I recently had the good fortune of being part of the organizing team for NYC Service Jam 2015, an event run as part of the annual Global Service Jam.
One of the best parts of the experience was serving as a coach, checking in with teams as they went through the process of framing, ideating, prototyping and presenting.
As I reflect on the experience, several moments emerge for when a little coaching seemed to be useful. From what I shared with teams, to what I’ve heard from other coaches, a few coach notes:
On developing a service solution
When developing a service idea our instinct is to start with one specific point in the user journey. One really exciting opportunity to address something that people dislike, or provide an experience that delights. That’s a great starting point, and there’s a lot of richness in what happens before and after this point in the user journey. Prior to the highlighted interaction, is there scope for priming the user for the experience? Post, are there touch-points where the user can reflect/re-engage/or build upon the experience in some way? Exploring and addressing these can help us develop a more complete, integrated solution.
On receiving feedback
One of the scariest moments in the service design process can be putting our initial/draft prototype in an end user’s hands. Are they going to get it? Misuse it? Drop it? Our instinct is to want to step in. To give the user a gentle guiding hand throughout the process. Or to provide context up front to ensure they don’t make mistakes in the first place. Beware the sneaky helper! Each of these actions comes with a risk. A risk that by stepping in we miss observing the user being confused, fumbling, or using our prototype in a novel and unexpected way. Exactly the kind of things we’d like to be aware of before launching our service into the world. So what to do? As much as possible, stay silent. Save the discussion for clarifying questions, e.g. “How would you describe this service? What did you find challenging? Interesting? What was going through your mind at so-and-so point?” Recording the session can be an added way to take some of the pressure off the user-feedback session, and create a richer team debrief.
On presenting out
Finally, when presenting out, showing (rather than telling) is a compelling way to showcase a service design, and a powerful way to quickly capture the audience’s attention. For example assign (or recruit) one team member to play the part of an end-user, another to narrate the scene, and a pair to help simulate the service in action. This is especially powerful when followed by a brief explanation that shows a clear thread between the research findings and the prototype presented. Key points: What was the initial point of inquiry? What did the primary research reveal? How did that translate into the design? What has yet to be resolved? What are some potential ways to build upon this service? Including direct quotes and media from the research + design process also helps bring this section to life.
Whether you’re preparing to participate in a service workshop, or are taking on a design project at work, I hope you’ll find these notes helpful. Alternatives/other pointers welcome! For a peek at the silliness, creativity and ambition of this year’s global service jam, check out these tweets. And requisite Taylor Swift tribute video:
// As published on LinkedIn.
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