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Lecture at LCC on my work

Today I gave a lecture at the London College of Communication on my work. Three masters cohorts attended the lecture, including the two cohorts of the Service Design Innovation MDes led by Omar Vulpinari. Quite a few lecturers, including the LCC Dean of Design, attended too.

Here is the slideshare of the presentation I gave. The talk lasted an hour, with half an hour of discussion afterwards.

Students working with government
The students are doing a project with Lambeth Council about digital inclusion. They are working to engage the 10% of residents who do not use the internet or digital devices. Because of this project, they are already starting to be familiar with the barriers/constraints that design in government presents: privacy issues and limitations of clunky expensive council IT systems.

They asked how to get round these problems, and I was so glad they asked: it validates the experiences I’ve had, when they describe similar problems to what I’ve come up against.

I suggested they write to express the problems if they can’t solve them, so that the articulation may help others who also face the same problem. This is something that I also strive to do – at the moment, I mostly talk to others and in public about the problems, but I hope to have more time for blogging in the next few months!

I also recommended that they try out the approach of suggesting a proposition for the future rather than for right now, or asking the civil servants to imagine a scenario without the privacy and IT issues. If they can propose a future scenario, it can open up a conversation about what can be done in the interim to get to that future solution.

Who wants to work in government?
At the end of the talk, I asked who wants to work in government. A lot of them already wanted to work in government as a result of the project with the council, but about 5 more wanted to work in government following the talk. For me that’s a big success – I was extremely honest (you know me!) about the tough realities of working in government (the pace, the sometimes creatively stifling culture) – yet I must have described the social mission well enough to inspire more designers to want to join.

This is a picture of the students. The ones with their hands up want to work in government innovation. That’s pretty much all of them! I’m thrilled!


One of the lecturers also turned out to have worked in Merton Council on transformation projects, and she said that she backed everything I said. I was very happy to have described design in government in a way that appealed to both designers and ex-council people.

Because we had five minutes at the end, I asked the students to write down three things to create a short manifesto for change for themselves. They came back with beautiful principles personal to them. Change manifestos are inspirational for me – I hope that some students find it a useful practice for them, too.

LCC students, if you’re reading this, please link us to your pictures, tweets and any other media you have from the event by commenting on this blogpost. That way, we can share learning around this topic in one place.

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