How to sabotage an organisation

A 60 minute Tutorial by:

Michele Ide-Smith

European Bioinformatics Institute

Francis Rowland

Sigma Consulting

Theme: Hacking the org: tales from the frontline

About this Tutorial

Designing services and experiences requires cooperation and understanding between a range of people; it requires an adaptive, nimble organisation. Our session will tell you how to sabotage and undermine all that.

In 2012, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released the Simple Sabotage Field Manual into the public domain. Compiled in 1944 by the CIA’s precursor, the Office of Strategic Services, this innocuous little booklet contains surprisingly relevant tips for undermining order, productivity…and organisations.

We present some of the most effective tips for sabotage as anti-patterns for modern, collaborative service design. We expand on many of the points, setting them in the context of our day-to-day work, as designers and innovators, highlighting the damage that can be done.

By using selected anti-patterns, we invite you to play devil’s advocate for a change, and to consider how to design terrible services!

Wikipedia defines an anti-pattern as “a common response to a recurring problem that is usually ineffective and risks being highly counterproductive”. Considering anti-patterns for solving problems can be a powerful way to help designers (and others!) to approach a problem with a new perspective, unencumbered by the need to get it right. We'll also teach a practical game that you can use to solve problems creatively using anti-patterns.

Many of the tips we present are simple, logical, and avoidable - and yet we see them so often, preventing us from realising great service and experience design, and from collaborating effectively. In this session, we approach that challenge a little differently.

About the Speakers

Michele Ide-Smith

Michele is currently leading the design and product management of Europe PMC, a service that allows research scientists to find and explore life sciences and biomedical literature. She has 19 years' experience designing web-based services for a variety of sectors including local government, higher education, charity and e-commerce. Michele’s professional interests are building and facilitating effective product teams, helping to grow design communities and sketchnoting. She set up and co-organised Service Design in Government in 2014, and is co-organiser of UX Cambridge and the Cambridge Usability Group.


Francis Rowland

Francis is Senior UX Architect with Sigma and leads the Cambridge office; until recently, he was Lead UX Designer at the European Bioinformatics Institute. He is passionate about helping to move projects towards a real, positive impact for users and helping multi-disciplinary teams achieve this. With over 15 years of professional experience, initially as a web designer, then as a UX designer in recent years, Francis applies experience in research, ideation, workshop facilitation and coaching in an effort to bring clarity to complexity. He speaks in the UK and abroad on a range of topics related to design, including sketching, data visualisation, lean processes, co-design and collaboration. He has co-organised the Cambridge Usability Group since 2008.


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