by Thomas Brandenburg
“I could probably craft my way out of any sticky situation. Like MacGyver, but with hot glue, ribbon, and glitter.”
1. What issue related to service design thought leadership is most interesting to you?
An interest area of mine is the intersection of service design and behavioral economics. Understanding why people behave the way they do, often in irrational ways, is important when planning and conducting user research. Using behavioral economics to design services that can influence user behavior in positive ways - such as driving individuals to choose the right health insurance plan or getting them to start saving for retirement at an earlier age— is incredibly powerful and meaningful.
2. What skill(s) should a budding service designer have in their back pocket?
From personal experience, one skill that I’m still trying to improve is my sketching capabilities. My background is not in visual design - I’ve never been much for drawing, but I’ve come to learn that being able to express ideas visually, on the fly, is incredibly important for service designers.
3. What reading material (articles, books, blogs, etc) would you recommend reading?
Since I mentioned Behavioral Economics earlier, definitely pick up Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman if you haven’t read it yet. Dan Ariely is another leader in this space. Read his books and check out his research blog from the Center for Advanced Hindsight. Lately I’ve been reading futuristic fiction as well, for fun and for inspiration. Check out Ready Player One for a wonderful mix of futurism and flash-back references to ‘80s pop culture.
4. How would you describe your work style?
I’ve been told I’m collaborative and curious. While I love working with people, I definitely consider myself to be more of an introverted thinker. The “aha moments” tend to come when I have personal processing time and space.
5. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best piece of advice I have received was actually in the form of a question. I was dreading (and delaying) the start of a very complicated assignment and was discussing the problem with one of my best friends. I was explaining all the potential pitfalls and issues that could arise when she asked me, “But what if it’s easy?” This question made me look at the assignment from a different point of view and now when I’m stressing I try to remember to ask myself this question as a way to push past analysis paralysis and procrastination.
Bonus question— What is your best ninja skill?
I could probably craft my way out of any sticky situation. Like MacGyver, but with hot glue, ribbon, and glitter.