My guest in this episode is Linn Vizard, one of Canada’s leading advocates of service design who co-founded Service Design Toronto in 2013.
She’s the founder of, Made Manifest, a service design consultancy on a mission to make services better for Canadians, whether that’s getting a blood test done, visiting City Hall to pay your property tax bill or buying the perfect luxury jewellery gift.
Linn and I discussed the state of Service Design in a Product world. She argues the case that service design needs to focus on services for real world outcomes — services that actually get made and out there for people to use.
- Linn Vizard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/linnvizard/
- Made Manifest: https://www.made-manifest.com
- Website: https://www.polaine.com
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Note: This transcript is machine-generated and may contain some errors.
Andy Polaine (00:10): Welcome to Power of Ten, a podcast about design operating at many levels zooming out from thoughtful detail through to organisational transformation, head on to changes in society and the world. My name is Andy Polaine. I’m a service design and innovation consultant, coach, trainer and writer.
My guest today is Lynn Vizard, one of Canada’s leading advocates of service design, and she co-founded Service Design Toronto in 2013. She’s the founder of Made Manifest a service design consultancy on a mission to make services better for Canadians, whether that’s getting a blood test done, visiting city hall to pay your property tax bill, or buying the perfect luxury jewellery gift. Lynn shares her practice and learning through the popular Ask a service designer newsletter and has spoken at conferences and universities around the world. She loves cats, glitter, lifting, heavy things, and Footloose. Lynn, welcome to Power of Ten.
Linn Vizard (01:06): Thanks so much for having me, Andy. I’m super excited to be here with you.
Andy Polaine (01:09): So I have an admission to make, which is, I’ve never seen Footloose.
Linn Vizard (01:13): Oh, Andy.
Andy Polaine (01:16): Although I, I’m a teen of the eighties I guess, and yeah, Kevin Bacon, right? Is it Kevin Bacon? It’s
Linn Vizard (01:24): Kevin. Kevin Bacon. That’s correct.
Andy Polaine (01:26): That’s the famous thing. I know the famous dancing in front of the sign kind of scene or wherever he is, but for some reason I’ve never watched the whole thing. I’ve seen loads of bits of it, but there we go.
Linn Vizard (01:36): I’m shocked. It’s a classic. I mean, just the premise of a town where you’re forbidden from dancing or listening to music is pretty epic.
Andy Polaine (01:43): Yeah, yeah. I guess now we’re going to have to go and watch it. So before we get onto well cats and glitter and lifting heavy things, let’s talk about service design. But before that, tell me about your journey to where you are now from wherever it was.
Linn Vizard (02:00): Yeah, so I think a couple stories that come to mind when I was in university studying industrial design, we were doing the RSA Design competition, and I think the brief we had been assigned was one about kitchen surfaces, but I was a bit contrarian and lobbied to do the brief around the prison visit experience. And so I think that sort of shows my interest going beyond physical designed objects, even at a sort of early stage and really wanting to explore systems and people and roles. I think the design solution I proposed was this sort of visit liaison officer role and that was really how I stumbled across service design and made some of my first rudimentary journey maps as part of that project. From there, I was really trying to find my way into a career that would leverage my design education and the things I was interested in and sort of allow me to have this more expansive view.
(03:03): So I spent early part of my career doing ux, but often felt a bit frustrated by being confined to a digital solution or touchpoint. I think it’s that sixth sense kind of vibe. I see systems, I see holistic experiences and journeys. The problem is here, it’s upstream. So that was really, I was trying to push into service design using service design tools, looking more holistically, designing in a more, I suppose what we would call omnichannel way. And that was how I set up service design Toronto when I moved to Canada. And really as they say, the rest is history. It’s been a lot of fun trying to figure out how to do this work. So
Andy Polaine (03:45): Where are you from originally though?
Linn Vizard (03:47): So I actually grew up in Cork in Ireland, shout out to the People’s Republic, and then I went to university in Dublin, but graduated out into the recession and so moved to Canada at the time. I thought it would be for a couple years just to get some work experience and I’ve been here over 10. It’s
Andy Polaine (04:06): A great place. One of my favorite countries, I’ve not been there enough, but it was the accent. I was I trying to work that out because you sound quite to me, Canadians probably be throwing stuff at the, I dunno, the speakers by now, but saying sound quite Canadian to me.
Linn Vizard (04:22): Yeah, well it’s very subtle. I like to say if I get drunk or angry, you might hear the Irish come out even more. Okay,
Andy Polaine (04:30): Fair enough. So we had a chat a little while ago when Twitter was a thing. We used to see each other quite often on Twitter and we sort of had a long chat about a bit of the state of the nation I guess around service design. And we talked about this idea where you talked about this idea of practice maturity and you sort of hinted at it just now that I think when service design started, it was very much this idea of, well no, it’s not just UX or it’s not just an interface, but it’s an ecosystem of them. And on top of that, there’s this whole backstage thing, there’s all the stuff in systems and services that employees have to use and everything that’s going on behind the scenes. And then I think service design went into a bit of service design is everything, at least over in Europe I think in the us I dunno what it was in Canada, it felt like UX is everything going on.
(05:26): And then obviously there’s been the rise of product in the last 15, 17 years and let’s productize everything and the service design or even just the ecosystem head in me, it’s like, no, no, no, don’t start doing that again. And indeed, I have had many conversations recently that I feel like I had 15 years ago. Where is it? There’s also all this public service stuff, which is some of which you’ve been doing, which is a strong sort of pillow I think, of service, design practice. What’s your opinion of the state of the nation of service design in its maturity right now?
Linn Vizard (05:59): Such a big question. A few things kind of come to mind. I think you’re right that product is having a very strong influence and one of the things that we grapple with a lot in our work is who’s the right client? Where should service design sit? There’s often money for digital transformation, digital efforts. And so do you kind of Trojan horse or piggyback in there and say, okay, let’s do the digital piece and let’s think in a more holistic way. Does it sit with marketing? I think one of the challenges that service design is sort of facing is a lot of organizations aren’t set up to have a journey or a service owner. And so you end up needing to find a way in aligned to some of those structures or silos that are happening. So I do think there’s some really interesting challenges at the moment in service design where personal bias, I don’t really want us to get sucked back into being purely digital. And I have a bit of a bug bearer around this idea of digital service design. We’ve kind of gone full circle, but those are some initial thoughts. I feel like it’s a big question.
Andy Polaine (07:17): Yeah, it is a big question. Yeah, I recognize the digital service design thing. So tell me, I think you’ve been asked to do some digital service design or something recently when we last spoke and you mentioned this. So tell me what’s been going on there for you?
Linn Vizard (07:32): Well, I think it’s like you said, we’ve almost come full circle and certainly what attracted me to service design or what I felt it gave me some language and tools around was looking at things more holistically, not being confined to a digital touchpoint or channel. And I do want to be clear that we really need excellent UX and digital designers. We need people who can design really useful, usable, delightful digital websites, apps and so on. And those are in our modern economy, often a very fundamental piece of how much of service gets delivered. But the rub for me is it’s bigger than that. And so it feels almost like a tautology to say digital service design because we’ve collapsed it back down. It feels like rather than saying no, actually what this is about is the delivery of a service, the exchange of value across an ecosystem, across a set of channels, front and backstage, zooming in, zooming out, all that really good stuff.
Andy Polaine (08:35): Yeah, I mean even a couple of examples in your intro there about as we’re getting a blood test done or visiting city hall to pay your property tax bill, do people visit city hall? Do people physically go there to pay their tax bill?
Linn Vizard (08:48): Yes. Oh my gosh. So that was a project a couple years ago. It was super fun because we were embedded live at city hall in Toronto and part of what was happening was they were consolidating some of how their information desks essentially were going to work because there actually are lots of people who come in person to do all sorts of things, get a marriage license, pay their property tax bill, try to see their city counselor. And in Toronto there are many, many diverse folks with many levels of access, many languages spoken. And so part of what we were trying to prototype was how do you make that first interaction at City Hall a really accessible smooth one where you need to go? So absolutely people come into city Hall all the time and it’s a bit of a way finding or routing issue of, well, where do I go next? And so one of the things we saw was that the security desk was dealing with this overflow of people who wanted to figure out where to go. And so we were there to prototype some interventions alongside some of the changes that were happening to the main information desk.
Andy Polaine (10:01): Some of those public services are legally mandated to have a way of accessing them or especially things like paying tax that doesn’t involve digital then therefore accessibility.
Linn Vizard (10:14): Correct. And even actually the blood test example, that’s a huge question there around access to healthcare and needing to really provide people with the option to go in person or without an appointment or have different modes of access channel. And then of course you have this really interesting business and economic lens that says, how do we make all this make sense from a cost perspective and from how we’re delivering the service? How do we use our resources effectively while also meeting those mandates for access?
Andy Polaine (10:45): And the push is usually towards self-serve, right? Because that’s the cheapest thing,
Linn Vizard (10:50): The classic lowest cost to serve channel. Yeah,
Andy Polaine (10:53): My mother actually just had that very thing in the uk. I don’t live in the UK so I’m not quite sure entirely how it works. She had a blood test and was waiting for the results and waiting, waiting, waiting for me. In Germany it’s like, well next day lightly. But it was like two weeks later it was like, where are the results to your blood? Says, well, I don’t really know. And it turns out there is an app that she could download and she could access them on that, but there was some registration for the app and even just the idea of, oh, I don’t want to carry, she’s 83 or something, I don’t want to download another app. And I think my brother helped her with it in the end, but then she could see her blood test immediately there. And it was one of those things also, no news is good news. And so I think the doctor had looked at the blood test and gone, yeah, everything’s fine. But she would’ve seen in the app and going, no, everything’s fine. I don’t have to worry it. And so the doctor didn’t get in touch.
Linn Vizard (11:46): I think there’s also a really interesting question we can ask ourselves of so often services and organizations are trying to reduce or offload contact with their customer or user. And there is part of me that says, well, what if we saw that actually as an opportunity? What if you wanted to build those relationships and you saw those interactions as a chance to engage with your customer or your whoever it might be, patient user. So I think that’s also something that comes to mind for me around this push to really have everything just be self-serve and lowest cost channel. And of course there’s great convenience and efficiency, but what do we lose as humans and as people when we’re always driving towards that endlessly I think is an important question.
Andy Polaine (12:32): Yeah, I mean a lot of services. Has anyone found the Facebook phone number? As long as we know of many, many platforms, there’s no one to call or to speak to or a lot of those services actively avoid being contacted. It is often really quite hard. The thing that struck me with my mom’s one, and this is a thing that gets me over and over again with services is gaps and transitions. So I think when users move from one step to the next, or particularly when they shift between channels, so that’s a classic one in any of those services where you go and do a thing and then you get your, I mean it happened with a lot of the covid stuff too. You go and do a thing like a test or you have something and then you’re getting the results of that electronically in some way electronically, I sound like digitally in some way.
(13:21): And then there’s a kind of moment where it fails somewhere in between and you just can’t trace it down. And I think one of the things that happens quite a lot, I will lay some of the blame at product for this because it’s exacerbated this, which is the things themselves get designed. So the website or the app or the testing service, but the transitions between don’t the gaps between them. And sometimes there’s that, I’m holding my hands up if we were on video now you see, and I’ve got little my palms up, but there’s a little sort of gap between them where it’s each side, it’s that classic thing where each department, product owner, whatever it is, believes that it’s the other one’s responsibility to take care of that. And there’s always this little gap. And I feel like a lot of our work is looking for that stuff, looking for those gaps less than designing the actual things themselves.
Linn Vizard (14:13): Yes, a hundred percent. And it reminds me of a project again from several years ago was working with a life insurance company and they were looking at the sort of end-to-end experience of buying life insurance and they had all these channels that were set up, so you could go online or you could go see an advisor in person or you could call in and each channel was set up and incentivized as an end-to-end purchase funnel. And so I’ll never forget, during the research, we talked to someone who said, I phoned in after looking on the website, I had a couple questions and the person was trying to get me to buy life insurance on the phone as if I was ordering a pizza or something. And so like you said, really it was about helping this organization understand that people are going to, to me seems fairly obvious and I think it’s intuitive as when you put your consumer or customer end user hat on, people are going to move between these channels and use them for different things at different points in time and they all need to work together and the handoffs need to be smooth and you need to be able to move between them, use your channel of choice to get to your end outcome.
(15:29): And unfortunately, especially a lot of large legacy organizations, they’re set up in ways that don’t really accommodate for that. And so not only is it, oh, that’s maybe someone else’s responsibility, but it’s almost like this blinkered view of I’m just going to stay in my lane and try to see the thing through rather than work together across these different options that people have.
Andy Polaine (15:54): Yeah, I think there’s a thing to do with language as well there because I think channels generally comes from a marketing viewpoint and often think they see channels as, I use this metaphor all the time, an allergy all the time, and no one ever gets it. If you’ve ever tried to give a cat or a dog a tablet, one of the ways you can do it is that you can get this a straw and it’s got a sort claw on the end and you put the tablet in that little kind of claw. It’s like, I wonder those litter picker things. And then you put it in the animal’s mouth and you blow. And so the tablet, and I often think that marketing is a bit like that. Each of those channel is just another kind straw to kind of force things down people’s throats with and force consumers to buy. And of course, yeah, once you’re in the straw, there’s no transition between and that the whole, sometimes you hear omnichannel clients want an omnichannel experience or to develop their omnichannel experience, but that also feels to me more that it’s about we want to be present everywhere rather than this is an ecosystem you can move around in. I dunno if what your experience has been of that.
Linn Vizard (17:03): Yeah, I might have a slightly different perspective there. I’m sort of thinking again of some clients and projects, and I do think something I noticed particularly in retail is you sort of have two broad modes happening in my observation. And so one is you have these direct to consumer startup brands or companies that have been very successful with a pure e-commerce model. And then they realize, oh hey, having retail stores or a physical presence can be of benefit to our customers. It can kind of allow us to build brand loyalty, have these in-person experiences, have people touch and feel, see the product. And then they’re sort of trying to figure out as they build out the retail and physical store version of their offering, they’re trying to figure out how does that now connect back to our direct to consumer. The entire infrastructure has been set up just for this.
(18:03): And so I do see, and I have worked with clients where they really are trying to think holistically and are really trying to have that kind of omnichannel approach where there are smooth handoffs and you’re papering over those gaps or it’s really seamless, it’s really consistent as a brand experience. And then I think on the flip, you have the big kind of legacy retail companies who have the advantage of lots and lots of retail footprint, many, many stores, but they’re looking over at all the folks who are doing an amazing job and succeeding in the digital and e-commerce channels. And they’re then trying to figure out how do we build all of that out when our strength and infrastructure is really logistics, supply chain, retail footprint, et cetera. And so I guess the point I’m trying to make here is really just that I do see and have worked with clients where they are trying to build these really smooth omni-channel experiences, but often the infrastructure and sort of the archeology or the history of how they started is getting in the way of truly delivering that. And it gets pretty complex pretty fast.
Andy Polaine (19:08): Yeah, it’s very hard to undo that or ignore that kind of legacy I think. And I think part of our job is often the archeology of companies and really going out, going down and finding out that stuff and it can take some time. So you’ve worked on a lot of projects. What’s been the most challenging do you think that you have done and what’s been then? I was going to say the easiest, but maybe it’s the best or the most enjoyable.
Linn Vizard (19:37): Like, oh, I love all my children equally. Liar,
Andy Polaine (19:40): Liar.
Linn Vizard (19:43): It’s funny because more so than specific projects, what comes to mind is sort of types of projects, and this goes back a little bit to what we were talking about at the beginning. Part of the impetus for me around starting may manifest was I was pretty frustrated, honestly and pretty tired of doing service design and design consulting work that ended in some PowerPoint decks and maybe some concepts. And I think a lot of us, most of us I would say I’ve been there as design, I relatable. A lot of us are in design because we like to make stuff, we like to do stuff. I was a really creative kid, I love to draw. I was obsessed with drawing teenage mutant Ninja Turtles and that was the only thing I would draw. But again, my point is just we’re used to making stuff, we’re used to being able to do stuff in the world.
(20:37): And so part of what I really wanted to explore was what does it look like to practice service design in a way that gets us to real world outcomes where shipping changes to products where we talk about impact a lot, and I don’t love that word really at all. I think it’s overused, but what I’m trying to get to is that that manifestation, that making it real, that seeing it through, and it sort of bothers me that design has, I think we’ve lost that along the way that somewhere that the point of designing things is to do things and make things and make things real. And so long-winded way of saying some of my favorite projects are the ones where we get to actually see it through to some kind of pilot or even better to some kind of launch or live service. So a great one from last year we worked with a small nonprofit who were standing up a new grant giving program and it was just perfect because we used the tools of service design to blueprint it out to figure out what’s going to be the right way for people to apply to this grant, what is the backstage support going to need to be for this nonprofit to deliver this program?
(21:54): And one of the things I notice actually that can feel quite weird as a service designer is often in those projects you’re working within a lot of very practical constraints. And I think that’s something we need to get better at just knowing what the constraints we’re designing with are. So what I mean by that is they already knew they were going to use an out of the box application platform to intake and process the grant applications. And so it can kind of feel weird, right? Because you’re like, oh, we’re missing a step. We’re not doing the divergent Iiv eight, and could we do it this way and could we do it that way? There’s already a preset decision that we’re using this platform. And then it really becomes around how do we design with that constraint and design and effective program. And it’s just so satisfying because you feel like, oh, this isn’t about a shiny service blueprint or a great report. This is about practically rolling up our sleeves and making a thing real using all of these great tools and skills that we have, understanding people’s lived experience, prototyping and testing things and trying them out so we can tweak them and make them better. And those are really my favorites when we just get to build a thing together with our clients. Yeah.
Andy Polaine (23:04): Why do you think that that separation, if you like, between delivery, which is what I guess a lot of the product folks go, we’re all about delivery and service design. Why do you think that’s happened that we get, because it is a really common criticism and it is fair of a lot of services. I think maybe some consultancies we might mention,
Linn Vizard (23:24): It’s on the tip of
Andy Polaine (23:24): My tongue, I may have even worked for it. That’s fair to say. Well, look, we’ve end up all these concepts, but somehow it sort of stopped short of actually going into operation. Why do you think that happened?
Linn Vizard (23:38): Yeah, I’ve thought about this a lot and actually the one that was on the tip of my tongue was rightly or wrongly ideal and design thinking. And that’s a whole debate about that. Did it do us net good or not? And whatever, that’s fine. But yeah, I’ve thought a lot about this and I think there’s a lot of different reasons going on. I think one is that it’s just fundamentally hard, right? Services, especially at scale, encompass a lot of different pieces, people, processes, and I often think about that kind of agile two pizza team, the sort of two pizza team that has autonomy, has ownership, and can actually just knuckle down and get stuff done. I think it’s really difficult in service design to have a two pizza team because there’s so many different parts and pieces. And I listened to, I love the episode with Kate Tarling, and I think that’s part of what you talked about with her as well.
Andy Polaine (24:37): Yeah, I mean I think there’s that fundamental problem that kind of the entire organization delivers a service, right? Yes. And so it’s not a discreet product, and I get why things that is divided up into smaller chunks easier to handle. It’s certainly easier to manage, at least ostensibly. But I think one of the things that happens is a client or a stakeholder says, right, I’ve got this budget, this is my domain and I would like to get something done in three to six months. And we often then our service designers come back and go, well, you’re like a mechanic. You go, well, yeah, no, but your cam shafts done and your brake pads. We sort of go, Hey, it’s not just this bit, you need to do two years worth of work and it’s going to cost you way more, which really says to that stakeholder, Hey, you need to go and speak to all those other people, those peers of yours who head other departments that maybe don’t get on with, pull your resources and all collaborate together in a seamless way and all the rest of it.
(25:40): And I think it kind of triggers a lot of fear and anxiety as well as well, but I’ve got this much money and this is my domain. I’ve only got three months, that’s not my job. And I think the sort of lack of practicality sometimes of service design teams and consultancies can hit a roadblock there. We don’t have a way of, well, not, we don’t have a way, I think we do, but quite often it’s like, okay, well here are your concepts. See you, rather than seeing that through. And what I know from a lot of my Fjord colleagues is a lot of them then went in-house and yes, they only work on one thing or in one industry, but they get to see that all the way through to the end, and that’s one of the things they enjoy. You were nodding a lot as I was saying that, so I dunno if that’s been your experience and how you’ve dealt with that.
Linn Vizard (26:29): Yeah, I mean this might be unpopular to say, but I also think sometimes as designers, we like the fun glamorous stuff. We like running workshops and coming up with concepts and doing blue sky thinking and ideation and whatever else. It’s fun. And the stuff of actually implementing and delivering services, it takes a long time. It can be boring, it is hard. There are constraints, there’s politics, and sometimes I think in some ways we shy away from it because it’s maybe not as fun or it’s not our vision of what that sort of creative, maybe it’s some kind of hubris or we’re just not in a more generous take. Maybe we’re just not really set up with the containers to do that. And then I would definitely say the piece around being more practical and thinking about small interventions. I’ve thought a lot about this too. What does tiny service design look like? I would much rather work on something tiny that gets done than something massive that never really happens or that sort of gets really diluted. And I do think we need to get better at scoping ourselves and not sort of coming in and exploding and blowing up the scope, but starting where we are and accompanying our clients and collaborators and partners and teammates around, okay, well what could we do with this container?
Andy Polaine (28:03): I love the idea of that of would much rather have something tiny that gets done something massive that doesn’t, I think it frustrates sometimes service designers, they can see that can be ecosystem thing. Yes. I think it also, I’ve met plenty, maybe I’ll count myself amongst them who then sort of find it pretty boring to do the detail drudge work and they’re kind like go, I’m just not very interested in that. What’s your answer to that? Find people who really do like that work.
Linn Vizard (28:30): And I think it has to be a team effort. And there’s a conversation around what is the role that service designers should or could play in delivery? And then of course the answer is it depends. And I think you’re right, it’s about figuring out who likes to and is good at doing the different parts of the work, and then what can our skills and tools and methods bring to those different stages of projects. And that’s why some of what I’ve found most fun in our projects with main manifest is when we work with smaller organizations, because you do have the opportunity to really form that tight little team and get stuff done in a very practical way. And you have access to just roll up your sleeves and fiddle with things or change things or try things, which is much harder at scale and probably rightfully so. There’s a lot more kind of overhead and checks and balances in place and governance and all the rest of it, but sometimes that can get in the way of that experimenting and just prototyping, testing, piloting, trying things.
Andy Polaine (29:37): Yeah. Yeah. Talking about all those different methods, you’ve touched on it before, and we talked about it in the sort of pre-chat we had about, well, the note I made was how much you hate ideation. So tell me about what’s wrong with ideation?
Linn Vizard (29:53): Oh, let me count the ways.
Andy Polaine (29:57): Yes.
Linn Vizard (29:58): I think part of it is this thing where we’ve kind of chopped up design process into these sometimes seemingly discreet stages and phases and workshops when actually it’s about doing the whole cycle end to end and doing it iteratively. And much as we talk about that, my experience in various consulting roles and projects is that it’s tricky to actually do that in practice, to actually go fully through that cycle of researching, coming up with ideas, prototyping stuff, testing it, do it again, et cetera. For some of the reasons we’ve talked about how organizations are set up, how projects are scoped and sold, constraints, budgets, you name it, the organizational politics or stakeholder management or collaboration. So something I noticed actually was we’d come out of ideation workshops a lot with some words on post-Its, I think folks were sometimes quite crestfallen because it was very exciting to, oh, we’re going to be part of the creative process.
(31:01): I have a blog post about it and I have a picture of the Mad Men Writer’s room. It feels like this really exciting thing where we’re all going to go into a room, we’re all going to come up with these amazing ideas and people love ideas, but often the kind of outputs of these types of sessions I find are not really that novel, and B, not really that helpful or bounded by constraints. And so I think there’s just a lot of opportunity to take a critical look at how we conduct ideation sessions. And a couple of things I would consider are, can we think about ideation as more of a research tool, more of a way of not necessarily solving a problem or designing a thing, but understanding collectively where is the collective energy and mindset around what types of solutions are on people’s minds?
(31:50): What’s the appetite for certain approaches? Can we use it as a way to have new conversations between stakeholders and can we really see it as a sort of further research tool or mechanism? And then the other thing I would say is, can we think about the fidelity or type of output we want? So often you end up in my experience with words on post-its, and you’re like, oh, I don’t even really know what that means. Like AI chat bot, what does it do? Who’s using it? What use cases? And so you can ladder a little bit of the fidelity of idea by doing things like having concept sheets where you get people to sketch it and fill out features, benefits, or whatever it might be. But just thinking really intentionally about what is the output we want out of this? And then really clear that this isn’t where we’re going to come up with the answers or solutions. These are kernels of things that are then going to need to go through that iterative process of prototyping them at a higher fidelity, trying them out to learn about them and rinse and repeat.
Andy Polaine (32:59): Yeah, prototyping is research. You’re always testing something with the prototype. It’s not just because we like to make a nice thing. I think one of the things that you touched upon, one of the things I like, I’ve sometimes done a workshop and I’ve called it of service design in reverse, but it’s kind of not really, but is often we take that slightly helicopter view of what’s the entire ecosystem. And I think’s how you end up with those kind concepts for services and maybe some sketches of a couple of bits of touchpoints, but it’s not really down at using a thing, using a touchpoint in a context level is to start the other way. And I think people do more naturally think of a use case of something. So they think of an app or a website or speaking to someone, and you can kind of start there.
(33:44): Most of the time when people imagine that in an ideation session, they’re thinking of it at the moment of usage. There’s often a sketch of a kind of app screen, and it’s right in the middle. There’s no bits that have happened before that or really any idea of where it’s gone. And rather than sort of fighting that and thinking, you know what, but what’s the ecosystem view? I found it easier to go, okay, well how do people get to know about this? Or to step backwards and go, how do people start using this? Okay, how did they get to know about it in the first place? And then naturally the other end of what do they do after that and so forth, and how if they want to stop using this thing, how does that work? You can kind of step backwards and forwards on a channel or a particular touchpoint like an app.
(34:21): But invariably when you do that, you end up shifting channels that someone goes, oh, well, I mean a really common one weirdly in ideation workshops is I saw a QR code on a poster at a bus stop, and it’s kind of a bit more common now, but that’s never been a thing I’ve done. But the most common one is a friend told me about it. So you get that kind of person to person or human bit as a channeler. And then I went online and I had a look, and then I downloaded the app. That’s often the sequence of things. And then I got an email to verify my whatever, or I dunno what it’s like in Canada, but a bank in Germany, they send you a paper QR code that you then have to scan and all that stuff to verify. But those are all those, then you highlight, you can see all those moments where, oh, and what happens when that doesn’t happen? Now what happens when that QR code doesn’t arrive or it does arrive and you scan it in and there’s an error? Who do you speak to? And all that kind of stuff. I think I found that very useful way to move people through that kind of ecosystem
Linn Vizard (35:28): View. Yeah, I love that. I’m hearing a few things. I think storyboarding can be really a powerful way to have some of those conversations or to help people think through remembering a project I did around employee experience and we had so much fun. This was a team of folks who work in hr and I was there to support them using some of these tools and methods to improve their employee experiences. And we did a lot of very simple four panel stick figure storyboarding of, well, what do we want it to feel like? And to build on what you said, not only thinking about what’s happening before and after, but centering on the people. How do the people feel rather than having these kind of disembodied app screens with there’s not even hands or there’s not people. And then the other build I would have is when you think about the prototyping piece, something really unlocked for me when I read this idea of imagine versus experience prototyping, and I actually think this is ideal if I’m not mistaken, but the idea that imagine prototyping is something that lets you imagine yourself in a scenario.
(36:33): So a storyboard is a great example. I can kind of look at it, interpret it, imagine it. And then experienced prototyping is when it’s something you can actually try and actually interact with and use. And in service design, we tend to really lean on the imaginelike prototyping, whether that’s a storyboard or a video prototype, because it allows us to kind of stitch and compress things that are happening over time in many different places together. But what we lose is that ability to actually try it, use it, see it in action. And so that’s a bit of, I think a balance or a watch out when we move through that ideation phase and think about, okay, great, now how do we actually test it, live it, experience it for real, not just imaginary.
Andy Polaine (37:26): So we can really do with bridging the gap between the idea and the final thing much better. Yes. Nice. Look, we are coming up to time. I always ask all my guests this last question, which is what one small thing is either overlooked or should be redesigned that would have an outsized effect on the world?
Linn Vizard (37:46): So the one I’ve brought today is paternity leave policies. So having more use it or lose it paternity leave. And my rationale is around, I think supporting and putting structures in place for men to do more caregiving work would really go a long way around gender equity and gender pay gap, things like that.
Andy Polaine (38:09): I would massively support that. But you don’t think there would be men who would go, well, I’ll just lose it then because more important for me to be at work,
Linn Vizard (38:19): There might be. I think there is some evidence from countries like Sweden, other places that have implemented these policies. I believe Korea, there’s a list, a short list of countries that have put this in place. And you do see quite drastic increase in uptake of these leaves for men and for fathers. So yeah, there’s always going to be people for whatever reason, culturally circumstance wise who don’t. But let’s not worry about them. Let’s focus on the people who’ll say, yeah, actually it would be nice to be able to spend more time with my children or family
Andy Polaine (38:55): In Germany. Actually there is, so there’s paternity leave and maternity leave for the sort of moment after the birth or adoption actually. But there’s also, it’s called ed. There’s a time for parents who can apply, and I can’t remember how it works now. I think you get paid half of what, so this doesn’t really work if you’re self-employed, obviously. But if you are employed, I think you get half or three quarters of your salary paid and you can take, I think it’s three or six months off. I can’t quite remember. I was self-employed at the time, so that’s why, I dunno. But what often happens is a couple would decide to do both, do that, and then they will live off of effectively one salary or a bit less than one salary for the year. So they have a year with their kids not working, and there’s quite a lot of strong employment laws about then those people getting back into the job they were in and so forth. Because that’s the other bit, which I think is pretty essential
Linn Vizard (39:54): Too. Yeah, agreed. And I mean, I think all of this connects to broader conversations about how work is changing. I’m also self-employed, and so that was a whole other story when I had my son. But I think looking at these policies and thinking about how do we put these structures in place that’s actually start to change some of the dominant culture and norms and start to equalize the labor and work that is typically unpaid and feminized and actually give men the opportunity. I think there’s many men who would love that, but feel economic pressure. Yeah, absolutely. And so how do you kind of tip that balance? And I think that’s a small design intervention that could have a really outsized impact over time in many ways, and start to shift some of that culture and really normalize more dads taking longer leaves.
Andy Polaine (40:41): That’s a very good answer. Yeah. Policy design is a very powerful lever indeed. And not only that, but it’s how it’s enacted. I mean, it’s one of the things that Kate talked about in the previous episode around that, about there’s a policy and then how the organization then decides to actually implement that policy, which often differs from the original intention. Go back to that. So where can people find you online and made manifest online?
Linn Vizard (41:09): So best place is made manifest.com. I’d love if folks want to sign up for the newsletter, Ask a Service Designer. You can do that there. Or you can feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. It’s pretty easy to find. Lynn Vizard, I have a very searchable name. Vizard is like Wizard, but with a V at the start I like to say. And yeah, I’d love to hear from folks.
Andy Polaine (41:34): Wonderful. I’ll put all the links in the show notes. Thank you so much for being my guest on Power of Ten.
Linn Vizard (41:39): Oh, thanks for having me, Andy. This is so fun. I really appreciate it.
Andy Polaine (41:44): You’ve been listening to me, Andy Polaine on Power of Ten. You can find me at @email@example.com on Mastodon, apolaine on Twitter, polaine.com where you can find more episodes. Check out my coaching practice and online courses as well as sign up for my newsletter Doctor’s Note, if you enjoyed the show, please take a moment to give it a rating on iTunes. As you know, it tickles the algorithms and helps more people find the podcast. As always, get in touch if you have any comments, feedback or suggestions for guests. All the links are in the show notes. Thanks for listening and see you next time.