We only notice what we notice

It’s May bank holiday in the United Kingdom. If you believe your television, everyone is decorating.

How things unfold

Once you paint one room, you recognise a greater need to paint the rest. You see all the imperfections in the next room. You obsess about things you hadn’t even noticed before. Continue reading…

Everyone wants to solve the problem

Here’s what failing organisations might have in common

Everyone wants to solve the problem, but they want to solve it themselves.

That’s how you get recognition. It’s not recognised as success if you’re seen to depend on somebody else and this is buried deep in the culture of the establishment. Continue reading…

What people want and what people need

I’m reading the book Why We Build by Rowan Moore at the moment.

This story jumped out as a great example of understanding what people need, not what people want.

An architect used to tell a story.

Invited by a couple to design an extension to their house, he dined with them, listened to their needs and desires, heard his and her versions of what they wanted.

Continue reading…

Be kind. Start with yourself

Empathy has to start with yourself.

It’s okay to be who you are. It’s okay to be comfortable with who you’re not.

Everyone feels like they have to prove themselves.

Everyone feels like they’re not doing as well as everyone else. Continue reading…

Is it transformational?

The question we’re all asking about service design in government

Transformation doesn't look like a big bang. An explosion.

Last week I spoke at Service Design in Government. I talked about what we need to do to deliver better services. Services that work better for people.

We have lots of conversations in government about transformation. Continue reading…

Service design in London, and everything else that happened

Last week was the Service Design in Government conference 2016 in London.

I had been building up to the conference for the last few months, writing my keynote talk, and looking forward to all the conversations that were likely to happen throughout the 3 days. Continue reading…

What can you do now?


Image – atomicity

User-centred design is about what people need to do.

We can talk about nudging people towards behaviour change – what we want them to do. Or, we can focus on creating things that help people to do something – solving their own problem

Both are focussed on delivering better outcomes and real changes in peoples’ lives. Continue reading…

The death and resurrection of the user persona, proto-persona, and more


Image – Neighbours

A conversation last week got me thinking again about personas. Then I shared this:

“we have personas” is normally the start of a difficult conversation that involves the question “have you spoken to any real users?”

The thing that always prompts these conversations? Continue reading…

Fixing the broken windows and making design matter


Image – Steven Pisano

Many of the companies we look at as being successful are what we call design-led. They put design right at the centre of everything they do.

When we hold up examples like Apple and Pixar as companies that ‘get’ design we don’t just mean they design great things. Continue reading…

Grounded: the things that made me smile this morning

At about 7:40am this morning I was stood in the ticket queue in Leeds railway station when a little boy came over to tell me it was his birthday. He waved his fingers at me in desperation to tell me that he was now 3 years old.

He wanted to tell me, a complete stranger, all about his birthday party and visiting his grandmas house. Continue reading…