Bad Blogger!

I've been far too busy doing stuff and getting over jetlag to be a good blogger, so I'm being a bad blogger instead.

Berlin was great. The NEXT Berlin Service Design Conference was excellent. I got to meet and had plenty of time to talk with people I'd been tweeting with over the past year, and they were as amazing and interesting and smart and fun as I could ever have hoped. To finally be in an environment where people were talking about service design was amazing, especially after the past two years of skepticism and/or blank looks when I bring it up. 

Berlin was mostly a blur. Jet lag wasn't what I was expecting. More like coming out of anesthesia for five days than just being tired. I was awake and felt alert, but I don't remember a lot of it.

I definitely didn't get everything I could have out of Berlin, but that's ok. I had beer and sausage and a pretzel and went to Oktoberfest-lite at Alexanderplatz (sp?). All in all a fun time, but I only saw about 1% of the city and definitely want to go back and see much more.

I'm not letting the same thing happen in Copenhagen. I feel like I'm home here. The city is beautiful, the weather has been bright and sunny, people know how to spell my name, the food is healthy and delicious and the shopping is spectacular.

I bought a top from a woman who makes all the clothes at her workstation in the back of her shop. She was sewing and her 3 year old daughter was coloring across the table from her and they were listening to and singing along with the Beatles. Her mother supplies knitted socks to the shop and her mother-n-law, knitted cowls. I can't imagine anywhere like this in the US. I loved the vibe of the shop and we very happy to find a beautiful top that I'm pretty sure I will wear to shreds.

Tonight is Kulturenatten (Culture Night), where a ton of museums and theaters and other areas of cultural interest are open from 6-12 pm (some later!). Tomorrow we're going to Tivoli Gardens for their Halloween festival. Sunday is not yet spoken for and then we leave for Amsterdam on Monday. 

I'll post pictures later. I'm losing the day and I want to get out.

Later dudes. xoxo

Same Day

I explain  my decision to quit my job and travel and freelance/consult like this: my life had become Groundhog Day. I was living the same day over and over. But I wasn't using all that repetition to master my piano and ice sculpting skills, learn a foreign language, or try to save cold homeless dudes. I was sitting on my couch watching repetitive TV. And I was getting older. So very much older. Bill Murray had me on that front. 

There's a dude I see around town who looks just like Ned Ryerson and I'm pretty sure the last time I saw him he was going to offer up a life insurance consult. That, amongst other things, was the impetus to get off my ass and do something with myself. 

In two days I leave for Europe. It's finally (almost) here. The past month has been full of different and fun and exciting days. I've learned more, talked to more people, just made more effort to live than I had in the past two years, since my descent into Groundhog Day.

Cat in a Box

Cat in a box

My rolling backpack came last night  in the biggest box I've ever seen. Within seconds of removing the bag from the box, there was a cat in the box.

I wish I could pack her up and bring her with me, but alas, she'll stay behind in the loving care of my friend KrisAnne.

Weird story: KrisAnne's landlord asked for Tiki's vet records to be allowed to stay in her apartment. What are they looking for? Is it legal? Are there HIPAA protections for pets?

Everything's happening

My last day at Corporate Job is October 4 and on October 5 I get on a plane to Berlin.

With friend, colleague and digital strategist extraordinaire, Kendra Shillington I'll be attending the Next Berlin Service Design Conference on October 8. Then we'll work our way across northern Europe ending in Paris for the Service Design Global Conference October 28-30.

If you asked me two weeks ago how I'd be spending October 2012 I'd have made vague references to "research," catching up on Mad Men and Breaking Bad, and Haunted Houses. That's how I spend Octobers; the weather cools and I go inside, make hot food and venture out primarily for Halloween-related activities.

This year's going to be a bit different. Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris. As yet unknown stops in between. A beautiful blend of business and pleasure. Education and experience. Work, play, FUN. 

Which is ultimately what I'm working to achieve. I no longer want to live my life with such a sharp distinction between work and fun. I believe in the idea behind work/life balance, but can you really separate your work from your life? Everything you do makes up your life, whether you like it or not. I want work to contribute to the fun and  fulfillment of my life. I don't want to wait until I'm done working to have fun. By the time I'm done working, I'm too tired for fun.

October's going to be pretty freakin' fun. 

Service Design Journey

Eighteen months ago, while Google image searching, "Journey Maps," I landed on Mel Edwards' site, Desonance, and learned about a thing called Service Design. A rabbit's hole worth of internet research later, I knew I was on to something interesting and extremely applicable to what I was doing for work, Multichannel Customer Experience for a major US bank. 

I bought This is Service Design Thinking and it became my constant companion, my "bible" according to coworkers. The more I read and learned about service design and the more I put it's principles into practice and the more I witnessed how the methodology uncovered issues and challenges we never would have been aware of, much less able to address, the more passionate I became about the importance of taking this approach to improving service experiences. 

That was my apprenticeship, and it felt like a trial by fire at times. I was speaking a language no one else was speaking, about an experience that was sub-optimal, to the people who were responsible for that experience. My ideas were untested and unpopular. I felt very strongly that it was a path worth following, so kept on it; making the language more relevant, talking up what we were discovering with people more influential than me, showing the benefit through the discover, define, design and deploy approach. 

People started to get it. We mapped the experiences that were really happening, not what was documented and immediately saw paths to real, meaningful improvement. Paths we wouldn't have been aware of without the interviews, research and workshops we conducted. 

By Fall of 2011 I knew that this was what I wanted to be doing, and that I wasn't going to be able to gain the additional experience and expertise I desired in my current position. I wasn't sure what to do, though, as service design isn't really a "thing" yet in the US. 

I joined groups and organizations dedicated to service design and began following practitioners and thinkers on Twitter. I started thinking about why I had become so passionate about what was essentially a business improvement methodology, what about it appealed to me on such a personal level. More on this later, but suffice to say, I thought about this a LOT.

By Summer 2012 I knew I had to make a change. I was dissatisfied with my corporate job. I wanted to be doing something more challenging, more engaging, more helpful. So I quit. And now I'm going to Europe to meet people who are using service design to help businesses and organizations improve their experiences. And then I'm coming back to the US to work as a service design teacher and consultant, evangelizing the multitude of benefits to efficiency, profitability, retention and culture; and trying to make services better, one transaction at a time.