Civil Service Live

9 March 2009 saw Civil Service Live move to Gateshead, where the power of design to help deliver better public services was showcased for thousands of delegates.

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Four public sector managers shared their experiences of using design and how it has helped them reinvigorate their services.

  • Malcolm Page Deputy Chief Executive, One North East outlined how his regional development agency had been encouraging the use of design across the private and public sectors. He believes it can help in terms of productivity, wealth creation and in safeguarding of jobs.
  • Sunderland City Council’s George R. Brash spoke about a worklessness project that put service designers live|work together with public sector managers to help ‘hard to reach’ people get back to work.
  • Tim White, Director of Regeneration, Middlesbrough Council always thought of designers as ‘people who design fancier kettles or better looking irons’. Working with the Design Council on Urban Farming project for Dott 07 (Designs of the times) he quickly learnt that they are much more than that.
  • Jim Edwardson Chair of the North East Regional Forum on Ageing and self professed ‘convert to the power of design’ spoke about his experience of using design on a Dott 07 (Designs of the time) project, Alzheimer100, which looked at how design can improve the daily life of people with dementia and of their carers.
  • Claire Byers is the Director of Public Affairs at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. When she joined, returning visitor and visitor recommendations figures were lower than desired. Working with service design agency live|work and consulting with frontline staff and visitors they identified that the user experience is the key to achieving their targets.

This event is evidently a very big step towards civil servants recognising that service design is vital for overcoming the challenges they face. I would have liked to heard more about the response from the audience. Do these managers intend to embrace service design again in the future? Some of these projects are over two years old…what message is this sending to the world about how fast service design is developing as a discipline and a skill set?