Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Think-and-make-tank for Soul of Africa

We've had an amazing response to our call for designers to participate in the one day workshop in April. In this 'think-and-make-tank', designers will collaborate with 36 Oxford MBA students and participants from the Soul of Africa organization to help frame and tackle some of the challenges this social enterprise is facing. A few weeks ago I put out a call to designers via emails to colleagues and friends, via blogs and on twitter. Over 75 designers applied, from many different disciplines, many from outside the UK including Finland, France, South Africa and the US. I was only able to pick 12 and that was very hard indeed. Our resources limited us to covering travel expenses in the UK.

From reading through the designers' statements, I have a strong sense that the shift that was already taking place within design education and practice, away from a fascination with highly styled consumer goods to a design practice that is concerned with equity and sustainability, has now changed things permanently. As the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship opens today in my building at Said Business School in Oxford, it's clear that designers, both students, professionals and educators, want to apply their practice to systemic problems we are all implicated in. One of the challenges is to create opportunities for that to happen.

Further details about the think-and-make-tank will be posted in in the next few weeks. For those interested in creating projects of their own, here are resources that may help through inspiration or more directly.
Social Innovation Camp
The RSA Design Directions Awards
Audi Design Foundation

Monday, March 23, 2009

Steve Vargo: Service-dominant logic

Vargo and Lusch are key thinkers within management studies addressing the theory gap in services - of relevance to service designers as much as to service managers. At a seminar organized by the Advanced Institute of Management (AIM) last week, I was able to hear Steve Vargo first hand on the service-dominant logic. References to the key papers are below. There's also a book which I have not yet read. This is the quick summary of what Vargo presented which draws on the papers. Calling their ideas a 'logic' does not mean Vargo and Lusch are making claims to something that works similarly to a mathematical proof. Rather, they are drawing attention to the underlying dynamics of economic theory if it's rethought as to do with service, rather than products to which, in the industrial production model based on a (mis)reading of Adam Smith, value is added. The fundamental idea is that people (and organizations) exchange services for services.

1 There are no services - only service. (The use of the singular draws attention away from 'services' as offerings that are produced slightly differently to products, to the concept of a service-based economic model. This has already been influential in the renaming of the IBM-led initiative services science as service science.)

2 There is no new service economy. Instead all economies are inherently service economies. Some services are direct and some are indirect, involving goods or money.

3 There are no producers and consumers. Instead all parties are what Vargo and Lusch currently call 'resource integrators' playing a role in assembling resources in to offerings. Service is a process.

4 Goods are not 'goods'. Intead goods are value propositions within service. Goods (what some people call products) are 'appliances' for service delivery.

5 Firms do not create value. Value is co-created.

6 There is no B2C. Instead, economic interactions are all B2B in which all of us are resource integrators operating at different scales.

My apologies to Steve Vargo if I have got their ideas wrong in this summary.

Vargo, S. and R. Lusch (2004), “Evolving to a new dominant logic in Marketing,” /Journal of Marketing, /68, 1-17
Invited Commentaries on “Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing”, /Journal of Marketing /Vol. 68 (January 2004), 18–27
Vargo, Stephen L. and Lusch Robert (2008), "Service-dominant logic: continuing the evolution," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 36 (1), 1-10.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Designers wanted: Join a Think-and-Make-Tank for Soul of Africa

Wednesday 22 April 2009 10-5.30pm
Saïd Business School, Oxford

We need up to 10 designers who want to use their design practices and skills to help social enterprise Soul of Africa tackle some of the challenge facing it, during a one-day workshop in Oxford in collaboration with MBA students.

The workshop is a participative, creative "think-and-make-tank" that brings together people from management and from design to use visual methods to analyze and tackle specific problems identified by an organization. MBA students from Saïd Business School will be joined by designers from different disciplines to help social enterprise Soul of Africa engage with key challenges.

Soul Of Africa is a charitable initiative and a self-sustainable project created to facilitate employment and funding aimed at helping orphans affected by AIDS through the sale of hand-stitched shoes. Unemployed and unskilled women in South Africa are trained to hand-stitch shoes, giving them the self-empowering ability to feed their families and provide them with essential health care.

Download more details here.

What we are looking for

Designers (recent graduates, current MA or BA design students, and design professionals) are invited to take part. Ideally, we’d like a mixture of people from these backgrounds:
- visual communication
- product/industrial design
- service design
- interface design
- fashion
- design management

How to get involved

To apply, send an email to Lucy Kimbell (lucy dot kimbell at sbs dot ox dot ac dot uk), to arrive on or by Friday 20 March 2009.

The email must include
- your name and contact details and any institutional affiliation
- your design discipline (eg product, visual communication)
- up to 150 words on why you want to participate.

Successful participants will be contacted by Friday 3 April at the latest. Reasonable travel expenses to Oxford (standard class return, UK only) will be reimbursed to those who attend the workshop, on the production of a receipt.