My intro to service design at the 7th annual Global Service Jam @ SF
A case study of the design process + result from the 3-day long event, which was hosted in 80+ cities across the globe.
For the 2018 Global Service Jam, designers from all backgrounds came together to develop a service prototype in 48 hours, organically forming teams around the year’s theme: “Yes, No, Maybe.”
Hosted by the California College of Arts this year from March 9–11 for SF designers, over 60 attendees came together for participate in this event for an entire weekend. And in case you can’t tell from above… it was fun.
Friday, March 9 | Day 1:
Theme & Forming Teams
Pizza boxes. Fruit piles. 60+ attendees. And too many Post-Its to count.
The event kicked off on a cool Friday evening at CCA in San Francisco, where instructors from various industries — including Amanda Damewood (Service Designer) and Izac Ross (Design Manager @ Collective Health) — came to lead what was now the 7th jam.
Two of the organizers greeted everyone who collected into the small open space, offering bright smiles and food next door. Name tags were put on, and expectations kicked out.
Participants ambled in and began small side conversations. Grabbing cheesy pizza, Trader Joe’s mineral water, and whatever spot remained on worn couches, I sat down with the rest and waited to hear what this was all about.
They kicked off the event at 6:30 pm by introducing the what and why behind service design.
Known for being a more “holistic” look at a service, which includes front and back stage happenings as well as users on ALL sides, service design (or SxD) is only growing in fields such as health tech, transportation, and more.
As Izac Ross demonstrated in his presentation (slide above), there is a “service gap” between providers’ self-assessments and real customer satisfaction. Our goal this weekend was to highlight one of the countless gaps in the world… and develop a prototype from idea to service in 48 hours.
To kick off, we grouped up to start generating ideas once the theme was revealed. “Yes, No, Maybe” was met with a lot of confusion, but then everyone tentatively began throwing out various things such as:
- SERVICE to help people relocate to other cities
- APP that guides you along in making a decision
- PRODUCT that makes you feel good about a decision after you made it… etc.
The concepts were hilarious, wild, and sometimes downright weird — but then people voted for the ones that they wanted to work on, and slowly but surely even the most strange concepts started gaining some serious traction in the community.
Eventually, 10–11 teams were formed in the lobby, each standing by the idea they were most inspired by.
And the idea I gravitated towards was…
“How do we solve economic inequality through match-making?”
While I had no idea where to start with this, I knew that economic inequality was a cause I cared about. So, our team of 4 huddled together to get more specific.
We jived with the idea of education being the most impactful way people combat economic inequality. So, before heading out for the night, we agreed that mentorship would be the cornerstone of our emerging service.
But of course, we couldn’t say goodbye before wishing our friends in LA and Vancouver best of luck.
Saturday, March 10 | Day 2:
Research, Synthesis, and Ideation
Many cups of coffee later, we all reassembled at CCA for a full day of work.
Before kicking us out into the wild, instructor Amanda Damewood gave us a quick overview on how to conduct user interviews. Then we were given a little over two hours to speak with people in the surrounding areas.
The team sat down to revisit our thoughts from yesterday night and hash out a few more details beforehand.
For example, one suggestion I loved was the idea of creating an internal HR tool to help young professionals with their career development. And so to build off that idea while maintaining our focus on mentorship, we quickly jotted down relevant questions we could ask our interviewees.
For the sake of time and project scope, we decided that our interview targets would be anyone who is currently working and could fall in either the mentor or mentored category.
Our Interview Structure
A) Current role details + pathway to that role
B) What he/she wants out of career in 1, 3, to 5 years
C) Experience — or lack thereof — with or being a mentor
Then, we proceeded to the Mission. We split off into two groups, two person per team, and then each did 2–3 interviews for a total of 9 interviews.
My teammate and I figured out that in order to find willing participants, we needed to find a place where people are, for lack of a better word, bored. However, time was against us: It was Saturday, and brunch hour to boot.
Fortunately for us, we came across a serendipitous stroke of luck: the still-fresh opening of Everlane, a popular retailer. The long line of people presented a perfect opportunity to request several 5–8 minute long interviews.
For the next two hours, we spoke with 5 individuals from different industries, recording our conversations for transcribing and synthesizing later on.
We then returned to CCA to continue our work, triumphant and motivated by our research data.
Research Synthesis & Insights Grouping
Daniel Klein, Product Designer @ Collective Health, presented “Synthesis 101” to provision designers with tools for synthesizing our data.
The next two hours were committed to:
1. Transcribing our interviews
2. Grouping based on loose connections
3. Re-grouping to formulate categories
4. Deriving insight statements
Through intense conversation, rearranging of feedback from the field, and effective collaboration, we began clearly seeing the missing resources people need when it comes to their personal career development.
Bodystorming & Concept Cards
We then learned about bodystorming, where you pantomime out the entirety of a service to actively visualize it in play.
Individuals can act as anything and anyone, from a cashier to a laundry pick-up drone. You can pause and jump in anytime you think of a different take on a part of the service.
It’s a dynamic way to see many moving parts in action, as well as allow people to “get in character” and actually expose holes or submit great suggestions on the fly that weren’t considered before.
It was my first time exposed to such a method, and I loved it. While you might feel self-conscious the first time you give it a try, the vested interest in charting out a service quickly overrides any potential embarrassment you may feel.
We were also introduced to concept cards, which help conceptualize services a bit more with a pointed focus. By asking, “Who is the user?” and, “What is the benefit of using this service?”, an idea is further fleshed out into concrete reality.
We were finally at the part where we could start developing some rough solutions in response to all our data.
The data showed that the benefits of mentorship are:
- Professional and personal growth
- Great, enriching relationships
Meanwhile, the top pain points are:
- Younger professionals hold back from finding mentors because they think they can’t provide any value.
- Most mentorships happen informally and organically — meaning environment matters and yet not everyone knows how to find that environment.
- Lack of knowledge and confidence are big barriers, as well as time (more so on the mentor’s end).
One brainstorming session later, we voted on the service ideas that sounded most promising and came up with this:
An online platform that provides high school guidance counselors and students easy access to willing mentors (regardless of location, thanks to video chat).
Sunday, March 11 | Day 3:
Rapid Prototyping & Presentation
Final day, and it was crunch time.
Our Own Bodystorming
We started with a bodystorm of a situation where a high school student meets with her guidance counselor. Another teammate acted as the potential online interface, voicing out what the interface text would say.
One surprising conversation went like this:
(C = Counselor, S = Student)
C: What are your interests?
S: Well, I like reading and writing and art.
C: That’s great.
S: But… my parents want me to go into biology for pre-med because it’s safer and more prestigious. How can I balance my interests with their hopes?
This alone exposed a perspective of a HS student that we might have potentially glossed over without bodystorming.
So, we continued iterating on our bodystorms until we felt confident that (within the allotted time) we represented the general HS population’s nervous sentiments around careers, college, and majors.
We did have to establish more particular scopes to address the upsetting yet realistic fact that not all schools are guaranteed to have computers — which our platform depends on — or the funding to support all of their students. So, we agreed to assume that our service is for urban and suburban schools that likely do have computer labs, personal computers, or iPads for counselors.
In the final hour before presenting to all Jammers, my team and I split to work on either storyboarding / journey mapping or the paper prototype of what we dubbed WeLink.
My teammates fleshed out:
A student’s journey from anxiety to relief about her future as she is connected with a mentor and support system AND the points where the counselor and our platform can help alleviate that anxiety and uncertainty.
Meanwhile, I worked on developing high-level iPad wireframes of the service’s most essential screens:
- Sign-up screens that address the two-sided market of counselor (on student’s behalf) and mentor.
- The multi-screened interest questionnaire a counselor and student would take together to develop the student’s profile of interests AND generate mentor suggestions.
- The front and back-end of profile creation for mentors.
- The notification screen to inform mentors that a counselor has reached out to connect.
The team regrouped to align our journey map, storyboard, and rough wireframes before rapidly developing our paper prototype in 15–20 minutes.
Our Paper Prototype
The presentation went well, and good vibes were to be had from every corner of the room. The designers came up with many amazing ideas, and there was no shortage of laughter and creativity for the final hour of the event.
All in all, it was an amazing weekend that not only stretched my design muscles and raised my confidence in my abilities, but also let me work alongside some incredible people that I may not have met otherwise.
(Already looking forward to 2019. Thanks, #GSJam.)