Time to take a good look in the mirror
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Time to take a good look in the mirror

Marion Ferrec
  • Marion Ferrec
  • Service Designer

Key takeaways from the 2018 Global Service Design conference

When I heard that the theme of this year’s Global Service Design conference was “Design to deliver” I thought, finally, we’re talking about the elephant in the room! Service Design is often too far upstream from implementation. How refreshing to see the Service Design community being as self-aware and humorous as this! Being open about service design’s gaps demonstrates a growing maturity.

Let’s be less precious about Service Design

Building more bridges and working more cohesively with agile and lean methodologies amongst others, helps us to make more things happen. Each discipline has its own strengths in different stages of a project. Read more about this here.

But when doing so, we need to be mindful – as Patrick Quattlebaum says, ”do it my way with me – isn’t collaboration”. This is easier said than done. Our very own Anna-Louisa Peeters and her client at Adidas, Peter Brook went past aspirations and talked about their actual story of balancing agile and customer experience.

It doesn’t matter what you call it.” We do need precision and alignment within our own community. But ultimately organisations care about their problems being solved more than how it’s done or what it’s called.  Being precious about how we label things won’t help us get decision makers onboard and implement projects that matter.

Consulting vs. Doing

There were a few moments during the conference when it was apparent that service designers are not always comfortable being associated with management consultants. We laughed at memes about this and at the picture of Fjord designers dressed up as Accenture colleagues for April fool’s day.

But I take issue with the constant opposition of “doing” and “talking”. I personally truly believe that talking is part of service design doing. Consulting is absolutely required to move anything forward. We should embrace the talking when it facilitates the doing and makes things happen. Many talks at the conference confirmed this. Service Design requires political navigation and touches on organisational structure and governance, transformation programmes and culture. What’s different is that service designers do this with people at the heart.

Culture is a key but often overlooked component for service design

Realistically, solutions can only be implemented if you have the right people and culture to make them happen within an organisation. We need to put as much effort into understanding organisational structure as we put into understanding customers and frontline staff. It’s only from this position that we can “Dance to their beat and start a movement” as outlined by Floor Smit. This is how we can support the cultural evolution required to deliver the right solutions.

One of the ways we address this at Livework is to use Service Design and human-centricity as a vehicle to re-energise and engage employees. This lays the foundation to deliver change in the long run. We work closely together with employees and invite them to become advocates of human-centred processes and solutions so they can drive these long after we’re gone.

Let’s talk some more

There was a lot of very persuasive evidence that we need to consolidate Service Design and expand our horizons.

To all you change managers, product managers, lean and agile practitioners, journey managers, service architects, fellow service designers working client side…anyone with which there can be a two-way street to learn. Let’s expand our skills and mindset together. This is an open invitation to exchange more ideas over coffee.

I actually mean it! Drop me a line at marion@liveworkstudio.com. I’ll buy.

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