I think it’s fair to say that service design is still working itself out — as a profession, as an approach, as a mindset.
We have different ways to slice and dice what we do, constantly on the lookout for ways to organise and categorise what we do and how we do it.
Some familiar categories:
- Stages of the design process: discover, define, develop, deliver (or inspiration, ideation and implementation)
- Mindsets: divergent and convergent thinking
- Project phases: discovery, alpha, beta and live
And the caveat on top, of course: that the design process is never linear. That despite these clean categories, we move fluidly between them: building and testing in discovery, and shifting between thinking big and prioritising ideas.
The consequence of this, in my experience, is that none of the categories above feels like they accurately describe the “modes” you are in day-to-day as a service designer.
So this post is a consolidation of some floating thoughts and my own attempt at making sense of the ever-evolving practice of service design.
Two sides of service design
Let’s suggest the role of a service designer is twofold:
- Figuring out the future vision and where we want to get to
- Making it real — doing whatever it takes to create (sustainable) change
Let’s look at these in a bit more detail.
The figuring out
The figuring out is what service designers contribute to a discovery project. What is the future vision for this service; what do its users need?
In order to be good at figuring it out, service designers need to:
- understand people and elicit what they need
- be able to zoom out from research to identify patterns and themes
- be bold enough to look past how things are now, in order to design the future service
Another word for the figuring out might be the strategy.