This Is Service Design Doing: Applying Service Design Thinking in the Real World

Marc StickdornMarkus Edgar HormessAdam LawrenceJakob Schneider

Finished Reading:
Jul 17, 2020

Edition Publisher:
O'Reilly Media

Edition Release:
Jan 2, 2018

Purchase Search via DuckDuckGo:
ISBN 9781491927137

Highlights & Annotations

You probably know the famous saying by Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” But in fact, people rarely want a hole in the wall either; they want a comfortable living room. (52)

Re: GDS “user story” template (142):

  • A) As a… [who is the user?]
  • B) I need to… [what does the user want to do?]
  • C) So that… [why does the user want to do this?]

Re: The Kano model (174):

A graph. 'Satisfied' is at the top of the y-axis, and 'Dissatisfied' is at the bottom. 'Not implemented' is at the left end of the x-axis and 'Fully implemented' is at the right end. The performance needs line indicates that increase in functionality leads to increased satisfaction. The basic needs line depicts what is expected by customers. If the product doesn’t have them, it will be considered to be incomplete or just plain bad. The Delighters line depicts that unexpected features which, when presented, cause a positive reaction. But over time, delightful innovation becomes another basic need.
The Kano model

Re: what happened when folks were shown alternatives in a user interview → they formed opinions, when at the beginning they said they were happy with the product

“...when shown images of stoves with different simple variations in height, width, or fabrication materials, suddenly something happened. Users spontaneously started talking about the pros and cons of the different designs…” (204)

Re: multilevel subtext chain → theatrical method that can reveal deeper motivations and needs by focusing on unspoken thoughts in a rehearsal session (232-3) → reminds me of vertical arrow in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Takeaways (263)

  1. Challenge the system: If the organizational effort and lead time for change in your test follow the rigid rules of the current system, you won’t operate freely and are limited in your creativity. Allow for flexibility in the test to enable you to experiment and iterate on your learnings.
  2. Zoom in and out: When prototyping, pay attention to the details, but don’t get lost in them. Balance that by constantly removing yourself to look at the bigger picture and design intent. 
  3. Take time to tell and listen: Brief your partners before each test, and debrief afterwards. Customer experience projects require us to listen to customers, but also to all those who deliver the service to them.
  4. Engage stakeholders early: Leverage knowledge from different stakeholders and use the opportunity to create a sense of support and ownership by bringing people on board early. This will accelerate implementation and minimizes the risk of failure.
  5. Know what you’re measuring, and how: Many different factors impact a service, so agree beforehand on what you’re testing and, just as importantly, how you’re testing. Make sure to pick the appropriate technique for what you’re trying to measure, and one that doesn’t impact the overall service experience.

Chances of success are biggest if we can (276):

  • Start with motivation.
  • Do one small, specific, but significant thing differently.
  • Adapt the environment to make it as easy as possible.
  • Establish a relationship with a group of people accustomed to that behaviour.
  • Grow from there to a new definition of your identity.    

MUST*WANT*CAN or Drive*Motivation*Ability. These three factors hold the ingredients to make individual, lasting behavioral change in organizations happen.

Re: importance of emotion (309):

“Anything that touches people on an emotional level will remain far more strongly rooted in their memories than mere situational experiences and procedures which are only taught or conveyed by means of printed matter. It is therefore necessary to take course contents to an emotionally tangible level.”

Re: Team Building (344)

  • Create a safe (team) space
    To be able to adopt this new way of thinking and doing, decide how you can create a (psychological) safe space for each individual on your team – as well as for your team within your organization.
  • Give structure and orientation
    Always clearly explain the goals, background, and vision of the project when onboarding new team members so they can understand their role and the impact of their contributions to the project and the bigger organization. Decide how to (co)create and share project plans/roadmaps and how you are going to update them as you go along. Also decide on roles and clarify interdependencies within the team: Who is going to be responsible for what? Are there interdependencies between different team members? How will you communicate who is working on what at any given time?
  • Decide on how you work and how you decide
    Consider sharing personal preferences and work styles within the team and adapting your planning accordingly. To reduce potential problems during the later process, decide early on how you are going to make decisions or resolve conflicts. This includes decisions on the content as well as decisions on the team and the way you work.
  • Reflect and learn
    Decide how to establish a clear and constant feedback routine within your team on (a) the work you are doing and (b) how you are doing the work. Learn from the feedback and act upon it. Short feedback cycles make sure that problems are addressed early enough, before they hurt. Consider keeping a record of your lessons learned. 
  • Co-create a suitable kickoff
    Especially with new teams, the first shared steps can be crucial. Team culture, once set, can be hard to change. Take your time to address and design those first steps in your project accordingly. Consider how co-creative project planning sessions or kickoff workshops can be used to share expectations, create cuy-in, establish trust, and ignite motivation within your (core) team.

Re: importance of documentation (355)
“When people leave the project there is also a danger of losing essential parts of that hard-earned empathy, deep knowledge, and understanding. Plan to keep the flow of knowledge and empathy intact by building an unbroken chain of people across the project, supported by tangible documentation.”

Re: conducting a team retrospective (368)

Preface + prime directive:
“Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.”

  1. Remind your team what has happened so far, highlighting key outputs and outcomes since your last iteration(s). Consider doing the session in your project room, where your key outputs are visible or easily accessible (eg. your research or idea walls).
  2. On a wall, put up these key questions: What did we do well? What did we learn? What should we do differently next time? What still puzzles us?
  3. Ask your participants to silently write sticky notes answering those questions and put them up on the wall. If there have been change requests, feedback, or new ideas from outside the core team, add them here too. Cluster the answers and clarify any notes you don’t understand.
  4. Discuss the clusters step by step. Add ideas, learnings, and potential changes as you go along.
  5. Ask participants to highlight the key drivers that need to be considered when doing your iteration planning session. Document your results.

Re: managing expectations (398)

“Some sponsors have inflated ideas about the power of service design or design thinking to generate killer new business propositions or problem solutions in a very short time. It’s important to explain that service design is an understanding and development process, not a single creativity technique.”

“ is exploration, and it is both futile and counterproductive to try to plan everything, whether for a project or a session.”

Re: creating a safe space (399)

“Many of these techniques are based on giving a sense of security to participants who are going through an unfamiliar process.”

“Show an agenda which describes the coming session in conservative terms, without being dishonest. For example, an agenda point of ‘role-play session’ or ‘live street research’ will terrify some group members, but you can describe the same session as ‘understanding the customer’ and no one will think twice.”

“Make sure you understand the organization’s language”

Re: normalize feelings of discomfort and shitty first drafts (401)

Re: Finding great service design staff (460-1):

  • Look for someone to hug
    Service design is about interacting and understanding humans, and you need a people person to do this – someone who genuinely radiates empathy and interest in others. Huggable is highly employable.
  • Look for a humble expert.
    The job of a service designer is 90% about listening, understanding, and adapting to the end users’ and clients’ needs. There's little room for big egos looking to push their own ideas. Search for expert listeners, facilitators, and team players.
  • Look for a philosophical craftsman.
    Service design is a craft. It's about doing, but also about contemplating and learning. So, you want to balanced mix of tinkering and thinking; someone who is learning by doing and doing to learn.
  • Look for a zoom lens.
    An important skill for a service designer is the ability to change perspectives – from macro to micro, from technical platform to human needs, from system to touchpoint, from strategy to solution. Preferably, you want someone who can handle these various perspectives all at the same time.
  • Look for meticulous simplicity.
    Life and humans are complex, often too complex to make complete sense of. A service designer has to have the ability to see the relevant patterns and simplify overwhelming information in order to deliver manageable results to enthuse the audience. If the design is too complex, you haven't done your homework.
  • Look for spelling mistakes.
    Is the applicant’s spelling really crappy? Great! A cover letter or CV full of misspellings is something that raises our interest. Dyslexics typically have to find alternative ways of gathering knowledge and have developed their own strategies to learn, work, and achieve – skills that are great in a service design project. And hey, there's always spell check.
  • Look for bipolar education.
    Has a person studied seemingly contradictory subjects? A combo of ‘rational’, process-driven fields mixed with ‘creative’, emotionally driven education shows an ability to be (and interest in being) both intuitive and logical and to switch between them – a great trait. Biochemistry (PhD)/Interactive Art Direction is one combo that developed a brilliant service designer. Business Admin/Product Design is another.
  • Look for international lovers.
    It can't be a coincidence that many of the top services designers we've recruited have had partners from different cultures. Maybe it's a sign of curiosity about other people and perspectives. Extensive traveling is also a good sign.
  • Look for humans.
    When browsing through an applicant's portfolio, can you see people? Too much focus on the details of the solution and little effort made to explain the benefits to users can be an indication of a person lacking the right perspective. We have to remember, a service designer’s solutions are often mere puzzle pieces to facilitate users’ lives.

Re: leading organizations that integrate service design (467-70)

  • Understand the design process
  • Lead through co-creation
  • Eat your own dog food → regularly become a customer of your own organization
  • Practice empathy
  • Look beyond quantitative statistics and metrics
    • Qualitative, mixed-method approaches
  • Reduce fear of change and failure
    • Ask for prototypes instead of presentations
  • Use customer-centric KPIs
  • Disrupt your own business
    • Empower employees to find problems and suggest projects
  • Make design tangible
  • Bring service design into the organizational DNA