Anne Dhir is a service designer and creative strategist with SPARCK. She is passionate about achieving sustainable growth by tackling complex systems, whilst carefully balancing the interests of organisations, customers, staff, and the planet. She helps organisations find the path from intention to delivery and learn to design for themselves. She is a ‘design magpie’, bringing insights and innovations from across private, public and third sectors. Anne enjoys pushing the boundaries of service design by learning from other disciplines. She has previously crafted conversations around the mental health of design teams, and data and design. Over the course of her career, she has created dozens of services, but only recently did she get the opportunity to work on closing a service. She is incorporating the lessons learned into her design practice.
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The circle of life: lessons learned from killing services
It’s all in the name: as service designers, we design services; we create, we construct. But how often do we think about decommissioning or disassembling a live service? We don’t tend to talk about what might happen if we had to close the service we are creating. “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” Stephen King 'On Writing' So, let's talk about killing services. The title may be playful – if slightly macabre, but there is a serious point and an imperative: we need to close the loop. As product designers design with recycling in mind, we need to learn from the practice of decommissioning services to improve the design process that brings them to life in the first place. This talk draws on existing research and the experiences of people who have closed services in health, government, banking, and energy. It focuses on incorporating the lessons learned into the wider agile practice, creating rituals to help us consider the end. This will help us create new services that are more effective, efficient, sustainable, and more able to adapt to change.
Our research identified 5 practical takeaways. 1. Talk about service death - from birth, from the proposal stage to the project kick-off and every decision point in between. 2. Design with the end in sight: paying attention to what are we replacing, how we might close, monitor the pulse of the service. 3. Pay more attention to the people - in particular, long-standing staff's needs, leaders' skills, power networks and emotions. 4. Build our capabilities to kill early, little, and often - using an evidence based-approach. 5. Master the decision-making by which services are created to map the decommissioning. This talk argues that agile practitioners and designers are well suited to tackle the challenges of closing services. Sharing our experiences as openly as possible will help form a body of practice that will, in turn, help businesses close services more easily and free up resources for services that are more innovative, effective, efficient, and sustainable.