While working on a project to offer services to parents of a school to increase trust and communication between the school and the parents, I realised that I wasn't delving deeper into the organisation and its working. I realised that I hadn’t yet found the root cause of the problems. And root causes are usually systemic. There’s always more to it than what you can see. Yes, sure there was a lack of communication and trust between the school and the parents. And yes, a platform for parents and teachers to communicate effectively was necessary. But, why was there a lack of communication in the first place? What was the root cause of it? Sure, designing and developing services that solves the problem of miscommunication might work on a short term basis but it doesn’t solve the root cause. It’s like putting a bandaid on a broken finger.

Sometimes, when we do understand the root problem, we will start looking at it differently and our solutions might not even be the same and our initial briefs might change completely.

An example given my Mike lawrie sums up what I am talking about -

''The customer sees just the surface of the machine, the handles, the buttons and the dashboard. Unlike a car, they don’t get to peer into the engine and have a poke around, inspecting the chassis. As service designers, we’ll often fall short of getting our hands dirty in the oily parts of the machine itself. This is often because we don’t have to. Many service design engagements can make a decent enough, short term impact by tinkering on the surface — changing the oil, giving it a polish, changing the headlights or adding a few racing lines. Peering into the machine is exactly what we can and should be doing to help organisations to make the changes required to deliver better services. This is especially the case since many root causes of customer experience problems lie in some very tricksy areas.''

Although my brief was very simple, I wanted to shape all the experiences that the parents had from the ground up.

So, What Did I Do?

I decided to take the system thinking approach and frameworks to dig deeper.

“Service design is great for understanding the as-is state, but Systems Thinking is better for understanding what’s really going on.” - Louise Downe, Head of Design for GDS