Since 2008 Service Design Drinks and Service Design Thinks has run in London bringing together people interested in service design. Drinks nights bring people interested in service design together to meet over a casual drink. Thinks nights also gather the community under one roof to hear inspiring stories, projects and experiences of people working in or on the fringes of service design.
Over the years the network and model of Service Design Drinks and Thinks has evolved organically, now coming under a single name – servicedesigning.org which is also the domain of our website.
In the beginning, when Nick Marsh, Jaimes Nel and I joined forces to coordinate and host Drinks and Thinks we received many emails from others around the world interested in the model and in how the same types of event could happen in their own city. To share the servicedesigning.org model we created an online platform which would give other city coordinators and hosts the opportunity to easily create their own service design events, with some cities running their own locally specific events such as Amsterdam’s Service Design Reading Circle. On average, servicedesigning.org is joined by a new city each month and the website is now host to fourteen cities around the world including London, Paris, San Francisco, Dublin, Lisbon, Cologne, Berlin, Sao Paulo, Amsterdam, Glasgow, Leeds, Sydney, Madrid, Stockholm.
In our early servicedesigning.org days, one of the first emails we received was from Damian Kernahan of Proto Partners in Sydney, Australia. Sydney Service Design Drinks and Thinks has now been running for a year and every event is held at the Trinity Bar in the inner city suburb of Surry Hills. Last Tuesday night was my first foray into the Sydney Service Design community and my first Service Design Drinks and Thinks outside of London. The web blog Service Designing Australia posted a summary of the night, but below is a short report from me.
On a balmy summer’s night in Sydney, a group of about 60 gathered upstairs in a private room at the Trinity Bar.
When I arrived the room was buzzing. I met many new faces and old friends, including Damien who shared with me many stories and ideas for growing and evolving the Sydney service design community. Damian does a fantastic job at bringing people together and hosting the night. For this Sydney Drinks and Thinks, Damien asked Jeremy Walker, Innovation Coach at BT Financial Group (not to be confused with the BT telco company in the UK!) to speak about service design.
Jeremy recently moved to Sydney from London after a career of working with the Design Council, RAC and most recently at live|work. Jeremy’s talk was titled ‘What is a service?’ and he maintained throughout, that understanding a service is more important than aiming to define service design. Why? Because you cannot design a service without understanding all its different aspects. This doesn’t just include the service user, but all essential aspects of the organisation delivering the service from its people, to its data, to its structure and so on. Understanding a service is understanding all the organisation’s nuts and bolts.
Throughout this argument Jeremy expertly intertwined 15 years of experience throughout the UK and Europe. Many of the UK-based organisations Jeremy worked with were familiar names, and it made me a little homesick and missing the gang in London. At the end of Jeremy’s talk a short Q&A took place and I noticed quite a number of questions around prototyping services. It was good to see as I’m working on a paper on prototyping public services.
Shortly after the Q&A the Trinity Bar emptied out. It was 9pm and a work night and I left having had a great time. It was wonderful to come back to my home city, after being away for so long, to meet a whole new community of old and new friends who share the same interests in one place. For me, the night certainly took some edge off the tricky transition from feeling homesick to starting to feel a bit more like home.
Finally, something for old time’s sake… I realised I never posted on my UK blog Letters to Australia… pictures from my last London Service Design Drinks at the Slaughtered Lamb (3 December 2010) in Clerkenwell. Good times.