Last month I attended my seventh consecutive Service Design Network conference. This year’s conference was held in Stockholm, Sweden, and hosted more than 600 attendees. At the end of the conference, during the SDN management team’s closing remarks to the audience, I provided a quick summary of all the points made by the speakers, listed below.

  • Creating a great employee experience impacts the service experience.
  • Design is purposeful creativity.
  • Design is form giving.
  • Great designers care about the details.
  • Organizations don’t care about design. They care about results.
  • In service design, everyone should win.
  • We need tools to measure qualitative value.
  • Little extras can cause great impact.
  • We need to scale.
  • Service designers should say no more often.
  • Service designers should say yes more often. In every organization their is a VP of No.
  • If you partake in beer, chocolate, and coffee, these vices are brought to you by enterprise software (SAP).
  • We need destructive innovation.
  • We are stale, fat, and complacent.

One of the more interesting things I noticed at the conference is a bubbling tension between designers and non-designers who practice service design. The debate revolves around design craft and whether it’s necessary to consider yourself a service designer. While the dialogue didn’t fully explode, with service design touching all parts of the business, I foresee a battle over ownership and quality, especially when service design becomes a standard business practice.

Another item of note: Despite many speakers expressing a need to show impact, very few shared the impact of their work, or even shared work at all. Instead, it seems we are still making the case for service design rather than sharing successes, failures, and results from service design in action. While there are still many folks who talk service design more than do it, for those of us practicing, we need to talk about both the human and business impact we’re having as proof that service design is a better way.

Many of the talks can be viewed online.