Bringing Design Closer with Gerry Scullion

How Service Design Shapes the Future of Organizations: A Conversation with Patrick Quattlebaum

John Carter
September 29, 2023
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How Service Design Shapes the Future of Organizations: A Conversation with Patrick Quattlebaum

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In this exclusive interview, dive deep into the realm of service design with Patrick, co-author of "Orchestrating Experiences" and a key figure at Harmonic. From the early days of Adaptive Path to the rise of service design as a strategic force, Patrick reveals the nuances of running a successful design studio, Harmonic Design. Discover the significance of staying true to one's purpose amidst rapid change, the importance of self-care in the entrepreneurial journey, and the diverse applications of service design in today's organizations. Whether you're a seasoned design enthusiast or just starting out, this chat offers rich insights into creating impact in the world of design.

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Episode Transcript

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[00:00:00] Gerry Scullion: Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of This is HCD. This time with US service design pioneer, Patrick Quattlebaum. As many of you will probably know by now, my name is Gerry Scullion and I'm a service designer based in Ireland. And I offer service design training, user experience design training, and also my visualisation methods for Changemakers course, which is now on my website, and offer this to in house in businesses.

[00:00:41] Gerry Scullion: So if you're in an organisation looking for training, please do get in touch. So let me tell you a little bit about Patrick. Patrick's the former managing director of Adaptive Path, one of the global leaders in the fields of service design and laid the path for many organizations in the US to explore the world of service [00:01:00] design.

[00:01:00] Gerry Scullion: Now I caught up with Patrick in person in 2018, just as Rosenfeld Media published Patrick's book. orchestrating experiences that he co wrote with Chris Rizdan around May of that year, I think it was. And later on that year, I was back in Dublin, but wasn't able to connect in person at the Service Design Global Conference, which Patrick was keynoting at in Dublin, as I was hosting Service Design Days in Barcelona.

[00:01:25] Gerry Scullion: But nevertheless, we connected very early and I picked Patrick up from his hotel very early on a Sunday morning, I remember. And drove him around all the places of interest in Dublin, stopping off for a big breakfast and lots of coffees. And it was during this time that Patrick laid out to me what he was working on, and was about to launch Harmonic.

[00:01:46] Gerry Scullion: And it sounded awesome. This was a really cool studio, a design studio based in Atlanta. Still is. And this conversation really is about the Pioneer's journey. of that discovery to see the studio [00:02:00] grow and navigate the lows of the pandemic. Now, I asked Patrick pretty pointed questions about aligning to his purpose and even stuff like what does a good client look like and also what does a bad client look like for Harmonic.

[00:02:16] Gerry Scullion: Before we jump in though, I want to Pay a special thanks to today's sponsor on the show, Miro. Miro allowed me to say whatever I like about their sponsorship of the show. And they gave me total freedom to demonstrate to you why I believe in what they do, which is very much like their product. When you think about it, Miro really allows you to create spaces that you dictate to work alongside with other people to create artifacts that align.

[00:02:44] Gerry Scullion: So whether that be visual canvases, like journey mapping or empathy maps, or even rough prototypes for interfaces or services, you can really use it for a lot of the important things that we as changemakers use on a day to day basis. So [00:03:00] check out miro. com forward slash podcast, where you get three free canvases for life.

[00:03:05] Gerry Scullion: It's really awesome. I use it, and I totally recommend it. But back to this episode. Well, this conversation is perfect for anyone looking to learn more about Patrick's journey post adaptive path in that acquisition to Capital One, then leaving Capital One. and publishing the Orchestrating Experiences book, all whilst launching Harmonic in the background for a few years.

[00:03:32] Gerry Scullion: Patrick's really awesome. I love chatting with him. And this conversation is really free flowing and jam packed with amazing tidbits of knowledge. I know you're going to love it. So let's jump in.

[00:03:43] Gerry Scullion: Patrick Quattlebaum, very warm. Welcome back onto the podcast. We were just talking about how long ago was that we actually caught up and it was 2018.

[00:03:52] Gerry Scullion: Hard to believe. How have you been?

[00:03:54] Patrick Quattlebaum: I've been well, I, you know, I probably can compare notes of what it was like in [00:04:00] between, with the adventure of, how life and work have changed, but, yeah, overall really, really well.

[00:04:05] Gerry Scullion: So for people who don't know Patrick, Patrick is one of the co authors of Orchestrating Experiences on Rosenfeld, fantastic book if you haven't picked up a copy of it, it's available on Rosenfeld Media's website, thoroughly recommend. But we were just chatting, it was May 2018 when that when that happened, and something special also happened at that time as well Patrick, what was that?

[00:04:29] Patrick Quattlebaum: Oh well, it started with my partner, James started a studio here started in Atlanta and it's grown since, but yeah, company focused on service design and kind of leading with that as our. As our offering, and we turned five years old

[00:04:48] Patrick Quattlebaum: a couple months ago, yeah.

[00:04:50] Gerry Scullion: Congratulations on that. Like, yeah, we were just chatting about the, the lack of, well, I was chatting about the lack of independent studios around the world and [00:05:00] what that means. And it's, it's fantastic to see Harmonic grow from strength to strength, especially in the U. S. because there's quite a large listenership.

[00:05:08] Gerry Scullion: And this is HCD in the U. S. So for our listeners, maybe talk about you know, the early stages of you you know, harmonic. What was it like way back in the start? Because you exited Adaptive Path and Capital One and.

[00:05:23] Patrick Quattlebaum: Oh yeah, so yeah, what's the shorter version?

[00:05:29] Gerry Scullion: No,

[00:05:29] Patrick Quattlebaum: Yeah, very fortunate to work at Adaptive Path.

[00:05:31] Patrick Quattlebaum: Um Great group of people you know and one of the things that attracted me to... Joining that team was the growing emphasis on services on in the practice.

[00:05:47] Patrick Quattlebaum: And they go work with some really talented folks. I think some of what you've had on here. I'm sure. And you know, as many people may know that was acquired by capital 1 [00:06:00] which was, you know, great opportunity to. You know, at the time in services, I am is matured so much around the world.

[00:06:07] Patrick Quattlebaum: We're in the U. S. Since then, but instantly have almost a 20 person service design team, you know, within a an organization that was rapidly maturing design and you know, great experience seeing that adoption of more strategic design approaches and services on within the culture there. But I, I, I moved, I was in San Francisco, my family moved back here to Atlanta to be closer to family and friends, and Chris and I were trying to finish the book, which was...

[00:06:40] Patrick Quattlebaum: An adventure in trying to be consultants and then going through an acquisition. He became head of design for the innovation group at at capital one, so you know, Lou Rosenfeld and our editor Marta Were put definitely asking can you finish? So I thought I was going to come back here [00:07:00] and finish the book, but I I ended up I did we did finish it, but I ended up meeting up with some people I had worked with before and It just kind of organically became a company.

[00:07:13] Patrick Quattlebaum: We started gathering some really talented folks here in atlanta and over 18 months and then we decided to actually make it a go as a studio it was around the time the book came out just kind of happenstance and it's definitely a been, you know, very rewarding to To, you know, build a team, you know, focused on service design here and to, to do that in very adventurous times.

[00:07:42] Gerry Scullion: I know it's, you had a period there of two or three years where there was a lot of change, the acquisition, the book, Capital One and Harmonic, all happening within a period of two to three years. That level of [00:08:00] change, what was that like at a personal level? How did you cope with, like that was, that's an awful lot of kind of bouncing around because you were in San Francisco and moving to Atlanta.

[00:08:11] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, it's it's a lot to take on there,

[00:08:14] Patrick Quattlebaum: Yes. How did I

[00:08:18] Gerry Scullion: because we can talk about how amazing

[00:08:20] Patrick Quattlebaum: I was having this conversation the other day and I would say lesson learned, take care of yourself.

[00:08:25] Gerry Scullion: yeah

[00:08:26] Patrick Quattlebaum: Yeah, it was, it was you know, some of it you're running off of adrenaline and it was very exciting and a lot of things happening, but it was It you know, on a personal level, it, you know, well, I don't know, for entrepreneurs, they know this you, it's not a nine to five, much less a nine to nine job, it is 24 seven, it's always on your mind and so in the, the I would say that if, if any, in going through all that, very exciting.

[00:08:58] Patrick Quattlebaum: But also lots of [00:09:00] exhaustion and and moments where the, especially when this pandemic started, that happened of how do you how do you take care of yourself and take care of everyone around you? And it's you know, I think that I learned a lot about and still learning about the importance of self care as you, as you do all of that.

[00:09:24] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:09:26] Patrick Quattlebaum: and so that, I mean, that's a whole, that's a whole deep topic. But, yeah, to be honest, it was it was very challenging at times, very rewarding. But, yeah, I think I learned a lot about myself,

[00:09:37] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:09:38] Patrick Quattlebaum: as I went through that.

[00:09:39] Gerry Scullion: I find it really interesting because like, that's a lot of success and a lot of change and happening in a pretty short amount of time. And then five years in the last five years, Harmonic has, you know, has grown through a. massive amount of change in the pandemic. [00:10:00] Are you okay to talk a little bit more on how you actually remain centered towards your purpose?

[00:10:04] Gerry Scullion: Because I remember when we were speaking about

[00:10:07] Patrick Quattlebaum: Mm hmm.

[00:10:08] Gerry Scullion: we had breakfast together folks many years ago. I gave Patrick the tour of Dublin in the car and we went down to was it Monkstown? I think it was Monkstown we went

[00:10:17] Gerry Scullion: for breakfast.

[00:10:19] Patrick Quattlebaum: where they, they pay you. If you want to refill coffee,

[00:10:23] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, yeah,

[00:10:24] Gerry Scullion: that's right.

[00:10:25] Patrick Quattlebaum: service touch.

[00:10:26] Gerry Scullion: I do remember that. But how do you stay on course? Because that's kicking goals for, for people who are on the sidelines looking at that, like, you know, you've set up a business, you've hit five years, which is a milestone. You've remained independent and true to your own kind of purpose of why you set the business up.

[00:10:47] Gerry Scullion: One of the things that you do On either a day to day or a week by week or a month by month or a quarter by quarter basis aligns to your purpose and why you actually do what you do.[00:11:00]

[00:11:00] Patrick Quattlebaum: Well, I think a big ingredient for us has been, and, and definitely with growth, it gets a little more challenging is, is to you know, continue to have an open dialogue within our organization. So


[00:11:18] Patrick Quattlebaum: you know, when we formed that we're doing this together. So when we, when we formed the company. You know, we didn't say, Hey, everybody, welcome to the company.

[00:11:29] Patrick Quattlebaum: Here are our values. For an example, those emerged over time and continue to, we continue to reflect on like in working together, what makes us successful, you know, together and what do we value and honoring those constantly and the same thing with purpose, you know, when James and I started the company, we had ideas, we had vision.

[00:11:56] Patrick Quattlebaum: We had a good starting point, but [00:12:00] you know, we took a step back as a organization about a year ago, a little over a year ago, and said, let's take a step back and rethink what, what are we doing, why are we doing it, and crystallize, you know, the purpose to one another, and then then continually connect back what we're doing and to that as our as our touchstone.

[00:12:24] Patrick Quattlebaum: And I think where we're constantly, you know, trying to, to thread the needle on, you know, there's a mental model of what if we, if we say service design and we, and we're, we're very forward in saying that's what we do now that has challenges because often many people don't understand what that means or they, they have a mental model of what it is.

[00:12:48] Patrick Quattlebaum: So we're always trying to thread this needle of like, well, our purpose is ultimately to create these outcomes we want to see in the world. Service design is a way that we do it. We want people to understand that service design [00:13:00] is a practice that helps them achieve that. But also to to not to continue to push ourselves on even what that, what service design means, that it's not static.

[00:13:13] Patrick Quattlebaum: So, you know, there's a purpose and a belief system of. That, you know, I think the way that we, we're aligned around what we're trying to do is, you know, we see that the world is made of services and that people participate and are impacted by them in different ways and that, you know, how do you create healthy systems of service and do that in a way that meets organizations where they're at and help them evolve.

[00:13:45] Patrick Quattlebaum: Now the ways we do that will change over time, but just trying to go back to that touchstone over and over and saying, Are we doing a good job? How can we get better at it? Challenge our, challenge our practice constantly. [00:14:00] And, and not rest, you know, not, not rest on our laurels, not just to like competitive, but to be impacting that, to create that impact that we want to.

[00:14:08] Gerry Scullion: So what kind of work does Harmonic tend to be approached with, and how do you approach that? Because I, I noticed on the website, and I really like the framing of with organizations and within organizations. Maybe talk a little bit more around the, the kind of the nuances of the approaches and how you actually approach both of those two different services.

[00:14:32] Patrick Quattlebaum: Yeah. And I would say that, you know, one of the, one of the things that we, we do is. We, we take, we do a look, we do experiment to see where, where can we add value. So, you know, and what people approach us for, what we approach them for. You know, when I look at the patterns over the last five years, what's interesting is the people that have hired us. If you, if you like map that, you would see a whole org [00:15:00] chart. So it's not, oh, it's innovation teams hire us, or marketing teams hire us, or operations, like, it's all of those at different companies, and it's, it's often, it's kind of what Chris and I wrote about in the book, it's often somebody who is the, is the florist thinker.

[00:15:16] Patrick Quattlebaum: They're like, okay, how does all of this connect? What's the big picture? But you know, the, our work spans, you know, in some cases we're doing we're doing helping organizations Develop, you know, essentially come up with strategies for new services, but in doing that, helping them build capacity and capabilities within their organization to make design part of that work.

[00:15:42] Patrick Quattlebaum: So, so say, if, say, having a, what can we do with AI? Right? It's, well, what are the neat, what are the opportunities to create value? What is our offering? What capabilities do we need? Therefore, where does AI fit? And so using [00:16:00] the approaches of service design to bake those into innovation rather than and, and using service dominant logic and other approaches and kind of challenging more of the traditional, you know, product led approaches and innovation.

[00:16:18] Gerry Scullion: Hmm.

[00:16:19] Patrick Quattlebaum: In other cases, it's there's a lot of the work of companies. Many companies have started to really want to move in the use of journeys from not just strategy, but operations into management. So we're getting more and more requests to help guide them through that that change. Either helping, you know, understand how to architect what are the journeys.

[00:16:55] Patrick Quattlebaum: But, but also more around the like, how do they shift the culture and the competencies to start [00:17:00] moving to actually making that what they operate around, right? Versus just another framework or another approach on top of a bunch of others. And then, you know, we work with a lot of design teams. You know, a lot of design leaders, there's like two challenges that we see often.

[00:17:19] Patrick Quattlebaum: One is Being able to connect better to strategy or to be able to move beyond digital. So a lot of design teams in the U S have been built around digital product and purport to product. But the opportunity for design is much more, is more broadly than that. And actually that would help product be more successful in a lot of older organizations where they're trying, where they're butting up against the old business.

[00:17:47] Patrick Quattlebaum: And so that's another area that that, that those design teams, like, how do we, how do we go beyond product and digital?

[00:17:56] Gerry Scullion: Yeah. I mean, I love that. I had a similar [00:18:00] quandary in Australia when I was, when I was out there, the technology brought me in and I was like, look, you know, You've brought me in. It's great. But really, the opportunity is beyond this. It's working with product and it's working with business and kind of elevating yourself to sit beyond that.

[00:18:18] Gerry Scullion: But selling in the the outcome of being, you're going to get a better outcome with the customer if you actually all work together, as opposed to retaining me under this shell of technology. One of the things that I really liked there And one of the questions I really wanted to sort of delve a little bit deeper in, when you're being brought in by, say, product, okay, because product has got a, has a big kind of stronghold, especially in the States.

[00:18:44] Gerry Scullion: Products see the value in service thinking. Sometimes whenever you're brought in from a product management perspective, and you talk about some of this stuff, it can actually conflict with Their own approaches and giving you the [00:19:00] carte blanche. How do you handle that? What's your thoughts on on getting around this?

[00:19:05] Gerry Scullion: Because it's a very personal thing. It's you're basically saying, Hey, listen, look we need to look at a more zoomed out perspective. And just so you're aware, you may be part of this problem as well. And they're like, Hey, we thought you were going to be our friend. You've brought us in here. And now your potential, like that whole quandary is one that I hear time and time again, and I'd love to get your perspective on it.

[00:19:29] Patrick Quattlebaum: Yeah. You know, yeah, the context is, is important, right? So they're definitely, so I've had, you know, our model and the model I've worked in a lot of my career is, is very blended and embedded with clients. So. I've had the opportunity to be front row seat and, and actually deeply involved in when organizations have shifted to product management and agile.

[00:19:58] Patrick Quattlebaum: And [00:20:00] and I was having a conversation with some agile coaches the other day, and they were asking kind of what we do and they're like, Oh, well, that's what product management is useful and usable, useful and usable. That's like of everything I said, the only, the thing that, that, that he took away was useful and usable.

[00:20:17] Patrick Quattlebaum: It's like and I. And I think what the, what we try to do is focus on the, there's a, there's a common pain that organizations have, even as they shifted and say, they've been able to move to agile mature product management. It is very reductionist by nature. Like it just comes with the territory. And, and there's a, there's a pain that a lot of people feel within the organization, including the product leadership, which is we set these, especially if they're doing OKRs and set these strategic outcomes. And then it's like a, everyone sets their OKRs at a team level, it's like a starting gun going [00:21:00] off, and people go different directions. And, so who feels that pain, right? Strategists, brand, marketing, enterprise architects. All the people that are like, but how does all this fit together?

[00:21:17] Gerry Scullion: yeah.

[00:21:18] Patrick Quattlebaum: and some of them see issues with like, if you're a brand person, We see inconsistent brand, right?

[00:21:27] Patrick Quattlebaum: If you're a marketing person, we promise this, you're delivering that. If you are a enterprise architect, why did we create five of the same capabilities in five different teams? That's waste. Now all of those team members, all of those functions, are also told, you slow us down. So that's where the action is.

[00:21:52] Patrick Quattlebaum: So we, that's where we kind of step in, and we're like, okay, how do you start to address those dynamics? Like, is there a way, [00:22:00] what's the third way? If there's a, if there's a of like, we can't spend months and months and months trying to figure something out and then execute. But also if we just execute and see what happens.

[00:22:12] Gerry Scullion: Hmm. What's the risk?

[00:22:15] Patrick Quattlebaum: the third way? So, and I don't pretend to have solved this, but that's where the action is, and I think that's where service design offers such a vast, so much value.

[00:22:25] Patrick Quattlebaum: Um, yes. Yeah, but you have to do it, and the challenge is like, how do you do it in nimble, adaptive ways? The way that we have, the way that we've been doing it, experimenting with it, are experiments, right?

[00:22:42] Patrick Quattlebaum: So, We've had clients where we're like, let's, let's take, well, you know, I had a client where like there's that messy middle between strategy and agile teams. So we did a small project, we came up with a methodology together [00:23:00] and what they didn't do was say, Hey, we're all going to do this. They said, let's try it out.

[00:23:05] Patrick Quattlebaum: And they tried it on an initiative and it got to better outcome. And so they could point to it. Right. And. And so it's, it's a little bit of that, like mapping the system of where can we start to address and show change and then let it build versus these kind of top down transformational approaches, because I don't know, maybe, maybe some, some service designers have been fortunate to have this opportunity, but we're often not being asked to do top down transformational change where the C level is writing us a big check, like digital transformation or agility.

[00:23:44] Patrick Quattlebaum: Things like that. So we have to be scrappier and we have to be experimental, and we have to prove the value of, of the, of this co creating this coherence. Right? And some of that frameworks,

[00:23:58] Gerry Scullion: yeah,

[00:23:59] Patrick Quattlebaum: new [00:24:00] methods, some of that is, you know individual interactions of how

[00:24:06] Gerry Scullion: yeah.

[00:24:06] Patrick Quattlebaum: together.

[00:24:07] Gerry Scullion: One of the frameworks that, I guess, I think when we, we were chatting many years ago was thinking at the different zoom levels and talking about. Journey maps and how they can provide a coherence at a management level. And I know, you know, Mark, Mark has created this framework of journey map operations and Richard McMurray so when I know in the UK, I know I was caught up with you a couple of times, wrote an article about How organizations struggle to think in different zoom levels, and it's, it was a really, you know, it's a catchy title, and I'll put a link to that in the show notes as well.

[00:24:48] Gerry Scullion: But what I'm really keen to understand is your perspective on what are the struggles. that you've seen when working with an organization, that [00:25:00] organizations sometimes have to be able to think, and I mean think in air quotes there, beyond their own silos and work in that way. And the second part of that question is, what can we do about it?

[00:25:14] Gerry Scullion: What, what, what advice would you give to people who are in that situation?

[00:25:18] Patrick Quattlebaum: Yeah, I love Richard's summary. You know, that's something that you know, there's, there's, there's. There's there's good thinking out there on Zoom, sort of scale, you know, different scales, and then, you know, the, the higher scales of where the intersection of, you know, if you think of service design, you know, there's service, there's elements of service design that had its roots way back in, like, engineering, but human centered design, but the, the, the intersection really with systems thinking, organizational design, that, that's kind of how we think about it, So there's these scales of or levels of zoom where you know, [00:26:00] often that's that part that's skipped and that's where like, again, that example of enterprise architects were like, they, that profession then really disrupted by agile because by the time they created a architectural diagram, a bunch of stuff's been made.

[00:26:16] Patrick Quattlebaum: Right. So and so same service designers have the same challenge,

[00:26:20] Patrick Quattlebaum: like. You know, oh, by the time we, we we have confidence in a, you know, this should be the journey there are, there's work already underway, you know and now current state is now, current state changes every day, right? So like, how do you, how do you be nimble on that?

[00:26:40] Patrick Quattlebaum: But so I would say that the, the, I don't think organizations are, are very good at this. And I think, I think they work, this happens in pockets. So this is, I mean, this would be my

[00:26:56] Gerry Scullion: taking

[00:26:56] Patrick Quattlebaum: of watching organizations is there's these pockets of like [00:27:00] a strategy team or within marketing, a marketing strategy team, the architects, there's these different groups that are trying to work at higher levels of zoom and they're struggling within their own functional area to make, to, to, to balance, like, how do we be intentional, but move swiftly, right?

[00:27:21] Patrick Quattlebaum: As an organization. And. Okay. That's a little bit of the talk that I gave in Dublin when I saw you was, you know, to me, the answer is how do we get those people together and how do we create methods that to to, and approaches with an organization to try to have more intentional activity at higher levels of scale.

[00:27:48] Patrick Quattlebaum: Without falling into the trap of you're slowing everything down around here, right? That's the that's the challenge

[00:27:55] Patrick Quattlebaum: um And you know, uh [00:28:00] um and and one thing I consult with clients a lot about is You know these things They do take time and you can lean them and you can do them, you know quick More quickly than than not but often it's not the time that it takes to do something it's the timing so I would say that's the other thing is The worst thing you can do is work at a higher level of scale when.

[00:28:27] Patrick Quattlebaum: A big part of the organization is really already working at a lower one and it's gone, right? And you're, you just missed your window to be able to inform

[00:28:37] Gerry Scullion: To catch it.

[00:28:38] Patrick Quattlebaum: the work that they understand that they're all working towards that bigger thing.

[00:28:43] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:28:44] Patrick Quattlebaum: You know and that timing is so critical.

[00:28:48] Gerry Scullion: I love it.

[00:28:49] Patrick Quattlebaum: a lot of service designers get stuck is they're trying to do the work, but it's, it's too late.

[00:28:53] Gerry Scullion: Well, that's the highlight quote, folks. I love that. It's not, it, the timing is really important. [00:29:00] I'm kind of seeing it like a big group of people doing a relay race and they've set off and you come back and they've already bolted. So what do you What do you advise to people in terms of in order to be able to identify the right timing?

[00:29:18] Gerry Scullion: Who, who do you need to align with? Is it Scrum? Is it Scrum of Scrums? Is it Agile? Is it what, what, like there's so many terminologies.

[00:29:29] Patrick Quattlebaum: Know.

[00:29:31] Gerry Scullion: who tends to Coordinate and dictate the timing and organizations of when stuff, is it when the financial reports get done and then a couple of months after that where things are being siphoned out into what the OKRs are going to be?

[00:29:46] Patrick Quattlebaum: I mean, part of it is, you know, what horizon line are we talking about? Like, when I was at Capital One, one activity we did right after we got acquired, and a lot of the design leaders [00:30:00] got together within the organization, and we just mapped the work that design was being asked to do,

[00:30:06] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:30:08] Patrick Quattlebaum: and where that landed on, you know, to put it simply, like, optimizing it.

[00:30:15] Patrick Quattlebaum: Taking something like a part of the business and like rethinking it, but, you know maybe changing the experience or sharpening aspects of it. But it's like, it's part of the business today versus new offerings, right. New stuff, true, true. Like stretching the boundaries of what the organization's offering.

[00:30:35] Patrick Quattlebaum: And so, so the first thing is, is like, well. How much of the design work is in that bottom left hand corner of like tactical and urgent versus, you know, so, so part of it is like, what are those rhythms around attaching to, if we're looking at new things where the company is going, though, that space is a little, it does move a little bit more slowly, right, and there's pressure [00:31:00] to, to have clarity sooner and then it's, it's sometimes very obvious when it's Hey, we have a service.

[00:31:08] Patrick Quattlebaum: We're looking at the data. We need to improve performance.

[00:31:12] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:31:13] Patrick Quattlebaum: middle part in between of like, okay, what are we really trying to accomplish? And who are forming the strategies for investment? You know, we're if we are an organization, say, we're a B to B organization, and we, we on regularly on board clients onto our S.

[00:31:30] Patrick Quattlebaum: Y. Z. Is it time to like fundamentally rethink how we onboard our customers or, or, and we need a new vision for it or or we just going through, you know, continuous improvement and where are we in the health and the life cycle of that? So I think it's identifying the people that attach to those horizon lines and then positioning design at a minimum [00:32:00] of where, where is the assessment happening of.

[00:32:04] Patrick Quattlebaum: Where are the areas of the business that we are either looking to rethink something that is complicated or complex enough to need services on and that it's more than just optimization because we should be adding value for that as well. But there's that space in between there's all these debates that happen within organizations of should we invest in, you know, like it's time to rethink it.

[00:32:33] Patrick Quattlebaum: Right. So who are the rethinkers? And within an agile environments, it is not the team of teams for the Sperm of Scrums. It's higher, right? Because you're only seeing three, six months out in, in most agile approaches. And you're really just validating someone else's ideal. So where are we shaping those ideas at a higher level to move those into different Agile [00:33:00] teams for them to validate further from their perspective, what they have authority over, how can we make this overall design

[00:33:09] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:33:10] Patrick Quattlebaum: that's more than a couple of product teams, right, you know, and be well designed.

[00:33:16] Gerry Scullion: One of the things that I really like to bring into those kind of conversations is Kinevan. I don't know if you know Kinevan framework by Dave Snowden. It's a great framework for helping identify the nuances between complex and complicated. And one of the things that I spoke about, I was doing a keynote in UX Scotland two weeks ago, and I spoke about the nuances of when design is needed.

[00:33:42] Gerry Scullion: And not always design is needed. And it's, it's a shock to some people when they're like, What? What do we're not, we're not invited to every single meeting in the whole world? But it, it, that nuance of complicated and complex is really, really important. It seems like a [00:34:00] nuance, but it's actually a distinction.

[00:34:01] Patrick Quattlebaum: No, I agree. Yeah, that's what we use a framework like that to help when we're building these approaches and companies and we use it for ourselves. I mean, it helps you understand where you can add the most value, but also, and this is where in helping organizations, you know, build these approaches into them and starting to understand that not every challenge is the same.

[00:34:29] Patrick Quattlebaum: And that by identifying the, and so it's like, oh, you know, I'll, you know, I'll hear something like, well, service design typically takes X. And it's like, well, what do you mean by typical? And so what we, we use frameworks like that to like identify, okay, so how simple to complex is it? And then what's our ambition?

[00:34:53] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:34:54] Patrick Quattlebaum: So, you know, if we're, if our ambition is we want to do something disruptive and [00:35:00] new in a very complex space. Maybe very simplistic lean product design approaches are probably not going to get you there from a strategic standpoint, right? If it's something that is relatively straightforward. And we're just doing service performance.

[00:35:21] Patrick Quattlebaum: Why would we throw the kitchen sink at something like that, you know? And so it's that precision that I think is, is really important. So, yeah, so we've really similarly, we've really been. Using the language coming from, you know, systems thinking, you know, complicated, complex, and a lot of our ways to communicate with clients and train people on identifying what is your challenge and not even just at a at a, like, at your, at the beginning, you're trying to decide you engage, but at a situational level.

[00:35:53] Patrick Quattlebaum: So now you're in the work.

[00:35:55] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:35:56] Patrick Quattlebaum: And now you find yourself in this situation. [00:36:00] What are you dealing with? Because we, we know that sometimes something on the surface seems simple and it's not. Or we thought it was complex and it wasn't. So how do you, that's where the nimbleness comes in. Is,

[00:36:12] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:36:13] Patrick Quattlebaum: we're in this situation, what are we dealing with?

[00:36:16] Patrick Quattlebaum: And given the complexity and what we're trying to accomplish, what's our best next move?

[00:36:21] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:36:21] Patrick Quattlebaum: That's the chess game that I think

[00:36:23] Gerry Scullion: Absolutely.

[00:36:24] Patrick Quattlebaum: and designers need to like get really good at.

[00:36:26] Gerry Scullion: And when you put a, a team of consultants in an organization, it's that first couple of four to six weeks when they can really, you know, get their feet on the ground and understand the situation and being able to feed back and say, actually, this isn't a complex problem, this is a complicated problem.

[00:36:46] Gerry Scullion: And all we need really here is good practice. We're able to approach this stuff and tackle it much easier than we can break it apart and understand it. Whereas if it is pretty complex and it. By pretty complex, I just mean complex. [00:37:00] It requires a different approach, requires a more of an emergent practice, a more of a

[00:37:06] Patrick Quattlebaum: Yes,

[00:37:06] Gerry Scullion: like a really I guess a training exercise as well and making the client comfortable the fact that this is a complex problem and we're not going to be able to understand it.

[00:37:16] Gerry Scullion: We're going to have to be able to nudge the system over time to really hopefully get it into that complicated zone of able to break it apart and understand it.

[00:37:27] Patrick Quattlebaum: no, I think that goes back to what we were talking about earlier with the experiments that we encourage our clients to do is, is trying to shift that of yeah, you, as you see more clearly, you can shift what you're doing to be, like I said, the right next thing to do, right? And so how do you build that?

[00:37:49] Patrick Quattlebaum: How do you lean into that emergence? How do you lean into changing how you're working together? And then like, as we work with clients, like building our [00:38:00] agreements with them to where that doesn't, you know, in a traditional, like agency approach, if we try to avoid this as like, well, that's a change order, right?

[00:38:09] Patrick Quattlebaum: It's like, well, there's going to be change. So how do we, you know, we've been experimenting with how we build our partnerships and our contracts to like, Can we just embrace that it's going to change, and that if we have to submit paperwork constantly, that's not the best way to work, and no one wants to do that paperwork, and we've had a lot of success with that.

[00:38:29] Gerry Scullion: Yeah,

[00:38:30] Patrick Quattlebaum: It definitely creates challenges in terms of how we navigate that together, have those hard conversations, educate one another, because they can see things we can't, we can see things they can't, but that's the right thing to try to do, I think.

[00:38:44] Gerry Scullion: yeah,

[00:38:45] Patrick Quattlebaum: And I think a value of, of external parties like us and that partnership is is is by working in a very collaborative way, but that we're also we have that a little bit [00:39:00] of that perspective that they don't that's very valuable while at the

[00:39:05] Gerry Scullion: that's true.

[00:39:05] Patrick Quattlebaum: time, not not having, you know, our goal is not to companies can't do service design unless they use a company like us.

[00:39:11] Patrick Quattlebaum: Our goal is to, you. more service design in more organizations and we'll we'll bet on we're still valuable

[00:39:18] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, come here. I'm gonna, I'm gonna take the conversation in a different direction. Okay, because when we spoke in 2018, we're catching up again. Now, the conversation has shifted somewhat. A few things have happened in between in the last five years. Where do you see things going for harmonic and service design in the U.

[00:39:39] Gerry Scullion: S. over the next, say, 6, 12, 18 months? who are you looking towards? To increase your learning that makes you more aware and increase your knowledge in those areas that you're hopefully going to see service design emerge into.

[00:39:59] Patrick Quattlebaum: [00:40:00] We our approach has has been increasingly So steven taylor from my team he's kind of a philosopher And very good at summarizing things, you know a couple of years a few years ago said, you know as he Started to do more service design with us. It's like okay, I get it. The the material of service design is the organization And what he meant by that is, is that, you know, if you're looking to create coherence, connect the dots, you know create harmony across these systems it all comes down to people that work in that organization.

[00:40:42] Patrick Quattlebaum: And so we have increasingly leaned more and more into organizational design coaching approaches with organizations. More and more looking at how do you create a [00:41:00] climate within organizations and more of an orientation to service,

[00:41:05] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:41:05] Patrick Quattlebaum: which is not, which is very different than say a digital transformation approach or how does service design bring more value to companies trying to shift to, to more to being more digitally, you know, successful and Moving to agile and stuff like that.

[00:41:26] Patrick Quattlebaum: And that's stuff we, we work with, but I think for us, and I think what I would, what I would encourage more service designers to think about is that organizational aspect of it and not the goal of not being like the uber facilitators of the whole organization, but to, to your point earlier about like, how do you change the system within the organization, little by little to where you know, a greater service orientation.

[00:41:54] Patrick Quattlebaum: Use of design approaches at all those levels of zoom become more and more of the [00:42:00] fabric of the organization and that, you know, it's not unlike when Jamin Hegeman presented at the SCN conference years ago and said, you got to give it away. Like, I think we're still in that we need more people and organizations to adopt these mindsets and approaches. And so for Harmonic, I think that's where our more and more of our building our competencies and capabilities to get better and better at that. And so therefore we've been getting a lot of inspiration from, you know, looking at, like, I really like the the Brave New work and the company behind it.

[00:42:37] Patrick Quattlebaum: So like looking at, you know, they have this, you know, approach of like looking at the operating system of an organization. And. You know, we've been experimenting with aspects of that in our work and pulling from that you know, we've been having our team members get certified in coaching approaches, because a lot of what we're often [00:43:00] doing is helping build competencies within organizations, and we want to get better and better at doing that.

[00:43:08] Patrick Quattlebaum: So that's where we're taking, I mean, in addition to taking, you know, looking at a lot of the, you know, this I love this book the yeah, so, you know, where, where there are,

[00:43:21] Gerry Scullion: people on the podcast, maybe call it the book because

[00:43:23] Patrick Quattlebaum: oh yeah, design journeys through complex systems practical practice tools for systemic design, Peter Jones and Crystal Van Ayl it's you know, I, I, I think this and I see more and more of it in, in practice, you've mentioned it, I think this, Looking at like systemic services on right, bringing in more of these concepts of like, how do we deal with emergence?

[00:43:52] Patrick Quattlebaum: How do we move from complex to complicated? How do we use approaches that have been developed [00:44:00] in other disciplines that could help others see what they're dealing with and then use our design craft to help visualize it and then. Connect that to humans.

[00:44:11] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:44:12] Patrick Quattlebaum: I don't know. So we get a lot of inspiration,

[00:44:15] Patrick Quattlebaum: uh, and have been, since, you know, for years, but increasingly that's where we're seeing the need within organizations.

[00:44:23] Patrick Quattlebaum: Now there's need and want. And so I think that's still the challenge of when we're, we're pushing on the edges of, you know, what you were talking about before of the different scales is having organizations understand the need. benefits of investing and scales and this type of work that, that is

[00:44:45] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:44:46] Patrick Quattlebaum: don't invest enough in.

[00:44:47] Patrick Quattlebaum: Right. So that's the, that would be the other thing. I hope 18 months from now, we're just sharpening more and more how we help people understand the value.

[00:44:55] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, yeah. I have one last question before we before you start wrapping [00:45:00] up because I'm conscious of your time.

[00:45:01] Patrick Quattlebaum: Yep.

[00:45:02] Gerry Scullion: Well, what does a good client look like for harmonic design? And what does a bad client look like for harmonic design? And that's just generally

[00:45:11] Patrick Quattlebaum: Yeah. I mean, a bad client would be kind of we, we, we we expect you to kind of be a black box of design and bring us the goods and present to us and we'll tell you if it's good or not. And we don't have many clients like that. We, we through our sales process, we, we kind of, yeah, I mean, we, we want to work very collaboratively.

[00:45:37] Patrick Quattlebaum: We want to work in a very blended fashion. We look for a client to want to experiment and try new things. They also want to build these practices into their organization and not have it be an outsourced. You know, skill that they use occasionally. And so we look for clients, you know, the way I think about it is like, there's kind of three, [00:46:00] often three things that we're trying to, we look for clients who want to do three things at the same time.

[00:46:05] Patrick Quattlebaum: So one is there's some specific initiative that they want to create value in their organization for, and that these approaches can bring value to it. And it's, and it helps demonstrate, you know, that that is needed more in the organization. So. It's not academic. It's not just training. It's like, what's a real thing?

[00:46:27] Patrick Quattlebaum: We can move a needle on around here. Meanwhile, that they're often, that they're looking to build these competencies in their organization, if not build a team. And so they're, they either have a team that's looking to expand their capacity. And show the value of service design more broadly, or they're looking to build that team.

[00:46:46] Patrick Quattlebaum: So how do we help them mature service design?

[00:46:49] Patrick Quattlebaum: And then the last one is then there's some ambition that the company is either wanting to be, you know, customer centric or whatever label they [00:47:00] would put on it. And they're trying, they're trying to move that needle. Like we want to be more customer centric, or we want to be more service oriented, or we want to shift to journeys as an operational approach or some bigger ambition.

[00:47:11] Patrick Quattlebaum: So. Clients that we can play on those three different kind of horizons together, they get the most out of us and we, and we, that's what we really look for because we love to do the hard work to like make better services,

[00:47:25] Gerry Scullion: yeah,

[00:47:25] Patrick Quattlebaum: but also we want to help organizations, right? And so, and being of service and that, and so where there's those ambitions and they're not, you know, where they want to engage us and being a real partner and how to do those three things at the same time.

[00:47:43] Patrick Quattlebaum: That's fine. Yeah.

[00:47:45] Gerry Scullion: Well, look, Patrick if people want to connect with you, I'll put a link to Harmonic Studios website in the show notes. I'll put a link to your LinkedIn as well. Are you on any other social media at the moment? You on [00:48:00] threads? Do you not have threads yet?

[00:48:01] Gerry Scullion: What's

[00:48:02] Patrick Quattlebaum: No, LinkedIn is the best place. I'm, I'm, yes, I'm, I'm in that gray area. Where, where do I go? I think I've set up things on multiple places, but have not, not really adopted anything yet. So, yeah, LinkedIn.

[00:48:16] Gerry Scullion: LinkedIn is the one that's still standing on four legs at the moment, folks. But look, Patrick, thank you so much for your time, your openness your vulnerability as well as being put in the spot because it's been a pretty free flowing conversation. So thank you so much. It's been brilliant speaking to you again.


John Carter
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