20 October 2007

Participle, a new type of social enterprise

Be the first to share

Hilary Cottam
Hilary Cottam, UK Designer of the Year 2005 and former director of RED [archive site], the meanwhile closed innovation unit of the UK Design Council, is now one of the founding partners of Participle, a new social enterprise designing the next generation of public services, with a focus on the big and seemingly intractable social issues of the 21st century.

The two other Participle co-founders are Charles Leadbeater, the internationally renowned thinker and innovator, and author of the book We-Think, and Colin Burns, designer and formerly the CEO of IDEO London. The initiative is supported by NESTA, where Participle has its offices.

Participle designs public services that provide systemic solutions not only to the persistent problems of inequality, poverty and exclusion but also to the ‘new’ problems resulting from changing demographics, new lifestyles and global resource constraints: chronic disease and long term health conditions, learning cultures beyond the school, new approaches to crime and security, new approaches to community collaboration and social isolation and new energy systems. A brief presentation is available for download (pdf, 560 kb, 3 pages).

The Participle methodology is one of transformation design (pdf), a hybrid approach which combines people-centred methodology with systemic policy thinking:

“We start from the individual, unlocking a unique set of insights and motivations, which we then apply to the broad systemic problems we are seeking to answer.

Our hybrid approach also means we test and scale in a different way. We rapidly apply our thinking and insights to the development of ‘prototypes’. Prototypes differ from pilots: they involve early service models developed in situ, which are then tested and improved in rapid cycles, again in situ. This approach reduces risk and tends to result in new services that work and can be scaled as well as important new policy insights.

Our hybrid approach and our person centred starting point enables us to work beyond existing service silos, efficiently harnessing a broader set of resources contributing to the development of affordable whole system solutions.”

In an interview I conduced last week, an extremely fast talking Hilary said:

“In a situation where now one in five Britons has got a chronic disease it will be more important to think about how we begin to design new services which engage with people’s behaviours, emotions and lifestyles and help them either prevent the onset of a chronic disease or at least manage better that disease within their daily lives. […]

What is really important is that we can very rapidly move concepts into action [by using] a design process. The way designers prototype and mock up things very fast in real time, is very different from the traditional piloting approach in the policy world, where models are often built in a very artificial environment, which then usually do not scale very satisfactorily.”

A full text version of the interview with Hilary, who has a social sciences background and once worked for the World Bank, will be published shortly on the website of Torino World Design Capital.

Given the dire state of UK healthcare, Participle has got work to do.

Be the first to share
1 August 2015
Nissan’s place-based design process
Megan Neese is a senior manager in the Future Lab at Nissan Motor Ltd., a cross-functional team tasked with uncovering new business opportunities for the future of automotive. In an article for EPIC, she explains how …
1 August 2015
[Report] Design for Service Innovation & Development
Design for Service Innovation & Development: Final Report Edited by y Daniela Sangiorgi, Alison Prendiville, Jeyon Jung and Eun Yu May 2015 DeSID (Design for Service Innovation and Development) is a six-month scoping study funded by the AHRC …
31 July 2015
Service Design in Consumer Banking: the challenges and opportunities
Last month the people from Irish UX consultancy Frontend Design looked at the UX revolution in healthcare and how changes in that sector are moving towards putting the customer at the centre of the service. …
31 July 2015
[Book] Excited to announce the new book by John Thackara
How to thrive in the next economy by John Thackara Thames & Hudson August 2015, 192pp Abstract Drawing on a lifetime of travel in search of real-world alternatives that work, I describe how communities the world over are creating a …
27 July 2015
Breaking Free from The Lean Startup religion: The Service Designer Manifesto
Breaking Free from The Lean Startup religion: The Service Designer Manifesto by Tenny Pinheiro Eise Books July 21, 2015 - 52 pages Free on Kindle Abstract Our civilization is facing complex, systemic and scary wicked problems. It is already known that …
27 July 2015
Nudging to fix the world
Last week the UK media were suddenly abuzz on how behavioural insights can help government decisions and actions by being able to nudge behaviour in a favourable direction. Apparently it has become a cure-all and …
22 July 2015
How ethnographic research helped transform a US paint company
Almost all business leaders now acknowledge that they would love to engage in the deep learning that long-term customer observation can foster, but in practice such endeavors are methodically undermined in the fast paced corporate …
22 July 2015
The student experience and the future of the library
Libraries have moved from being the location for search, access and advice to playing a much smaller role within a much larger information landscape, writes a researcher of JISC, the UK charity that champion the …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

2 July 2015
Getting citizens involved in protecting fragile energy environments

A new project funded under the FP7 European Commission framework is getting citizens involved in testing new tools for reducing energy consumption during peak loads, in the hope that its pilot program will set the new state of the art for protecting locations with fragile electricity supplies. One of France’s most fragile regions The Provence-Alpes-Côte […]

5 May 2015
Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록 in Design 4 Disaster

Design 4 Disaster features an engaging illustrated safety manual for ship passengers, a personal project by Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록. After the Korean ferry accident last year, Yuluck (who is Korean) wanted to find a way to make safety manuals more interesting to read. He spent one year designing an interactive safety guide […]

16 March 2015
Better Health and Wellbeing: Giving the elderly in Singapore sparkling golden years

Invitation: sharing session, Singapore, 30 March 2015   What are the hopes and fears of the elderly in Singapore? How can designers offer solutions that support the elderly in managing their health and wellness? What can healthcare professionals do to help them keep active? What role can technology play in the elderly’s daily lives? Design consultants […]

1 January 2015
Happy Playful New Year
21 December 2014
Experientia’s Twitter feed live

Experientia has now its own Twitter feed. Four months of Putting People First posts and other links have already been uploaded. If you followed Experientia on Twitter through the feed of its CEO, Mark Vanderbeeken, make sure to now also follow the company (but don’t unfollow Mark, who will keep on tweeting away). And while […]

19 December 2014
Putting People First blog redesigned

Experientia’s Putting People First blog has been redesigned. It is now entirely responsive, allows for easier browsing, searching, and filtering, and features larger images on the posts. The entire history of posts remains accessible as before. We are still tweaking things and welcome any feedback.

See all articles