From a young age the word ‘now’ has always meant: right at this moment. There were no questions asked and no moments spared to make sure to act now. Making appointments, one after another is perfectly possible if none of them starts late or runs out. In a collaborative environment respecting each others’ time is essential. In Holland being on time means being 5 minutes ahead of the scheduled time to make sure one can start on the dot. 

Being in South Africa reminds me of the relative meaning of time. Someone made an appointment with me on a Friday afternoon, time: after sunset. The same person was ‘a little late’ which turned out to be 2,5 hours. Stunned I wondered how the notion of time influences what we do. In Amsterdam or London we rush from the one exact timed meeting to the next. Leaving no time for spontaneous meetings, inspiring conversations to be finished or traffic. We rush, hurry and measure our times to make sure ‘to get the most out of our day’. In Holland I often complain how my days don’t have enough hours. In South Africa I had plenty time to meet, greet and move between appointments.

Ok, I have to admit that I don’t work in South Africa, but the appointments I make are flexible from both sides and never give me the feeling that I missed something: if it doesn’t happen now it will happen later. When I delivered a workshop the people were on time and when I told them that I would track the timed meating ‘the Dutch way’ they seemed relieved.


Another funny element of South Africa; the word ‘now’. Three years ago I was meeting a friend who’d pick me up from home. 5 minutes passed the set time I messaged him to check where he was the message back said: ‘At your door now’. ‘Great!’ I thought, opening the gate only to find out he wasn’t there. Now had meant a timeframe from the mentioned moment to any time in the future. Now has a wide frame, any time from a particular moment up to a month depending on whom you speak with. So they added ‘just now’ which is a bit shorter and ‘now now’ that implies a couple of hours time window. How to find out what right now is? They will say: ‘at this moment’, ‘currently’ or ‘I’m here’.

Timing and time management change by culture and are a factor to take into account when collaborating with people across the globe.


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 stare alarm

This Saturday on the jubilee line someone had pulled the alarm because someone else was staring at him. At first I thought people made a joke as the carrier was rather full. But when assistance came in it dawned on me that someone really felt offended because someone looked at him.

I wonder if this is a result of our digital age, the media that scares us of the unknown or the unwillingness of people to connect. In the tube it’s quite hard not to look at anyone. So I felt so sorry for the person who had looked at him. Maybe he had come across an offensive moment that started with a stare. Nonetheless it shouldn’t have to be such a huge issue. Would you pull the alarm on a stare?