I wrote 25 pages at #SDinGov, so you didn’t have to 📝

Aimee Tasker
4 min readMar 11, 2020

I was lucky enough to attend the Service Design in Government conference in Edinburgh last week. With themes including ‘Policy, Participation and Power’ and ‘Social Design’ I managed to get to as many of the 45 sessions as I could without drinking too many coffees, eating too many pastries and washing my hands not enough times.

I’m not sure my notes make sense to anyone other than myself, but I said I’d share them to a couple of people, so I thought why not do it once here. Hope they’re somewhat readable.

First up was Carrie Bishop, Chief Digital Services Officer for the City and County of San Francisco talking about the unsexy work of fixing (or crocheting) the plumbing inside Local Gov.

Emily Bazalgette was sharing how to make organisations more responsive and set themselves up better by prototyping their operating model via the metaphor of spagetthi..

Next Nerys Anthony and Adam Groves, The Children’s Society, shared their journey from service design to systems change. Their work on designing relational services that support criminally exploited young people was inspiring and talked about promoting conscious organisational change.

Jo Carter and Melys Phinnemores session was a workshop on how merely imparting our service design knowledge in training sessions just isn’t enough and how to build better capability inside organisations. More about Service Works here.

Sam Villis, Rahma Mohamed, Hattie Kennedy and Katie explored storytelling throughout the agile process, and how to tell stories more effectively through demos, show and tells, etc. And it was pretty funny.

Cassie Robinson, Head of Digital Fund at the Lottery, talked about being intentional about your role in change as a way to build better organisations and imagining a better world.

Researchers Clare Greo and Sonia Turcotte facilitated a brilliant workshops on Power and Privilege, suggesting that if design is an act of power, we better check in with our biases before making isolated decisions.

And designers Hazel White and Mike Press introduced Liberating Structures as a useful toolkit to support good facilitation and sabotage traditional structures.

Cennydd Bowles, Designer and Futurist, talked about going beyond user-centred design and looking at the broader context of our planet and how we might prototype realistic compelling shared future visions. More interesting stuff from him here.

Alastair Somerville challenged the idea of normal and how service design needs to become a tool for more transparent ethical practice. As designers, we need to be accountable for our work. Love him.

And Audree Fletcher discussed designers egos and questioned what drives behaviour, calling for a more conscious approach to design.

All in all, it was an illuminating event and who doesn’t love hanging out with great people (shout out Rita) in Edinburgh. Thank you to the SDinGov team 🙌