Leading Through Service Design
The DesignInSchools Project and its lasting
effect on education and a community
Macquarie Primary School
Mel Edwards, Justin Barrie
Design Managers Australia
Over 30 years of education
inspiration through a literacy lens
Over 30 years of design evolution
or things that
Design of the
which all the other
orders of design
how they work,
what core ideas and
values hold them
Four orders of Design
Adapted from Richard Buchanan’s thinking on Fourth Order Design
Action with a public services lens
It’s driven by social
(it’s about citizens and
the organisation that
delivers the services)
It’s possible to
we get to navigate
the reality of
Education and Design
– the same goals?
• Making sense
• More than
Putting leadership into practice
How we did that - DesignInSchools
• A multi-award winning project
• A paper
• An ongoing collaboration
Respecting the past and
building the future
• Through building a lived experience.
• Leading learners in the present as
designers with agency.
• Securing the future by equipping
learners with a strong skillset and
capability to deliver positive outcomes.
Why it was possible
The designers’ perspective
What was in place for design to work
Making a real
reality of the
focus of your
• Real social outcome
• Beyond power and
Why it was successful
The Educator’s perspective
Didactic Constructive• Collaborative
• A long-term
Education Service Design
When we adults think of children,
there is a simple truth which we
ignore; childhood is not
preparation for life; childhood is
life. A child isn’t getting ready to
live; a child is living. The child is
constantly confronted with the
nagging question: “What are you
going to be?” Courageous would be
the youngster who, looking the adult
squarely in the face, would say, “I’m
not going to be anything; I already
We adults would be shocked by such
an insolent remark, for we have
forgotten, if indeed we ever knew,
that a child is an active participating
and contributing member of society
from the time he/she is born.
Childhood isn’t a time when
he/she is moulded into a human
who will then live life; he/she is a
human who is living life.
No child will miss the zest and joy
of living unless these are denied
him by adults who have convinced
themselves that childhood is a
period of preparation.
How much heartache we would
save ourselves if we would
recognize the child as a partner
with adults in the process of
living, rather than always
viewing him as an apprentice.
How much we would teach each
other… adults with the experience
and children with the freshness.
How full both our lives could be.
A little child may not lead us, but at
least we ought to discuss the trip
with him; for, after all, life is his
and her journey too.
Professor T. Ripaldi
Notes on an unhurried journey
How do we know that it’s a DesignInSchools Project?
It’s a collaborative partnership between design and education professionals and little people, bringing professional
service design methods and techniques into an inquiry-based primary school classroom and community to solve a
real world problem effecting the School.
What type of techniques do I need
to make space for in DiS?
• Concept visualisation and sketching.
• Prototyping and iteration in a collaborative
environment to learn what works best
• Ethnographically-based research for
evidence-based decisions – interviews,
• Information analysis and synthesis to define
what if, what could be, what should be, what
• Data gathering and statistical analysis.
As a leader, what will I need to have in
place for DiS
1. There is an existing issue/problem that effects the
2. There is an intention and commitment from the
Principal/Vice Principal to support the project and
manage the school community expectations.
3. There is an identified cohort of 10 to 20 Year 5 to Year 6
Students able to be committed to the process. Students
don’t need to belong to the same class, but common
4. There is professional Design Support in a leading,
mentoring or validation role.
What Project Structure will I need to support as a leader?
Session 1: Defining Intent 2: Research and Insight 3: Prototyping & testing 4: Analysis & solution
Focus Developing a design intent
and design question to solve.
Undertaking research and
Focus Prototyping, testing and
Analysis and solution
Activities Intent / Design Q / Design 101 Research / desk / observation /
interview / insights
Prototype / trade show /
Analysis / solutions /
We know the sponsor and
understand their problem, we
have clear parameters and
are set-up to start
We have developed
understanding and insights have
emerged from our research.
Our insights have become
concepts to build for testing in
the real world.
The test results are
analysed, we reflect our
intent and insights and work
through the solutions to
Activity - What question does your school need to answer?