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Ben Holliday is an experienced design leader, writer and speaker. This is his blog (started in 2005). If you’re new to this site, Ben has published a playbook for design linking together many of his blog posts from the past 5 years. You can book him to speak at an event, get in touch or follow him on Twitter.

All blog posts in design

A design state of mind

What it means to move to a design mindset

A mindset is how we respond to the world around us. It acts as a center of gravity. It goes with you. It shapes who you are and what you do, wherever you are.

Billy Joel wrote the song ‘New York State of Mind’ after returning to New York City from LA. Continue reading…

Ambiguity and design

Ambiguity is a key part of design. It points us to the uncomfortable gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’ which is where I believe design adds most value.

As I described in my blog post ‘Seniority in design’ the more senior you get the more you will have to learn to handle ambiguity. Continue reading…

Prompts for design leaders working with product teams

When working with product teams, the job of a design leader is to make quick and accurate assessments about the focus and quality of the work being presented back to them. Continue reading…

What makes a design education?

There’s a lot of design education out there. I get asked sometimes what people should ‘study’?

If you want to be a good designer, my advice is to study broadly and follow your interests. A design degree is great but it’s how you spend the rest of your life learning and being open to new ideas that matters most. Continue reading…

All design is strategic

All design is strategic unless you just see it as implementation.

Lingjing recently wrote about the importance of strategy.

I like this approach as a framework. It’s simply a way to think through and take forward a set of actions working towards a clear end-goal. Continue reading…

Service mapping and different types of maps

Written by Ben Holliday. Based on work developed with Kirsty Sinclair and feedback from the FutureGov design team.

There’s a question of why designers make so many maps. We love maps. But there can be confusion or misunderstandings about why we’re making them or how they can be useful to service teams. Continue reading…

Bias in design

Why all design is flawed when you’re looking for magic

I often get asked about bias in design. My answer:

All design is flawed. But buried in each action, each small step that we take and every single decision — even when our best intentions are biased, mis-directed, or even driven by individual ego — is the ability to make magic happen.

Continue reading…

The consultants fallacy

I’ve worked for a number of years as a consultant, and have worked with many other consultants.

The consultants fallacy is to leave people thinking they need to work harder, or invest more time and money in order to understand your ideas and methods. That they’re doing something wrong when they don’t comprehend how brilliant you are or can’t immediately adapt to your methods, processes, or ways of working. Continue reading…

Working forwards and working backwards

What we can learn from the military about “mapping backwards” and how this applies to service design

Wellington at Waterloo by Robert Alexander Hillingford

Wellington at Waterloo by Robert Alexander Hillingford

In my previous blog post I wrote about the differences between service design and business analysis. Continue reading…

Comparing service design and business analysis

As service design has become a more prominent role and way of working for organisations I’ve seen some confusion between ‘service design’ and ‘business analyst’ (BA) roles.

Service design and business analyst roles have some similar skill sets, but they require a different type of focus and mindset. Continue reading…