Elevating Impact Stories: Steve Lee

May 21, 2014 at 9:43 am Leave a comment

Leading up to the Elevating Impact Summit on Friday, June 20 in Portland, Oregon, we’ve invited event speakers, award nominees, and panelists to engage in a stories project. We believe that storytelling is an essential part of effective social innovation. How can we tell stories in a way that generates interest and creates connections? How can we listen to the stories of others with the empathy needed to achieve true understanding? We hope that by sharing the stories of our speakers, or pieces they have written reflecting elements of their journeys, you will learn more about each person, and explore the promise and challenge of social innovation.

Steve Lee responds to the question: What is your source of personal motivation? 

Steve_Lee_300x300“I feel truly privileged in my role as a Service Designer, at a time when the remit of design is broader than ever, and its principles are being applied to humanize the complex systems and services we navigate every day as citizens, consumers, patients, students, and employees.

In its purest definition, the designer is a betterist. We make stuff better. But this doesn’t just mean the products we buy and can hold – a handier can opener, a sturdier mobile phone case, a more desirable car, or an unfeasibly expensive white Italian chair that you wouldn’t let your kids anywhere near, but thinking about the experiences we have with the other 80% of the economy, the service economy.

Transportation, health interactions, financial services, legal services, educational opportunities, understanding how these services are navigated and experienced by the people who use them and the staff who provide them is key to providing services that are both more useful and more desirable. Designing how each service is organized, and the touchpoints that constitute the service including the website, branding and communications, staff roles, the flow of a space and signage, can make a huge difference.

Spending a day shadowing a doctor or a housing applicant, or assessing the capacities of a community to mobilize around health or urban regeneration can reveal opportunities for innovation and relevant services around the true, latent or unmet needs of people.

Many of us are working on improving connections between people we work with and outcomes they are seek. I would recommend we all step back and become our own ‘Common Sense Police’. Empathize with each stakeholder. Ask why over and over to get to the root issues and seek to elevate impact by stripping away operational efficiencies which get in the way of effectiveness and better experiences – it can transform communities and change lives.”


Steve Lee is a Senior Service Designer at Ziba. He focuses on applying design thinking to complex systems, organizations and problems in the most holistic, sustainable, human way. From research and ideation to implementation and helping manage change, people are at the heart of Ziba’s Service Design methodology and Steve’s expertise. He has worked on projects for notable clients such as UHG and FedEx.

Steve hails from Prospect, London where prior to joining Ziba he worked at Engine Service Design and the Design Council on both the Technology Campaign and RED, their public services innovation unit. Steve studied Design at Goldsmiths College, University of London while working as an interaction designer at Imagination. He also helps to fund and run the Union Cycle Works, a social enterprise making beautiful bespoke bikes while assisting disadvantaged people in learning new skills.

Steve Lee will discuss building resilience in vulnerable communities at the Elevating Impact Summit on June 20, 2014.

Entry filed under: Design Thinking, Elevating Impact Summit, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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