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Reinventing our work via Service Design

Service Design is an emerging practice area that can transform organizations, and create immense value. Stanford Web Services has already begun to introduce Service Design into the way that they develop services for the University. We should all think about more ways to put it into practice.

Design Thinking permeates the air we breathe at Stanford. Innovation is one of our most highly prized values, and creativity is everywhere around us. We have the, and the GSB, STVP, Product Design, and rapid prototyping labs, and we staff members should make good use of that ambient vibrancy. Service Design offers a practical method of doing that.

But what is it? In a nutshell, Service Design is the application of Design Thinking to services, rather than products. It involves making work visible, collaboration and empathizing with stakeholders and service providers alike; and it leverages style methods like prototyping, problem reframing, visualization, and feedback loops. Oh, and stickies. Lots, and lots of stickies. (For a more thorough explanation of what it is, listen to Birgit Mager.) Alternatively we can call this field Service Experience Design, or SXD.

At DrupalCon Los Angeles, our very own Megan Miller introduced Service Design to the Drupal community. I have learned a lot from Megan, and she’s a great storyteller. Megan is at the vanguard of SXD at Stanford (watch this space!), and my hope is that through our new Community of Practice, we can help others see how SXD can create breakthroughs. Look around you. Stanford is a small galaxy of autonomous nodes in a scale-free network of relationships and … services. All of it, all of it, is subject to design, and can be improved to have a greater impact on the mission of the University.

TIP: Megan has also compiled a page of Service Experience Design resources that includes definitions, terms, principles, and links.

Two years ago, Service Design was something that Megan and I were interested in, and had been meaning to learn more about. What made it real for us was attending the Service Experience conference in San Francisco in 2014. We went with a small cohort from University IT and Environmental Health and Safety. This year, we are returning to the SX Conf with an even greater number.

Service Experience Conference 2015

Where: San Francisco

When: November 16-17

Who: You, hopefully

I think that this is an exciting time to be a part of the reinvention of our work, and just as David Kelley’s new focus is unleashing the creativity of others, I think that Service Design, and its particular vocabulary, mental models, and tools, is an exciting opportunity for all service providers to tap into their creativity, even if you don’t think you are creative … especially if you don’t think you’re creative. Think of SX Conf as innovation school, with highly practical methods you can bring back to your work. COME WITH US!