Networks for social and service designers

Service design is a new discipline, so it’s really useful to feel that you are part of a movement if you want to be a service designer. People always ask you what it means if that’s how you introduce yourself. Talking to other service designers about it helps you arm yourself with the language to explain what it means, and why service design is valuable. Here are networks for you to be aware of if you are a service designer.

1. Social Design Talks
A series of Social Design Talks, jointly organised by Guy Julier, Lucy Kimbell and Jocelyn Bailey. The first was held in March 2012. The talks are often held in Central St Martin’s and the Houses of Parliament.

The talks aim to reflect critically on the spread of socially-motivated design practice and the use of ‘design thinking’ with social innovation and public policy, and to bring together people working in adjacent areas, including project managers in public policy, social enterprise and innovation, and civic society, policy-makers, elected representatives, researchers, activists and designers.

Image from Social Design Talks website

I have met some fantastic people through these talks, as well as learning about examples where service design has worked well.
2. SIX: Social Innovation Exchange

Image from SIX website

By connecting innovators, and developing, curating and disseminating ideas and practical examples of social innovation, SIX enables its global community to learn from each other, building the capacities of our members to become better innovators.

These are the SIX values: members of SIX…

value social impact (rather than ideas)
celebrate solutions (more than heroes)
engage honestly (more than just inform)
inspire through action (not just words)
connect as peers (not in a hierarchy)
committed to openness (and welcome the unexpected)

I have just joined this network through a friend that works with SIX. I look forward to attending events in the future. The events happen around the world – there is very much an international angle on this network, by contrast to the Social Design Talks, which are always London-based.
3. DESIS: Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability
This project aims to extend and establish a DESIS-UK Network as a national multidisciplinary network of individuals and organisations exploring design-led social innovation and sustainability in collaboration with UK HE. It aims to strengthen connections between design academics and academies, design practitioners, and end users of design from public, private and third sector organisations and the communities they serve, to explore how best to employ design thinking and skills to deliver sustainable social and environmental benefits to communities.

2013-11-13 16.55.25

There are links between DESIS and the Social Design Talks. So far I have only been to one DESIS event, which brought together council officers from Camden Council, academics and service designers. There was a brilliant workshop where we did a rapid ideas exchange to help other people develop their social innovations. I’m hungry for more! I’ve kept in touch with people I met through that event.
4. Service Design Network

Image from SDN website

The Service Design Network connects, on a worldwide scale, service design practitioners, academics, businesses and those who want to grow into the discipline on a worldwide scale. We are happy that the discussion on service design can be conducted in a such diverse and international background.

I have just come across this network so I’ve yet to see it prove its worth. Since you have to pay to join, and I am not clear what I would get out of the membership apart from saying that I am a member, I have joined the LinkedIn group.
5. Accelerator programmes

Image from Public Service Launchpad website

FutureGov and Solve ran the Public Service Launchpad. Bethnal Green Ventures is another accelerator, and they have an amazing group of mentors. Both of these programmes attracted/attract passionate people that are motivated to make a difference. They are not all service designers; rather, they are mostly people that want to be social entrepreneurs. They are good people to know – service designers can’t just work with other service designers; we need business minded people too.
6. Makerversity

Image from Makerversity website

Makerversity is a making and learning space, providing affordable and accessible spaces for makers, experimenters, production and enterprise. A place for pioneers and prototypes.

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 17.05.37
Image from Makerversity website

One to watch – I’ve heard there are events but I can’t see an events page. Soon as they advertise events, I’ll be there. They are attracting the cool kid crowd of social enterprises.

7. The Lior Loop

superhero by tomas lo res_610

It’s not a proper network like the others, but it is an opportunity for networking with like-minded people. I’ve started a newsletter with hand picked events that I’m going to, which are usually around design, political change, and well-being. I go to these events because I want to help create political change that will enable us to all be happier, and I use design as a tool for change. You can take or leave any part of that, and come to events that interest you, where you will meet other people who care about the same things you do.

I’ve got event ideas in the pipeline – I’m currently looking for funding. I promise it won’t be called the Lior Loop forever! (Unless user testing is overwhelmingly positive for that name…!)
If you know any other networks for social designers/service designers, please share it as a comment on this post to enable other people to find out about them.



Filed under Ideas

2 responses to “Networks for social and service designers

  1. Reblogged this on Photonic Public Relations and commented:
    Service designs is what PPRinc is all about. Had to share this.

  2. Pingback: Open these: links for open policy makers (week 5) | Open Policy Making

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