Sharing our love for design across Australia

December 3, 2019

Over the last three weeks, the Skills of the Modern Age team has been lucky enough to travel across Australia sharing our love of hands-on, fast-paced design and innovation learning.

In Brisbane we ran a trio of short immersive workshops we called ‘Design Dashes’; co-hosted an exciting industry panel event in partnership with Brisbane’s leading CX meetup, Purposeful CX; and had the opportunity to run two of our Service & Experience Bootcamps in Adelaide.

Through our travels, we saw some key themes emerging that matched what we’ve seen in Perth and revealed the growing passion and maturity of the Australian design ecosystem.

Below we’ve shared our top three insights about design capability in Australia.

The amazing team at Flinders University who attended our Service & Experience Design Bootcamp
The amazing team at Flinders University who attended our Service & Experience Design Bootcamp

1. Organisations everywhere are facing the same challenges.

Our first stop was Brisbane, where we were working in collaboration with Ale Wiecek from Sqr One. We met Ale in a workshop on our first Brisbane adventure, and when we heard about the great learning and strategy work Sqr One do, we couldn’t wait to come back and collaborate with her. We decided to run three 90-minute ‘Design Dash’ workshops across the course of a day, inviting people to learn about some of our favourite innovation tools and frameworks.

At the very cool River City Labs space in the heart of Fortitude Valley, we ended up with a great mix of designers, marketers, founders, product managers and more in the room for a jam-packed day of learning.

In Rapid Prototyping, we heard that many organisations found it hard to quickly and cheaply test new ideas to de-risk them — and then we saw our participants build clever solutions for problems like keeping Kim Kardashian’s houseplants alive and helping bodybuilders reunite their odd socks.

In Service Design, we discovered that many organisations were struggling to meaningful implement CX programs — and then we saw our learners map out the Uber Eats customer journey and come up with some awesome improvements, including a tool to eliminate long conversations about what to order (much needed!).

In Facilitating Innovation, participants shared their experiences, and challenges, with leading design and innovation processes in their own organisations. Through the workshops, they were guided through the process of crafting powerful innovative experiences using a human-centered lens, building up a robust facilitation toolkit as we went.

These are issues common to almost every organisation we’ve spoken to or worked with. The good news is that a more deliberate approach to design accompanied by capacity and confidence building can make a huge difference to a company’s innovation capabilities.

2. Some of the best innovators don’t talk about innovation.

The second part of our collaboration with Sqr One was a Design Leadership panel in the evening, where we asked some big questions about the changing landscape of design and innovation, and the core skills needed to lead design work within organisations today. We were lucky enough to be joined by a very experienced and engaging panel, comprising Tom Richardson from InVision, Michelle Bell from Suncorp Digital Labs, Jake Dutton from Telstra, Justin Thiang from Logan City Council, and Elizabeth Emery from Super Retail Group.

One of our favourite insights was from Michelle — whether it’s internal stakeholders or external clients you’re trying to get on board, you need to “find their currency” and speak to them in language that makes sense based on the way they see the world. This rings true with what we’ve heard so many innovators and entrepreneurs tell us; when you say the word ‘innovation’ it often spooks people, but when you go ahead and use innovative approaches to solve real problems they care about, people start to pay attention.

3. If you want to learn more, talk to more people.

The next stop on our travels was Adelaide, where we got stuck into some serious Service & Experience Design learning with another team of keen designers. This time around we had a strong showing from government, as well as learners from education, finance and market research backgrounds. This made for a rich and diverse set of experiences in the room, and across the full-day workshop these differences made for some really valuable discussions about how to better understand your customers and serve their needs.

No matter where we run workshops, we see that people embrace the opportunity to talk to a variety of people about their experiences of a problem and their ideas for solving it. Often, it’s an opportunity they don’t get in their day-to-day, but it’s a sure way to get better outcomes. Our group in Adelaide created some really impressive service blueprints together to improve their own customer journeys, having a lot of fun along the way — and all of them agreed that getting out and talking to their customers more was going to be a priority moving forwards.

Design dash superstars

All of these insights and more have given us a new surge of energy heading into the holidays and the new year — we’ve seen that across Australia, designers and innovators are facing common problems in trying to better serve their customers, and that there are some simple but powerful approaches that can really unlock the potential for innovation in people and organisations. We can’t wait to continue our travels next year, delivering high-quality and hands-on design and innovation learning across Australia.

If you’d like us to visit or you have any questions, please get in touch and let us know!

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