Unknown Origins

Clive Grinyer on Service Design

October 21, 2020 Clive Grinyer Season 1 Episode 16
Unknown Origins
Clive Grinyer on Service Design
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Clive Grinyer is a Design pioneer who provides perspective on the many breakthrough products, services, and experiences that he has invented that have improved people's lives, positively impacted society, and reflected the popular culture. By instilling values and translating experiences across space and time by enabling people from different cultures and times to communicate through feelings, senses, images, sounds, and stories that provide us with purpose and meaning.

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Roy Sharples:

Hello and welcome to the unknown origins podcast series, the purpose of which is to deliver inspirational conversations with creative industry personalities on entrepreneurship, pop culture, arts, music, film and fashion. today's podcast is focused on service design, for which I have the privilege of chatting with Clive Grinyer. Clive is an acknowledged expert in design thinking digital and technology innovation, service design, and customer experience. In 2018. Creative review place Clive in the top 50, a trustee of the Royal Society of arts, a visiting professor at Glasgow School of Art on the chair of the design Business Association design effectiveness award. Clive currently heads up the surface design program at the Royal College of Art in London. He leads the teaching and research activities for the pioneering an influential course that develops human centered solutions with social government, health care, financial and business partners. He is a strategic adviser to business in the USA and Europe and works with public sector bodies, including the policy lab in the UK Government covenant office, Nesta innovate UK and service and digital companies and startups. His career has spanned senior leadership roles at Barclays Bank, Cisco, Samsung, led award winning design teams for orange innovation consultancy IDEO in the US on the design founder consultancy tangerine, along with Apple design, Chief Sir Johnny Ive. Hello, and welcome Clive.

Clive Grinyer:

Hello, Roy

Roy Sharples:

Great to be here. What inspired and attracted you into service design in the first place?

Clive Grinyer:

So that's an interesting question, because of course, service design hasn't existed for the entirety of my life as a designer. So it was kind of more of a discovery. And the somewhat accidental one, that I would say that the root of my interest and, and discovery of service design goes, goes back to my life as a product designer. And I started life graduating from Central Saint Martin's, with a real interest in public engagement, and engineering, or something like that. Yeah, it was this desire to actually design the products that people used, I found fabulous and managed to get myself into a Central School of Art and Design as it was then now Central Saint Martins, when you work as a product designer, especially in my early career, working with wonderful people, such as some mortgages associated it to who became the big international design consultancy idea, you realize that you can't just design a product, by shape or an imagination, imaginative thought in your head, you actually are quite constrained or enabled by a whole load of decisions that are to do with material choice, manufacturing, process choice. And those those choices are made often on the size of the market or financial. So I learned very, very early on as a product designer, that you couldn't design in isolation and quite a lot of other strategic things, systems and yes, and decisions that had to be made. And I spent most of my design life trying to go upstream. Because if I wanted to put a beautiful curve on a product I was designing, I kind of had to justify it. And and check there was an investment that would allow it was going to total it up. You know, it was I just was I just designing with a bit of bent sheet metal. And I found that side of the design process really fascinating. There were lots of decisions that would allow me creative freedom or not. Yeah. So that that got me interested in that side of things. And the other aspect of product design that I think is very interesting is the factoring of time. And the example I have of that is if we design something like a vacuum cleaner has a product designer, there's obviously a lot of design decisions around the actual using of the vacuum cleaner. But then you go and put a hook on it or something so that you could hang it up when you're not using it. And I always found that quite interesting that there was not just the usage there was the not using it. It was the storage of things the cable has to wire. Yeah, you know the hose pipes. So this is a convoluted way of saying that I was interested in the systemic side of design very early on. And then I got into digital through Working with orange, the telecommunications company sadly doesn't exist in the UK anymore. But does in many countries owned by France Telecom now. And I was taken in to be a customer experience person because they wanted a product designer who thought that way. We really like both sides realized quite late on they didn't. They miss named the job. And they really wanted somebody to look at the the user interface from a product design experience, they call that customer experience. But in the meantime, I discovered that a real customer experience was a whole host of activities like their attitude for the salespeople in the in the retail environment, the contact center, the performance of the network, you know, the handset was just a portal to this thing I realized was a service. So it was in fact, going into the digital world. And being Miss Miss titled in my job title that made me discover customer experience. And then I realized that we needed to orchestrate that and not otherwise it was an accident. And we all know that the bits of customer experiences that go wrong are the ones we remember. Yeah. So the idea that we could design customer experience and design the service with all the touch points was a powerful epiphany for me. Probably about 1015 years ago when I when I was at Orange,

Roy Sharples:

the orange brand was an unusual name for a telcos firm. And their brand values on logo underpin that that edginess, confidence and belief with our slogan, the future's bright, the future is orange. As a fledgling software engineer and interaction designer, I was involved in some consultant work at Orange and the mid 1990s. on there, just talk pay as you go mobile solution to enable consumers to purchase credit in advance of service use. And they were a young, dynamic and very much in vogue at the time. So that really saddens me to hear what they became or have not became.

Clive Grinyer:

Absolutely, I always, I mean, that's what I went there was such an attractive brand. And, you know, I felt that that had the potential of being a European apple. Yes, it's my fruits up. But, of course, I then went on to start or had I done that already. Yes, I had already started my own company, tangerine Previous to that. So and of course, my colleague at tangerine, Johnny, Ive was at Apple, yes, so we have a lot of a lot of fruit in our lives. But ya know, they were great. And you know, it was orange, not not Vodafone or T Mobile, it was absolute antidote to technology. And it was all about the human value in technology, which is still a battle I wage now what does being a service designer mean to you? So the challenge of being a service designer and and also the joy of being a service designer, is, I suppose the the ability to stand back and see the system as a whole. And then identify how you can orchestrate I use that word again, the system to actually bring joy and efficiency and solutions to really intangible problems that I would never have imagined myself being able to solve in my previous guises as different type of designer. So yeah, for me, as a product designer, I designed things. The first thing I designed was a car radio for Ford, I thought that was fantastic. You know, but and then later on a, you know, fizzy drink machine or, or a toilet. And that was very exciting. And I felt that was terribly important. And then wonder went into digital and I realized that was another world that you could influence. It's a scale that was you know, almost unimaginable. And I very much enjoyed as a digital designer. At orange actually, again, was when I was correlated, certainly for the first time for orange. That usability was affecting revenue in a positive way. They had this Nokia phone and a Motorola phone. Very quick anecdote. And they thought that Nakia phone was more successful for the mainly because Nokia people were cooler and had more friends. But I was able to prove it was usability of a Nokia was way better than a Motorola and that's why they were earning more from their Nokia's. So that was a great, a great thing to discover as well. But as I, as I got into service design, began to realize that we were able to solve some really tricky things like the customer journey of bereavement at the bank. It's a horrible experience and service design beyond user experience in digital design, beyond product design, was able to actually solve problems like that. And I think the combination of that was last year I worked with policy lab In the UK government, and one point, we were working in the United Nations in New York, solving some really interesting problems. And I thought, wow, this is a long way from a car radio and a fizzy drink machine. So I think in a nutshell, it's the impact you can have is what I really love about services,

Roy Sharples:

how do you go about making the invisible, visible and coming up with ideas and then turning those ideas and the concepts that are then executed and then actualized.

Clive Grinyer:

So in becoming a service designer, and also during my time at the design council about 15 years ago, actually, it probably goes back even before that, I wrote a book, I was interested in creative process, I was interested in design methodologies. So I wrote a book 20 years ago called Smart products, smart designs got a few different names, depending which edition you buy. And I was really, I just loved exploring 20 very different processes, ways of thinking, individual designers, design teams, from cars, to robot dogs to every type of product. And that got me interested in the processes of design and trying to articulate them better, so that people understood them. That was my original motivation. And I learned a lot about my own process. When I got to the design Council, in the UK, and where I was, in the early noughties, we wanted to help people understand design and see its value. That was our job. Really. Yeah. And that went from small companies, to big companies, to politicians, even governments. And, and we actually created a kind of mapping of design process that some people might be very familiar with, and some people might have never heard of which we call the Double Diamond. And the Double Diamond was came from research. And it was an attempt to understand why so many people's design projects, development projects, in whatever sought or type went wrong. And they normally went wrong, because people would see a problem, have one idea, and then deliver it at great speed and cost, usually then didn't work, and was probably solving the wrong problem. Didn't understand what it was really meant to be doing. And I found that fascinating. Yeah. So creativity is a really undervalued part of service design, because people, perhaps as a result of my double design diamond process, spend a lot of time going back to the source material and finding out what is the problem we should be solving. And I do think that is incredibly important. And I find that going out and talking to real people and understanding what they really struggle with is something that we are still incredibly bad at. So for me, the creative process starts before it. It starts with understanding what is really going on. And my my favorite story of discovery is, is at the during the development process of terminal five in Heathrow, London's airport major airport. And they looked at a number of, you know, future forecasting trends as they developed that terminal and realize that one particular trend was that people were aging fast, but still wealthy and healthy. And therefore, it was likely that older people would travel more. So they followed older people around the airport to see if they could get some insight they could put into the design process and make it you know, friendly to an older user. And one thing they noticed immediately was that older people went to went into the toilets a lot. So they kind of made an assumption there that they obviously had weak bladders. And they would have to increase the numbers of toilets. But one slightly strange researcher went in and followed older people into the toilet and discovered they were standing around listening to the announcements, because it was the only place they can hear when their flight was caught in a noisy, you know, hubbub of an airport, concentrating on retail environment rather than getting you to your gate. So that was a fantastic piece of insert that you know, then then you look at Terminal five now it has lots of seating areas away from return has very good sound systems and lots more signage so you can see your flight. And it's just a much more relaxed experience because of that, but I love that epiphany of going into a toilet and finding somebody not doing what you would expect them to do. And and getting an insight that then drives your creativity because then it becomes very easy and enjoyable to solve that problem and to imagine how to do that and the the two other things about creativity I really value enormously. First is simple quantity of ideas. People non designers are very puzzled by the idea they should have more than one idea and you know, I love Makes like crazy eights and brainstorming and yes, and the safe space of allowing people to have ideas without being criticized. The back to the Double Diamond, the shape of the diamond refers to whether you should be divergent in your thinking, and then convergence. So yes, when you're being creative, have lots and lots of ideas, you know, if you, if you haven't got lots of ideas, you might not have had the real one that's going to change the world. And then you focus and prioritize, and it doesn't mean you, you develop lots of ideas, but you've got have had lots of ideas. So I'm a big, big believer in that. And then the second aspect of that is I really enjoy getting people to think out of their comfort zone. So I run. Usually my brainstorming like, I love putting people into pretending they work for a different company like apple or Disney yet or pretending they're pretending they're Donald Trump. How would Donald Trump solve this give me eight ideas now. And people go crazy with that. They love it. So I'm a big believer that creativity is something a lot of people more people can do than they think. But I think some of these techniques really surprise people how creative they can be, and how they can combine their sort of latent knowledge with with with really great ideas, but don't just have one, I've lost and think out of the box, like everyone says, absolutely.

Roy Sharples:

So dovetailing into this the skills and capabilities needed to be a service designer, what do you what do you think that the key skills are needed to be a service designer? Are?

Clive Grinyer:

It's it's a really good question. And it's one we talk about a lot, actually, with my tutors and visiting lecturers. service design has a perhaps a reputation of being a little bit formulaic, there were a bunch of tools, you know, might be a journey map, or an empathy map or stakeholder map, or it might be to I'm trying to think I blueprint, you know, there are these quite well known tools that service design delivers. And lots of people pick up that toolkit and, you know, announced to the world that they are service designers, but I think the reality is that you can have those tools and still fail and still not change the world. And so I talk about a bunch of behaviors, actually, that I think are the key skills for a good service designer. And there's a sort of four key ones. I think one of the first one is curiosity, insane curiosity, you know, who was that person that went into the toilets? You know, that's insane. But they did it. Yeah. And I think that's where you find the, you know, the amazing epiphanies of discovery. Yeah. And then so that curiosity is important. And second skill or behavior you need, I think, is the courage to go back to the world and talent, like it really is and say, that thing you think is working or you think is absolutely fine is not, you know, it needs to be better. And I think that is combine that courage with an optimism and optimism that we can make an improvement on every single thing in the world. And every service designer worth their salt has that optimism. Yeah, they don't look at something and say, Oh, I don't think I can improve that. Well, who would say that? Yeah. So that optimism that you can do better is a great driver, but the courage to go and tell people that they should do better. And here are the here that is the reality that will help them make it better. And then collaboration, design has become especially in service design, a very collaborative thing, this is not about a mystical designer from a mountain top coming down and and saying this is what you should do. It's different to that now we're facilitating increasingly leading actually transformation, and change, but using our skills, and our tools, and our behavior to do that. So I think collaboration, the ability to go and persuade somebody who does not want to change with the evidence with the creativity, and the solutions to make change is really important. And then a sense of sort of openness is part of that as well. And my fourth c comment as I said, curiosity, courage, collaboration, oh, I'm creativity elf, of course. The third one was creativity. And this is where service designers sometimes forget to be creative is always well, knowing what the problem is. It's all very well knowing how to affect change, but we need brilliant ideas. And that's where creativity and making things tangible very, very quickly and trying them out prototyping, validating that's a key skill in service design. Stop the discussion stop the procrastination stop. The constant indecision are we right? Are we wrong? Do we dare just do it in a small way In a painless way, in a way you learn, and be honest that you can be wrong, and then do it again to your right. That to me is, is certainly how I teach design and I how I feed creativity into the system.

Roy Sharples:

One of the things that came across really strongly there, Clive was the importance of the role of the outsider, outsiders can sometimes see the solutions to problems than the actual domain expert themselves. Sometimes the farther a problem is from the the problem solvers area of expertise, the more likely they are to find a solution because they can see the problem from a fresh perspective, and can often apply solutions that are novel to the field. And they're not constrained by the same formulaic methods, or constraints that may be a domain expert might have habitually am formed over over time. I think this is due to the ability of an outsider from relatively distant fields, to see problems with fresh eyes, and apply solutions that are novel to the problem domain, but well known and understood by them. And I think the other theme there, as well as your point around the, the person that was doing the observation, analysis within t five at Heathrow is the ability to turn left when you're supposed to turn right and to break through the doors that you're not supposed to knock on and fight your way through through original thought and the right solution. And it might not, it might not be the most obvious at that point in time. And so seeking the unseen by challenging the conventional visual tastes and perceptions, and make what you do. Beautiful in right, by diametrically opposing the values of what might be perceived as the the norm or the status quo. Is that typical pattern and technique that you typically see within this line of work,

Clive Grinyer:

Clive? I do. And I think that's an excellent point. I'm glad you picked up on that. It's it's a subject of constant debate, actually. But I think there is a massive advantage to being non expert, I'm expert in the tools of service design. I'm not expert in surgery, or running accounts or anything else. But when we put their expertise with my expertise, you get something amazing. And I think that ability to be a generalist is something I'm really proud of. But it is something that people struggle with experts themselves can get quite territorial and upset at some, some, I don't know, Polo, Polo neck too loud, and Lady popping in with some, you know, post it notes and some Sharpies, they don't like it or this. So one has to build other skills of diplomacy and the like. But I think it's that that's that that's where collaboration really works expertise with this set of processes that challenges we're here to challenge. And we're here to be to ask the stupid questions without caring about whether whether we're going to sound stupid, because we're do something with it, you know, we'll make something quickly and effective, that will have impact. And every last act of service design, every project I've ever worked on, has involved a high degree of convincing people quickly getting a result. So people then understand the impact you are probably going to have, and you bring them into the fold. And then you're marching at great speed. But it is some It is always an issue. But I think you're right. For me, it's the power of being the outsider, looking left and others, right. That's very nice.

Roy Sharples:

If you weren't 18 again, now, and you know what you do today? What would you do differently if I told anything?

Clive Grinyer:

That's a great question. I've been asked that question a couple of times. And I was racking my brain to remember how I replied. But I because often I'm talking to you know, people of that age, actually, which is really one of the great pleasures of life. I think the honest answer is, I wish I'd had the confidence to realize I was right all along. With age comes, you know, it's much easier to make your point as you're older and experienced, or perhaps just have a better ability to put points across. But I realize now that many things I was told I was wrong about and I actually wasn't and we need you know, perhaps we just need to be better at that communication and listening in order to communicate but the core thoughts and and desires to put things right, were were right, and I should have fought a bit harder, but maybe I should have understood how to communicate them better. So that might be the different thing. The other thing I have learned Over time, is a better understanding of people who are entirely different to me people who have entirely different Myers Briggs profile. And and you know, to whom I appear as a chocolate teapot. Because I'm fluffy and designer II and not an expert, you know, and certainly in working in very intense areas like a bank, you can get people who just look at you, and think, why are you even in the room? Yeah. So being able to, to put across New ideas, creative, brilliant solutions in a way that doesn't upset people have a different character and personality type is a real skill. And I'm beginning to pick it up, that I might have. If someone had told me that when I was 18, I might have been more successful.

Roy Sharples:

What's your vision for the future of service design, including that? What do you see as the forces is driving change in industry, social culture, and economics, politics and technology? And what do you envision some of those solutions might be as we're, as we're navigating the future?

Clive Grinyer:

Well, what a great question that is, and the future service design is sort of moving in a daily basis. And I often find that it's my students at the Royal College of Art who are inventing the future of design and service design. And at the same time, there's some age old issues we want to be more successful at. So I think in terms of the nature of service design, it's a very magpie kind of thing. You know, we're currently stealing the clothes of behavioral science. But we've got creativity and they haven't. So that's great. And we've, and, you know, we are using associated design tools like speculative design, which is that ability to imagine quite a long way in the future. Yes. After a more critical dystopian view, I'm always criticizing my students being too optimistic. And the stories they tell, it's much more interesting when things go wrong. Yeah. And and, of course, the poster services of people like Airbnb and Uber, you know, 10 years down the line, there's riots in Barcelona and Ubers, nearly thrown out of London, you know, that's that, that that wonderful sort of, Oh, this is the service we all need. It goes bad sometimes. And I think it's good to think about that. So I think speculative design and future forecasting and things like that is an important aspect to service design that will develop. But what I see right now, is that I'm happily in a bubble of service designers who and service design friends, who employ people who come and do projects with us. And there's some fantastic companies, accountancy companies, health care, you know, we have incredible partners, but we're still a little blip on people's understanding of how we solve how humanity solved problems. And, you know, when you look at COVID, we automatically turn to science, which we need if we're going to have a vaccine, and we need to interpret the data and make the right decisions. that science has not helped deliver a track and trace system, which I don't think I need to tell anybody has been a total failure. You know, and when you look at something like a track and trace system, you realize that there's a service design project, we could have sorted that out in a week. Yeah. But we're not asked in. We're not invited to that party. When I go and talk at technology conferences about AI and blockchain. I've written research papers on blockchain. I know what I'm talking about. Yeah. And, and we've done projects with artificial intelligence companies, and they love it. But I went to a conference back in September, when when could go to conferences on November last year, and when it was announced that somebody from the Royal College of Art was coming on stage, everybody left? And you kind of think, Oh, I see they're expecting me to turn up with a painting or something. Yeah. So we have got a long way to go to help people understand that. There's this, that there are some design methodologies here that will really stop us making mistakes, and they will help us solve big problems. And they will help us be more sustainable, more humans centric. And this isn't a little niche. bunch of people on the side, there's something here for everyone to get involved with. And I think culturally, we're a really long way away from an acknowledgement of that, you know, if I go to the Design Museum in London, yeah, there's nothing that's all about service design there. It's all chairs and cars, posters. Yes. So we still have a long way to go. To understand that these intangible tools are valuable. It's one of the reasons I'm investing a lot of time in my students on storytelling. Because you know, we don't have a chair, we don't have a car, but we do have stories and we do have impact. And that's what we've chosen as our tangible medium to get our message across. But there's still a long way to go and I'm gonna do my damnedest to get us there. Thank you so much.

Roy Sharples:

It's been a real pleasure listening to your stories. Your insights and your perspective. Thank you very much.

Clive Grinyer:

Thank you real pleasure, delightful to discover unknown origins. So good luck with that

Roy Sharples:

and more inspirational conversations with creative industry personalities on entrepreneurship, pop culture, art, music, film and fashion. Please go to unknown origins.com

What inspired and attracted you to Service Design?
What does being a Service Designer mean to you?
What is your Creative Process?
What are the key skills needed to be a Service Designer?
Lessons learned: Pitfalls to avoid & keys to success?
What is your vision for the future?