Time to reflect

Practitioner stories
5 min readJan 31, 2022

Practitioner stories started in June 2020. We had reflected for our first anniversary, but now that we have finally published the last summary of insights of our initial research in December, we felt it was a good time to reflect again.

Vinishree Verma joined us along the way so this time, there are four voices to this post.

What the project is about

This project started with a tweet in June 2020. We teamed up to collect stories of Service Design in the public and third sectors in Scotland. We started an interview study and discussed with 15 practitioners in Scotland how to better support, grow and build up the service design community in Scotland.

We focussed on the Public and Third Sectors in Scotland initially, but this can be explored further.

You can learn more on our website.

Timeline of the project

illustration of the timeline with interviews from June to Aug 2020, then analysis from Sept 2020, telling the stories on Medium from January 2021, a workshop and the website in February, presentations for UX Glasgow and SDS Gatherings in March and all the summaries from April to Dec 2021 with a survey in August 2021
Illustration by Vinishree

Personal reflections


Reflecting on Practitioner Stories is reflecting on the pandemic. The lock-down put everything on hold — graduation, job-search, life… I found myself transitioning from PhD isolation into pandemic isolation; I desperately needed to do something with people.

So I went online and found some amazing designers building infrastructure to strengthen connections and knowledge-sharing in the Scottish-ish service design community — Slack groups, gatherings, random coffees, mentoring…
I will remember with especial warmth our most beloved Distanced Gatherings — a weekly dose of positivity and inspiration that held me together through early lock-down. Random interactions with the community, in break-out rooms and coffee trials, were the inspiration for collecting practitioner stories. The algorithms aligned, and a supportive and motivated team happened. It has been a joy to collaborate with these women, and to dive into the learnings, experiences, and aspirations of our interviewees.

In the summer of 2020, there was plenty of time for Practitioner Stories. So we went hard: transcribing, coding, mapping… As the world started to come back to life, we kept going but at a much slower pace: analysing and publishing bit-by-bit. I have been continually amazed at our determination to share those insights. By the time we wrap-up writing, we struggle making time to reflect as life has nearly come back to full(ish) speed.


Delivering a research project aside from your full-time job and life is never easy and we spent a lot of our free time reading, transcribing, analysing and discussing. But thanks to a brilliant team and the great contributions of our participants, it was all worth it! In our day-to-day lives we are often so caught up in our projects, jobs and lives that we don‘t have the time and space to think about our practice and community. This research project specifically put the focus on the service design community and practice in Scotland, which I personally really enjoyed and valued. The stories we collected were fascinating and the discussions that we had about them even more. This project allowed me to connect with many other service design practitioners, to learn from their experiences and to support the community by conducting and sharing this research.


I’ve said it before but I never thought I would still be part of this project 18 months later! Right from the start, I’ve really enjoyed the collaboration with Angela and Serena as even though we’re all service designers, we still have very different ways to work, so this forced me to consider different approaches, discuss them and reflect on my own way of working. Sharing our work with the wider community also led to meeting new people, like Vinishree who brought new energy at a time where we were starting to lose a bit of steam.

Looking back, I feel really lucky that the people we had decided to interview got on board immediately and were really generous with their time, sharing their stories and reflections with us. I’ve loved these discussions. I’ve learned a lot from them.

Many people in the community told us how our summaries were resonating with them, and how good it felt to read about others sharing similar challenges. We have enjoyed these discussions within the community during our workshop and during the Distance Gathering sessions of Service Design Scotland but we didn’t get to do this as often as we wanted to as our priority was to finish the analysis. I hope that in the next phase we will have more interactive sessions with the community to take this further.

The time spent on this project so far has been time really well spent and helped me grow as a practitioner.


After I came to Scotland in 2020, I was looking for like-minded people who are — driven by their passion, who love to take that extra step, open for collaboration and make a difference in their own way. And I didn’t have to look far, they were right around me in most of the online events I attended last year, I just needed to reach out. So here I was, first connecting with Practitioner Stories, then working with these three amazing service designers (Stéphanie, Serena & Angela), and then becoming a part of this squad!

Although my contribution has been way less, this journey has been exciting so far, with hopes to contribute more in 2022. Going through the Miro board and the analysis done by these three experienced service designers, I soon got a grip of how the Service Design practitioners work within the public and third sector in Scotland — their barriers, their motivations, and their highs & lows. By the time I started working on projects within this area, I found it a wee bit easier to understand the forces around me, aware of the framework within which I need to work and what to expect.

Reflecting back, I can only say that this collaboration has been inspiring, fulfilling with learnings which have surely made its mark in my practice. In fact many times I found Stéphanie & Angela watching my back, virtually holding my hand, and cheering me for my work, all through this year, which has filled me with so much gratitude for them. I’m looking forward to some exciting times ahead with Practitioner’s Stories.

What next?

We are tossing a few ideas around, and are looking for suggestions from you all as well. Tell us in the comments what you would like to see happen. You can also get in touch with us if you prefer via email or on Twitter @PractitionerSt1.

Thank you!

Angela, Serena, Stéphanie and Vinishree



Practitioner stories

We are collecting Practitioner stories of Service Design in the Scottish public and third sectors