Hippo weeknotes, volume four

Hippo HQ

17 May 2024

This week’s post will be longer as I’ve had excessive time on trains to focus on writing; please forgive the waffling. I’ll understand if you don’t stay until the end.

On Tuesday, I travelled to Leeds. I spent three days with my project team at Hippo’s offices. By happy accident, it was the User Experience and Service Design back-to-base day, so I got two team events for the price of one.

I hadn’t been to Leeds since my university days. I studied in Huddersfield, and my pals and I had a few; how should I put this? Let’s say interesting nights out here. The city has changed beyond all recognition. Vast swathes of central Leeds look like they’ve been built recently. Further out, there’s lots of construction, cranes like sentinels over the city.

Being in person gave me a free licence to ask awkward questions. This is known as “being an awkward bastard” and is often my key (some might say only) skill on project teams. I tend to start with “Sorry, but could I just ask…” or “Sorry, I’m a bit confused…”

My colleagues took this in their stride and with good humour. Thanks to all my annoying interruptions, I now know the service’s delightful foibles, quirks, and mannerisms. I owe this team a huge debt of gratitude for welcoming and accommodating my strange ways. Thank you!

An unexpected delight was working alongside client-side business change colleagues. So infrequently do digital and “business” teams work so closely. It’s this teams superpower.

Service Design and User Experience Away afternoon

I joined the entire Service Design and User Experience community at Hippo’s HQ on Wednesday afternoon. Compèred by the effervescent Stef, it was a time to come together, learn from one another and have fun.

Our head of design, Emma, kicked off the afternoon with a plea that we should book this time as non-billable community time. Hippo values community, shown by their commitment to running days like this. It is no small investment when fifty consultants aren’t billing, even for half a day.

Laura led us in Speed Mating. Despite its alarming name (as far as I could see, no mating was involved), this was loads of fun. I loved my two-minute quick-fire meetings with the other Hippos.

Next was me, Zoe, and Rich. We asked folks to run a Tiny-tiny-Mini-Discovery™️ into the problems faced by Slice to Meet You, an underperforming pizza restaurant. Once again, I had fun with ChatGPT. This time I created a crappy comic strip to illustrate the problems faced by customers who couldn’t get the correct pizza.

Unsurprisingly, as the room was full of excellent designers, everyone smashed this out of the park. As we’d hoped, there’d been many in-depth discussions about the service design versus interaction design approach to understanding the problem. Here’s my favourite (slightly paraphrased) quote from the day:

The two disciplines are very similar; the difference is our perspective on the problem. We need both to build good services.

Finally, my favourite (or, possibly, least favourite) activity of the day—mainly because I got to show off in the most cringeworthy way possible—was Mystery Question Bonanza. Kirsten looked resplendent in a crab hat as she instructed each team to devise “questions to ask a designer”. We then used arts and crafts materials to answer these questions. I think the less said about our teams’ efforts, the better.

Track of the week

Sort of Revolution by Fink.

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