Last week I was at Service Design in Government — an annual gathering of publicly minded design & digital folk from across the UK and around the world. I’ve not been for a couple of years (I’ve been busy becoming a parent and renovating a house!) so it was a great opportunity to catch up and to think about what might come next.

It was a busy three days, and there was much that was thought provoking and inspiring — even in just the sessions I could go to — so I can’t possibly do all of it justice here. I’d definitely urge you to check out the programme and any materials that are available (including via #sdingov on Twitter ). …

‘So’ and ‘that’ are two little words that pack a mighty punch. If you’re trying to bring about change or want to spend your time delivering more useful things then they can be your secret weapon.

Over the years I’ve found myself using them in conversations with senior leaders, product managers, tech evangelists, school governors and even friends and family. Usually this happens just after one of these has told me, with great conviction, about a thing that must be done, or written, or bought — to which I respond simply (and sometimes skeptically) ‘so that?’

I realise this might seem pretty annoying at first, but it’s amazing how it can lead to really useful conversations about what it is they actually want to achieve — the end and not the means. …

There’s a lot about service design that’s good and powerful and exciting for the public sector, but as interest starts to grow there’s perhaps also a risk of some unintended consequences — particularly for smaller or less well funded organisations.

What’s in a name?

To begin with there’s a lot packed into the term service design, so it’s potentially open to misinterpretation or even abuse.

My personal take is that there are three main things going on. I’m not suggesting that this is the definitive way to view it (far from it!) …


Sarah Prag

Helping things change since 1999. Via eBay, BBC, GDS, Doteveryone. Now Bristol based and roaming free.