Choosenick. Notes and observations on service design, as well as other interesting things/thinking. By Nick Marsh.

Jeff has posted a long list of the videos and presentations from the... »« We've been struggling, you see, with finding a way to create an...

Service Design job with Imagination at Lancaster: Go back to Uni to become a service designer!

Imagination at Lancaster are advertising for a Research Assistant to support their work in Health. The job description asks for:

The role of the Research Associate will be to support the research team to carry out research into existing NHS innovation practices and tools and to co-develop and experiment with design and creative tools during a collaborative research project with North Lancashire Teaching Primary Care Trust. The research will adopt the following methodologies: literature review, case studies, interviews, video ethnography and participatory design workshops.

I took part on the Peer Assist forum that gave this project funding, and I've been quite closely involved in several of Lancaster's projects around Health and Transport since their launch at the beginning of 2008.

The project is being led by Daniela Sangiorgi, and is focussed on developing best practice around the use of service design and innovation methods in GP practices as they move towards a Practice Based Commissioning framework (essentially GPs being responsible for commissioning/designing the services they provide and the resulting changes to digital and physical infrastructure that supports these services.)

I'm excited about this project, and I think it would be a great opportunity for whoever gets the job - however, as I said at the Peer Review meetings, I am concerned about a couple of things.

Firstly, the project is labeled as 'research', but its principally a (service) design project. Design is different from research in that it explicitly seeks to change and improve existing things, whereas research aims to study and understand existing things. Of course the two activities are intimately related, and you can't do good design without good research first, but I believe that if one starts a project with the intent to change practice it's a design project, and as such should be led by designers. Which leads to my second concern about the project - it should be being run by a service design company, with experienced service designers planning and facilitating the 'participatory design workshops', not a university and a project team of academics.

This project is exactly the kind of work that we're doing at Engine, and that others such as live|work and Thinkpublic are also pushing hard to develop practice and projects around. Why is a university, supported by taxpayers cash, pitching and running projects that commercial agencies can do (better)? Not to mention that all the approaches (including the founding principle of Design-led public service design) being 'researched' are borrowed from agencies such as ours. They should be researching us, not competing with us.

Nonetheless, I supported the project's funding application at the Peer Assist meeting because this project, like so many, is a unique combination of specific people, in specific places with a specific initiative, and I'd much rather see this project succeed than no project take place. So if you want to apply, good luck!
December 26th, 2008 / Tags: servicedesign, publicsector, job, university / Trackback / Comments