Dark matter, service ecosystems, and outside-in thinking — How might service design disrupt dominant logics in educational development?
Pragmatic educational developers interested in enabling meaningful learning experiences and organizational change can learn from service design, a design movement that is reshaping institutions and organizations worldwide and driving social innovation.
What do you think?
Gordon Ross and Jess McMullin shared some terrific links from the recent Code for America conference in San Francisco.
Tom Loosemore’s keynote on Government Digital Services in the UK was memorable for a couple of key points:
1. Transforming government service requires breaking down the caste system and silos between policy makers and front-line operators. To reform a service, all stakeholders must be at the planning and design table. Loosemore notes a key first step is for all stakeholders to attend to policy intent and for all to address user needs.
2. Loosemore talks a lot about GDS and Gov.uk as as a platform for service and the need for some parts of government to reshape themselves to cut across traditional organizational silos and boundaries between discrete castes amongst categories of government workers.
Loosemore’s talk about service transformation resonates for higher education because it challenges professional staff to consider how we might think about education as a horizontal service platform and how we might work towards integrating and reducing boundaries and hierarchies that lessen or weaken the value of the learning experience for students or scholarly experience for academics.
I am aware of at least three institutions that have already taken first steps towards using service design to ameliorate user experience in higher education: University of California Berkeley and University of Derby, and Queen’s University, Kingston. Faculty and staff at all three have started by addressing the experience for students interfacing with university systems. What I have yet to find is an example of higher education service design that integrates a focus on students experience and also addressin the complexity of university organizations and other user communities that comprise them.
Loosemore’s call for design teams to turn to policy intent led me to the insight that higher education professionals and faculty can and should attend to the fundamental principles underlying the organization and institution they are working within. In my case, that means not only attending to the dark matter of SFU policy but also the well-articulated mission and values of The Beedie School of Business. If users spend the time at the outset of a project reconnecting with fundamental policy commitments and principles that might clarify the path and direction for a specific curriculum initiative.
Finally Loosemore’s talk incudes a memorable quotation about the value of starting with policy and working forward to address user needs:
“You would be surprised at the detritus of accreted nonsense that you can strip away.”
At the urging of my friend and colleague Barb Berry, I recently read Michael Quinn Patton‘s book Developmental Evaluation.
It has been a long time since I have read a professional text with as engaging a style and tone.
What challenges me about Patton’s book is that it addresses evaluation work at a high level of sophistication. It assumes readers are capable evaluators and explores the practice of evaluation in a way that focuses on the why? rather than the how. True the book offers lists of possible evaluation frameworks and describes cases and examples of how complexity concepts may be applied by evaluators, their clients, and collaborators. But, even though I am a dabbler in the field of evaluation, I appreciated not being told what to do and rather being able to reason my way to what might work in a given situation.
The book has resonated as I have gone about my week observing an innovative program and offering just-in-time developmental feedback to the people involved. It has primed me to attend to the emergent, unanticipated outcomes and situations and the obstacles that they have created for people.
Patton’s book will resonate for anyone who is working to develop a social innovation. It persuades me that there is value for an insider/outsider evaluator on high stakes innovation programs. Patton’s book will appeal to innovators who are already inclined towards complexity, systems thinking, and other outside-in ecological ways of looking at growing a product, service or program. Cynefin practioners may appreciate Patton’s application of Snowden and Boone.
For pioneering service and strategy designers, developmental evaluation offers ways to evaluate the impact of service and strategy prototypes and innovations. If a future goal of service design agencies is to take service designs all the way to implementation and evaluation, developmental evaluation should feature on user research teams’ learning plan.
The Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education is holding its annual conference in Dallas, TX in early November, and POD recently announced they would be holding a couple of UnConference sessions.
I am toying with proposing a lightening talk and have to brainstorm a proposed title and one-sentence summary by next week.
Here a five titles I brainstormed yesterday. Would you vote for any of them? Why?
1. Service Design, Team Coaching, and Work-based Social Performance Support, or How might we disrupt the dominant logics of educational development?
2. Everything I learned about educational development, I learned from Australia, Hong Kong, and Sweden, Or, Why North American educational developers should attend to ideas from elsewhere.
3. Against educational development relativism, or Why teaching and learning centres should resist anything goes.
4. “It’s the relationships, stupid!”: Non-directive educational development
5. What’s your unit of analysis? Individuals, teams, units, institutions or systems
What do you think? Seen a great lightning talk in the past? Help me out and. Share a link to the talk or description in the comments.