Designing Good to Great

Guest post by Claire Hartley


On Friday 18th August 2017, 400 staff at Dundee & Angus College arrived a what was to be, for some, a brand new experience in service design thinking. Fuelled on a spread of hot rolls and caffeine goodies, participants took their seats in the Gardyne Theatre ready to embark on the opportunity to consider alternative methods and design thinking. The key objective of the event was to introduce service design as a means of improving the student experience, and the quality of life at the College.

In partnership with the College, Open Change delivered the event which invited staff to consider one of six key questions. In tackling their question, they attended two workshops that introduced them to relevant service design methods, and discussions that linked insights gained to the question being tackled. Alongside this they were encouraged to use social media to document and share their process and outcomes which were then collated in a question specific timeline of the day on Storify. Below we list the questions, each of which links to the relevant Storify:

1. How can we make recruitment a more enjoyable, effective and efficient experience?
2. How can we communicate better internally in the College?
3. How can we help students stay at college?
4. How can we co-design learning with students?
5. How can we support learning and teaching using digital technologies?
6. how can we make our environment welcoming for everyone?

There is also one Storify that provides an overview of the day.

College Principal Grant Ritchie opened the event: “Welcome to today’s special development session. This is going to be a very different type of development day from our usual term opening. What we are going to start today is the process of using service design to chart our path from ‘good to great’. This is not going to be a session where you will be ‘talked at’ for hours. This is about you, and our students, getting involved in improving our services and approach to issues from the bottom up – identifying issues, charting potential solutions, challenging ideas, and sourcing new perspectives and ways of thinking.”


As part of the introductory session, a basic drawing and visualisation lesson was delivered to encourage participants to use these methods during the course of the day. It was explained how this encourages a collaborative and open approach to change.

Following the introductions, Dr Jennifer Jones, digital media consultant and lecturer in Service Design at the College’s new Service Design Academy, took to the stage to give a brief taster of her workshop Digital Storytelling. An engaging presentation which involved two willing staff participants taking part in a live interview, filmed by Jennifer and uploaded on the spot as a showcase of the importance of rapid documentation and distribution of information.


Working with Open Change to facilitate the alternative programmed workshops were Katie Bain also from the College’s new Service Design Academy, Allan McIntyre, Joanna Mawdsley and Julie Muir from V&A Dundee, consultant surgeon Rod Mountain (link) and University of Dundee lecturer and Open Change Associate Linsey McIntosh. They gave insights to each method in initial presentations before delivering ‘hands-on’ workshop experiences tailored to the specific theme group.

A team drawn from across the College acted as Theme Leaders, all of whom had attended service design events prior to the staff development day. Their role was to help ensure participants used each workshop as a productive way of addressing their chosen themed question, to make sense of the days progress and to document the experience and outcomes. In order to do this effectively they facilitated short report back sessions within the teams which they later recounted to the whole staff in the Gardyne Theatre at the events conclusion.

After lunch with catering provided by the college, having had the opportunity to digest all of their thoughts on the proceedings so far participants experienced a different workshop with a new method to apply to their theme question.

The ideas from the workshops began to translate with more ease where staff began to find purpose in relating these to their theme. Staff embraced each method and some found potential for introducing methods such as Journey Mapping for example, to different contexts within their jobs.

The engagement with the workshops was highly positive and as the day progressed as was discovered with the final thoughts feed back, categorised under the headings ‘I liked’, ‘I disliked’ and ‘I learned’.

The event is part of the College’s Good to Great improvement programme. Following the August event, Open Change is working with the College on Delivering Good to Great – involving a more in depth service design training academy for staff that will lead to the definition and delivery of innovation and change.

A film of the event can be viewed below.


Claire Hartley interns for Open Change, and assisted with the delivery of Designing Good to Great.