Don’t worry! Of course, being a dreamer is good — as a service designer, you have to be able to imagine what could be, think outside all of the boxes and create inspiring visions for future experiences.

But let me draw you a scenario — you complete a project with amazing research, great quotes and deep insights. You’ve generated ideas and illustrated a beautiful customer journey, maybe even a detailed blueprint. Your personas love the new service experience because it’s tailored to their needs. Your artefacts look amazing and everybody is pretty happy at the end of the project. Then, you leave and all your hard work either lands in a drawer or is implemented by someone else. Sound familiar?

Service design as a discipline hasn’t yet stepped out of its baby shoes. When people think of service design, they often think of post-its, customer journeys and workshops — not of implementation.

We cannot exclude ourselves from implementation and just leave it to the others — the traditional IT teams, digital agencies and big consultancies.

We need to remember that we don’t design just to design. We design to create real things that can be implemented, that impacts peoples lives and make a real difference. It’s the reason why most of us chose this profession. Service design provides the right tools and mindset to change processes and implement new tools in a sustainable way.

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to implementation. Nevertheless, there are a few tips I want to share with you that will increase the opportunity for you to implement successfully:

Create a Minimum Viable Service

A vision is great, but you have to change into an implementation mindset. Figure out what a stripped-down version of the service experience is and what components deliver the biggest value for staff and end-users.

Understand the constraints

When you’re designing a service there is an element of organisational design to it, because you need to understand how a team or service operates. Figure out what the constraints are (e.g. size of the team, decision making), how it relates to the rest of the organisation and what you are able to influence.

Don’t be proud, be pragmatic

Building tools is fun, but also expensive and time intense. Check if there is a low tech version of a tool that does the job or if there is an off the shelf product that works as a temporary solution to deliver value immediately.

Prototype and test with real people

The devil is in the detail. Although nothing will prepare you for what happens in a pilot, there are ways to safely test service experiences, and prototyping gives us the tools to test services with real people. Running simulations of the service experience with real staff and end-users will minimise surprises.

Building capability & ownership for sustainable change

Prepare the service team for the time after you’ve left. Involve the real teams and people who are responsible for delivering any service to help learn new skills and establishing new rhythms, so eventually, they’re confident and ready to continue the work you’ve started together.

Produce useable artefacts

A roadmap made in InDesign looks great, but it’s often not really practical for your clients. Swallow your designer’s pride and use tools your clients know (Excel. Word. Sorry!) to make sure clients are able to edit documents — this will increase ownership!

Implementation is challenging. But, it is essential to show that we can do it and that we can be trusted to bring a vision to life. The more examples of successful implementation we can present, the more we’ll be the ones involved in making concepts become real.

Tell me about your challenges during implementation!

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