Converging on service design

Hundreds of people from a range of industries from across five provinces attended the sold out event in Toronto.

If the buzz at this year’s CONVERGE: Canadian Service Design Conference tells us anything, it’s that Canada’s service design community is blooming.

It was great to see participants from the public sector this time around (33% public sector, 52% private sector, 15% academic). And OpenRoad was proud to be there, too, supporting the future of civic design and multi-level service architecture.

OpenRoad partner Gordon Ross speaks at Converge: 2017 Canadian Service Design Conference in Toronto

OpenRoad shares Service Design knowledge

Not only did OpenRoad partner Gordon Ross advise on conference planning and recruiting, but our intrepid Service Design team packed up their tool kits and headed east for the day to facilitate a 90-minute, hands-on workshop, entitled, “A Sampler of Service Design Methods”. With names coming straight out of some utopian science fiction fantasy novel—”Future Backwards”, “Reframing Innovation”, and “Bodystorming”—the workshop methods gave participants the chance to try out some of the tools we use to co-create with our own clients.

Great turnout at OpenRoad's “A Sampler of Service Design Methods” workshop

Learning from our clients

Speaking of our clients, we were thrilled to see a few of them take the stage to share their insights. Our friends from BC’s Government Digital Experience Division (GDX)—Irene Guglielmi and Deanne Young—presented a talk entitled “Let’s get in form-ation.” And Judy Mellett—Director, Service Design, Innovation & Strategy at TELUS—facilitated a dialogue on how to “activate” service design in organizations. Very cool. One particularly inspiring moment came when the BC Government Service Design Team shared their 6-step design model. Using the model, the team squashed the error rate on critical Medical Services Plan forms—from 40% down to an incredible 1%.

Conference attendees and speakers posed “provocations” intended to generate thought and discussion. One particular provocation that resonated with our team was, “We need to expand our focus beyond the table-stakes of user-centricity, towards the ideal of a convergent multi-perspective approach”. Preach it. Later, as our VP Gordon Ross introduced the “Service Design gets Political” track with David Dunne from the University of Victoria, he challenged attendees to contemplate the political dimensions and implications of their work. Who should hold the power in participatory design methods? As service designers, are we simply delivering users to corporations, or are we doing our due diligence to make sure the marginalized have a voice?

Service Design matters

The volume and diversity of attendees speaks to the growing practice and importance of service design in helping to address some deeply-complex, truly-“wicked” problems. Modern experiences are fluid and interconnected. They involve different stakeholders and organizations and systems. These networked problems require multi-pronged, holistic solutions that tap into the experiences, hopes, and ideas of a variety of groups, not just a single design “visionary”. By working with these novel methods, we aim to help our clients spur meaningful change across all kinds of systems.

Want to find out more?

Over the next few months, we’ll be posting more in-depth articles about the methods we facilitated at the conference as well as our service design practice in general. Follow us on social media or sign-up to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with these and other industry thoughts and trends.

OpenRoad Service Design team at Converge: 2017 Canada Service Design Conference in Toronto