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Pilot Session for Design Support – the Innovation Lab in Northern Ireland

In September the Innovation Lab ran it’s Service Design Pilot with five SME’s. The session was advertised across the creative sector but companies came from a range of sectors, all representing different stages of business development. Numbers in attendance were kept low to create ample opportunity to pre-test the pilot, by seeking feedback throughout, including feedback on using the service design tools introduced in the session. This allows us to build upon the iterative approach we have applied to the project to date.

This initial pilot session comprised of training across three key areas, 1) the context (to include the experience economy), 2) the customer, and 3) the journey. The session was highly interactive to facilitate maximum learning through discussion. Key examples of service design in everyday businesses, on the global and local level, in the session enabled people to see the value of service design. The session, however, illustrated that having more time to learn about the transition to a new economy and what this means, would he helpful. A future session therefore will benefit from having more examples as businesses do emulate what they recognise as successful in other businesses. It is anticipated that seeing the the positive impact and value in service design will be important to offset the risk aversion experienced in adopting new approaches that are considered ‘untested’ in Northern Ireland. Anything that can ensure a greater willingness to experiment with service design tools will facilitate a sense of empowerment and buy-in. MINDSET CHANGE, which is the greater intention here to ensure maximum positive impact for businesses going forward, will require buy-in.

Phase two, which is embedded in Belfast Design Week, takes place as a two-day programme in early November. Learning from the pilot will inform the delivery of this session which offers more in-depth training. Three businesses will subsequently be selected to avail of mentoring support. These will form the basis for showcases to share across the business community to further demonstrate the positive impact service design can have on a business. This second phase is a huge opportunity to facilitate peer learning, access increased learning opportunities across different levels, e.g. lunchtime sessions that look at tools such as the empathy map but which are embedded in general business sessions. Essentially, it allows us to reach as many businesses in the community as possible and expose them to service design examples, tools and the user perspective.

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