We get to spend our days working with generally awesome people across the wonderful world of digital.

And we love exploring what makes these folks tick. So we launched FFS, or Futureheads Five Stories, where we speak to people who have interesting stories to tell, to find out more about their career in the digital world, and the lessons they’ve learnt along the way.

And we couldn’t resist the acronym.

We work closely with Capital One, who have transformed from a financial services company to a truly innovative tech-led business. They also host our Leaders In Change forum at their offices in the White Collar Factory. So we were delighted to sit down with Service Designer Daria Kwiatkowska.

What’s the story of your career so far?

I started out in the product design world, but spent a few years dipping my toes in the third sector before first hearing about Service Design and having what to this day is my life’s greatest eureka moment. I was lucky enough to get a place on the Service Design MA programme at the Royal College of Art. For two years I worked with some of the world’s most interesting companies on a varied and challenging selection of projects. I tackled everything from museum engagement and sustainable accountancy, to artificial intelligence and city cycling schemes.

In my final year, I partnered with Capital One on my final major project, exploring the opportunities in Open Banking. Since graduating I’ve continued working with them on projects envisioning the future of the credit industry and supporting customers in financial difficulty.

What advice would you give to yourself when you were just starting out?

Push the walls!

I never quite realised how much I’m limited by my perception of what is actually possible. It took me so long to figure this out. We’re always surrounded by people who tell us that our plans won’t work out because of the lack of experience, knowledge or any other critical ingredient, but when I listened to those people, I found I didn’t have any ways of acquiring that knowledge or experience. This way of thinking led me to put up fake walls around what I thought was possible, limiting what I could learn and the speed with which I could grow. But now I try to push the walls more and see whether they hold!

What do you love most about what you do?

I love understanding how people think and feel about products and services that they use. How and why do they make decisions, particularly when they are influenced by cognitive biases? The most fascinating part of any project for me is the acknowledgement and careful application of these behavioural and emotional insights to the strategy and design behind experiences. Then seeing the huge, positive impact that can have on a customer’s experience that wouldn’t have happened if solely business and customer needs had been considered.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?

“You’re only really growing when you’re afraid you’ll fail.”

For me, like for a lot of creatives, sharing my work before I felt it was ready was the biggest source of professional fear. And yet I know that early feedback is infinitely more valuable than feedback on something that you see as finished! Sharing early, regularly and with a broad range of people, I now have time to act on richer, more diverse feedback. I can fast-track my progress, break down internal silos and prevent duplication of effort, and subsequently build stronger relationships with stakeholders.

What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge in our industry over the next twelve months?

I think we have a huge amount of work to do in terms of measuring and evaluating the value of what we do as designers. At times, we have to balance the customer experience and business needs and constraints. And while NPS and similar simple metrics show short-term impacts, we don’t have appropriately equivalent ways of evidencing the nuanced, complex, longer-term effects of good design.

A little bit about Daria

Magnetised towards the most wicked of design problems, Daria has spent the last year and a half designing financial services experiences. Investigating everything from how Open Banking can change our spending, borrowing and saving habits, to looking at how we can help people who are in financial difficulty, Daria employs service design, strategic foresight and systems thinking perspectives to put people at the heart of her design work.

You can connect with Daria through her website, and on LinkedIn.

Want to take part in our FFS series – or fancy a chat about service design? Say hello at ciaran@wearefutureheads.co.uk.



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