Choosenick. Notes and observations on service design, as well as other interesting things/thinking. By Nick Marsh.

Archive of December 2008

Innovaro Briefing on Service Innovation

Innovaro, the innovation consulting firm have an in depth (and very, very wordy) monthly newsletter that I enjoy. This month they're focusing on service innovation. From the newsletter:

Service innovation is fast becoming the most interesting and successful area of innovation for businesses. Now accounting for 70% of the aggregate production and employment in OECD nations, service innovation is widely seen as critical for longer-term growth and prosperity. While the economic downturn has hit some parts of the services sector very hard, it is clear that the trend towards service domination in the major economies is here to stay. The ageing population will have a greater need for social and health services; both the obese and the health conscious sections of society will drive an increase in wellness and nutrition services; and the opening up of all levels of education will drive innovation in the provision of teaching and learning.These are just three drivers of growth in the service sector.

Of course this growth in services and service innovation is not just a function of the demand-side trends but also a reflection of the new paradigm of technological advance that allows for new and innovative service developments including location-based services, real-time access to a raft of data sources, and quicker and more powerful communications. So, it is a combination of the consumer demand for more and better services and the ability of the market to provide them through technological progress that has driven this area of innovation. That said, although service innovation is now an important part of top companies' competitive strategies, it is relatively underexplored compared to the attention given over the years to product and process innovation. This is something which we seek to redress in this briefing.

There's lots of depth, including Innovaro's 'Service Innovation Model' (a.k.a a nice diagram.) You can sign up for the newsletter by emailiing your email address to They also have a blog, where I assume they will publish the service innovation briefing at a later date.
December 15th, 2008 / Tags: serviceinnovation, publication / Trackback / Comments

IDEO's Human Centred Design Toolkit

IDEO have released a comprehensive suite of materials to explain and organise Human Centred Design projects.

From the introduction: "This toolkit is the result of a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The BMGF brought together four organizations —IDEO, IDE, Heifer International, and ICRW—to partner in the creation of a method for guiding innovation and design for smallholder farmers"

There's an enormous amount of good quality material in here, including advice on preparing for fieldwork, organising and framing workshops, managing the design process and much more. Its already seeping out - a client actually sent me a copy yesterday as part of a project I'm working on at Engine, and Arne has also spotted it over at Design Thinkers. Thanks Bill!
December 13th, 2008 / Trackback / Comments

Michael Bichard Argues for Better Design in Public Services

Michael Bichard, Chairman of the UK Design Council is interviewed at length on the public service website.

They say: The standard of public services will only continue to improve if we embrace innovation and invest in skills, Sir Michael Bichard tells Alison Thomas. And he argues that even in a time of recession, the public sector must show commitment to the principle of good design

Bichard goes on to say: "Many people think of design in terms of packaging and product design. They don't realise design tools can go far beyond that, and can cause you to ask serious questions about business vision and service vision. Design is very much addressing the relationship with clients, customers and citizens and is relevant to the public sector, not least around services."

The Design Council is really going for the public service design angle. Read more on their site.
December 13th, 2008 / Trackback / Comments

Designing for Services - Multidisciplinary Perspectives

Lucy Kimball has been running the 'Designing for Services' project, exploring the relationship between service design and science and technology enterprises for some time now. She's a big Design Thinking advocate, and I've always enjoyed the supporting blog. The project has now concluded, and she's put together an absolute monster of an essay collection that captures some of the stories and theories to emerge from the project which involved numerous academics, three technology companies and consultants from IDEO, Live|work and Radar Station

Download the pdf here. Hat tip to AT-ONE for finding this (Although I just spotted it on Putting People First, Arne's site, Lauren's, Lucy's and Liveworks. Looks like I was a bit late to this party!)
December 10th, 2008 / Tags: servicedesign, publication, research / Trackback / Comments

How do you design?

The Dubberly Design office has a fantastic compendium of design process descriptions that they've been collecting for what seems like several years.

From their site: Everyone designs. The teacher arranging desks for a discussion. The entrepreneur planning a business. The team building a rocket.

Their results differ. So do their goals. So do the scales of their projects and the media they use. Even their actions appear quite different. What’s similar is that they are designing. What’s similar are the processes they follow.

Our processes determine the quality of our products. If we wish to improve our products, we must improve our processes; we must continually redesign not just our products but also the way we design. That’s why we study the design process. To know what we do and how we do it. To understand it and improve it. To become better designers.

In this book, I have collected over one-hundred descriptions of design and development processes, from architecture, industrial design, mechanical engineering, quality management, and software development. They range from short mnemonic devices, such as the 4Ds (define, design, develop, deploy), to elaborate schemes, such as Archer’s 9-phase, 229-step “systematic method for designers.” Some are synonyms for the same process; others represent differing approaches to design.

By presenting these examples, I hope to foster debate about design and development processes.

Its an absolute treasure trove for anyone interested in the larger conversation around how we design, rather than just what we design. Download the full pdf here. Thanks to Nicolas Nova for finding this for me.
December 10th, 2008 / Tags: designthinking, designprocess / Trackback / Comments

Engine Service Design Nominated for Design of the Year 2009

Very exciting news! Engine have been nominated for the Brit Insurance Design of the Year 2009 award for our work with Kent County Council and the Social Innovation Lab for Kent. Dezeen has a run down of the nominees with lots of nice pictures, and Creative Review has some videos. Will update this post with more details once they come in...

UPDATE We've put out an official press release.
December 9th, 2008 / Trackback / Comments

Service Design: Discipline or Dragnet?

I came across this intriguing graphic outlining the 'Discipline of User Experience' (below) on the Kicker Studio's blog that illustrates the overlapping and interconnected skill sets required of UX designers.

Kicker studio is one of a new breed of interaction design studios that explicitly goes beyond traditional Human Computer Interface design and into the realms of product design in pursuit of good user experiences. Other studios engaged in this type of work include ThingM and Smart Design, as well as major players like Adaptive Path and IDEO.

The diagram is an update from an older view of the discipline of interaction design that Kicker principle Dan Saffer put together several years ago. It immediately reminded me of some slides I put together about a year ago for a talk I gave in Stockholm to interaction design students at HyperIsland.

The talk gave a broad overview of Engine's service design practice, but it had an emphasis on the relationship between interaction design and service design. In it, I argued that all design is multi-disciplinary, and service design is just very multi-disciplinary. I've copied the relevant slides below:

Clearly I haven't given much thought to the specifics here, and I certainly haven't tied to pinpoint the disciplinary overlaps as Dan has (for example putting signage between visual design, information architecture and architecture) but that lack of pin-pointable specifics is, for me, the fascinating thing about service design practice.

At this stage it is very much open for negotiation - are service designers best positioned as design managers with good a dose of customer service thinking? Are they design directors with an ambitious field of vision? Are they design researchers focussed on service organisations with an ability to go a good few steps beyond research? Or, as I believe, are they all of these and a thousand other things - a random mix of different types of people who currently find it useful to align under the label of service design?

Whatever the case, I do believe that to try and draw a Saffer style multi-venn of service design skill sets would require bubbles for almost all design, social science and management disciplines - and can any one person really claim to have a foot in every one of those camps? Of course not. Which leads me to the short term conclusion that whatever the disciplinary skill sets required of a good service designer, surely the most important personal qualities to possess are excellent team work skills, and a very happy acceptance of ambiguity and complexity.

What do you think are the most important skills for service designers? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the newly reinstated comments!
December 6th, 2008 / Tags: servicedesign, education / Trackback / Comments
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