design and the environment
* Social design and collaborative practices

I wonder how many of the speakers will be talking about incorporating service design into their projects/thoughts to help change our lives for the better!?

Critical Mass – making a change

I came away from an interesting conversation today about service design feeling very inspired. I enjoy a conversation where two minds think a like and share similar values, especially when you work on different types of design for different types of clients. We discussed co-participation, the need for understanding research and how research methods are only useful if used correctly, how clients think they know what their employees/end users want or are doing and how a large problem can be solved very simply with some deep thinking.

It reminded me of the ‘word’ I chose to represent me at our MA degree show ‘Critical Mass’ (ok, it’s two words but I was let off). The more people that understand what ‘service design’ is and understand its value will mean we will live in a happier, more sustainable place. We are getting there….

“Critical Mass”

To create a sustainable lifestyle we need to change our behaviours. People follow trends, especially from their friends, celebrities and the media. If we can create mass behaviour change in the way we live, we can start to make a difference to the world around us. Defined as the minimum amount of something required to start or maintain a venture, critical mass is something I associate with cyclists coming together at the end of the month to make their mark on the streets. This is a great example of people showing solidarity, unity and common attitudes. If enough people who feel passionate about a subject, come together to make a change, the change is likely to happen!


I currently work two days a week managing the SVP charity shop in Dalston. It’s an interesting place to be; community focused, retail work, managing volunteers, sorting donations, making money from other people’s preloved goods and dealing with the customers that come in.

I’m doing it off the back of my Masters thesis and I love it. Not only am I able to develop on the ideas I had for helping local charity shops improve (with no money) but I am helping to recycle unwanted goods (and prevent them going to landfill) while provide affordable shopping for the local community. Service design and social innovation also play a large role.

Every day is a challenge in the shop. The main issues I come across are getting the volunteers to understand how best to tackle a situation, how to make sure donations are dealt with properly and how to keep the stock turned over. It is very easy for a charity shop to become stale and uninteresting for the customers.

I noticed the other day that the stock room had become completely disorganised. The clothes were put on any clothes rack, some were priced, some were steamed and some clearly needed discarding. I think out of sheer frustration I decided to organise it and spent all afternoon putting different types of garments together and labelling the different areas. I felt a real sense of achievement and went away pleased with myself.

Of course, I came in a couple of days later to find the clothes all over the place again and my signs had been completely ignored. At first I was really frustrating and then I sat back and was annoyed at myself for completely ignoring my own belief in co-participation! I had gone in and organised the room without consulting the volunteers!

Once I had all the volunteers in, I sat them down and asked what they did and didn’t like about the system I’d created and what they would like to see changed. It needed explaining why I had decided to create a system in the first place as it wasn’t obvious to all of them why we needed it. After explaining the need for putting similar items together (to make stock replenishment easier) and not pricing/coding items straight away they seemed bought into it.

The reason my system hadn’t worked simply boils down to the fact that some of the volunteers aren’t tall enough to reach the top rail….. I love it when a problem is because of something very simple!

We took time to go through some co-participation and have resolved the system issues (by moving rails around), kept all volunteers happy and kept me happy by having a tidy stock room.

Good communication

I was cycling to the office on Thursday when I came across really bad traffic on the south side of Trafalgar Square. It is easy to get very frustrated when you see road works disrupting the traffic and I was all ready to complain to myself that any type of road work seems to take too long to fix when I saw a sign (unfortunately I wasn’t able to take a photo)…. a large, illuminated sign next to the works which said ‘waiting for a special part to be delivered’ – it made me smile! A very simple piece of communication changes an annoyance into an understandable problem.

I wonder if the company doing the work have someone creative working for them or if enough complaints made a change to their service seem worthwhile!