Teamwork part 1

Teamwork: great collaborations feel like a team effort. Teams can be designed in many different ways and are based on the task that lies ahead. I have become fascinated by how teams are used/designed in highly specialized circumstances like the Operation Room, the Formula 1 pitstop or a master chef’s kitchen. There are several aspects of the art of creating a great team. It is about training people to trust the job of the other person is performed well. Teamwork is also about dancing together at prime time, knowing what to do when. But there is more; people need to be placed in the right spot that will allow the team to perform at its best.

A chef makes sure she’s seen by the team, some chefs are the best cook in the kitchen others are perfect at delegating tasks. With high interest in the dynamics of Michelin star performing kitchens, I have been watching Netflix’ ‘Chef’s Table’. Great lessons can be learned from the dynamics displayed in the documentaries. Depending on the chef it is decided what part of the dish apprentices are cooking or who decides on what dish works or not. The role of the chef reflects the dynamic of a team. The more empowering chefs make sure everyone feels part of the team, even the waiters! Others keep a very clear role distinction. In that instance, the trust that they can do that role best is 100% in their hands.

The same counts for F1. What happens in the pit is a high-class sports performance of 2 seconds.  Trust and focus are what makes these 2 seconds successful. They know so well what needs doing because they have practiced the exact movements over and over again. The question is what happens when you work in an ever-changing environment and one cannot ask for this advanced preparation?

As a service designer, I look closely at how a team performs when delivering services. These teams often stretch beyond the one department one is performing in. As most actions, most clients meet different part of an organization. Why does it seem that we look entirely differently at creating teams in an office compared to sports or arts? And if these teams trust each other based on the idea that only together they can reach the stars, they have a shared purpose, why do we not focus on the sense of purpose for team building? I am asking myself this when I read about the scandals of (ir)responsibility in team building in places like the army, governments, sunny papers around corrupted money and leaders and failing institutions due to the lack of commitment of staff.

What if we would all be acting like the star chefs and think of our work as the creation of the perfect combination of textures, flavors, and visual appearance? Re-imagine our world if, like many chefs, we would truly appreciate the area we are cooking in and try to share the appreciation through food, our products. Can we take the responsibility for the surroundings around the businesses that we operate in? Could we, in an office, recreate the magic of the 2-second pitstop?

I aspire to find ways of doing so in the near future. As a service designer, I hope to contribute to the brilliant dynamic dance of organizations that have to learn how to act flexibly in hard conditions whilst there is no time to lose.


Self organising

Managers are unnecessary, not as people but as a position. – Jos de Blok

Self-organising needs organising amongst team members. – Rop van Eijbergen

Burberry part 2

Burberry has never before been an inspiring brand to me. Until they reintroduced their heritage, changed the tone of the brand and started to find fascinating collaborations between fashion and other art forms. In an old warehouse, they exhibited the new collection together with amazing photography of the United Kingdom from the seventies.  The details in light, images and the dressing of the building gave an extra dimension to the clothes. The different outfits referred to classic English wear combined with contemporary sizes and processing techniques.

This is a way of showing and positioning a brand that amazes me. It makes me happy to see how they have turned themselves around and keep using the rich heritage of the country to which they belong.


Dissertation Completed

Last Monday the day had come, a deadline, handing in the dissertation. Relieved, tired and proud was I when clicking “submit assignment”. On the one hand, I realised that a chapter closed, on the other hand, I had found new topics that I wanted to explore and could not add to this thesis as it was becoming a phd, and that was not necessary this time around. So I scraped so many words and topics that all left is, hopefully, a clear answer to the research question.

My research question: where are elements of innovation in organisations that can be amplified through service design? leading to the thesis with the title: ‘People Amplify Innovation’. In case you wish to get a copy to read through, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Service Design Signature

As part of my dissertation I have interviewed various service designers, have read as many blogs and listened to podcasts as I could. There is something interesting about all those service designers. Almost all of us have a different background, were missing something and moved to a more human centric version of a design. Most of us were unsatisfied with the limitations of the inventions rich design fields.

These backgrounds become visible in the signature we have as service designers. Everyone sees our design discipline differently, why it is important and how it should be done. We also have elements in common, we all love people and we love improving their experience. And we all understand that every context requires a specific approach. I have fallen in love with this discipline because it adopts tools and ways of reasoning from so many other disciplines.

My mind wonders off to the question how I want to develop myself as a service designer, and with whom. As my heart lies with South Africa and their development but learning in Europe seems so wonderful too! I start with writing a manifesto as part of my dissertation, to position myself.  Let’s keep sharing on film, tape, text and slideshows that grows us as service designers.

Let’s keep sharing on film, tape, text, and slideshows that grow us as service designers.

The world in Microbes

Microbiology never meant much to me as I am not a scientist looking into the smallest living particles of life. The Dutch summer interview series ‘Zomergasten’ (literally: summer guests) invites 6 interesting people over the summer to speak for 3 hours about their interest, fascination and their life. The first of this season was Rosanne Herzberger, a Dutch woman and microbiologist. She did not just talk about her work as microbiologist where she has an interest in the vaginal microbes, she spoke more about the misconception and powerful voice we have that we lay over the world. The way we interpret history, animal behaviour and the role we play amaze her and when she places that next to microbiology she shows how things can also be seen.

Also  why we believe bloggers when it comes to food advice and we stop trusting the government and scientists. In this instance she explained how E-numbers are not harmful at all but how bloggers made us believe they are. Or how she asked in her column who is sponsoring the websites where hate towards women is the norm and fun. Many of these sponsors have resigned. She showed beautiful, and a bit extreme, Jewish tradition of the Belz Mizvah Tantz and Grizzly man, humans in their habitat.

Since I saw this last week I started wondering what more we can learn from microbiologists. Thanks for TED and understandable talks that made me realize: where ever I would end up in an organisation, I have to look for the microbes, the things that make the life and transfer resources into energy. Through the eyes of Herzberger I am starting to understand how life works, how we work as living beings and how being a bit crazy can be incredibly beneficial.

Oh and the decor of the program makes it even more pleasurable to watch. Up next: the mayor of Amsterdam. Cannot wait.


Live – connection

I worked for a year at oil for live communication where we focussed on creating pleasant places to converse and connect. The perfect conversations and connections happen over food. No wonder the Italians always have meetings over food and good coffee. Chatting with the waiter, asking for recommendations and what are the extras of the day are all part of the restaurant experience. Of course, if you don’t want to be disturbed the waiter/tress is considerate and stays away, are you chatty, so are they.

Now today I took place in ‘Bella Italia’ where we had the choice to order via a tablet. We forgot a side, the drinks, ordered food and actually did not discuss anything with the waiter until he brought our food and offered grated cheese. Which was grated above our plates, that was personal.

Towards the end of our main the tablet lighted up and offered deserts. I actually did not want anything from that moment on, I just want a chat with my waiter, not call him with a machine and order via an interface. Can we please make restaurants chatty places again and use food as the connector between people?

Courageous playing

There are days that we have to be reminded that our world is not all about hitting targets, paying bills and achieving the next step in life. A Dutch correspondent wrote on a critical news platform (In Dutch: De Correspondent) today that we are losing the art of playing. Why do we not play, learn from playing and go on adventure anymore? Because we are all trained to become workers.

nina 96_lido di dante SwingAs a child I went to a Montessori primary school, learning while exploring, loved it! Now I want to become a Lego serious play facilitator, going back to the bricks we have always known and play to move forward. Play to discover and most importantly articulate ourselves. Exploring with our hands and learning from copying is extremely important. We do not find life experience in writing 12.000 words, as I am doing currently, the experience is finding joy in the task, discipline but without losing the love for finding interesting insights. I want to keep on going with this game of exploration.

As part of this I want to point out a documentary: The Eagle Huntress, about a courageous girl in Mongolia who wants to become an Eagle Hunter, a job that was only for men. But her whole life she played with her dad, the eagle hunter, and learned all the details of this art. For her becoming the huntress was not about proving the men wrong, it was about playing the game she always wished to play. Absolutely worth watching! And it even has amazing shots of the landscapes and the gorgeous animals.

Tools, process, doing, thinking

Process driven design, empathic design, design thinking, so many terms and even more interpretations. Every designer has his or her own way of going about situations and will name this process or the approach differently. Design thinking is becoming an accepted term for human centred design, but there is a lot more to it.

Service design is all about ‘the design of services’ according to, but is it really? Is it just like any other design discipline; a way of thinking with a specific toolset to tackle and find a great variety of issues that need a response. Birgit Mager says that service design ‘is about choreographing processes, technologies and interactions within complex systems in order to co-create value for stakeholders.’ This sounds more like it to me. For my dissertation I have started to look into the application of service design in Citizens UK and their development plans. The reason is not just because of the opportunity but also because of the nature of engagement with staff and members that is needed. The service we want to develop comes with a shift in the culture within the organisation. Service design in this scenario goes far beyond the service itself.

Talking with a senior service designer this morning, and reading blogs this afternoon I learned that designers often just do a lot ‘because we are busy’ the question is: are we thinking WHY we do what we do? Why do we ask time to test what we test? Why do we use the tool we are using? In other words, shouldn’t we just learn how to deal with all the tools in our toolbox, the same way a shoe maker learns how to handle his tools? Sometimes all we learn is how to sharpen the knifes we have before we are able to make the right cut.

The top 1%

356924c8371c6a2d2c859dbb15de9380The top 1% owns 53% of India’s wealth, in China they own 37% and in the UK the top 1% got a lot richer than the rest of the country. People build luxury health centers where people pay from £150,- a month to be a member, or buy £ 15.000,- worth of suits p.a. Not to forget a building emerging next to my college with the price tag of 1 billion, bought by an investor from Hong Kong. I am stunned and happy with the ‘just be normal’ attitude of the Netherlands. We laugh and sigh when people show off their wealth, we tend to share our wealth so we are all better off. Incredibly high bonuses are a reason for investigation and thus less common.

There is something else. These numbers have been flying around for the past weeks and all I wonder is; are they happy? How do you go to bed at night with golden water tabs in your house, just had some caviar and probably wiped your hands once on a towel ready to be washed with liters of water? Many questions, many people fighting for rights, saving the environment, saving to eat and go to school and yet, in the 21st century equality is still huge. Take your responsibility, keep your head held high and look yourself in the eyes, what can YOU do to reduce environmental impact, inequality and economic issues?