Wednesday, October 30, 2013

DD+D Returns to Helsinki Finland!

Byron was invited back to Helsinki by Tekes, the Finnish funding agency for innovation and technology for Finland. He presented "Does Employee Engagement = Customer Satisfaction?" for the Creating Creative Business Conference at the historic Alexander Theatre.
Here is a link to an article on the event
More to come on this soon!

Byron also co-lead a Service Design class with Vesa Kantola at Aalto University's Urban Mill while in Helsinki.
Here is our course description

CSE-E6250 Digital Service Design, Course with Varying Content
October 14 – 18, Startup Sauna and Urban Mill
Max number of participants: 10

Intensive course on theatrical methods in user centric service design

Byron Stewart, Co-Founder and Artistic Director at Dramatic Diversity/DD+D (Chicago, USA) will be visiting Finland in October and will be hosting a course on emphatic service design using theatrical methods.

The course will be arranged in co-operation with the Urban Mill in Otaniemi. In the course students will learn how to various methods to strengthen their empathy for the users of the service they create and in this way design better services.

The course is open for students of service design at all Aalto Schools. You should be familiar with service design concepts and methods and hence the course mainly targets 2nd year Master’s level students.

In the course the students will we working on new and innovative concepts for having lunch on the Aalto campus.

Course program:

Monday    14.10 16.15 – 18:00 Kick-off at Startup Sauna Backstage
Tuesday   15.10 09:00 to
Wednesday 16.10         18.00 Independent group work: Lunch in a different culture
Student teams should describe a lunch setting in an other culture (eg. USA mall, arab market, French café, or similar)

Wednesday 16.10 18:00 – 20:00 First presentation of group work and Byron’s intro to the rest of the course

Thrusday  17.10 09.00 - 20.00 Full day workshop with Byron Stewart “A Lunch Hour in Otaniemi Campus”

Design Empathy Introduction – Why is empathy important to designers? Covers biases/assumptions. Review the Empathy framework (Discovery Immersion, Connection, Detachment)
Various excercises.

Creating initial service design for lunch in Otaniemi

Friday    18.9 09.00 - 16.00 Full day workshop – creating the

Service design for lunch in Otaniemi, practical exercises

For more information on the course, contact Vesa Kantola.
To register for the course, send an email with a short explanation (no more than ½ A4) to Vesa Kantola

Here are a few pictures from our class and the process -

Sunday, September 29, 2013

DD+D Applies Improv for Scientists and Clinicians

As an instructor with Northwestern University's Ready, Set, Go (RSG) program, Byron had the opportunity to observe and meet the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science (CCS) team at the University of Chicago this month.
Northwestern's RSG program is based on the CCS program both with the goal of applying improv and theatre techniques to help improve the communication skills of scientists.

It was also Great to meet with actor Alan Alda and watch him work. Alda doing improv!

Byron also lead a Medical Improv session for the Diagnostic Error in Medicine Conference this month
under the direction of Katie Watson, Northwestern University. Byron the led improv games; Attacker-Defender, Conducted Story, Doctor Know it All, New Choice, and Freeze Tag. Our goal was to show the clinician participants that the rules and games of improv can help when addressing diagnostic errors in medicine. It worked!

For info on
Ready, Set,Go -
Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science -

Saturday, August 31, 2013

DD+D Performance Testing Workshop for DFA

DD+D had the pleasure of returning to Northwestern University's Design for America (DFA) to present our Design Empathy and Performance Testing workshop this summer.

DFA's Summer Studio had three teams this year.

DFA Design Briefs:
Team 1 - Dementia /Community Partner - Mather LifeWays
Students aim to seek how to ease the emotional difficulties families face while caring for family
members with dementia, and how design could reduce the frustration and other problems in
caring for individuals with dementia.
Design Question -How can we improve interactions between people with dementia and their family

Team 2 - Literacy /Community Partner -Evanston Public Library
Students aim to  help preschool children in low-income neighborhoods find ways to increase their literacy level.
Design Question - How can we encourage elementary school children to maintain interest in reading over
the summer?

Team 3 - Homelessness/ Community Partner - StandUp for Kids
Students aim to help homeless and at-risk youth in urban areas.

DD+D , three weeks ago,presented our Design Empathy workshop to prep designers for the research phase. We returned this week  for the Performance Testing workshop after the teams had developed their first prototypes. The teams had not yet presented their solutions to their community clients.

Team Solutions 1st round:

Dementia Team - is working on a way to help patients find the "three things" that
make them happy.
Homeless Team - is working on pockets/ wearable items to hide ids/ credit cards to
keep them from being stolen.
Literacy Team - has a variety of games/ activities to learn vocab when eating or
in the car.

Designer's  Feedback on Performance Testing Workshop :

"The workshop made me reevaluate our prototypes in order that our product might best be used by the primary and secondary users."

"Writing personas is one thing-But having to live it out is a lot more useful in understanding
 how our solutions fit in lives."

"Thanks for the hard questions."

"The workshop helped break down different phases of both the problem & solution."

"It helped to step into a role to see if the conversation we are trying to facilitate felt "right" or plausible."

"Got us to look at distribution, interactions and motivations of our users- where we can integrate and change behavior."
"Acting = fun+ interactive - more helpful to see and think about process rather than to hear a presentation."

"Taking a step into the shoes of a user offered a lot of good feedback that would go unregulated otherwise."

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Lesson in Empathy Video

A Lesson in Empathy

Empathy is at the heart of design. Without the understanding of what others see, feel, and experience, design is a pointless task. When communicated as it is in this video, empathy can be truly inspirational. What the Cleveland Clinic movie reveals is the true scale and complexity of the challenge of understanding a complex social situation in order to design a system that supports many and various needs. Think of this movie as a design brief. How would you design a hospital or health care system that helps and supports each of the people and their circumstances that you see here? How would you change the space, the roles that staff play, the type and manner in which patients receive information, the support systems around patients and staff? How do you go about being inspired by empathy?

Friday, June 28, 2013

DD+D Featured in Steve Portigal's New Book Interviewing Users

DD+D' s theatre-based Design Empathy workshop is referenced as a "Tip - work it out" is Steve Portigal's new book  Interviewing Users published by Rosenfeld.
Chapter two of this useful book (where you'll find DD+D p,16) talks about the importance of empathy and interviewing. Stressing the need for design researchers to check-in with their own biases and assumptions before hitting the field.
This marks the second time that DD+D's work has been referenced in a book. The first being "Outside In" published by Forrester Research

About the Book:
Interviewing is a foundational user research tool that people assume they already possess. Everyone can ask questions, right? Unfortunately, that's not the case. Interviewing Users provides invaluable interviewing techniques and tools that enable you to conduct informative interviews with anyone. You'll move from simply gathering data to uncovering powerful insights about people.

Interviewing Users will explain how to succeed with interviewing, including:
  • Embracing how other people see the world
  • Building rapport to create engaging and exciting interactions
  • Listening in order to build rapport.

With this book, Steve Portigal uses stories and examples from his 15 years of experience to show how interviewing can be incorporated into the design process, helping you learn the best and right information to inform and inspire your design.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Strong Verbal Communication Skills A Must" - for IxDA Chicago

DD+D had the pleasure of offering it's verbal communication skills workshop for designers for May's  IxDA Chicago meeting.
Here are the details below including participant comments, pictures, and a link to registration 

Workshop description:

This interactive workshop will apply theatre and improv techniques to help designers improve their verbal and nonverbal communication skills. The ability to present a design solution and communicate its merits on different levels in a way that is understood by different audiences can be a differentiator in the fast-changing and highly competitive industries in which design operates.  This small group session will allow for individual assessment and feedback. 20 participant limit. 

Participants are asked to prepare a 2 mins. talk on a design related /work related topic please. For additional info contact 

Wednesday May 15th. 2013, 5:30pm – 8:00pm

Leo Burnett 
35 W.Wacker Dr.
Blue Room 31st. Fl.
Chicago, IL. 60601

Fee - $20 Non-refundable

Instructor : Byron Stewart

Participant Comments:
"A great deal of good material was covered in a short time."
"Some great take aways"
"This could easily have been an all-day seminar"
"The active participation makes the tools immediately relevant and meaningful. I learned a lot from my fellow students a well."
"You are a great presenter!"
"The instructor provided clear critique and examples."
"Thought it was nice to refresh/polish my presentation skills."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

DD+D Presents for the American Marketing Association of Chicago

Marketing the Customer Experience: Balancing Technology and the Human Touch
Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Catalyst Ranch, 656 W. Randolph St., 4th Floor - Jitterbug Room, Chicago, IL 60661
Join the Consumer Packaged Goods SIG on Tuesday, April 30th for a discussion on how innovative marketers balance technology with the human touch in order to create the best experience for their customers.

With consumers embracing smartphones and iPads in all aspects of their daily lives, it’s not surprising that more and more service providers use the technology to enhance the customer experience. At the same time, McDonald’s is bringing together unlikely collaborators from the disciplines of theater and design to help the world’s largest foodservice provider connect more personally with customers.
Our guest speakers will share their experiences and the innovative ideas they’ve employed to measurably and positively impact the bottom line in consumer services.

Key takeaways include insight into how:
1. The design of the consumer service experience can be as important as the design of the product packaging for leading consumer brands.
2. Innovation in services marketing is often a collaboration of unexpected partners.
3. Marketing and educating employees is a critical driver to the success of new service offerings.
4. The right combination of technology and marketing creates positive customer experiences while the wrong mix can easily drive away customers.
5. Applying marketing and design principles to track results and improve the customer experience in a way that contributes to the bottom line is critical regardless of which innovation path you choose for your services.

Event Agenda:
5:30-6:00 pm - Networking and Refreshments
6:00-7:00 pm - Presentation and Q&A
7:00-7:30 pm - More Networking and Refreshments


Jeff Pollard

Director, Experience Design
McDonald’s USA Corporation
As Director of Experience Design, Jeff employs human centered methodologies to conceive and simulate how customers choose to experience McDonald’s in the next 5-10 years. Jeff also helps the organization deliver better service experiences today at more than 33,000 stores around the globe. A genuine curiosity about people and technology and the ability to make connections gained from user insights inspires Jeff and his team to dig deeper to deliver strategic outcomes and generate excitement around new service initiatives. This ability to motivate teams and clients ultimately leads to new service models and product concepts that are actionable, brand building and help build the business.
Jeff’s twenty years of experience in integrating design, consulting and innovation has provided him the dexterity required to lead diverse teams and drive change at leading professional service firms such as Doblin (now part of Monitor), VSA Partners, Arthur Anderson, Ignition and most recently, McDonald’s Corporation.
Jeff holds a masters degree in Human Centered Design from the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

Byron Stewart
Owner/Theatre-based Consultant
Dramatic Diversity/DD+D
Byron is an actor, director, consultant, facilitator, presenter, and owner of Dramatic Diversity/DD+D. For the past eleven years, Dramatic Diversity has provided theatre-based corporate training and diversity & inclusion consultation to many clients including BP/Amoco, Hyatt Hotels, Motorola, Northern Trust Bank, Brookfield Zoo, Ohio State University, Northwestern University, and PepsiCo.
Byron has facilitated theatre-based product, service, and customer experience design workshops for McDonald’s (US & Global), Critical Mass, Sears, Walgreen’s, RTC, University of Chicago, DePaul University, Columbia College, and for Northwestern University’s Design for America Fellows. Byron is a local leader and presenter for Chicago’s Interaction Design Association (IxDA) and coordinator of the Chicago Service Jam ‘11. He is a co-founder of the Service Design Network Chicago. Articles on Byron’s workshops have been featured in the UXmatters and Experience Matters online magazines. His article, “Call Me a Cab, But First”, was published in the Service Design Network’s Touchpoint Journal.
Byron was a featured speaker for Arizona State University’s Compete Through Service Symposium, World Design Capital Helsinki, Finland, IIT/ID’s Design Research Conference, Service Design Network’s Global Conference, UXMasterclass Conference, and DePaul University’s Continuing and Professional Education Program. Byron is lead instructor of the Ready section of Northwestern University’s STEM Communication Fellowship Program Ready, Set, Go.
As a professional actor he has appeared at the Goodman, Northtlight, Court, and Black Ensemble theatres and received a Jeff Citation, Black Theatre Alliance Award, and an After Dark Award. He served as Artistic Director of A Real Read, Chicago’s African American LGBT performance ensemble for five years. He has co-starred in feature films and has done casting for award winning television series. Byron received his BFA degree from Howard University in Washington D.C.

Jay Clark
Director, Creative Services
Shared Marketing Services, Inc.
Jay leads the Creative Team and Media Personnel for the in-house advertising agency of Shared Marketing Services, Inc. Jay is responsible for creating strategic initiatives and executing targeted marketing to provide lift for Fortune 500 clients and their channel partners. Jay also leads the development of new tools and emerging vehicles for manufacturers and their channel partners in new media.

Shared Marketing Services is a full service, integrated marketing solutions firm. For more than 25 years, Shared Marketing Services has worked with multi-unit, franchised, retail, and dealer/distributor companies to help optimize the ROI on their advertising spend. Their suite of online tools allows centralized marketing departments the ability to control their brands, messaging, and costs while providing local managers the flexibility to creatively target their customers and prospects. All of the solutions are custom tailored to clients' requirements.
Jay is also partner and co-owner of SilverGrass Marketing, a company that offers guidance and technical solutions to help manufacturers with data-driven marketing and improved client communications.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Developing Ipad apps for Early Childhood Classrooms

DD+D was invited back, this month, to Columbia College's Visual Presentation class to deliver our Design Empathy workshop. The workshop was held at the Steelcase show room at the Mart.
The design brief for the project required the student designers to create  Ipad apps, and Ibooks for early childhood education teachers. Our goal was to help the student designers to empathize with the needs of all stakeholders including; teachers, young students. We created personas and acted out scenarios to understand the client's needs.

Here is the design brief, breakdown of project activities, and student designer feedback on DD+D session....

DESIGN BRIEF: developing Ipad apps for early childhood classrooms

New opportunities are constantly opening up in the various educational environments as digital technology and new media platforms emerge. In colleges and universities we’ve been using virtual classroom tools (blackboard, skype, basecamp, google docs, etc.) for more than 10 years to deliver material to students both synchronously and asynchronously. In elementary, secondary, and high school many of these tools are also used. However in the early childhood environment where children are learning very rapidly to do so many things from manipulating physical puzzles to developing crucial social skills, technology has not been as vital or necessary.

With the increase and growing sophistication of mobile technology, earlier access by more and more children, although certainly not all, and genuine curiosity with the devices and the apps/games they afford, we are witnessing a paradigm shift of technology down into the pre-school, kindergarten and early elementary school years. This simple phenomenon when combined with the emergence of intuitive authoring tools like Ibooks author and InDesign allow for educators to develop teaching tools for the ipad that augment established books and other support materials. The process can be fast and the results can be tested and refined right in the classroom.

As product designers we are trained to be generalists and to explore emerging opportunities like these through direct observation, interviews, and primary research posted on line or in journals.  In this project we will be collaborating with Early Childhood Education students to develop teaching scenarios for their classrooms. We will be using many of the visualization skills from previous assignments as well as new ones to develop scenarios that will lead to storyboards of interaction, and finally tasks/games that can be quickly built and tested on an ipad using ibooks author. The project will involve several stages and require interaction/collaboration with the Early Childhood Education students led by professor Mary Quest. Because the respective courses do not occur at the same time the groups will be communicating as much as possible through a range of cloud-based collaborative tools.

Task 1:                      Setup collaborative space
Task 2:                      Review video documentation of student teaching (before 3.18.13)
Milestone 1:               Develop initial scenarios around a range of topics for review
Task 3:                      Get feedback from student teachers
Task 4:                      Bodystorming workshop withh DD+D
Milestone 2:               Create storyboards to define either existing problems or opportunities
Task 5:                      Transform storyboards into videos as communication tool (upload)
Task 6:                      Get feedback and refine scenarios.
Milestone 3:               Develop concepts for testing using ibooks author and ipads.

Student designers' feedback
"It was nice working in groups and coming up with personas and scenarios to put ourselves in other people's shoes."
"It helped get us to visualize the process of research. Also, really getting involved with it creates a better understanding.
"Exploring where the teachers and students are coming from and experiencing was a great way to do research."
"The workshop helps encourage all to step out of their own mind and into an empathetic state."
"It was informative yet entertaining and engaging."
"A great work environment to work and learn"
"Today's session was very effective. Empathy can be difficult. It was very helpful to learn some theatre tools to help."
"It was great to warm up and take on the empathy challenges. Stand up,sit down, moves my mind also body."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Information Design and Design Empathy

Byron was invited to present DD+D's Design Empathy workshop for the Information Design class at Columbia College this month.

Course description: This course teaches
students the basic principles and practice of
information design. Students investigate,
design and test visual processes; develop
information systems; map data; graph paths;
and create interactive displays.

General Information: In this course students
examine information design through the lens of
user-centered design and design research
methodology. They begin with a discussion
of theory and practice of information design,
and then are introduced to the concept of “design 
thinking.” The focus of this class is how
information is communicated through design.
This is a broad definition of “design” and
students learn the importance of understanding
users, in order to ensure that products and
services meet their needs.

Here are pics from the class and participant feedback

Student feedback comments:
"I actually enjoyed the handshake before class. To me, that was like taking time out to see me individually. Keep up the good work, you're funny!"
"It was very interesting to learn about corporate examples of empathizing w/the user and the presentation was fun and interactive."
"Byron, you have a wonderful gift of communication,"
"Byron was very into teaching and speaking to the class."
"It was entertaining and interactive, which allowed for information to be absorbed."
"Created a really different way of viewing things,ideas and people."
"It got blood flowing and gave a new perspective."
"It helped me better understand the role of em path in design."
" I usually don't enjoy interactive learning but I actually learned some valuable info about design."
"Great speaker, kept me engaged throughout the presentation and shared knowledge effectively!"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

ServLab and Service Theatre

DD+D recently discovered ServLab and we've been working on a partnership!

(New) Services are frequently developed unsystematically and not sufficiently conceptualized and tested. 
This challenge is addressed through the ServLab facility at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering. It incorporates a stage for acting out service scenarios and a large virtual reality (VR) backdrop to simulate the servicescape. 
In particular, the ServLab makes it possible to test and visualize new service concepts (using VR), create an environment that is as close as possible to reality (e.g. by playing back sounds or introducing odors  and to rehearse the interaction between customers and employees with the support of actors (service theatre).

Here is a great example of how ServLab uses Service Theatre