5x5, In-house Service Design, Chris Finlay

Interview with Chris Finlay, Senior Director of Product Design at Optum

by Thomas Brandenburg

“Communicating those values and vision, simply and repeatedly, and tying them to KPIs, is key to ensuring an organization takes action at every level.” —Chris Finlay- on how to establish an in-house practice

1. What are couple of the key ways you go about training or educating the rest of the organization in service design?

We have several levels of design and innovation training. These courses are in person and online. They focus primarily on the principles of human centered design, but account for many of the best practices of service design and service design thinking.

2. What are couple of important factors needed in order to successfully set up and integrate an in-house service design practice?

A culture that values putting people first. Market demand for improved experiences as a differentiator, executives who have a deep held belief in design, and a willingness to invest. Communicating those values and vision, simply and repeatedly, and tieing them to KPIs is key to ensuring an organization takes action at every level.

“...taking the time to bring colleagues into the field, including them co-creation sessions, and truly embracing real collaboration, which almost always means putting your ego aside and starting with other people’s frameworks to find the right one together.”

3. As we know, at the heart of service design is collaboration and co-creation—how do you go about finding allies in-house? 

Allies are earned. As designers we have to take the added responsibility of helping people who haven’t yet experienced the power of design to feel it and believe in it at a gut level. That requires taking the time to bring colleagues into the field, including them co-creation sessions, and truly embracing real collaboration, which almost always means putting your ego aside and starting with other people’s frameworks to find the right one together.

4. Tell us about the metrics that your team works toward.

We work towards the key metrics of the business, which account for the performance of consumer engagement, adherence, and overall health outcomes to name a few. How we work to achieve those measures to create sustainable solutions that people love is a dynamic and exciting challenge.

5. What myth about (in-house) service design would you like to dispel?

That they can’t do inspired work quickly. Well staffed and integrated enterprise grade design capabilities can be incredibly creative, sprint as hard and as fast as any group, and often has more impact because we an integrated business partner. Design at scale, particularly in healthcare, is an exciting frontier with incredibly inspiring challenges and opportunities.

To see Chris Finlay at our upcoming SDN US National Conference register here

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