Nokia 206 feature phone

I forget sometimes about the novelty of not using a smart phone.

Funnily enough I turned off the iPhone about 8 years ago now when I first started a job to design and build a new “digital only” banking proposition. Taking the challenge very seriously, one of the first things I did was go out and buy a classic Nokia 206 feature phone. And by that I mean, a phone that doesn’t do email, nor does it offer social media, instant messaging, chat etc.

Just good old 2G connectivity at your fingertips. The date was 20 Nov 2013 to be precise. Did the bank make a mistake hiring me? They might have wondered at the time…

However this slightly “strange” behaviour of mine was actually founded in some deep service design principles. And whilst I am not one of those trendy government service designer folk, I knew enough that the best research often starts by stepping into the shoes of the very people you are trying to understand (I believe the social scientists call this ethnographic research).

And so for the period of the digital research project, I “became” one of the bank’s analogue clients – the very people we were interested in trying to better understand, and perhaps even reach out to with the new digital proposition somehow.

The project was a success. But a digital banking platform is just a digital banking platform and nothing much to really get too excited about. But improving your daily life measurably enough that you simply forget to turn on the iPhone again, well that really is something.

Frank Ray

Ask any project manager about the key to their success, and they will say that delivering a project is often more like a "dark art" or by chance, than a predictable science.

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