The International Service Design Experience Cork

Yesterday marked Cork's first Service Design Conference. The conference was organised by ServiceRepublic - a joint initiative by Cork Institute of Technology and Cork County Council. The lineup of speakers was diverse. The UK has led the way in service design for many years and the UK public sector was well represented with Louise Downe (Head of Design, UK Government Digital Services), Cat Macauley (Head of User Research and Service Design at the Scottish Government) and Samantha Jones (Former Director of New Care Models Programme, NHS) who all provided great examples of how service design can be used to transform people, organisations and government. Simon O'Rafferty's presentation on design at the Environmental Protection Agency was another highlight of the morning session. I was really looking forward to hearing him talk again after his excellent presentation at the Service Design Masterclass in Cork in 2015. 

Michelle Nelson (UCC) and Heather Madden (CIT) did a great job of describing how service design is being used to transform the student experience in Cork.  Great credit must go to Heather and Catherine Murphy at CIT for all their efforts in making Cork a hub for service design excellence in Ireland. 

Dave Sammon and Paidi O'Reilly's presentation on the "Messiness of Design" warned against the use of design for the design's sake, and made an impassioned plea for designers to learn from the design process. This pragmatic view of design was echoed by Lorna Ross of Fjord design which for me was the highlight of the day. Lorna's warts and all view of design was a breath of fresh air. She warned against the fetishisation of design artefacts and rise of "design by the yard". One only has to look at the countless Pinterest sites collecting Journey Maps and Service Blueprints to realise that we have become as obsessed with the artefacts of service design as the practice itself!