The Friends of the Navigation

The Greenhouse December 2017

Service Design

Greenhouse is PDR’s applied training programme which has been developed to grow the capacity of public sector organisations in their service design and policy design approaches. Our latest Greenhouse training course took place from 6th to 8th December with participants from across the UK, Latvia, Greece and Norway.

From our experience, the best way to learn is by doing and as such, in Greenhouse we apply design tools to a live challenge, this time it was around the Navigation Colliery in Crumlin.

The Navigation is a stunning architectural example of an early 20th century Welsh mine which over the years has fallen into disrepair.

Following severe degradation, in 2011, the South Wales Building Preservation Trust purchased the site for a £1 and now works with a number of trusts including the Friends of The Navigation to restore the buildings for both commercial and community use.

What was covered by the programme?

DAY 1:

·       Overview of service design and policy design
·       Pecha Kucha presentations from all participants
·       Client briefing from ‘The Friends of the Navigation’
·       Problem definition and stakeholder mapping

The client – The Friends of the Navigation – presented the group with statistics about the villages surrounding the site; some facts about the coal mine itself, structural problems such as having the River Ebbw running through the site; a Valleys' railway line running beside the site and a railway station on the site, and also the unique and striking buildings themselves - 11 in total - all of grade 2 preservation status. To summarise, this stunning site is full of potential for further development.

DAY 2:

·       User research framework
·       Site visit to the Navigation in Crumlin
·       Research in action
·       Downloading insights
·       Journey mapping
·       Challenges clustering
·       Ideation

The morning focused on techniques for conducting user research and planning the user insights gathering that the participants would be conducting with locals. A tour of the site was given by the client and then came the opportunity to put the User Research Framework into action by interviewing people living and working in Crumlin.

After conducting the user research and performing rapid ethnography, the participants returned to PDR to distil the insights gathered. A large number of insights and challenges emerged from the partipants putting themselves in the shoes of local stakeholders so to speak. These insights were translated into nine key challenges which were predominantly focused on the need to engage the community, raise investment, host events, create jobs and attract tourists.

In a brainstorm session based on diagnosing a series of challenges, the participants generated more than 250 ideas to address the challenges they identified.

DAY 3:

·       Dot voting the most promising ideas
·       Storyboarding
·       Paper prototyping
·       Client pitching

After letting the ideas ruminate overnight, the next morning the delegates selected the most promising ideas in terms of quick wins and longer term gains. The teams worked up their ideas in the form of storyboards and prototyped some simple digital concepts on paper before preparing a pitch of their ideas back to the client.

The ideas formulated included how to engage the local school in promoting community engagement events at the site, establishing a micro brewery as the first business in the incubation space and approaches for creating a shared strategy for Navigation Colliery to foster collective ownership of the site with local people. The user insights, challenge identification and elements of all the ideas proposed were very much appreciated by the clients, who were extremely satisfied with the involvement of the group and the ideas proposed for bringing The Navigation back into use.

In summary, The Greenhouse equipped the participants with the confidence to apply a service design approach in their own organisations - by providing them with an understanding of the fundamentals of service design:

·         Methods for understanding what your service is really like to use and deliver
·         Tools for engaging front-line staff in design and innovation projects
·         New ideas for stretching your approach to continuous improvement
·         Understand how to manage design and innovation within services
·         How to get buy-in for innovation
·         Techniques for designing and iterating on live projects.

You can join an exclusive group of public service leaders for The Greenhouse, an immersive training course that will quickly build your skills and experience of public service and policy design.


Express your interest in taking part by contacting Piotr

Contact Us

Dr Anna Whicher Head of Design Policy
Piotr Swiatek Project Manager