What does Service Design mean to me?

This morning I took a survey on Service Design which is part of the research carried out by the Design Council. I learnt about it through a post at Linked-in’s Service Design Network by Christina Kinnear. And it got me thinking.

Amongst other things it tried to define Service Design, as well as its connections with business and academia. So it got me thinking about What does service design mean for me and for my practice?

Well, to be honest, I am not sure I know so I use this writing as a way to explore my own thoughts.

I have been more or less trained as a Service Designer during the Design Innovation Masters at the Glasgow School of Art, and I do believe it to be the centre of my practice as researcher/designer in Moving Targets. But when I finished my course I wasn’t able to identify myself as service designer.

The first thing that came to my mind are the tools we use.  As David Hicks – Scottish design consultant – once said to me, we keep a variety of tools in our bag and are able to mix and adapt them to the different situations we come across.
We all know the basic tools in the bag. They are widely used in every design discipline: user-jouneys,  service-blueprints, mindmaps, personas, roleplaying, prototypes…  And we keep on picking tools on the go, some borrowed from other disciplines like business or management; and others result of our own experiments.

But I feel tools don’t make the Service Designer.

On one hand, I feel I become a bit more of a Service Designer everyday – with every project I challenge myself with, with every book I read, with every random person I meet on the streets, with every experience I have in doctors, with every documentary I watch… All of those things may not be related to Service Design as a discipline at all and never be taught in any design course, but I believe all those things build towards my practice. Am I actually growing as a service designer with all those random things I observe and absorb?

On the other hand, I have recognised “service designers” far out of the discipline: in health carers, engineers, software developers, business people… who don’t know nor use any of those tools

So I got thinking … what makes me feel they ARE service designers?
And I got to the root of it. They share something vital to Service Designers, the Mind-Set.

They are human driven and open to working and sharing with others; always willing to learn and on the lookout for new challenges. They are capable of perceiving how everything interconnects and therefore take a holistic approach to problem solving; keeping in mind the big picture and thinking of how their solutions may affect or be affected by others. And those are completely independent of their background or formation.

However, I don’t think I’ve always been a service designer. I believe some of that “Mind-set” I’ve always had. Being curious, empathic, enthusiastic, good observer, wanting to learn everything… But until someone suggested – and I decided – those were important assets for me I didn’t become a service designer, I never gave them any importance and thus never thought of developing them.

What makes you a service designer?


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