Monday, August 10, 2009

(Re)Introducing experience-based service design

When you are a researcher, you are supposed to know your field which in practice means something like knowing the history and origins of the field; understanding key concepts, theories, methods and tools; and keeping up to date with leading practitioners and other researchers. So this is your job. And you have your tricks for accessing the leading thinking and practice most likely combining the institutional (libraries, journals, databases, academic conferences, professional meetings, magazines) and the more informal (blogs, twitter, facebook, personal communications and oh yes – gossip). And then every now and then something comes along and makes you realise that your tricks have failed you. Something you really should have known about, but you didn’t, illustrates just how partial your research is.

This has recently happened to me. In the process of putting together a proposal about design for service in healthcare, I came across important work that was not on my radar. It really should have been (especially since I had downloaded the journal paper but never read it and trawl through service design blogs where the work was mentioned). But it was not.

I publish this confession here to point other researchers and practitioners interested in service design and design-led innovation to work that makes a valuable contribution to research and teaching by describing and analysing the application of design-based approaches based in attending to experience to innovation in healthcare services. Bate and Robert’s book (see below) draws in detail on a pilot study involving London-based consultancy Think Public using what Bate and Robert call “experience-based design” approaches and methods with head and neck cancer patients, carers and staff as a way to improve services in an English hospital. Bate and Robert’s discussion of the roots of experience design (or service design rooted in stakeholder experience) in phenomenology, ethnography and narrative offers managers an intelligent but digestible analysis of what this approach does, how, and why it matters. It's on my MBA reading list for next year for sure.

Bate, Paul and Robert, Glenn (2007) Bringing User Experience to Healthcare Improvement: The Concepts, Methods and Practices of Experience-Based Design, Oxford: Radcliffe.
Some of the book is available to read here.

Web resources
Think Public
The NHS Institute of Innovation and Improvement has synthesized this study and presents an overview of experience-based design. People working inside the NHS can order a toolkit and access other resources.

Academic paper
Bate, Paul and Robert, Glenn (2007) "Toward More User-Centric OD: Lessons From the Field of Experience-Based Design and a Case Study." Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 43; 41

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