EPISODE 5: Service Design Award 2016 for Best Student Project by Gayle Rice

Gayle has recently completed a PhD at The Glasgow School of Art in which she responded as a researcher and a designer to difficulties of young people who were leaving care and the experience of their workers when working together. For this work she was acknowledged with the first ever ‘service design award’ for best student project. 

When working with young people who don’t feel they have a voice, listening is more important than any type of design tool or technique or activity or session
— Gayle Rice

Gayle is a graphic designer by background, she got into Service design because of her interest in the impact she was creating with her graphic design work. She realised she had to engage more with people that would be using her designs to better understand their needs. That’s how she got into research but soon she realised she could not really use this in the commercial environments she was working in at that moment. Therefore she made the shift towards Service Design.  


Most surprising insight 

When we asked Gayle how she managed to get the right insights from the young people her answer was ‘with massive difficultly’. She describes the research phase as quite messy and stated that a lot of the insights and design directions only arose during the co-creation workshops. During these workshops Gayle analysed the data she gathered together with a group of young people, through debates they talked about other people’s experiences. These co-creation workshops made her discover the important insights for her project. 


What we learned

Gayle was really pleased that the focus of the service design award was about impact, because too often in service design we focus on process, tools and roles. Gail specifically wanted to focus on the impact for people and outcomes that benefit them. 

We see the materials [that we have created] and we think that’s the service design, but actually the change mechanisms are within how people are enabling participatory facilitative practice, and that would be a massive change for the way the service is provided. That would be the thing that really impacted on people the most.
— Gayle Rice


She believes that the fact that she could show the impact of her project gave her the opportunity to scale it and take it to the next stage. We fully agree that we should focus more on impact instead of the process or tools. We should ask ourselves more often why are we using this tool. Why are we making customer journeys? Too often creating the journey is a goal in itself. Where this is actually just a means to create better experiences. 


A behind the scene story

Not only did we record this episode in the bathroom due to bad accoustics in the other spaces we had available. We also had a 10 second delay in our conversation which makes having a spontaneous conversation quite hard. This means we had to edit a lot and the conversation might not sound as smooth as it should. Our apologies for that, we hope you can all still enjoy listening!