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



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Two nice pieces of non design-led service design

Spotted these two nice pieces of service design yesterday. Both are good examples of how simple service innovations can make a big difference and both come from very different sources of inspiration - the first directly from service users, and the second via a 'related worlds' piece of thinking.

The first is a Scottish NHS scheme to encourage people to stop smoking by, literally, paying them to quit. Participants get £12.50 a week to spend on groceries if they pass a special breathaliser test. The scheme is proving very successful, and Dr Paul Ballard, from the NHS reports that the idea from the scheme came from just talking to local smokers about what was important to them:

"We worked with local people to find out what would motivate them to quit smoking and using the message, 'You'll be healthier for longer' clearly wasn't going to work, what was important to them was putting food on the table... The figures that are coming through are showing that it's very successful."

I think this is great. It's a really simple, innovative approach to the serious health problem of smoking, and there's a BBC news video you can watch containing interviews with participants and organisers here. If only they could somehow get the tobacco companies to pay for it.

My concern for this scheme is its long term viability - the participants are poor, and some unemployed, and I imagine they'll get used to the extra £12.50. What happens when they've completely quit? Will they start smoking again to get the £12.50 back?

The second piece was reported in the FT yesterday - in areas of the US that have been hit hard by job losses Kmart is offering a discount programme for the unemployed.

This is a nice piece of corporate social design - everyone wins (although the unemployed won't feel like winners right now.) What's not in the online version (I read it in the print edition) is that the manager at Kmart just stole the idea from an apparel company that was offering 'insurance' on mens suits - buy the suit now, if you loose your job you get the money back.

Importing and modifying ideas from other sectors and industries, is an excellent, low cost service innovation strategy. Some people call it 'fast following' or 'playing not to lose'.
July 3rd, 2009 / Trackback / Comments