Getting an economic development agency to act like a service provider

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screenshot of the header of the Scottish Enterprise website with the statement mentioned in the text below

What does Scottish Enterprise do?

According to our website, “Scottish Enterprise is Scotland’s national economic development agency. We’re committed to growing the Scottish economy for the benefit of all, helping create more quality jobs and a brighter future for every region.”

And how do we do that?

By providing services.

But sometimes we forget that we’re a service provider and act like we’re a builder of things. We can be pretty good at building things. Some of these things are really useful.

But ultimately, we’re not here to build apps or websites. We’re here to help businesses do things, like make their business more sustainable, export their goods, or find new opportunities. And the best way for us to do that is by designing good services.

As Lou Downe says in their book ‘Good Services’, about 80% of the cost of running the UK government is spend on services. Up to 60% of the cost of these services is spent on service failure – phone calls to the government because people don’t know how to do something, or casework where forms are filled in incorrectly.

We don’t want our customers or our staff to waste their time when the failure is often easy to prevent.  

So what are we doing about this in Scottish Enterprise?

We’re putting service design at the heart of what we do

We’re going through a lot of big changes right now, and service design is playing a big role in how those changes happen. We’re asking the big questions:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • How will it help our customers?
  • Is this really what they want?

We’re challenging the idea that we should create something just because we can. Or because someone senior wants us to. Or because it looks really cool. There can be a disconnect between what users are trying to do and what we think we’re providing for them, and we’re trying to bridge that gap.

We’re designing in the open

Our Github site is a central place where we can share what’s happening with different projects. You can see what research we’ve done, our user needs, our customer journeys and the prototypes that we’ve created. It allows people to follow the service journey from discovery through to delivery, and it makes it easier to see what we’ve done and why we’ve done it.

We’re talking about service design

Whether it’s sharing accessibility best practice, demonstrating tools that we like to use (like Miro) or running workshops for our colleagues on service design thinking and working in an agile way, we’re doing what we can to share our expertise outside our team.

This blog is part of that. We want to let the rest of Scottish Enterprise know what we’re up to so they can understand how service design is relevant to the work that the organisation does.

We’re making mistakes

We’re making mistakes along the way. That happens. But we’re trying to be open about them and learn from them.

We’re trying to get better at explaining why what we do matters, as well as understanding why our colleagues aren’t always on board. We’re getting there, but it’s going to take time.

We’re just one agency among many that provides services to businesses, and we don’t always do enough to understand how we fit in with the wider customer journey. We need to work more closely with other public sector partners so we can break down barriers between us, and ultimately make it easier for customers to find the support that they need.

There has never been a better reason for us to collaborate than there is now. Businesses have faced incredible challenges this year, and they will continue to do so. We need to get out of our silos and work together to help them.

Bring it on.

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