Jax Wechsler

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Inner Development for Change – Contemplation #1

Inner Development for change
Contemplation 1 : Inner development, trauma and change. Hello! My name is Jax Wechsler. I am an educator, consultant, facilitator and coach interested in inner development for change. Why? I believe we humans need to transform our consciousness to continue to develop human flourishing on our precious planet i.e. physical and mental wellbeing that’s holistically good, for individuals, communities and Earth. Yes, that means you.

Inner development for me, is about shifting our consciousness, expanding our awareness and our ability to sense, empowering us to see differently and be differently, so we can act differently. I see inner development as an important key for human flourishing. It is my intention to create a series of posts where I share contemplations about inner development for change. My thinking on this topic is influenced by different knowledges including; neuroscience and Polyvagal Theory, embodiment practices, TheoryU, Regenerative Development, living systems, indigenous knowledges and earth based spirituality.


In this first post I reflect on the prevalence of trauma in society and share how I came to see that inner development is an important key for human flourishing. I hope you join me on this reflective journey.

….My journey to the inside

Over the past 15 years I have worked on big, hairy, complex projects with governments and non-profits as a Social Designer practising human-centred design and co-design. In the past I viewed design as THE magic elixir for change, and in 2013 I established a community of practice, Social Design Sydney, as a forum to explore design for social outcomes. In my working life I relied on design approaches to work on complex projects within child protection, disability and homelessness. Whilst providing useful approaches, I did not feel design was enough. This led me to study other change related practices including Systems thinking, Futures thinking, Appreciative Inquiry, TheoryU, Awareness Based Systems change, Living systems and more recently Regenerative Development, to extend my practice and empower me to help create sustainable change.


In 2019, when the Covid pandemic first began, I completed a Certificate in Trauma Informed practice. This training was aimed at service providers and I completed it holding the question; how might I be more trauma informed in my design and social innovation practice? As I often worked in trauma related contexts such as mental health, child protection, and homelessness I felt it important to become better equiped to work with people who have experienced trauma so that I did not do harm. I have since developed a course on Trauma Informed Design Research and have been delivering the training to design practitioners globally.
Man standing on hill at sunset
Photo by Chetan Menaria on Unsplash

….Trauma is familiar to many

The subject of trauma is something I have been learning about for some time. It is also something I know about in my own body. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors and intergenerational trauma is something I know from my lineage. At age 4, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. For various reasons, I had a complex upbringing. Something that I have come to appreciate is that trauma is common, and that it affects people’s ability to think, relate and be in the world. There is discussion about capital ’T’ trauma and little ‘t’ trauma. Capital ‘T’ trauma is trauma caused by a big event for example natural disasters, diseases, physical, sexual harm, or witnessing death. Little ’t’ trauma arises from highly distressing events that affect people on a personal level but don’t fall into the big ‘T’ category. Examples include non-life-threatening injuries, emotional abuse, death of a pet, bullying or harassment, and loss of significant relationships

Trauma is also commonly transferred intergenerationaly, from one generation to the next. Whether this happens through epigenetic inheritance and/or through behavioural adaptations that then affect how a parent acts with their children is unknown. But what we do know is that trauma is passed down from one generation to the next. Collective trauma refers to psychological reactions to a traumatic event that affects an entire society. It relates to a collective memory of an awful event that happened to a group of people, for example floods, fires and war. In recent years across the globe, there have been many large scale events that have had devastating impacts on people’s lives causing collective trauma. No matter how the trauma occurs, whether it is intergenerational or caused by a major or more minor event, trauma affects our nervous systems in the same way despite its origin. 

….Trauma and the nervous system

Trauma influences how we feel, think and act, as well as our ability to respond in the moment. Our nervous system has an optimal zone of arousal, this is when we feel calm and connected to ourselves and those around us. Dan Siegel (1999) calls this our window of tolerance (explained well in this video). We all have a window of tolerance. If something happens that is too stressful for our nervous system to cope with, we move out of our optimal zone into either (1) hypoarousal leading to physiological symptoms such as feeling tired, collapsed and shut down, or (2) hyperarousal leading to physiological symptoms such as feeling agitated, hot, rapid heart beat or shallow breathing (see the image below). When dysregulated, the blood and glucose in the brain flows away from the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for creativity and higher order thinking, and moves to the base of the brain, mobilising the person for flight or fight. If we haven’t slept well or have had a tricky day at home or work, our window of tolerance can narrow and we can more easily move into dysregulation. People who have experienced trauma tend to have a more narrow window of tolerance and can become dysregulated more easily than people who have not experienced trauma. The good news is that through inner development we can all work towards widening our window of tolerance.

Widow of tolerance graphic showing optimal window of tolerance and dysregulated states of hyperarousal and hypoarousal

….Why inner development is important

Big societal challenges such as climate events, the Covid pandemic and its difficult economic, health and social impacts are widespread. We will continue to live with impacts from these types of events. I sense a growing anxiety in myself and in those around me relating to the climate, and the recent pandemic has illuminated many gaps in services and infrastructure that we all rely on for our wellbeing. I see a big need for greater resilience to meet the increasing challenges humans face as a species. The impacts of trauma, i.e. intergenerational, big ‘T’, little ‘t’ and collective trauma, are probably more widespread than we realise, impacting our ability to think creatively and our ability to flourish as a species.

Inner development practices can help us build resilience, help us relate better with each other and to the increasing complexities of life, empowering us to be more creative and resourceful so we can meet the challenges on our horizon. I am not alone in this thinking. In 2020, the inner development goals were officially founded by the Ekskäret Foundation. The Inner Development Goals are a blueprint of the capabilities, qualities and skills that are required to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To meet the SDGs, people require inner development to embody the qualities and aptitudes required to steward in the changes required to sustain life on our planet. 

Inner Development Goals: 5 categories and 23 transformational skills that leaders should develop so we can meet the SDGs

Inner development is important for societal change. As someone who has always been interested in social change, I have been turning my attention and pivoting my practice to focus on the inside. In 2021, I began my training as a coach, studying embodied transformation, neuroscience, process oriented coaching and facilitation. Currently, I am training in organisational constellations. I believe there are many forms of knowing and of late, I have focused on expanding mine beyond cognitive dominance. Personally,  I have been working with somatic and embodied practices such as qigong as a way to tap into the wisdom of my body and my intuition.

Boab tree near Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberleys

In 2021, I participated in a TheoryU journey working with an indigenous elder investigating climate change and indigenous youth suicide. Last September, our group spent some time in the Kimberley’s learning to listen on country. We have been focused on developing our Awareness Based Systems Change capacity. Awareness Based Systems Change is described by Otto Scharmer in the following quote; “You cannot understand a system unless you change it. You cannot change a system unless you transform consciousness. You cannot transform consciousness unless you can make a system see and sense itself.” Personally, to get to the shifts in being, thinking and acting we need as a species, inner development is key. I now see my work in social and systems change as the work of shifting consciousness.

….Next post in the series

My next post will be about the Nervous System and Human Flourishing. I will introduce polyvagal theory and explain how the nervous system, body and brain are linked, and how our nervous systems influence how we feel, think and act in the world. We will consider the value of befriending our nervous system and how you can use self awareness and embodied practices to build greater choice in each moment. Greater choice means responding to life, not reacting to situations. Increased self awareness supports actions towards human flourishing, both individually and collectively.

….Interested in learning more?

I am also working on an online training series – Inner Development for Change where we will explore these types of topics together. If this is something you are interested in you can express your interest here.

Also, if you would like to chat about the possibility of receiving some coaching from me, learn more about my coaching offering.


Siegel, D. (1999). The developing mind. New York: Guilford.Cole, E. (2020). Expanding the “Window of Tolerance”.

Reflections : Co-Designing with Young People with Cognitive Disability

Young person with cognitive disability looking at older man and smiling joyfully

In 2021 I had the privilege to work with an Australian disability organisation on a program of work, co-designing new Community Participation Programs for Young People with Disability. The organisation currently offers programs primarily to adult clients and sensed an opportunity to deliver new programs specifically for Young People.

They chose to take a co-design approach and contacted Sticky Design Studio (my consulting brand) to support them in this program, working with Young People with Cognitive Disability, service professionals and their families to come up with some new service concepts for Young People. As part of this program, they also requested some co-design capability building for members of their team. In this article I will share (1) a few things about Young People with cognitive disability that I learned that may be useful when working with this group, and (2) discussion and reflections about my methodological choices. I want to acknowledge Vivien Sung, whom I worked with on this project. Some of these reflections have been informed by academic literature and other co-design work I have conducted on other projects in the disability space.

A few things about Young People with cognitive disability

We learnt many things in this project that I can not share here, but below are a couple of general points that may be useful considerations when co-designing with Young People with Cognitive Disabilities.

Ability levels can be very nuanced, every Young Person is different

Like everyone, Young People with cognitive disabilities will have different preferences, needs, and goals in life. This is why it is critical that disability service organisations adopt a person-centred and strengths based orientation. Consideration of clients preferences, abilities and interests is critical for optimal service delivery. Young people are still finding and developing their strengths. Service delivery needs tailoring. In relation to participation in Design Research/Co-design, comprehension and verbal abilities and research activities need flexibility and tailoring for individuals.

Life Tasting not Life Wasting!

A parent we interviewed informed us about the work of Dr. Michael Kendrick and  ‘Life Tasting’. Dr. Michael Kendrick is an international disability consultant who coined the terminologies “Life Tasting”, and “The Good Life”, which focuses on revealing the hidden potentials which lie within all people through exposure to new experiences. People with cognitive disabilities can have limited exposure to new experiences inhibiting their ability to cultivate passions and life interests. Many programs for people with disabilities do not focus on providing new experiences and stimuli for clients. This can hinder living a ‘good life’ rich with meaning, belonging, wellbeing and happiness. To equip Young People with disabilities to have rich, meaningful lives, there needs to be a focus on providing diverse opportunities for “life tasting”. One can not identify new passions and aptitudes without trying new things. As Dr Kendrick says, “Life tasting opens new doors for confidence and new successes.” (1)

The level of advocacy of parents impacts experiences and opportunities for Young People with Cognitive Disabilities

Navigating funding and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is complex and can take time and a lot of patience to understand and navigate effectively. Having a suitable plan is imperative to get the maximum benefits from funding. Parents who are effective advocates tend to have a better understanding of the scheme and can consequently facilitate the best care and opportunities for their Young People.

Social inclusion and relationships are keys for wellbeing

People with intellectual disability are at high risk of social isolation and loneliness and often have small social networks that consist primarily of family members and support staff (4). Establishment of effective personal and social relationships may be the most important of all goals when Young People transition from school (2). There are not adequate opportunities for social inclusion and creating peer friendships for Young People with Cognitive Disabilities (3). A network of friends will often exercise a profound influence on a person’s sense of well-being (2), and it is important for young adults to remain socially included as they move away from school environments, into adulthood, to ensure they have quality of life. Opportunities for individual, community and group interactions are highly valuable for Young People with Cognitive Disabilities, although this may have different shapes for different Young People as different individuals have different socialisation skills, needs, interests, temperaments and preferences, and this needs consideration.

Reflections on Co-Design Methodology

The following discusses reflections and learnings from a methodological perspective. This program included interviews with service professionals, families and carers of Young People with disabilities, interviews with Young People with disabilities (mostly accompanied by their parents) and online workshops with Service Professionals, Young People with Cognitive Disability and parents/carers. Diary Studies and sensitisation materials (sending out of activities, questions and prompts related to the workshop content) in advance of workshops were utilised throughout the project.

Recruitment is hard!

Whenever I teach Design Research I always state that recruitment will usually take longer than expected but finding the right participants for this project was especially hard. Parents of Young people with disability tend to be extremely busy and recruiting during a pandemic with lockdowns was no easy task! We began with quite specific criteria but had to be more flexible as we struggled to find participants. We were lucky to find a recruiter that specialised in recruitment for marginalised groups. Other participants came through referrals. We had hoped to be able to include some representation from parents who had lower levels of advocacy but understandably that wasn’t possible. We had to try and understand that lens through service provider interviews.

Using referrals and ‘snowball sampling’

‘Snowball sampling’ is a recruitment technique in which research participants are asked to assist researchers in identifying other potential subjects. We would ask participants if they knew anyone else we could include in the research. It was particularly fruitful asking staff and service providers about families who may have interest and capacity for the research. We did a formal activity with the project team where we asked them for introductions to colleagues, friends and families who they personally knew. A member of the project team  then called these referrals to identify people who were interested. I then called these ’warm leads’ to discuss the research which also enabled me to build rapport.

It’s important to build rapport

Once I had a lead for a research participant I would personally call them to discuss the research process. This also enabled me to build rapport. Our research plan included an interview, a diary study and attendance at a couple of workshops. Initially I had someone from the organisation make these calls but we were not getting a lot of interest, so I started calling the ‘warm leads’ myself as it was much easier for me to discuss our co-design process and field questions than leaving this to a staff member with limited understanding of co-design. Calling also gave me an opportunity to explain the Diary Study activities and also gain a sense of the nuanced abilities of the Young Person.

Understanding ability and research design

Before conducting the interviews I would discuss the different research activities we had designed to see what may be a good fit for that Young person. Something that became apparent to me through this project was that different people can have different views about a Young Person’s ability. I interviewed a family member who discussed how her Young Person had really low communication abilities and social skills. However, I later talked about this same individual with a service provider who worked with the Young Person and got a very different report. This possibility is something to be aware of when designing your research activities.

Cultural probes/diary studies are gold

We had planned to conduct research at family homes and also at the different service locations (Contextual Inquiry), however due to COVID lock down measures this was not possible. We decided to use cultural probes/diary studies to support the research process and also gather additional data about the Young Person’s home, family, and social context. Different probes were used both for interviews and for the co-design workshops. The probes were particularly valuable for supporting dialogue with the Young People during the interviews.

We sent out some kits in the post addressed to the Young People. Instructions were written in Easy Read so that Young people could read the instructions themselves and parents were emailed instructions. Activities included taking photos of various subjects for example things the Young Person loves doing, people they enjoy being with, their favourite places at home etc. A craft kit with some prompts about their vision for the next 5 years was included as well. The Young Person’s photographs and photographs of their craft responses were returned. We included all sorts of materials such as google eye stickers, plasticine, wool, textas, sticker shapes and some icons. After we received the materials we conducted interviews with the Young People and their materials were really useful to prompt dialogue. We often conducted parent and Young Person interviews on the same Zoom call, so that parents could support the Young Person if required. Parents were asked to complete a Word document with some reflective questions which we reviewed in advance of the interviews. This enabled the parent to reflect on the questions in advance of the interview and it also provided us with things to probe about in the interviews.

We also provided some reflective activities in advance of the co-design workshops. Liz Sanders talks about the value of using ‘sensitisation’ exercises before co-design workshop (5). I usually send some time of reflective homework to participants in advance of workshops and I find this particularly useful when working with people with Lived Experience of mental health, disability or those who may have experienced trauma. It can be stressful for participants coming up with responses during workshops and provision of some type of activity related to the workshop topics and activities in advance can ensure that people have some prepared material to support participation. I can not stress how useful the probes were for supporting dialogue and gaining a better understanding of the Young Person and their life context, especially without any ethnography/site visits.

Parents/carers/families mediating participation

Parents/carers often mediated interviews and workshops with Young People. We did the interviews and workshops over Zoom. For the interviews, parents were often in the background but some time right next to the Young Person supporting them to understand the questions. We usually interviewed the Young People first and then conducted interviews with the parents without the Young People. There was quite significant variation between the verbal and comprehension abilities between the Young People and we had to be flexible with our research questions. We sent the research guide to the parents in advance and some of them went through the questions with their Young People in advance which was helpful. The cultural probe data was very useful to support dialogue as we could ask Young People specific questions that related to their photographs which helped to focus the conversation. We were very grateful to the parents for supporting the interview and workshop process.

Flexibility is key

As mentioned, we noticed variability in relation to comprehension and communication ability for different Young People. We needed to be flexible. The interview questions and length of interviews consequently varied. Some researchers feel it is important to give the same questions and stimuli to all participants, but I do not agree and certainly in many of the contexts in which I work, this is just not always possible. I am a real fan of semi structured interviewing and letting participants take the lead in sharing their stories. Also, many parents tended to be extremely time poor, especially as this research was conducted during a CoVID lockdown. It was important that we were not too demanding with pre-work activities, and were flexible with the level of completeness of the diary study/pre-work activities and participation in the different workshops. We left it up to the individuals as to which workshops they were able to attend. They were paid according to which workshops and interviews they attended.

Value in participation

This co-design project was conducted over several months and we felt that the participants got value from their participation. I felt the Young People enjoyed having their voices heard. Parents reported that they enjoyed doing the various Diary Study activities. Mostly, the same parents attended the various workshops and we all felt that they enjoyed sharing their views and connecting with other parents who have Young People with cognitive disabilities. Many of them expressed that they would be happy to be involved in further conversations about the service idea that was refined through this process in the future. That’s the beautiful thing about the co-design process, participation can develop skills, connections and capacity within participants. It was also a very useful process for the client team. They were front line worker who worked with Young People and families, and hearing feedback about Day program services, experienced transitioning from school and wishes for day programs for their Young people gave the staff a better understanding of their clients and their families.


  1. “Life Tasting”, Community Living Centres, https://www.communitylivingcentres.com/blog/life-tasting
  2. ANDREW S. HALPERN (1994) The Transition of Youth with Disabilities to Adult Life: A Position Statement of the Division on Career Development and Transition, The Council for Exceptional Children
  3. Jessica Merrells, Angus Buchanan & Rebecca Waters (2019) “We feel left out”: Experiences of social inclusion from the perspective of young adults with intellectual disability, Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 44:1, 13-22,
  4. Jacobs, P., MacMahon, K., Quayle, E. (2020), Transition from school to adult services for young people with severe or profound intellectual disability: A systematic review utilizing framework synthesis, Disability & Society  Volume 35, 2020 – Issue 7, https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2019.1669435
  5. Sanders, E. B.-N. (2000). Generative tools for codesigning. Collaborative Design, London: Springer-Verlag.
  6. Not cited but a good related article : Durl, J., Tischler, J. and Dietrich, T. (2017) Co-designing with young consumers – reflections, challenges and benefits in Young Consumers, https://doi.org/10.1108/YC-08-2017-00725

Stewarding Trauma : Self care tips and tools for working within trauma spaces

Trauma is widespread and intergenerational. 70% of Americans will have experienced trauma at some stage in their lives and 65% of Australians. These statistics are far greater for refugees, vulnerable communities, minority groups and indigenous peoples. 

Collective Trauma refers to the psychological reactions to a traumatic event that affect an entire society. Poor psychological reactions to current societal is common place. Loss, illness, losing loved ones, …

Trauma Informed Design Research : Resources

Trauma Informed Design Research

Please find resources about Trauma Informed Design Research in support of my talk at the 2021 UX Australia Design Research conference and the online courses I have been running for Social Design Sydney.


thebody keeps the score book cover
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk M.D.

Trauma Stewardship: an everyday guide for caring for self while caring for others by Connie Burk, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

My Grandmother’s Hands
Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies
By: Resmaa Menakem

Beyond Sticky Notes is a deep-dive into the mindsets and methods of co-design by Kelly Ann McKercher

Design Justice : Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds we Need By Sasha Costanza-Chock. (Open Access/Free)

Appreciative Inquiry : A Positive Revolution in Change - David L. Cooperrider

Appreciative Inquiry :A Positive Revolution in Change By: David L. Cooperrider, Diana Whitney

Power and Participation : A guidebook to shift unequal power dynamics in participatory design practice by Hajira Qazi

Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement

Cover: Polyvagal Exercises for Safety and Connection: 50 Client-Centered Practices

Polyvagal Exercises for Safety and Connection: 50 Client-Centered Practices by Deb Dana



Self-Care :

+ Self care Resources from Vivianne Castillo’s “The Siren Call of Self-Neglect” 

+ Self care Activities based on the Self Care wheel in Trauma Stewardship book

Trauma and Design by Rachael Dietkus

Stand out Links :

More Resources :

Resources relating to Indigenous Australians:







Sarah Fathalah (from Think of Us) describes the process used for recruiting young people with Lived Experience for a design project. This was a design research project to understand the experiences of foster youth placed in institutional placements (group homes, psychiatric facilities, etc.). They organized an open call for participation through youth advisory boards and community partners, making sure they were clear in the recruitment language about expectations for how many young people would participate and on which basis they would be selected. After they selected participants, they providing a transparency memo video around the participant recruiting process once participants were selected.


Phoenix Australia – the national centre for post-traumatic mental health have great resources – and can provide training for organisations

Trauma Informed Facilitation Training by melbourneprocessworkcentre.org


Co-design and Power Talks and Resources

Social Design Sydney hosted a powerful conversation about Co-Design and Power on August 11 with with 3 eminent Co-design practitioners, Dana Shen, Morgan Lee Cataldo and Kelly Ann McKercher.

The videos …

Design as Performance with Grace Polifrono Turtle

Since 2013, I have been running a community of practice in Sydney, Australia called Social Design Sydney. Our site has over 60 video case studies relating to Design for Social Outcomes filmed at our events. 

Sometimes we run masterclasses on a Saturday morning where we expose our Social Design community …

Systems Change Salon 1 : Causal Layer Analysis

Experimenting with Causal Layer Analysis

The first Systems Change Salon was launched at UTS on February 19th, 2020.

Introducing the Systems Salon

Like the European Salons of the Enlightenment, the System Change Salon is a place for the exchange of new ideas, and is a …

Resources : Systems thinking for Systemic Change

A collection of resources related to Systems Thinking for Systemic Change

Dancing wth Systems by Donella Meadows,
Using theories of change for systemic impact By Anna Birney
Systems change: A guide to what it is and how to do it : Report by NPC and LankellyChase Foundation: inlcuding a PDF download “Thinking Big, How to use theory of change for systems change”
The …

Social Design related events at Vivid

The Sydney Vivid festival is not too far away!
I have gone through the HUGE program and picked out events relating to Social Design.
Hope to see you there supporting these events.

Design for Social Innovation Conference
Connecting Creatives, Councils and Communities
Do GOOD be GOOD Conference and keynote
Place Lab: Creating a Sense of Place for Migrant …

How to innovate with design thinking

Many organizations are turning to design thinking to fuel their innovation efforts. There are two types of innovation, incremental innovation and radical innovation. Incremental innovation speaks to doing what we already do but only better, and radical innovation describes doing something that we have never done before.

We have looked at the principles of design thinking, and new frontiers for design practice. Design thinking can be applied to lots …

New Frontiers for Design

As organizations throughout the world contend with unprecedented technological, social, environmental and business challenges, design provides a valuable approach to help simplify and humanize complex systems. Today I discuss some new contexts for design, including healthcare, business, social innovation and government, sharing some stories from my own practice.


Design can support the design of health services, technologies and environments and is being used by hospitals and health services across …

How design supports innovation

Design is not about making ‘things’, but is also concerned with how people, and people and ‘things’ work together. Complex problem solving requires collaboration, creativity, co-design, iteration, insight and taking a human-centred approach. These are all key principles used within the discipline of design. Contemporary businesses, not for profits, corporations and governments are employing design approaches to solve complex problems, shape human experience and become more profitable, sustainable and innovative.

Design …

Latest service design article in MISC magazine

I just received a PDF of my latest article for the US innovation magazine: Misc Magazine.

The article is called: Reframing thinking and doing within service design and delivery.

If you like it I would be most grateful if you would thumbs it up on Medium and/or LinkedIn.

SDN Conference 2015 impressions

I was lucky to attend the recent SDN Global Service Design Conference. The last time I attended this conference was in Paris in 2011. There were 600 people at the conference in New York, testimony to the fact that Service Design is a growing design discipline. The presentations and workshops were of a very high quality and it was often challenging to …

Designing for Impact talk

A talk I recently gave at Social Design Sydney discussing my work with NSW Family and Community Services and designing for IMPACT.

Using Co-design within the FACS ChildStory program

The article below was published on the Safe Home for Life ChildStory blog. I worked on this program as a service designer on contract from November 2014 – May 2015. The program was aimed at designing online services to improve the experiences of children, families, NGOs and workers involved in the NSW child protection system.

As part of this …

Codesign capability building at FACS

I have recently been conducting some co-design programs with a regional NSW Family and Community Services agency. The programs are designed to build co-design capability amongst public sector employees, build relationship with their clients, and improve service delivery.

This workshop was conducted over three days and participants were taught some design research/co-design methods.

ADHC Co-design Workshop April 2015 from sticky design studio on Vimeo.

If …

Latest article: Humanizing innovation through customer-centricity

Humanizing innovation through customer-centricity for MISC Magazine | The Human Experience Issue, September 2014

My new article for MISC Magazine, about supporting customer-centricity and human-centred innovation within organisations through providing research driven rich visual artefacts that invoke empathy and customer-centric thinking and decision making by broad organisational members.



Humanizing Innovation Through Customer-Centricity

For CEOs all over the globe, …

Design-led innovation in health care

I came across interesting video about supporting innovation w design in health care by Lorna Ross, Director of Design at the Mayo clinic.

It relates to some of the ideas I explored in my Masters thesis.
I will be writing more about this soon : )

The points I found most interesting were:

Design is fundamentally aspirational
Systems, behaviour and artefacts are linked. Artefacts (such as technology) influence systems and behaviours.
So design affects systems and …

Designing for Wellbeing event

Social Design Sydney event held: Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
Speakers & videos
Dominic Campbell is a digital government specialist and social innovator. He established FutureGov in the UK in 2008 and has co-founded several start-ups such as Patchwork a collaboration tool for multi-agency working, currently focused on children and families intervention, Casserole a peer to peer meals on wheels service, and …

Designing with Citizens videos

Social Design Sydney’s Designing with Citizens : Citizen-centric policy and services event was held on June 3rd.

This event consisted of conversation and Australian case studies discussing citizen involvement in the design of public policy and services at the state, local and federal government levels.
The speakers
Jane Treadwell World Bank Government Transformation Senior Consultant, owner of Jane Treadwell Consulting, and former Chief Executive Officer at DesignGov (Australian Centre for Excellence in …

Social Design talk by Doug Powell

Doug Powell has a long history of doing “good” design work.

He was former president of the AIGA, involved in setting up the Design for Good framework amongst other things.

I watched a presentation he gave to students at MICA Social Design and have noted down some of the points I found interesting. http://vimeo.com/88416645

1. Designers have EMPATHY. They make things for other people and are naturally empathetic. This is a valuable …

Social innovation / HCD / service design resources

Curious about applying design thinking methods to solve a tricky problem?

Some really great design tool-kits have come across my radar.
Check out the list below. Perhaps you have a problem you can apply them to.

Feel free to leave a comment about these or if you use any others which are useful?

The Social Design Methods menu – Lucy Kimbell & Joe Julier
Check out Lucy’s blog for more social …

Technology assisted health behaviour change

I recently did some research for a project which aims to facilitate health-related behaviour change using technology.

Some of this research is summarised below.

1. BJ Fogg’s model

In order to build persuasive technology, people need to be encouraged to change their behaviours. The BJ Fogg model was developed in 2009 to understand …

Designing With Citizens Event

Citizen-centric Public Policy & Services
Join us for some conversation and Australian case studies discussing citizen involvement in the design of public policy and services at the state, local and federal government levels.

Date: June 3rd, 2014
Time: 6:15pm
Place: College of Fine Arts, UNSW Greens Rd Paddington NSW Australia

http://socialdesignsydney.com for more information

Researching value with Jobs To Be Done

Understanding value is critical for innovation and new/improved products & services
Clay Christenson has a very useful tool for considering value – Jobs To be Done.

We hire products and services to do things for us.
By thinking about the jobs that we seek assistance to do can helps to understand the value that products/services supply, helping us to improve them. Thinking about jobs, considers human needs, and cuts across demographic …

Case-study : designing a mobile health tool for CVD patients

This is from a project I recently working on. We used a human-centred design process to deliver journey maps, personas and wire-frames for a mobile tool to help cardio-vascular disease patients and those at risk change their behaviour.

Next Desiging With Sydney Event

Join us for the second Designing With Sydney event as part of the Change Makers Festival.

November 5th at 6:15pm – 8pm at the College of Fine Arts UNSW, Paddington Sydney

Design is not all about making things.
Design assists to solve wicked and complex probelms and is being utilised to facilitate social outcomes globally.

The growing ageing population is a very important issue globally and also presents a real …

Designing With Sydney : Introduction to Social Design Evening

In August I organised an event for the Sydney Design Festival called Introduction to Social Design Evening. It consisted of a series of case-studies about social design projects by Sydney practitioners.

Tasman Munro  shares his experiences co-designing with inmates and staff in NSW Corrective Services.

Centre for Social Impact fellow Social Designer Ingrid Burkett shared some insights about working with marginalised Australian communities  in the ‘rust belt’.

Alex …

Participatory Decision Making by Citizens

This video shows a participatory decision making process where citizens help decide how their city budget is spent using a game in San Jose, USA.

The Politics of Fashion

Hey Hey (Swedish for Hi)!

I write this post from an airport in Gotenburg in Sweden where I have just spent the last few days at a conference called Crafting the Future held by the European Academy of Design. Here I learnt a lot about the topic of sustainability and fashion from academics Dr. Kate Fletcher and Professor Simonetta Carbonaro from …

Design Pioneer: Patricia Moore – Mother of Universal Design

Patricia (Pattie) Moore is a pioneering female designer, gerontologist (social scientist of the aging), author, educator and design thought leader. Pattie has been named by ID magazine as one of the 40 Most Socially Conscious Designers in the world. She is one of my personal design heroes. In 2000 she was selected by a consortium of news editors and organizations as one …

Image Post

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  • Posted: March 6, 2013
  • Tags: General
  • Comments: 0

Design, Frameworks and the Service Organisation

I had an article published in the DMI Review recently about the importance of using frameworks within complex design projects.

The paper is related to the work I have been doing for my masters thesis. It’s a practice-based research project about my use of artefacts within a commercial human centred design project.

The article is called : Reflecting on …

Delivering Simplicity: Organizational Contexts and Service Design

I recently had an article published in the Fall issue of  MISC Magazine | The Simplicity Issue called
Delivering Simplicity: Organizational Contexts and Service Design

My article is on page 52 and can be viewed as a PDF

There are some good articles in the magazine which you can read online or …

Design Artefacts & Innovation

Here is a copy of an essay I recently write for a publication.

Scaffolding Innovation Through Design Artefacts

This short essay will reflect learnings from a case-study I am working on as part of my masters research. My thesis constitutes a practice-based research project about a specific human-centered design project for a large company which I worked on as an independent consultant. My research seeks to explore the potential for design artefacts …

Talk by Charles Leadbeater for GovCampNSW

I saw Charles Leadbeater  author of We think – The Power of Mass Creativity speak recently about innovation in the public sector as part of the GovCampNSW initiative.

I thought I would share a few of the notes I took at his talk:

> creativity comes from communities that share a cause i.e. passionate communities that both share and compete creating better ideas together.

> creativity is about combining things in …

My latest case-study

I am very excited to be finishing my contract today and devoting some time to writing up a case study about my latest project for my masters thesis.

I delivered my final deliverables and a presentation to a national audience via video conferencing last week at work. It seems that these were extremely well received by the organisation. This positive reception was good for …

Reflections on a Co-Design Work-shop

As part of a recent work assignment I was asked to do some contextual enquiry (interviews with stake-holders with-in their work environments) and was able to talk my client into letting me run some group co-design workshops instead.

The project was to produce a high level design for an online portal for financial planners to manage their policies by a large financial organization.

I spent a few days in Victoria traveling around …

  • Posted: March 1, 2012
  • Tags: co-design
  • Comments: 0

Service Design Workshop with Marc Stickdorn @UNSW

I feel very fortunate about attending a 3 day workshop with Marc Stickdorn co-author of  This is Service Design Thinking over the last few days. It was organised by UNSW and consisted of a really interesting mix of people from diverse backgrounds including students, academics, professionals and UX/Service Design practitioners.
A note to the Service Design Community
Marc thinks that we need to share more in Australia! He thinks we …

Human Centred Design, Co-design and Government

Below you will find a talk I gave at a recent conference/bar camp at http://govcampnsw.info

It explains what co-design and human centred design is and shows some examples of how it has been used to shape public services in the UK.

Reflecting on Steve Jobs & Apple’s Approach to User Experience

(An article I recently wrote for the Objective Digital blog)

It was sad news that Steve Jobs lost his fight with Pancreatic Cancer last week. We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the things that Jobs (and Apple) brought to usability and customer experience.

It is widely agreed that Steve Jobs designed “insanely great products”, many of which have revolutionised the way in which we interact with technology …

SDN Conference Paris Notes 2011

I was fortunate to attend the Service Design Network conference  in Paris last month.
You can view the talks at this URL: http://www.service-design-network.org/content/media-1

Whilst many of the talks were excellent, below are a few brief notes about my three favourites which you should check out.

I would highly recommend the talk by Craig La Rosa from Contiunuum. Craig shared a case-study he was involved with for Holiday Inn. It was an …

Google Think

Seems like Google have started a new channel for “Business in Bites”

Good idea but I wonder whether the signal to noise ratio is going to make it worth-while?
TED is excellent. TED is curated.

Gamestorming and Design Thinking

A friend just sent me a great video about Game-Storming i.e. brainstorming using games.

I highly recommend the book it mentions: Gamestorming: A playbook for innovators, rulebreakers and changemakers. I have had some great results using techniques from this book in workshops on a wide variety of topics. (There is also a lot of academic literature about these techniques by Eva Brandt and an article on Boxes and Arrows.)

As the …

UPA UK User Experience for Social Change event

I am having a great time in London connecting with people who are working in the social innovation space.

I was lucky to attend a great event put on by the UPA about UX for social change.

There was a diverse set of speakers who gave presentations at this event. Below you can find some notes.

Speaker 1: Dan Lockton from Brunel University

Dan authored a cardset as tools for interaction designers called: …

Design PHD Conference at Lancaster University

I am very excited to be attending the 2011 Design PHD Conference at the Imagingation Lancaster Lab at Lancaster University next month.

The Imagination lab are doing some really interesting work in the areas of

Democratising Innovation (i.e Von Hippel’s book – free download!)
Design for Sustainability
Design Futures
Design Management
Service Design

I have been particularly interested in the …

About Co-design

Expanding upon a post on my UX Think blog about the initiative by EU governments to encourage design driven innovation within the EU, I found some videos explaining what co-design is from UK service design agencies Think Public and Engine. This last post had many examples of this drive within UK and both these videos discuss Service Design work they have done for the …

  • Posted: May 15, 2011
  • Tags: co-design
  • Comments: 0

Hello world!

Welcome to my new blog!
My name is Jax Wechsler and I passionately want to utilise my educational and professional experience to help create positive change in the world.

I have worked in online for over ten years and these days work as a user experience designer.
I have also been undertaking a masters by research over the …


I love this video….so cute and really captures what UX design is about.


  • Posted: April 13, 2011
  • Tags: design
  • Comments: 0

Activity Theory: the value of frameworks

Last year I undertook a compulsory unit at uni in qualitative research methodology.It got me thinking about the research we do to inform the design of applications we develop and the value of using a framework for research.

I learned about how we all bring assumptions to our research as a consequence of our perspectives and how no qualitative research can never ever be truly objective, …

Experience / Design Principles

What are they?
Design principles (also called experience attributes) describe the experience core values of a product or a service. They can be visually oriented objectives that describe the personality the product should have.

They should be written in a short and memorable way. As a designer you should know them by heart while doing a project. Good design principles are cross-feature but specific. Therefore we should always try harder than ‘Easy-to-use’. …

The value of digital brand experiences

Report from Avenue Razorfish illustrating the value of well designed and executed digital experiences.

Experience is the brand!

Co-design Workshop Method

I have been attending PDC 2010 the last few days i.e. a conference about participatory design in Sydney.

It has been very interesting so far…both the lectures as well as the hall way conversations between a well represented international audience.

I wanted to post about a workshop I did about innovative participatory design practices held by Peter Dalsgaard and Kim Halskov from Aarhus University in Denmark.

Within this workshop, we did …

Using Scenarios

Some thinking about scenarios….
It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story
– Native American saying, tribe unknown
A scenario is a description of a persona using a product to achieve a goal, they describe an instance of use…in context.

Scenarios are usually narratives that tell a story describing one or more tasks in a specific environmental situation.

For the design of services and systems we can use scenarios to understand and communicate …

Operationalising In-house Usability Testing

I spent some time contracting this year at a large organisation as part of an internal experience architecture team. One of my tasks was to operationalise usability testing within the online team who were responsible for the design and development of both online and mobile sites and apps.

In the past I have done a fair amount of usability consultancy for large organisations as an external consultant. Ahhh the joy of …

About Co-design

Expanding upon my last post about the initiative by EU governments to encourage design driven innovation within the EU, I found some videos explaining what co-design is from UK service design agencies Think Public and Engine. This last post had many examples of this drive within UK and both these videos discuss Service Design work they have done for the UK government.

This first one from Think Public

EU pushes design led innovation

I recently spotted a report done by the commissions of the European communities called “Design as a driver of user-centered innovation
“The working hypothesis of this document is that design is a driver and tool for user-centred and sustainable innovation and differentiation, complementary to technological R&D, and that increased use of design could increase European competitiveness. The objective of the document is to provide an analysis on the importance and potential of …

Design quotes

I have been working on a short animation about Design Thinking with a friend and have collected some quotes about design from a variety of sources…. Some food for thought.


Design is defined as both a verb and a noun, it refers to both a thing and an activity.

It comes from the Latin word ‘designare’  which means “mark out, …

  • Posted: November 14, 2010
  • Tags: design
  • Comments: 0

Thinking About Participatory Design Research : Part 1

Participatory Design (PD) has it’s beginnings in Scandinavia in the 70’s where there was a movement by academics and trade unionists to involve users in the design of the applications that were being designed to assist their work. It aimed to prevent workers from being dis-empowered by the tools and computer technologies imposed on them by their employers. PD provided a way to collaboratively develop technology engaging people in the …

A stab at design thinking

I recently reviewed an interesting presentation called “Design Thinking is Killing Creativity“. Whilst I feel that the author was trying to generate an audience through being controversial, it does echo a common sentiment amongst the design community that ‘design thinking‘ is fundamentally flawed with it’s assertion that everyone is a designer.

It reminded me of some presentations that I recently saw at the UX Australia 2010 conference

Value of User Experience Design

Excellent presentation about the value of user experience design and at what points it should be brought into the process. I have just sent it to some internal stakeholders from work who have project management responsibilities.

If we are to provide better experience for our customers….education is key.

Designing Experience

Thought provoking article from iA (creators of the webtrends maps) called “Can experience be designed”.

Some exerpts from the article I liked:
“Experience design is not a remedy that turns products into miracles that everybody likes. It will help you speaking more efficiently to your target group. To that end products needs to be simplified. The simpler the product the more character it has, the more likely it …

Usability is about context

Great preso acknowledging the important of CONTEXT to usability and the inter-dependencies between online services and different devices….the web is everywhere and we need to design with this in mind. And when designing we can not for one moment forget to consider the who? and the where? And not forgetting the social context of use as well as how that device may interact/interface with other devices out in the real …

Apple design process

There is an article from Business Week: Apple’s design process about a presentation given at SXSW by Michael Lopp, senior engineering manage from Apple about their internal design process.

I liked the idea about paired meetings where each week they have 2 meetings.
– One is a free for all – a meeting to innovate with no constraints….totally blue sky. (FORM)

– The 2nd is a meeting that is more structured …

Usability Presentation

Usability – what is it and why is it important?

Presentation about usability and why it’s important.

I have been doing  fair amount of usability and interaction design work lately…

Get in touch if you need some help with sorting out the usability of your site 🙂

  • Posted: January 7, 2010
  • Tags: usability
  • Comments: 0

Designing experience for competitive advantage

In 1998, Pine and Gilmore in the Harvard Business Review wrote an article called “Welcome to the experience economy” where they explain that companies need to shift focus from the provision of merely goods and services to the provision of consumers with experiences. They later wrote a book about the subject called:“The experience economy: work is theatre & every business a stage”. They describe experiences as distinct, …

Thinking about UXD models + design artifacts

Jesse James Garrett postulated a model/schema (fig. 1) for understanding user experience design in his book the Elements of User Experience Design in 2003. He also co- founded a leading user experience design agency called Adaptive Path. The model Garrett uses posits that there are five layers to UX design that have varying levels of abstraction and uses this model to discuss user experience design …

What is User Experience Design?

I am undertaking a masters by research in user experience design (IT/HCI) looking at the role design artifacts can play within UXD.
(Hence my infrequent blogging these days.)

Here is a little presentation I prepared for one of my research preparation classes.
Please leave me a comment if you like it.


Ponderings on design research data

I was having a chat with my lead designer at work today.
We recently conducted some user testing with sample users testing three alternative look and feels for a new web service we are building for a client.
These tests were done online via a questionnaire.

Whilst we constructed a report of this data for the client, I gave both the report as well as the raw data to the designer for her …

User Experience, Design and Research

I have been doing a lot of reading lately for my university literature review and have been thinking a lot about the relationship between user experience, design and research.

These are some rough notes which are influencing my current, and continually evolving thinking on this topic.
As my paper gets written, I will share more of my thoughts about these topics….

Some factors informing my current thinking about this topic include:

– Experience by …

Interaction design and the purple cow

This video below talks about why interaction design matters.
It is aimed at marketers….

Marketing is about people’s relationship to products.
Marketing gets people to purchase products…

But what happens after the purchase has been made and the person interacts with the product?

Interaction design (and designing for user experience) affects the relationship a person has POST – purchase.

It’s essential for customer advocacy and creating buzz, and …

  • Posted: September 10, 2009
  • Tags: marketing
  • Comments: 0

User Stories – strategic value?

I recently read a fantastic post by Penny Hagen and Michelle Gilmore about utilising user stories as a strategic design tool.

I currently work for a small digital consultancy within a not-for-profit organisation called the Inspire Foundation. As mentioned within the post, we have had the opportunity to work with Penny on some of our projects as well as assisting us with defining our evolving methodology.

We use …

Schematic: Importance of User Experience

Great schematic illustrating the importance of user experience design by http://experiencedynamics.blogs.com

Review an analysis of this poster

The Agile Manifesto

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

SRC: …

Designers as Psychologists

I love this presentation by Joshua Porter called Designing with Psychology in Mind.
It is very clever and well put together.

I love the idea that designers are in the business of changing behaviour as are psychologists so we as designers may need to add another skill to our arsenal, that of psychologist.

Also the need to consider human …

Marketing and User Centered Thinking

Excellent presentation by TBWA which discusses their approach to marketing and advertising, “an approach that shifts communication from brand-centric to audience-centric thinking”.

I have become very interested in user-centered design practices and strongly believe that humans need to be at the center of all marketing and all new product and service design and delivery. It’s seriously the way forward and I firmly believe that organisations that incorporate user-centered …

Emotional Design

TED talk by Don Norman, the author of ‘Emotional Design’ presents about making people through design. He looks at the three emotional cues that good design needs to address in order to be successful.

Patrick Lynch summarizes Normans thinking here.

“Why attractive things work better
In psychology, emotional reactions to stimuli are called affective responses. Affective responses happen very fast, and are governed in an automatic, unconscious …

  • Posted: June 25, 2009
  • Tags: design
  • Comments: 0

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