Designing complex systemic person centred services fail unless we use strength based approaches like the liberated method
It is so easy for us to recognise a service, to see how it works, and to see how good it is. We all now buy, we bank, we communicate, online. As users, we just know when it is designed well or not. When the workflow of the service fits our requirements, this have a good experience.
Then there are issues that we face in life. They often begin in adulthood, and usually after quite some life experience, where we have suffered in some way. Perhaps we have failed important exams, lost someone close to us, had a friend who was in a bad car accident. When I was 20, I had no idea what it might be like to be a single parent, or have anything deeply intrusive happen to me. I remember that it was years before I experienced someone close to be dying. But, I had to experience these things before I could understand some aspects about life, and understand myself and my place in the world. It took some years before I could leave my naive mindset, and realise that life was actually complex, very complex, and difficult. Often there were circumstances outside of my control that impacted mt life journey. Maybe not always for me, but I saw that it was for many that I knew.
When we engage with each other, to become friends, lovers, colleagues, we begin to realise that, it is not money or possessions that is what we are, but it is our interactions with each other that what really make us actually human. These interactions make the world work. Perhaps that is who we are;
is what we are as people, defined by our interactions with each other?
So, now turning to those interactions, how should we interact when we need support? When we need help? When we have fallen off the narrow path that we are carefully treading? Maybe we simply cannot pay all our bills at the end of the month, and we have to decide to eat less. Experience, as a parent, the pain of trying to explain to a young child that they cannot have something that all their friends have, can really be gut wrenchingly horrible. Certainly an important part of life are our relationships, and the engagement we have with each other.
The Ridge metaphor
It is so easy to slip on our path of life, and slowly begin to fall down the side. Before you know it, you have slid so far, that you need help in stopping the slide, and to then begin hauling yourself up back to your journey of life.
Perhaps we have lost our job, or a pet that we loved. Perhaps we have been to the doctors and we have found out that our bodies are not quite so robust as we thought. Our partner is drinking too much. Our parents have split up. Youre on holiday, and you have missed your flight, and the flight arrangements are all made online, and you realise that there is no-one to speak to, and everyone around you appears very alien.
What it is like to slip down the side of life?
It is really shit. It is horrible. You are fearful, you cannot see the path ahead anymore, and you fear that you will lose it for good. You panic, and your chest tightens. You lose the rationality you had before. It is so easy to turn to whatever you can to dull the pain.
Maybe you’re not like this, maybe you are able to wake up the next day, and push yourself back. But many of us cannot just do that alone.
What do you need to stop sliding and get back up the slope? What often works is to have someone to cry with, someone to listen, someone to be there, someone to help you feel better, someone to help you so you can get back on your feet. Thats the start.
What if you are not confident in in the snow of life, and you just keep slipping anyway? What if others keep you from pulling yourself up? What if you have no savings. Your family around you are disfunctional. For many people, a significant percentage, simply trying to survive and have a reasonable life, they really struggle to do just that. They might have issues that prevent them from walking along the ridge, that they simply cannot manage; mental health issues, circumstances, situations, maybe they are just too different from others.
Imagine this happening constantly, for a week, a month, years? That is what life is like for a significant percentage of the population.
Relational or strength based services
And when we design services for people who have fallen off the ridge of life, what do we have to design to ensure that the service is designed to best listen, support and assist? We have been doing this for many centuries in our communities, so we already know. But what we do know that it is not, it is not an online form that asks you to select categories. It is not a link on a computer screen. It is another human being.
When we design relational services, we are building true person centred services. Therefore they are human, not digital. They are personal, adaptable, slow, engaging, trusting, empathising. As designers we need to understand how to design complex human services. These are different to the product based services that we all know and love.
And, it is not just services which are not transactional. Has anyone reading this been in an airport, when you have missed a flight, and there is no person at the counter that can assist, because you with a digital only airline? Being in a foreign land, with perhaps no wifi. Trying to talk to someone who you can ask questions of, and help you out. Thats when we need to speak to a person.
The methods we then follow are not those of the digital based Double Diamond, but one that is iterative, experimental, systemic, human. Ones that deal with uncertainty. One where analysis and data is subservient to sense-making
Systemic design for complexity is a rich discipline where we can go deeper and wider into the systemic design of whole services. This applies to both private and public service. Even in transactional servies, customers can fall down that slope at various times. But in public services, what percentage of those are actually relational person services? Perhaps most of them.
Strength based liberated method workshop
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