Monday, April 2, 2012

Kids Learning Service Design (2): SDHeroes Game (1)

So this is my second post on the topic of "Kids Learning Service Design". In the first post, I shared with you the Riyadh Service Junior Jam Experience. In this post I'll address the second version of the activity where we transformed the entire service design activity into an engaging game. The complications of running 2 activities at the same time (service design+game) may make it a bit difficult to cover but I'll do my best.


After I ran the Riyadh Junior Service Jam, I started to believe that there's more that kids could do with service design. They're really amazing when you think about how ready they're. I decided to run another version with my kids. In the beginning it was planned to be a split image of the other activity but may be with longer duration. Once we started to plan the activity area, the game theme started to emerge and the idea to transform the entire thing into one game started to be clearer. This activity also happened in the comfort of our home. The adults participating have seen the photos from the jam but the kids were more taken by the coloring pencils, sticky notes and the preparation taking place.

I started to design the game storyline and the needed physical evidences and handed them to participants to create. So you can say we started practicing design before we even start the design activity.Following are some photos of the early preparation activities.

SD HEROES are on a mission, be around at your own risk !!

Game Storyline

The game is based on a set of objectives to fulfill a specific mission. A friend of each hero has escaped due to a bad experience he had. Each hero's role is to bring his friend back. In order to fulfill this mission, each hero has to achieve the following mission objectives:
  1. Find the scene of the accident. Where was your friend when he escaped?
  2. Draw a sketch of your friend. Who's your friend? And why did he escape?
  3. Know more information about the problem of your friend and people like him.
  4. Change that place to make it better for your friend.
  5. Craft a great message to tell your friend about the change.
  6. Prove to your friend that this change is guaranteed and will always be there.
COMMAND CENTER is being built
Each of the above-mentioned objectives maps to a goal or activity in the service design project. We together designed the COMMAND CENTER as you see it in the photo above. It's a simple 2 A4 papers stuck on the back of the door which SDHeroes visit to know about current objectives or do general communication needed for their missions. I draw one of the them and the kids colored it. The other one was drawn and colored by their mom. As you see before we started we asked them to come back later for the first objective. We also utilized Twitter to announce the game activities to the rest of the world. You can check it at #SDHeros .   


 Mapped to the above-highlighted storyline is the activity outline. Unlike Riyadh Junior Jam, we made the choice of the service concept to work on a part of the activity rather than a choice of the participant. We also had more room to do primitive customer research. Again, it was all embedded in the game. This time the kids were explicitly playing a game and not aware of anything called service design. Following are 6 steps mapped to the 6 games objectives:
  1. Define the service domain
  2. Draw the customer persona
  3. Conduct further customer research for more insights
  4. Draw a customer journey of the new concept
  5. Visualize the new concept
  6. Design the business model to sustain the business and crystallize value creation & capture.
The time was enough to do the first 4 activities. We partially did the 5th activity. In the middle of the game some merging between heroes happened where some of them formed teams. We'll continue the game this coming weekend where we continue visualization and do business model canvas.
Unlike the Riyadh Junior Jam, this activity was full of collaboration as each hero was involved in achieving the objectives of other heroes as we'll see. This collaboration made the game very engaging.


SO we had 5 kids and 2 adults. The first objective that was posted in the command center was about telling us about your name and mascot/avatar as you see here: 
SDHeroes had to start by picking a name and avatar
Please help me welcome our SDHeroes and their avatars you'll know them by throughout the game:

Khaled (10 y.o.), Dragon

Dragon's Avatar
Abdullah (7 y.o.), Blue Ranger
Blue Ranger's Avatar
Arwa (5 y.o.), Dora
Dora's Avatar
Abdul-Malik (5 y.o.), Iron Man
Iron man's Avatar
We also had 2 adults participating and they chose the following names and avatars:
Mars's Avatar
Super's Avatar
As you may have noticed, every hero was assigned a different color of sticky notes. This helped manage the game specially when it comes to clues and information. It helps every hero immediately recognize what's related to him or to others.


  1. Finding the Accident Scene (Defining the Service Domain)

    This is where first incident of collaboration started. This was the second objective to be posted on the COMMAND CENTER. I first asked every hero to take 2 sticky notes from the hero on his right side and they did. On the first stick note he would write a name of a place (which will act as the service domain). He will then hide that sticky note to serve as a clue. He'll then write the location of that clue on the other sticky note and post it in the COMMAND CENTER to serve as a clue to the clue. From that time on we referred to the person who did this activity as clue assistant. He'll continue to serve as a clue assistant for the Hero throughout the game. To make sure it's clearly we understood, Heroes interchangeably acted as clue assistants for each other. We had 6 heroes who also acted as 6 clue assistants.
    Once clues are properly placed, we announce the objective and SDHeroes would head to the COMMAND CENTER to know the objective and take their clues as you see here:

    Following are some photos of the action of this very engaging mission objective.

    It was a very engaging start for the kids. You were very tricky and very merciless for their choices of places to hide the clues but they all found them with not help. As you see here, these are the scene clues posted back to the COMMAND CENTER.
    It reads as (from left): "Your friend is at the school", "Your friend is at the Smouha Sports club", "Hospital","The place where your friend got lost is the Smouha Course (Training Center)", "Bank", "Your friend got lost in the mosque"

    Once they all knew about where to start, they were all ready to move to the next objective; knowing more information about their friends enough to draw them.

    2. Draw a Sketch of Your Friend (Persona Development)


    Now that each Hero has a clue assistant, they were asked to interview their clue assistant to get details about their friends that are enough to draw their friends. We have to take into consideration that now each clue assistant had to give his own real insights on specific services to serve as problems for the hero to solve. This was very clear when you come close from concepts that are present in their daily life like school. Here's a part of the action of interviewing and drawing.
    Iron Man giving his testimony to Dora on her friend at school
    Dora is sketching accordingly
    Blue Ranger is interviewing Super on Mr. Saeed on was at the bank
    Blue Ranger is refining his persona
    Here it's
    Dragon is giving details to Mars on the course her friend was attending
    He's also noting down Dora's inputs for his persona
    Further developing

    Mars's persona with her 5 kids and 1 of them is handicapped
    Super's persona of an obese lady who slipped while doing exercise and people laughed at her!
    This is where we stopped at the first Day and in the next day we started with the customer research.

    3. Know More Information About Your Friend's Problem & People Like Him (Customer Research)

    So we were starting out first activity with our SDHeroes here fueling as you see.
    Some SDBabies are spotted as well :)
    Remember that in the persona development clue assistant was the only source of information about the customer. In this current activity we widened the area of research and support to include all of the group and their circles. We ran across each service concept and asked if any of the group could be a good profile for research for such a domain or if they happened to know any. This helped very much for concepts that come from outside kids world. We were able to interview an orthopedic relative on the phone for the hospital concept, I was interview on the bank services, and we had more examples. Surely Dora now had all the freedom and luxury of interviewing all the kids in the group for her school concept rather than only having Iron Man as her only source.
    Blue Ranger giving his inputs to young Dora

    4. Make It Better For Your Friend (Customer Journey of the New Concept)

    At that point SDHeroes started ideating new concepts to solve the problems and to provide a better experience. The bank case was an example where the hero was not able to design a new journey without capturing the existing one in details. This happened due to the service domain being one that they don't interact with in their daily life. It took more time to develop the knowledge of this business and he was ready to move on. Again, this kind of learning is one that we as adult designers have to do all the time. It's rare that you come to a service domain and you find that you already know the business details, you all the time have to do this learning.

    When continuing this weekend, I'll help them further enrich this part of the game to come with better outcomes.
    We've done visualization of only one concept, so in this weekend's activity we'll also do that. We'll finish by designing the business model.I'll then share all the lessons learned with you.
I'd like to leave you only with one thought that summarizes my main outcome.
"Kids are full-time service designers and we were so when we were young. We used to imagine things that are not there, prototype them, act accordingly, enhance them, act them, we were never laughed at when we used a stick as horse or a cup as a mic or phone. You act as if you're giving money and your friend would take it from you and put it in his pocket right away. We used to tell each other stories that never happened and we build on eachother's. We always made things that looked like things and origamis were a big competency that helped us own what we don't have. Probably all we needed was to be able to understand and more sophisticated knowledge of the world around us and the complexity it brings. Don't you think kids are easier to turn into service designers than design students?"
Stay tuned for more game updates. Until then I would like to read your insights and what you think about it.

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