Greetings from the SDN conference


For the seventh year SDN is organizing its global conference. This year in Stockholm, with around 600 participants. The theme of the conference is Creating Value for Quality of Life. Apart from a Buddhist monk convinvcing us that not everything can be designed, Nathan Shedroff recapturing his work on Experiential Values, and Service Designers focusing on the largest and most important challenges, there were two particularly interesting themes from a VISUAL perspective.

The first was employee engagement and service design. For many companies employee engagement has to do with the Human Resource department, focusing on the frontline staff. Service design, on the other hand, sometimes is confused with user experience. For Air B&B, Mark Levy showed, these two are hinged together. Employee engagement drive user experience and vice versa, which together form one interesting nexus where service design makes a difference.

The second has to do with what happens after design work has been done. There seem to be two typical cases, one where the design requires change from the organisation, and the other where change is not as articulated. Several talks touched upon this issue; Nathan Shedroff, Malin Orebäck, Richard Newland, etc.

In the former, there is a step, sometimes several leaps from intent to execution. In most change projects there is a large need to spend time on making sure that many layers of decision makers are willing to change and have tools to support change to happen. In many cases, a lot of decisions has to be made, and a time-ordered structure of decision making is installed, which might stretch over several years. Parallell processes of change and development increase the complexity of envisioning future possibilities. In order for design to be resilient in relationship to these processes, briefs might have to be altered as change progresses and new learning appears.

In the latter, there is still need for the design work done to support decision making. decision making in many organisations is done in several different dimensions. Some decisions will require more measurable criteria, such as output. Many of the more qualitative, or indirect, values of an implemented design concept are important, but might not be that which is the secure grounding for a go/no-go decision. With increasing size and complexity of an organisation, the decisions and implementation might be distributed across the organisation, and over longer periods of time. Some decisions might need to be done easily and budgets decided, other decisions might need to be “anchored” through an organizational process.

Implementations of concepts might therefore have a totally different appearance and structure than expected from the initial concept delivered.

If you want to find out more about the conference, follow this link:

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The VISUAL project
Project leader:
Ragnhild Halvorsrud, SINTEF ICT
E-mail: ragnhild.halvorsrud <at>

Project owner:
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The project is an innovation project supported by the Research Council of Norway.

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