Archive for August, 2007

First week of school done

Friday, August 31st, 2007

I’m back at school for the last year of my Masters degree. It feels good to be back after a couple months of work… nothing will ever beat the freedom and self-set schedules you get in academia (except maybe the money factor).

Aside from my thesis project and essay, which count for two full courses, this term I am taking two additional courses: Graduate Typography with Kristin Hughes and Stacie Rohrbach and Product Planning and Development with Matt Beale. If all goes well, I will also be picking up an independent study with John Zimmerman and Scott Davidoff. They’re working on a project dealing with Smart Homes. So, between dealing with the Children’s Hospital, music notation, typography, product planning, and smart homes, I think I’ve got a pretty good variety this term, which is what I was aiming for. I had intended on taking a class (Customer Driven Strategies) at the Tepper School of Business, but seeing as how I’m number 36 on the waitlist, I think my chances of getting into that are pretty slim. If I’m lucky maybe the prof will let me audit instead.

Here’s to another crazy year of grad school!

I’m still alive

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Moved into my new apartment in Pittsburgh this weekend. Thank you mom. She’s a superhero.

I like the place. It has windows that don’t look straight out onto pavement and the underneath of cars. I see actual trees! The sky! Oh the luxury.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with the Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital to figure out what I can do for them for my thesis. And to hopefully start all the IRB goodness that comes with working with little people. The Children’s Hospital is conviniently (for me) opening a brand new unit right under their Critical Care unit in October. That means there will be lots of room for me to go in and evaluate their current services, and hopefully find something lacking, or something to improve with respect to their current service offerings. It also helps that Bonnie Dean, the director of clinical education/research/professional development and patient care support (phew, long title), has enthusiastically agreed to be my second mentor for my year-long thesis.

As for my thesis paper, I know I will be doing something about music notation and services… but I’ve been thinking lately more along the lines of improvisation and how that can tie into services. Improvisation takes on a whole new notation system in terms of music. And improvisation in services is a whole lot different than fixed and planned service processes. It seems that a lot of problems with services occur because of the lack of proper improvisation, if that makes any sense. I dealt a bit with this over the summer at IBM. Example: routine checking-in at the airport, vs. finding out that your flight was canceled at time of check-in. Canceled flights can be a mess, but they don’t have to be if planned properly. So, planned improvisation, if you will. How do companies currently deal with out-of-the-ordinary situations? Do they know what goes on in their customer’s head as they try to deal with crisis scenarios? How can designers create a strategy for service providers for creating better customer experience? Would proper service notation and blueprinting help?

(Speaking of music stuff, I got into one of CMU’s orchestra classes this year. Very excited.)

Can’t get away from the computer

Monday, August 13th, 2007

I tried. I really did. But there were too many things I needed to check. Like whether I had enough money to pay tuition next week. So here I am, updating everything everywhere while I’m at it.

I got back home to Toronto on Saturday night, after waiting for an hour in the airport parking lot for CAA to come fix our car (it refused to start). Fun. Yesterday, my sister, some friends and I went down to Greektown for Toronto’s annual Taste of Danforth. I’ve missed Toronto a lot… the clean subways, the clean streets, the fresh air, the gorgeous weather, the friendlier people…

I thought I would have a relaxing week back in Toronto before my mom and I drive back to Pittsburgh on Friday. Instead I’ve been playing early morning tennis with my sister (who is still on Liverpool time), and all my mealtimes have been booked with a lot of my friends whom I haven’t seen in a long time (years, for some).

I have a feeling this week is going to go by quickly.

Bye bye IBM, for now

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Friday was my last day of work at IBM. It was an intense week. Four presentations, finishing a service design workbook, getting administrative stuff out of the way, giving a mini piano recital for my mentor’s two daughters… a lot of random things packed in five days.

Everything went very well the last couple of days. All my presentations were well received. Even the one with Robert Morris, head of IBM Global Services Research. He’s invited me back for a meeting with Lee Green, head of IBM Design Strategy and Brand Experiences, so hopefully I’ll find my way back to NYC sometime soon. Robert seemed to be interested in our work; if all goes well, all the research and development I’ve done with blueprints this summer will be put to use in evaluating IBM’s services.

So I guess my efforts at infusing design within my building didn’t go unnoticed. All due to my mentor, who was instrumental in getting me in touch with the right people.

Bye bye IBM, for now!

I want to go.

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

ICSID/IDSA Connecting ’07

The 32nd International DMI Conference

MSI’s Service Innovation by Design

I know there are a lot of other conferences but these three have recently put themselves on my conference radar. Looks like a collection of great speakers and interesting topics. If only I was made of money. Well actually, seeing as how MSI’s conference is only open to specific members, and the DMI conference would put me out over $2K, it looks like the ICSID/IDSA may be a possibility.