Design and innovation week day 1

FullSizeRender+3March 2017

Hello from London.. retrospectively. This is my write up of an amazing immersive I attended.

Today was the first day of a week long immersion course, understanding how organisations and agencies here apply new technologies, design thinking and research. At the end of the day, our group of 20 are taken to a different cultural tour of London.

Today our hosts Ekaterina and Mo, introduced the week plan, and we got to meet the other participants, there is only one Londoner, one Irish person also now living in London. Other participants range from Russia, Poland, Brasil, China, Germany and Australia (Yours truly). Each day consists of a morning lecture, practical workshop, an afternoon session visiting an agency and then a short cultural tour to balance the brain.

First stop IBM

IMG_5783 (1) We visited via the subway (the tube) IBM London located on the Thames riverside, we heard a presentation from Nick le Fevre (@nklefevre) | Twitter  , an AI and Cognitive Computing Consultant at IBM Watson.

Nick works with clients on AI related projects, but before any solutions are aired, deep observation target users and processes is conducted to determine where and how an AI solution will fit. Talking about AI and some good at general things or specific tasks. Being a framework of an AI Understand, Reason, Learn ; Nick talked about the ideal situation being AI helping us with outcomes that neither side could achieve alone.  Examples of AI Watson was very close to home with Deakin University and this appealing children’s toy.

Another fascinating concept is ; it compiles a video of TED talk segments (just the segments not whole videos) that are based on your post and other behaviour on Twitter. We discussed if an AI also needs to suggest things outside what it learns from us so as not to make a closed loop and no option to see new things.

In all of this the design thinking ethos Nick and his team use an Observe , Reflect, Make (and test) divergent then convergent approach (A double diamond variant). Going into an organisation to understand the work, people and tasks, he’ll shadow people to observe interactions with tasks, other people and over time, pain points, workarounds and uncovering un-anticipated behaviours. “If you want to find the real problem, you have to observe”. Their researchers after this will map the flows, pain points, processes and tasks they have observed as a group as this helps ‘fill in the gaps’.


Another design consideration for AI is its tone and voice especially with a conversational AI. Nick’s A/B tested different ‘personalities’ of bots with people, to see how they relate and associate a brand with the AI’s ‘personality’. Some good considerations when we have a chat bot or voice activated service e.g. ‘Hey REA, find me a property in 2 KMs of work’ – how it replies and the results will affect how people feel about our brand.

After Lunch and another Tube ride , we visited Liveworkstudio

Ben Reason – Liveworkstudio  , presented a look at how they applied service design thinking to various clients including KONE elevators, Gucci and British Rail.

His main tenets in practice and teams consulting include

Empathy – seeing people in their natural environments, hearing their stories

Collaboration – teams discover and collaborate on solutions

Visual story telling – using story boards, service blueprint (processes, touchpoints and what people are thinking, feeling doing in and around the area of inquiry.

Prototyping – using lo fi to quickly iterate on solutions e.g. book of ideal flow on flexicar style car booking app in London and now across Europe

We did some exercises reflecting on how these factors are used in our business and getting us to think about touchpoints before and after engaging with us that we need to understand. A diary study we’re compiling may also give us insights about points in time consumers engage property without us and reveal gaps where we can help.

IMG_5803 (1) this was a rich workshop and quite dense so another post may be warranted when I’m back .

After that we had a walking tour of St Pancras station and the fascinating history of innovation in the 1800’s of adjacent competing railways offering things such as grand accommodation before a rail trip to attract customers. Rail journeys had ‘feature parity’ so it was the experience around the core experience that differentiated them from each other.

Northern line build this .. with an adjacent hotel

IMG_5822 (1)

Midlands line built this in reply – fancier and hotel over the station entrance.

IMG_5819 (1)
St Pancras interior


I’ll try to capture any highlights each day, but after full day then night.. see how I go..

Good night – on to day 2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s