Reflections on a year of growth for SPARCK

Reflections on a year of growth for SPARCK

At this time of year, it’s only natural to reflect and start looking ahead to the future. It’s been a big year for SPARCK and there’s more to come in 2023.

I’ve been head of SPARCK for almost five years now.

In that time, I’ve seen it grow from a handful of people to 115 permanent team members, at the time of writing.

Back in 2018, we had just a few offices.

Now, at the end of 2022, there are SPARCKies in 12 offices, in four different countries.

It feels almost unbelievable to me at times, especially when you think about the context.

From COVID-19 to global recession, we’ve had some challenges to face along the way.

Building a great team, staying connected

What makes the difference is the strength of our culture.

I’m always blown away by how people in SPARCK step up to support and encourage each other. To question and challenge.

And to focus on achieving great results for clients, with ego left at the door.

One challenge we faced in 2022 was making sure that culture evolved and grew with us.

When there are ten people on the team, meeting face to face, it’s easy to stay connected, and find common ground.

But times that headcount by ten, and distribute those people across multiple offices, mostly meeting by video, the magic can be harder to maintain.

It’s been great watching my colleagues find ways to tackle this.

From finding a creative approach to connecting a hybrid workforce to putting new leadership structures in place, we haven’t stood still.

We’ve increased the number of squad leads to make sure everyone gets the support and guidance they need.

We’ve also added culture leads to actively nurture connections and networks.

Between those roles and our individual professional practice leads, SPARCK design and research consultants are among the best supported in the profession.

We’ve delivered a lot

Our growth has been driven by the amazing clients we’ve found and the fact that once they’ve worked with us on one project, they tend to want more.

In 2022, we worked with more than 30 major clients on more than 60 projects , and extensions of existing projects.

That’s included work with the NHS, including on its flagship website, as well as specific national and local initiatives.

This is really fulfilling work that really makes us feel as if we’re contributing to the greater good.

We’ve also been working with increasing numbers of clients in the private sector.

For example, we’ve worked UK TV network ITV to design various tools for their frontline staff, so they can better serve their partners.

New products and services

Listening to our clients, we also became aware of opportunities to provide more of what they need.

We recently launched a Lean Product service designed to help businesses innovate quickly and efficiently.

We quickly won several projects and expect this to be a big deal for us in 2023.

Our new customer experience (CX) service has just begun to roll out and, again, we’re finding clients keen to engage.

Members of the SPARCK team at Design Thinking Austin

Spreading the word

Something else that makes me feel proud is seeing SPARCKies speaking at events around the world.

A crew from SPARCK (pictured above) was at Design Thinking Austin, preaching the value of human-centred design in the US, where we now have two offices, in New York and Houston.

Others have spoken at events around Europe and across the UK.

We’ve also run ‘Say Hello to design thinking’ workshops for more than 200 colleagues across BJSS , as well as for groups of design students.

So, I’ll take this opportunity to say that if you need someone to speak at your event or conference, just ask.

We like meeting people, and we love to help people understand the value of design and of user research.

Connect, follow, stay in touch

If your organisation needs design consultancy, I’d love to hear from you in 2023.

You can find me on LinkedIn, and SPARCK is there too. Or you can get in touch however you prefer.