Last week during finals, the four teams from the Designing for Service class presented their process and solutions to the class and invited guests, which included folks from University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), for whom we were designing. During the presentation I took notes on what I thought were interesting ideas that were either brought up by the teams, the audience, or sparked in my head by one of the two.

Embrace the Situation

One of the initial problems my team heard from our client was that wait time is a problem. After our research, we acknowledged this and looked at it as an opportunity, defining our goal as to embrace wait time. Extending from that, in design situation that are perceived as problems, is it possible to embrace the situation or behavior and use that as an advantage?

Create Buy-in

The teams did not focus on how to create buy-in for our solutions, but it was of utmost importance to the people of UPMC. We were not prepared to answer how we or they could do this, which highlights a potential problem for the success of our ideas (or anyones). This is not new news, just good to remember. Involving people in the process was one possibility mentioned for achieving buy-in. But we should probably talk about this more in school.

What’s the Savings?

I hate to see design for a better experience reduced to a question of how much the proposed solution would save the organization, but it’s reality. We didn’t build a business case as part of this project, so we weren’t prepared to talk about cost savings when the question arose. Cost saving was also brought up by UPMC as a way to get buy-in.

This mindset that cost saving is such a dictating force irks me. Who’s to say that spending more money on a better solution won’t lead to greater profits? I wonder if we can reframe it so that cost is not necessarily monetary. For example, funding for a solution will reduce the cost of a crap experience.

Blue Sky vs. the Little Guy

One group decided that rather than design a solution for their particular client, they would propose a system-wide solution for UPMC, of which their client might benefit. The idea—to create a design practice and idea hub—was good, but I thought it did a disservice to their client, who got no implementable solution. When looking at the whole, it is likely that you’ll find problems throughout the system, and with the system itself. However, what may seem like small, local changes can actually have a great impact, first locally, then systematically. So don’t disregard what I’m calling the little guy and instead go straight to blue sky, unless, of course, you’re asked for blue sky ideas. Better yet, propose implementable solutions now, and a blue sky solution as a bonus.

Give People Time for Design

The clinic staff my group worked with were inspired by our presence and the design eye we brought to their space. One of our proposed solutions encouraged them to meet and continue to think about how to improve the experience. UPMC acknowledged a shift in health care toward our kind of thinking—design thinking, if you will. A problem with asking staff to think about the experience on top of their already busy schedule is…well…their busy schedule. Solution: give people time for design. Make design a part of their job description and give them time to do it.

What Is Experience?

This is a question I asked myself amid the discussion. But I’ll talk about this in a separate post.