PDC 2010: Participation Frameworks in Service Design & Delivery

Industry Day Panel discussion (notes)

Panel: Faruk Avdi (FA), Peter Wright (PW), Anelie Ekelin (AE) & Jeremy Walker (JW)

Wordle: Participation Frameworks in Service Design & Delivery
(full transcript available here) And to entice you to view the full transcript, here are my selected highlights from Faruk’s short presentation:

  • Customers or end-users are the people I have been working for. The “user” is an esoteric concept and my desire to get to know who they are has always been tempered by less esoteric, practical constraints.
  • I believe clearly defined roles in projects involving design are important, along with hierarchies for decision making – such is our cultural custom. But I’m also fond of a rhizomatic notion of design in this context – where the end product – be it a service or otherwise – is actually the fruit of the entire ever emergent ‘organism’ of a project over time. UCD + Agile development helps with this enormously.
  • . . . one cannot design something new for customers other than by, in some way, getting into their skin and seeing the world from their perspective. (I really liked that remark. MMB)
  • It isn’t just about users: The people who should be involved in service design are the owners and sponsors of a project, design, technical, delivery and support specialists, end-users, key stakeholders (eg. representative organisations of end users) and other specialists in terms of skill or interest as may be required. But above all the imagination of the overarching designer of the service.
  • . . . design must embody the contexts and work that people seek or wish to do, and extend them as appropriate to organizational needs.
  • . . . we very deliberately sought to provide a service that people could walk up to and start using, without any prior technical knowledge, . . .
  • I am an acute idealist and pain-in-the-arse evangelist when it comes to UCD. In my mind, UCD broadly embodies humanitarian values. When it comes to joint negotiation of project goals, my main experience on this front is with sponsoring individuals and influentially significant stakeholders at the early stages of a project.
  • User participation in design is but one of many considerations that must be dealt with along the way.
  • End products and services must be a result of entire organic process involving users and designers.
  • User-participation is but one of many considerations along the way to service design.

JW (first part is his journey):

  • He went from not listening to people to frustration to development of sharper tools – via working with colleagues & customers -> (BA) concepts to detail -> went to Live|work and worked on prototype development, but still missed experience prototyping – proposition development to experience prototyping (he talked about Google Maps vice UK Ordnance Survey mapping – an old and established business model became invalid because for most people GMaps is OK & free – this seems to be something like what is happening to some libraries).
  • You can only really learn how a service works by giving it to people and let them use it. Design to Beta.
  • It isn’t about wowing a VP, it is about instigating change.
  • Let the design team and customer evolve the brief for implementation.


  • She is interested in the co-creation of e-services (if there is a distinction).
  • Anelie said she went from being a practitioner to an “academic fortress” (i.e a university – now I know how she feels)!
  • She is driven to bringing all forces together democratically and flexibly.
  • Sustainability comes through a local perspective, need and within one’s given capacity.


  • Products differ from services (as far as design is concerned).
  • User experience is key to unlocking the complexity of a user’s end-to-end experience.
  • A key participation driver is ethics and this is also a need in health services.
  • There are also important financial drivers.
  • Bring users and staff together leads to shared learning and co-design improvements. Then this can be followed up with shared evaluation.
  • Journeys can be mapped through touch-points revealing rich stories.
  • Challenges: keeping people engaged; crucial to have insiders; people in the middle; campaigning that change is worthwhile; participant requests cannot always be met; & design expertise needs are v.diverse.



  • The role of service design in large urban environments (vice small communities)?
  • You should not hand-over all responsibilities to specialists (this creates silos).


  • Simple UK services that hand over public data to the public have allowed for sharing of information. (E.g.s include transport updates, location of potholes, etc.)


  • An accountability framework = ownership by another person (this is important).

PW (I think):

  • Should politicians or systems always be responsible – or people? (Drs, nurses, etc have motivation, but they too are victims of the system)


  • Desiging to, with and for people is important.

Audience member:

  • Community connections are very important and often result in the sharing of knowledge that may not otherwise be shared.
  • Primary empathy is a critical factor in creating services.
  • There are many side-benefits from collaboration in co-creation processes.


  • Wikimedicine – a good or bad place? (Drs have no time and some concerns about contributing, so nurses are mediating in a bit of a vacuum.)

This was a thought provoking panel session and the panelists offered a wide variety of views. I doubt my notes are very comprehensive as quite a bit of the discussion was very distracting from note taking. I’ll happily correct or add clarification to anything I’ve written above.

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