Posts tagged “service design”

This Week @ Portigal

It’s a gorgeous sunny Monday here in Pacifica (stay away fog, stay away!) and we’re on our way into another interesting week.

  • Later this week we’re taking our clients and their prototype out into the field to meet users. We’re also exploring how people are using a brand new product, something no one on our client team has any idea about, so we’re expecting a very cool experience. Meanwhile, Tamara is printing out materials, putting incentives in envelopes, charging batteries, picking meetup and debrief locations and other organizing the hell out of the whole process.
  • We’ll be launching a new feature here devoted to war stories from field work.
  • Steve gets his revising on, hopefully wrapping up the next iteration of the book manuscript.
  • We’ve put away all the leftover snacks from our event last week and Tamara will be posting some of the highlights (of the discussion, not necessarily the snacks).
  • Out and about: Look for us at the inauguration of the new Orange Silicon Valley office, at SF Service Design Drinks, or the Tangible UX Happy Hour.
  • Steve will be heading over to Mozilla to speak with UX researchers and designers about how to synthesize user research data.
  • We’ll be making at least one announcement about an upcoming conference presentation, and in a wonderful location!
  • While it’s not quite American Idol level of tension and suspense, we’ll be chatting with more people this week about collaborating with and even joining our team.
  • What we’re consuming: Roadie, head rubs, margaritas.

ChittahChattah Quickies

Are You Learning as Fast as the World Is Changing? [HBR Blog Network] – Innovation is about the new. It begins with new thinking and typically involves learning new things and being exposed to new ideas. Through our self-funded study, the Omni project, we describe this challenge to keep up with the pace of possibilities in the Transformations theme. Here the author suggests three “habits of mind” (diverse sources of¬† inspiration, copy success from other industries, and collaboration) that promise to keep you learning as fast as the world is changing.

Today, the challenge for leaders at every level is no longer just to out-hustle, out-muscle, and out-maneuver the competition. It is to out-think the competition in ways big and small, to develop a unique point of view about the future and help your organization get there before anyone else does. Which is why a defining challenge of leadership is whether you can answer a question that is as simple as it is powerful: Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

The human factor in service design [McKinsey Quarterly] – The¬†customer service landscape is continually evolving and responding to the winds of technological change and floods of social media. Here, three company stories illustrate different ways to think about the human side of service interaction.¬†The article suggests that you ask yourself three questions to diagnose opportunities for improvement: How human is your service? How economic is your service? Can your people scale it up? The only question I’d add is: How do you know? since this line of inquiry into the design of services is fueled by research with humans both inside and outside the organization.

When putting together services that are economically attractive and grounded in a good understanding of what motivates customers, companies shouldn’t overlook their own employees-the other human beings involved in a transaction. Companies give themselves a big edge when they design service processes that a widely distributed workforce can easily adopt, understand, automate, and execute.

Let’s Debunk 4 Myths About How Great Companies Innovate [Co.Design] – This “mythbusting” article delivers a punchy dose that dispels any notion that innovative companies are fueled solely by visionary leaders, industry competition, market mimicking, and luck. It appears that we have no excuse not to innovate.

A growing base of consumers with new expectations and new demands only fuels the fire for more products and services. Firms that claim to be fast followers are often merely just followers. As a firm grows and matures, its bureaucracy, decisions, and approvals inhibit its ability to bring a new product to market quickly. The company can’t respond fast enough to innovators or consumer demands. In this period of rapid change and global competition, innovation isn’t a “nice to have” but an important core competence; those firms that can’t keep up will inevitably perish.

Curating Consumption: Identity Crisis

Yet another collection of random musings from the perspective of a consumer/researcher.


This is awkward on so many levels. Of course there is the bizarre act of turning a fine cut of meat into a hot dog. Most troubling for the polyglot in me is the collision of cultures and languages: Kobe Beef is a Japanese culinary delicacy, it’s offered American Style, it’s touted as the Ultimate Haute Dog bringing French into the conversation and, wait a minute, it’s also a Gourmet Frankfurter so willkommen Germany! I’m sitting here wondering if I am supposed to consume this dog raw or put it on a bun and add ketchup, dijon, or sauerkraut.¬† Mon dieu!


It might appear, on first glance, that this homeowner wants to sell you some fresh eggs. On second glance you might notice that spray-painted notice on the gate that you are absolutely not welcome. Missing from the image is the front porch, apparently a welcoming halfway house for transient felines. If ever I wanted to buy some fresh eggs (hen’s) here, I wouldn’t even know where to begin my purchase journey. I am considering offering some customer service design advice but seriously doubt it would be welcome.


Dear Fresh & Easy, I trust that you have access to some stellar check-out technology. You must; you have all but eliminated the need for any employees at the check-out and empowered me, the consumer, with this task! I typically don’t mind this activity (or I outsource it to my son, who loves to do it)¬† except when it ain’t easy. Allow me to clarify: When the scanner won’t read a UPC code because the sticker has been wrapped unreadably around a package and I have to enter that code and that code is 24-characters long, that is not easy. Also, when I have two of these poorly stickered items and you don’t offer me the chance to enter a quantity so I have to enter the 24-character code twice, that is so not easy I start referring to you as Fresh & Fiercely Annoying.



This week @ Portigal

Sometimes I get a good feeling… that it’s gonna be a great week here at Portigal.

Here’s what we are looking forward to…

  • After bidding a fond farewell to Etta James last week, this week we will lovingly remember two completed projects with a team debrief + reflection.
  • Tamara and Julie are preparing for fieldwork next week in LA (woot! woot!). Let us know if there is anything particularly fantastic we should try to squeeze in, though we will of course be pretty darn busy.
  • Steve is in the final week of preparation for Interaction 12 in Dublin (another woot! woot!) and getting everything in order for the Student Design Challenge.
  • Steve is writing his book about the Art and Craft of User Research Interviewing and Tamara will be interviewing him about writing. Stay tuned for highlights…
  • Steve continues some interviews for the Omni project. Did you see the recent interview with Molly Wright Steenson?
  • Julie and Tamara will be out and about learning from fellow practitioners this week at a number of sweet gigs around the city including SF Service Design Drinks at Adaptive Path, Creative Mornings at Typekit, and theWhiteboard at SonicRim. Will you be at any of these? If so, please do say “Hi!” We would so love to meet you!
  • Julie is nose deep in details and planning for some fieldwork for the Omni project. More to come on this.
  • Steve is exploring an exciting project opportunity in partnership with another studio. Viva collaboration!
  • Tamara is ready for a creative fuel injection when she chaperones her son’s school field trip to the Children’s Creativity Museum tomorrow. Fun for all ages!

Hope to see you out and about.

Signs to Override Human Nature?

We see these in small retail all the time – handwritten signs exhorting the customer to follow some non-natural path of behavior in order to simplify the merchant-centered purchase process. Here’s a fun one, where the experience is pretty cool anyway, and the creativity and ineffectiveness of the signs is something to smile about, rather than grimace.
The setting certainly helps. In the town of Waimea, on Kauai, on your way to getting a sweet and cold treat – shave ice.

The cash register sits underneath the most awesomely diverse and interesting list of flavors. You approach the guy at the cash and of course you want to say how many you want, and what sizes, and (after having gaped open-mouthed at the display for a few minutes) the flavors.

The signs attempt to warn you off from doing that, but it’s human nature. And with each person that tries to ask for a flavor, the cash guy tells them ‘I don’t care about flavors. I just need to know what size you want.”

They are so dogged with their insistence, but they’ve designed an experience where it’s entirely natural to ask for the flavors right then. Nope.

He’ll go and get the plain shave ice (with ice cream, if you want it) and then at another counter they take your flavor order. It may end up being the same guy working the other counter, or someone else. But they don’t care about flavors, until you get to the flavor counter.

It’s not so terrible that they go through the same thing over and over again, it’s just a great example of design and human nature and the ever-present sign which purports to fix the whole thing by simply warning people what not to do!

This sign is posted behind the cashier.
1. How many Shaved would you like (ice)?
2. What are the sizes you would like?
3. Would you like ice cream on the bottom?
4. Would you like our tasty creams on the top of your ice We have Vannilla Cream And also Haupia cream (which is coconut)
5. We do also sale extras so this would be the time to ask for them
Mahalo (thank you)

The cutaway detail of the Halo Halo Shave Ice is pretty neat. Nice combination of 2D and 3D presentation of the details:
Haupia cream topping
Shave Ice
Haupia cream topping
Halo Halo
Ice cream opsional [sic] with Halo Halo


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