Sunday, 22 November 2009

two questions to Service Designers...

After trying gto put an conclusion down on paper for the past weeks, I still have two questions in my mind. Think it might be a good idea to share with you guys to see what you think... Let gather the brain power around the world, and see what we get!

1. How far should service designer go in service implementation?

For my research, I interviewed a couple of service designers. It seems that not all designers actually are actually designing the touch points or carry out training workshops. Many service designers work only in the research stage of a service development project and then hand it over to other people - either the client or the so-called ‘traditional’ designers - to deliver the implementation stages.

I had an interesting conversation with one of my participants who was a practicing service design about this. It seemed that the designer was fairly happy to stay as a mainly researcher role rather than getting into the details of designing the actual touch-points or running trainings for the client. Of course I am not saying it represents what all service designers are thinking, but it did make me think how far would and should service designer, as a professional, go in service implementation?

Hypothetically, there is a role of actual producing in service development, either producing the actual touch-points (physical products or it is a piece of software) or producing the process of implementation details (the criteria of the service or a roadmap of how change would be carried out in the organisation). But in the case studies out there, I did not see a whole lot of stories about how the implementation is carried out. So why? Well, it can be that service designers do not consider the producing as Service Design job, even though they sometimes does it, they would rather let ‘traditional’ designers to do it. Or… they cannot do it, because they do not have the skill to produce. Let’s be honest, roadmap of organisational change is not really in designer’s skill set, isn’t it? Of course there is a third option that the client does not want designer to be involved in the implementation – if so, how do we overcome it?

So, my question is… if you happen to practice as a service designer, how far do you normally go in service implementation? Or, how far you think service designers should go?

2. How is Service Design related to knowledge creation and diffusion?

One thing I often hear service design say about their project is to ‘change people’s perception of service’. Service, like branding, is socially constructed in people’s mind.

Developing a new service obviously involves creating new recognitions of that service among different stakeholders, and new knowledge about how to delivery, market, operate it. And that knowledge has no value unless it is diffused to all parts involved in day-to-day service delivery. After all, designers are not the ones who handle the users or supply materials/information in the backstage. Then the ultimate goal of designing service is actually about creating and diffusing the knowledge about a new service. Visual methods, blueprints, workshops, whatever service designers use, they are just means to let the knowledge flow.

So… it seems that Service Design is actually closely related to managing knowledge creation and diffusion. But so far, Knowledge Management does not seem to be a popular topic in Service Design... I found Debowski’s Knowledge Management theory interesting. It suggests that building capacity in knowledge development can be influenced by social capacity (e.g. organisational culture), technological skills (like IT systems), leadership (vision, and strategic stuff) and project/problem-based learning (that involves designer and all stakeholders I suppose).

Have any of you guys used any similar structure to analyse or plan your Service Design projects? Say, like evaluate or predict the social capacity of the service provider while putting together the blueprint?

Or… maybe you guys have some practical tactics to go about understand knowledge creation and diffusion in Service Design process. Care to share the trick please?