A Service Design Opportunity ☆

| November 4, 2011

I just participated in a two day workshop run by Engine, a UK design group that focuses on applying diverse design processes to designing customer-oriented services. The workshop focused on designing services that are complex by nature, usually involving “four P’s”: People, Places, Processes, and Products (not to be confused with the four P’s of marketing). My goal was to better understand the work we can do to deliver amazing services at the Gottesman Libraries and EdLab.

Joining me were leaders and designers from large and small companies, across many industries. Engine staff presented several very interesting cases (examples from their portfolio) that involved many design methods – methods that are often located within the double diamond design process framework. Learning about their process allowed me to reflect extensively on EdLab’s home-grown CSG process, and how we could modify them for service design (or adopt entirely new practices).

A Library Example

Involving a whole organization in designing (and redesigning) services is becoming increasingly popular in large organizations with ambitious agendas — and service design is quickly being recognized as a distinct design specialty. To share the kind of processes I was exposed to over the past two days, here is a very broad sketch of a possible design scenario library staff could host at Teachers College.

Exploration Phase (Phase 1):

The Opportunity Statement:

To kick off a service design process, an organization must agree on a problem to work on. Short of this, here’s a general opportunity to consider here: What signature service can we add to the library?

Goal Planning:

Let’s try to go from brainstorming to piloting a prototype in three phases over three months.

Elements of Stakeholder Event (Event 1):

  • Get everyone who will be working on the project (including TCstudents, library staff and the Provost or a representative from his office) together to better understand the opportunity and goals.
  • Share an existing case study that relates to a similar institution.
  • Review background materials.
  • Share a “blueprint” of the whole service design process that guides the three-month-long project.

Post event:

  • Invite participants to review background research and share perspectives.
  • Share a short video that captures the activities of the first event (this can be public).
  • Share a written “design brief” that captures the activities of the first event (this can be public).

Insight Phase (Phase 2):

Elements of Stakeholder Event (Event 2):

  • Use “Personas” and service scenarios to develop a shared understanding of opportunities. Be ambitious.
  • Generate ideas for new services and related design solutions (how services will be implemented, delivered, maintained, and refined) to prototype.
  • Use a “service principles” framework to focus on a particular opportunity to focus on.

Post event:

  • Create PX (patron experience) teams to carry out several kinds of design research.
  • Report back to the larger group with outcomes from the research.
  • Share a short video that captures the activities of the first event (this can be public). Capture interviews with participants.
  • Share a written “design brief” that captures the activities of the first event (this can be public).

Prototyping Phase (Phase 3):

Elements of a Stakeholder Event (Event 3):

  • Generate a final set of possible services around the service opportunity (from Stakeholder Event 2), and narrow to a single service.
  • Develop a set of elements of the service from both the patron perspective and the organizational perceptive.
  • Develop a recommended “service blueprint” that responds to the findings from the design research (a condensed list). The blueprint explains the service from both the patron and staff perspectives.

Post event:

  • Make final adjustments to scale and scope of the service.
  • Refine and adapt the service blueprint to serve as a training resource for staff.
  • Share a short video that captures the activities of the first event (this can be public). Capture interviews with participants.
  • Share a written “design brief” that captures the activities of the first event (this can be public).

Implementation:

  • Iterate a version of the service and try it.
  • Collect feedback on the service.
  • Share feedback with the Stakeholders, and explore next steps.

Final Thoughts

Yes, the Services Design process is a humble one. But if it’s done well, it has the potential to improve an organization’s services at multiple points over time. As a process, it’s infused with the ethos of transparency and co-creation – inviting patrons to be part of the library’s process of developing and refining services. Due to the total cost of the process, however, it should not be used to tackle small issues. That is, it’s not meant to overcome the usual challenges of bureaucracy and resource limitations. It’s meant to open up new opportunities that have the potential to expand an organization (as well as positively impact its current culture).

Apologies for cross-posting this example on the EdLab blog.