Friday, March 30, 2012

Kids Learning Service Design (1): Riyadh Junior Service Jam

So I wouldn't call it Service Design education for kids because we're still far from that. I've done 2 activities to explore teaching service design to kids, and I'll share the first activity in this post. Both activities didn't take much time in preparation and sometimes the activity itself got designed or evolved within the time of execution.

This post is on Riyadh Junior Service Jam a closed home-hosted activity that took place few days before the Riyadh Service Jam (the spearhead of Global Service Jam 2012). It was all spontaneously planned. I was supposed to visit a friend at home and he has asked me to be ready to share something with his kids or to teach them anything. I called him a day before and I said "Why don't we do some service design?" he agreed and I SMSed him the list of requirements (2 glue sticks, 3 thick markers of different colors, post-it notes, A1/A0 or flip chart sheets, tape, A4 sheets, some old magazines.


We had 2 hours for the activity. I was so over-optimistic  and decided to do the following activities:
  1. Persona development
  2. Customer journey Map of the new concept
  3. Visualization 
  4. Business Model Canvas
We were able to do the first 3 activities and we couldn't do the last one due to time constraints.
I was kind of not decided on how we're going to choose the concepts to work on. Should we choose for them or should we let them choose? I arrived there ready with few ideas that come from their world (according to my expectations). I thought about school transportation, shopping, education and sports club. Parents suggested to let them just decide on their own and they did. 
Another issue was team formation. Should we just work on one concept? or should we let them each work on his own? Should we let the very young ones join the elder ones in teams? We just decided to let them all enjoy independence and for each to work on his own concept. 


I was honored to work with Ahmed (10 y.o.) Yahia (6 y.o.) and Muhammad (They call him moody for short and he's 7 y.o.). Imad the host (Ahmed & Yahia's father) who's a project management consultant  was actively involved. Also Ihab (Moody's father) an events management executive was participating.

We had 2 additional later participants Dr. Ussama and Mr. Ahmad who were guests and they were very interested and got deeply involved in coaching kids in presentation skills and techniques.

Here are the challengers.

Ahmed (10 y.o.) is ready for the challenge

Yahia (6 y. o.) is on stage vs. bad experiences

Moody (7 y.o.) on service design quest
Jammers showing how passionate they are ....


In the beginning none of the kids or the parents knew what's going to exactly happen, I seem to always have a problem with that. We told the kids we'll play a nice game about making business and they liked they idea. But they all the time had this perception we're not serious :).

We asked them what business they'd like to launch or what's it that they would like to change and gave them examples. Yahia chose one from the examples being restaurant. Moody chose something we didn't mention which is a cafe. Ahmed chose the school/classroom. Then we started persona development.

Persona Development

 I asked them to imagine who's the person who would go to this business. Try to imagine a fictional character, give him a name and tell us some details about him. Parents coached kids into further developing the persona. Name, age, likes, dislikes, wants, contexts, issues with the current service .. etc.

Yahia asked if he can draw instead of writing and I said "Sure". It was clear that each of them was talking about himself as the customer. Only moody decided to give his persona another name which was the name of his younger brother. Following are some photos of the persona development actions.
Ahmed charting his own persona
Moody is being interviewed by Ihab (his father) on what his persona could like or dislike

Imad (Yahia & Ahmed's Father) is guiding Yahia in persona development activity)

The action is on in persona development
This is Ahmed's initial persona

Moody's persona

Yahia's pictorial persona
Yahia is presenting his persona to us (bad traditional classroom influence)
Moody presenting his persona with full-confidence
Ahmed giving his persona speech ...Sorry, . I mean brief ...
He decided to show it to us ..

Customer Journey Map

We then asked the kids to design a totally new experience where the problems of their personas are addressed and a more engaging service concept is offered. We can't really say the output was a customer journey map with the scientific definition. It was more of everything in one sheet. They simply brainstormed with support from their parents what's it that they'd like to have there and drew it on that sheet. They were very engaged, at least the photos say so :).

Customer Journeys please ?

Service design is that engaging ....

Yahia is charting his newly-designed burger restaurant.

Ahmed is so engaged with his service design project ...

Moody is ready with his New "Cafe Babies" concept and Ahmed is finalizing his

Yeah, here it is.

Yahia's burger restaurant.
Moody envisioned a new cafe called "Cafe Babies". His new restaurant has PlayStation, Xbox, play area,  juices instead of coffee, baby-sitting facility, TV with cartoons and the furniture was of cartoon characters.
Yahia designed a kids-oriented burger restaurant where there's also a play area, TV with cartoons and WWE and juice.
Ahmed designed a new custom classroom experience with adjustable seating and furniture that doesn't break (his colleagues destroyed some). His design was more about telling more details about his daily suffering rather than offering a solution except for the seating part.


I gave them the option to either act a TVC to present their concept or to design a poster. They decided to act a TVC. We folded an A1 sheet and got it stuck to the door to look like the TV of Yahia's restarurant. He took 2 empty boxes of juice and put them along with a roll of tape to serve as the juice and burger he offers. He did his first version and we all encouraged him. Participants started to give him more tips on killer presentation. He did it 4 times and we saw his skills developing dramatically. At one point Dr. Ussama (one of the guests) actually did a live example for him to follow.
Moody also did 2 trials with that. He had his customer journey poster as a background. He always mastered the closing for his TVC with a nice promise.
Ahmed's was more of a presentation or talk. It was long and also emphasized what he doesn't like more than what he offers. Mr. Ahmed (one of the guests) had comments on his body language and facial expressions. He gave him some coaching on "Non-verbal communication". With valuable interventions, this part took longer than planned and this is where we stopped.
Following are some photos of the acting and action.
Yahia doing his first acting of the TVC

Yahia doing his second acting and we see Dr. Ussama is coaching him

Dr. Ussama decided to give Yahia an example, it's his turn now to act

Moody's all compelling concept & presentation

Ahmed presenting his custom seating experience

Mr. Ahmed commenting on Ahmed's non-verbal communication
Thoughts to Share

  1. Some clear examples of what should be done at each task could help make it clearer and would enhance the results.
  2. Children are equipped with many skills that qualify them to be great service designers. They're less realistic and less limited by the constraints we take into consideration. They're very visualy oriented.
  3. This experience of service design learning provided a great context for interactions and experience exchange and sharing between adults and kids in other areas.
  4. Involvement and participation of parents is crucial and needed.
  5. We still need to see the cases of team work and collaboration between kids.
  6. I believe the fact that service design is new to the parents themselves helped increase their engagement. They felt they're also learning something new.
  7. Similar activities could be used for co-designing and for receiving children insights on services or products they use.
  8. The experience was direct and straightforward. Probably redesigning the activity into a game or more children-oriented activity is an option.
  9. It may be better to put children of similar or closer age groups together.
  10. The over-emphasis on discipline in the traditional education does have its drawbacks on limiting the creativity, openness and ability to deal with vague and new challenges. 
  11. The activity definitely needed more time. Time control was also needed.
  12. The more we do these activities the more we'll have examples to use to help setting expectations for parents and children on what's going to happen.
  13. Customer research is an area that needed to be worked on in more details.
  14. Ideation and concept generation could have been strengthened with many other activities.
  15. Bigger groups will surely make this more fun and enriching.
This is one case I wanted to share here and I would like to read your insights and willing to answer any questions.

In the next post, I'll share the activity of #SDHeros (you can check this hashtag on Twitter) where we transformed the entire activity into an engaging game for a group of children. 

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  1. I really enjoyed this post and i like it :)

  2. This was a brilliant expansion of the Global Service Jam concept. Thanks!

  3. You are awesome man! And kids were great, too.
    Could you draw a timeline for this event? How did it look like - in time - engagement, effects, fun - when working with kids.
    Do you think it would be much different when working with girls or mixed groups?
    I will try it myself, for sure!
    Martin Chlodnicki

  4. This is a really insightfull post a really enjoyable read, I'd love to work with children designing ways to educate them and creating new designs.