I’m glad to see many similarities between this presentation and the one I presented at IxD10. Ideas that definitely overlap include: services are important, services are everywhere, they are designed by everyone, and they are mostly not designed very well.

I also appreciate another point that keeps surfacing in conversations I’ve had about service design and something I thought about a lot while preparing my service design presentation.

Service Design enables you to move up the value chain and have conversations about projects at an earlier stage – thus shaping the work more, and creating bigger projects.

In other words, designing a service from the whole to its parts allows designers to be more involved in what gets designed and why. Given our proclivity for empathy, this can only be a good thing.

What I’m not too keen on is the separation made between service design doing and service design thinking.

Service design thinking is about:

  • Helping people think like a designer
  • Helping people focus on the user
  • Helping people use design methods
  • Helping people visualize

There are two reasons for this. First, I generally do not support separating the thinking from the doing as activities that can be pursued independently if the plan is to actually design something.

Second, as described in the presentation, the activities that fall under service design thinking seem more like education. Education is definitely something that can and should take place during the design process, if possible and practical. Education can also happen without even trying as others observe what designers do during the process. Overtly empowering people by helping them develop their inherent capability to design is a great service. But I don’t understand why that has been given the label of service design thinking.