Service Design at a distance with Youth Music

Last month Hyphen8 had the pleasure and privilege of working with the national charity Youth Music. We supported them to develop a delivery approach for their first-ever funding programme direct to young people – rather than to organisations – which is due to launch in Spring 2021.

Youth Music invest in music-making projects which support children and young people aged 0-25 to develop personally and socially, as well as musically. They work particularly with those who don’t get to make music because of who they are, where they live, or what they’re going through.

How we approached it

Hyphen8 delivered a series of workshops with the goal of supporting Youth Music to design the funding application and monitoring journeys, and content of the application and monitoring forms.

At the very beginning of the first workshop we agreed the principles that we would apply throughout the design process. It was very clear that Youth Music ambition’s were already in-line with service design good practice with involvement of users, accessibility, and inclusivity at the top of the list of principles. Keeping things simple and only asking for relevant information were also really important to the team.

Using online tools ‘Miro’ and ‘EasyRetro’, we were able to recreate the much-missed white board and post-it notes of the meeting room!

Starting with a blank slate we mapped each step of the end-to-end user journey, including the crucial pre-application stage. Team Hyphen8 played a guiding role in this activity; asking questions, challenging, and sense checking ideas – always bringing the group back to those initial principles.  

We used an easily shareable ‘retro’ board to brainstorm ideas for data collection to guide the group discussion. Voting and comments functionality were also used to help prioritise and flesh out the team’s ideas.

Throughout the different sessions relevant team members joined discussions, including colleagues from their Grants & Learning, Research & Evaluation, Youth Engagement, Fundraising and Finance teams. This ensured that those involved in the delivery internally or had a stake in it, could input, shape and challenge the proposed design from the outset.

By the end of the workshops we had an agreed set of initial process flows, application and monitoring form content, and outstanding actions and considerations for Youth Music to take forward.

What we learnt

It is really important to Hyphen8 that we take the opportunity to reflect on what we learnt during and following the delivery of our projects. That way we can apply what we’ve learnt to this project going forward, and to other client’s projects that we are supporting. Some key things we learnt during this process:

Use of online tools

The remote working environment we are faced with today has required a little more creativity when it comes to group sessions, but the use of online tools does make the job a little easier to visually guide and capture discussions and ideas.

By the end of the sessions Youth Music were converts, and are now using EasyRetro for their own internal meetings!

Involvement of stakeholders

When taking a service design approach it is really important to involve users and stakeholders from the outset, which we did for internal teams in this case. On reflection we thought an initial session with all stakeholders to agree the principles as a wider team up front would have been helpful to get everyone involved in shaping these from the beginning.  

Involving young people in the initial design

A really key principle that we couldn’t apply at this stage due to various challenges was the lack of input from young people themselves in the initial design. To mitigate this Youth Music are now taking the prototype of the journey and forms that we have developed to groups of young people, and they are committed to making changes based on this input and feedback.

Next steps

Youth Music are now working with young people and their internal teams to playback and inform the design further. The next steps of the project are then bringing the design to life.

Hyphen8 are delighted to be supporting Youth Music to now deliver the project online. We’ll be using an agile approach, putting their users – both young people and internal staff – at the heart of the final design, testing, iteration and roll out of the programme next year.

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