The sweet spot
Over the years I have been lucky to be involved in many interesting and complex projects. Service designers are no longer being brought in just to resolve isolated service issues such as “how can we increase the number of people buying our product?”, we are now being asked to address more complex questions such as “how can we reduce childhood obesity rates?” - tricky, wicked problems that need us to have an understanding of the whole landscape surrounding the issue.
It’s questions like these that require us to take a new approaches to ensure that we can have an impactful, long lasting change - often at scale. I have found that the best solutions often include, or at least take into account the social, data and future elements of a challenge.
a) Social: Using human-centred design helps to address social issues, take stock of what wider factors impact/influence them and ensure that solutions are inclusive and address user needs.
b) Data: Using data (and digital tools) makes it possible to understand user needs and complex issues better, as well as measuring the impact of our solutions and iterating to improve where necessary.
c) Futures: Using futures tools and techniques to highlight emerging opportunities, shift current mindsets, envision different futures and ensure that any solutions created take into account predicted future landscapes.
By understanding these three elements it becomes possible to gain a more detailed understanding of the issue, where it sits within the surrounding landscape and how to build more sustainable solutions. It's in this sweet spot, which exists in the middle of the three, where it starts to become possible to address systems challenges.