Ben Holliday

Ready for everything, or ready for anything?

Designing for everything is a higher risk strategy than designing for anything.

When you’re designing a service, it’s not smart to design for everything. It’s impossible to predict all the possible scenarios that could happen in the future no matter how much data, research and insight informs your choices.

We don’t know how people’s needs, and the needs of the places they live and work will change over time. We can only guess what will happen next. Everything depends on predicting as many possible future scenarios as possible.

The alternative is to create something flexible and more capable of responding to change.

We didn’t see it coming but we were as prepared as we could be for anything that might happen.

Above all, we can design for flexibility in future service models. This also means that we commit ourselves to continuous learning about how the context for our services is changing around us, with existing needs changing and new needs emerging as a result of this.

It’s smarter to not rely on a single channel, access point, or single points of failure for how people access something, or do something when interacting with your organisation. This includes digital channels with fixed access points or eligibility criteria, as well as the more traditional channels and physical spaces for service delivery that might sit around optimised, ‘modern’ user journeys.

Whatever the type of disruption and change, designing for anything is how you get ready to adapt to what might happen next, whether that’s public services in a pandemic or anything else that could happen – “…we created a model that would be flexible enough to ride out the storm. We were capable of creating something better from the adverse conditions we faced”.

This is my blog where I’ve been writing for 18 years. You can follow all of my posts by subscribing to this RSS feed. You can also find me on Bluesky, less frequently now on X (formally Twitter), and on LinkedIn.