Weeknotes : Week 2, 25–30 Jan


Our discovery research looking at the physical health check service for people with severe mental illness is gathering pace nicely.

A simple but super fruitful question that helped get to the nub of the issue with service providers was ‘What feels like the most fundamental problem that exists within the service/ system today that if solved would have the biggest positive impact?’

It has been so intellectually nourishing to discuss these wicked problems with such smart people who clearly care so deeply about solving them. Inspiring stuff indeed.

I’ve been prepping a talk for some students at Falmouth Uni who are learning how to launch their own businesses. I’ll be helping them to think through how can use some simple research techniques to learn more about their early business ideas. I always find these things so valuable, if not only to work out what I actually know or think I know about a topic!

I’ve been working on creating a service model canvas for the FRANK drugs advice service. The plan is to use the service model to help to prioritise a programme of work aimed at continually improving the service, the logic being how on earth can you decide which bits of a service to change before you’ve agreed what it’s for?

I ran a workshop that generated some useful conversations about some really important things like the vision, purpose, values and the ideal service experience. All good stuff and such useful conversations to hear when you’re new a project.

I’ll write up and share this service model canvas stuff once I’ve knocked the corners off it.

I got excited that you can link to objects with Miro (right click, three dots, link to, pick object) and shared that with the cxpartners crew only to then uncover more Miro gold from the legend that is Mark Skinner:

  • Copy pasting cells from excel will make post-it notes for each one
  • Select multiple items, and click and drag the 4 dots on the right hand side to make them neater
  • Presentation mode is great to click through frames (ordering the frames helps here, like layers in photoshop, you order them using the frames option in the bottom left)
  • Timers work really well
  • Holding down command when drawing lines stops it snapping to things, holding down command AND shift will stop it snapping & make them 90º or 45º angles!
  • Grids seem useful, but are a bit rubbish… See also, cards…
  • Emojis are useful!

Final doings have been around helping to kick off one of our remote labs where we’re helping a retail client to fix the the checkout process of their Spanish e-commerce site.

It’s been fascinating seeing how COVID and lockdown has emphasised some of the key questions customers need answers to when they shop online, particularly around delivery, returns and sizing.


Here are a few thoughts that I’ve been mulling over this week.

  • I’m so grateful for how varied my job can be. This week I’ve been thinking about drugs, mental health, jeans and sea farers. Variety feeds good design and magic happens when you can apply something from one domain and apply it to another. I once devised a web strategy that was loosely based on ‘triggers broom’ from ‘Only Fools & Horses’ that deliberately avoided a big bang redesign by redesigning a website bit by bit. That cropped up again when I was researching paradoxes with the kids, check out the ship of Theseus though experiment.
  • The point of doing research is to help you make better decisions and to learn. You can’t design something you don’t understand.
  • I think it would be healthy to always try and explore a mix of digital and non digital ideas during alphas. We default to digital too easily.
  • The strategy is delivery of course but should then shift to continual improvement. Nothing is ever finished after all.
  • I would be absolutely lost on projects without a ‘where are all the things doc’. It’s simply a bookmarked google doc with links to all the stuff that gets generated on projects
  • Making a service better should make it cheaper to run because should you reduce the need for resources requires to fix the problems that the bad services causes (endless customer support calls etc). Consumers end up paying more for these bad services because costs get passed to them. It’s a lose — lose!
  • Short form briefs are amazing. They force you to articulate why you are doing something and what you are trying to achieve at the earliest possible point.
  • First drafts are supposed to be rubbish so don’t worry about your first draft being rubbish.
  • Working on design projects is like driving through fog, you only have good visibility of what is directly ahead but no idea of what is round the corner. The best projects are when everyone acknowledges this at the beginning and everyone flexes and pivots to suit in terms of outputs as you go.
  • Kids are much better at fun that adults. We lose our ability to play as we get older other than socially acceptable and ‘organised’ play such as sport as adults. Home working has made fun at work harder.
  • A morning run is useful because nothing else that day will hurt as much! A tricky meeting or a difficult conversation at work becomes much less of a problem in comparison. Go for a run then swallow the frog at work and you’ll be on fire!


My week got off to the best possible start with Robert McFarlane on 6 Music (around 1:10:00 in) talking about discovering unexpected things in familiar places which strikes a chord given lockdown.

He mentioned how his friend Roger Deakin describes it as ‘the undiscovered country of the nearby’ — a perfect encapsulation of what we can find on our doorsteps.

If you, like me, love nature and the great outdoors I cannot recommend their books enough and I bang on about them to anyone who listens. Start with ‘Waterlog’ by Roger Deakin and ‘The Wild Places’ by Robert McFarlane.

Speaking of nature I’ve been enjoying the wildlife in the garden this week with a visit from a brazen fox being a highlight and daily activity on the bird table by my office window.

I learnt about struggle marks this week. These are the marks that show wear and tear on objects that can be used to improve the design. Think of them as small scale desire paths . Got me thinking about what the digital equivalents might be.


The furniture woodworking project is getting out of hand and has consumed my brain this week.

I’ve discovered the shapr3D app and it has been really helpful to help me develop an idea for a set of nested tables that turn into a coffee table. And yes for Partridge fans, it’s going to be an extender!

I’m learning a lot about prototyping physical things and the value of making a model out of foam board so that you can play with it, live with it and improve it before you start making it for real.

My kids are obsessed with Dude Perfect (as am I) so life at home is becoming a series of endless trick shot attempts. Absolutely perfect.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store