I attended the SCRI event on Service User Innovation in Salford Uni’s new Lady Hale Building yesterday, listened to four influential speakers and participated in thoughtful discussions and break outs.
POE (post occupancy evaluations) were mentioned too often – I have an issue with POE as a means to evaluate performance, and as they have been referred to before are the wrong tool for the wrong job. Yes there needs to be post project evaluation, for as Ian Cooper notes, every building project without a feedback loop is a prototype. But to measure people performance through their relationship with the building is the wrong starting point. After all its about the service users ‘experience’
The four key speakers were Prof Peter Barratt at BuHu Salford University – key message here for me was his comment that all the successful projects were led by Facilities Management, his case studies included the Sydney Opera House and Wm McCormack Place in Cairns as part of the Australian Facilities Management Action Agenda, the Trondhiem Hospital where the construction team were selected by psychologists to ensure they understood health issues, and John Zeisel‘s work in Boston USA with Alzheimer’s centers
Neil Sachdev, Sainsburys Commerical Director, illustrated how they engage with their customers on store design,
John Lorimer from Manchester City Council on testing furniture with pupils against a background of how the school environment shapes and influences education , and
Nigel Oseland on POE’s who also . Nigel also introduced the Dunbar’s number concept of 150 and talked on biophilia kinship, of our history of camp fires and story telling, of seeking nature and space and waymarking, but now confined into office cubicles. (We need to get out more, tell stories have camp fire meetings and connect with nature – not surprising then the increase in barcamps and benchmarkwalks)
The investment in really engaging with and empowering end users is impressive. Five years in the case of John Zeisel in understanding Alzheimer’s needs in the USA , a huge investment from Sainsbury’ s and the patient work in understanding pupil and teacher needs from Manchester City Council. None of these three examples start with the building, but with the users. Why then as an industry do we fool ourselves we can do the engagement stuff with one or two value management exercises and a POE?
I was not alone in noting an under theme of web 2.0 in the presentations and discussions. There was the mention of pupils using second life to determine space and colour requirements, of the use of Web2 (twitter maybe, blogs, or facebook groups) in getting real, unsolicited, feedback from facilities users. I sensed though it was something to put on the wish list and get on with the business in hand.
It is a pity this was an under theme as to me as is where the real service user innovation lies. Service users make use of web2 technology outside of the work place, ie in second life, in twittering, in facebook, in myspace … etc etc etc. The innovation is in using this in design and facilities management. We seem to be blind to or just awakening to its potential. The potential to allow continuous dialogue between service users and service providers / designers This is not rocket science – those using twitter can contact the government on issues (and get a response) and be kept in touch with the Prime Ministers actions, speeches and even thoughts.
And then where – consumers constantly in dialogue with a supermarket on store layouts, on colour, on products and costs – office users ditto with the fm’s on suggestions and wc complaints - pupils on school design, residents on city facilities and urban design – on eco town developments, and all in real time as it happens.
Definitely a topic to be discussed at the be2camp event in October