In an ever more complex world, with seismic shifts in the way we work and live, there is increasing demand for new approaches to the way design as we transform business and industry. Developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence, big data, cognitive computing, the internet, IoT and mobile are all conflating and amplifying one another.
Furthermore, we are all aware that over the past four decades we have shifted from economies of scale with mass markets where we manufactured tangible products, to delivering intangible services in long-tail markets using advanced information technologies on the world-wide-web.
As a Practice Manager and the Service Design Program Director at IBM in Dublin, I work in the Global Technology Services Group where we are developing and evolving our approaches to the way we work together with our clients to define the future.
At IBM, Global Technology Services (GTS) we work with clients from all over Europe to design and develop a wide range of technology services that run the foundational systems the world relies on. These are the platforms that enable the backbone of the world’s economy in Banking, Telecoms, Retail, Airlines, Government and Insurance to operate. The challenges we face individually, in our business and in that of our clients, are complex.
Service Design in Enterprise
At IBM I work Tim Macarthur and Diego Dalia and together we work within a larger global community 400K people who at the cutting edge of technology and service innovation. Over the past six months Tim Macarthur, Diego Dalia and I have been developing a Service Design Playbook that we can use with our teams at the cutting edge of technology and service innovation.
At IBM, we take design very seriously and as a technology company it has always valued design. From the early days of personal computers to the first mainframe computers to the most recent work in cognitive computing, design is crucial.
IBM has invested in developing a unique approach to design thinking that is used not only by its 1500 designers but also by its engineers, developers and throughout the whole organisation. IBM Design Thinking has been developed to enable disparate professionals and experts to focus on developing user-centric experiences and innovative digital solutions by working collaboratively with each other and with clients. IBM Design Thinking’s framework is a means to solve users’ problems at the speed and scale of the modern digital enterprise.
IBM Design Thinking has its roots in traditional design thinking but more recently I have been working with a group of designers to augment IBM’s design thinking to include and embrace Service Design. Whether we’re re-envisioning a customer experience for a multinational bank or exploring ways to beat cancer, or helping government deliver better services, service design helps my teams focus on what matters to our clients and importantly their end-users.
Service in the Outcome Economy
At IBM, success is not measured by the features and functions but rather by outcomes. Whether we’re helping clients discover a cure for cancer, collaborate across the globe, or deliver financial services, our clients rely on us to deliver outcomes. We are shifting the conversation from one about features and functions to one about users and outcomes. In so doing we deliver more useful, usable, and desirable services.
Service Design Thinking helps us pivot away from designing products to designing outcomes, from the tangible to the intangible. It has become an important means to deliver value while working with our clients on very complex and entangled eco-systems.
The value of Service Design in the Digital Enterprise
Working in IBM means you work with very smart people. The smartest I have ever encountered. I was recently in a workshop that featured technical experts with numerous patents for technologies like Blockchain and Cognitive Computing. To give you a measure; IBM filed 8033 patents last year.
Typically, we work in ‘core’ teams to examine problems holistically rather than reductively to understand relationships in complex eco-systems. This means our designers, technologist and business experts can work together to frame challenges by working with users and with SMEs to align around domains that create value. I find that that using service design thinking helps our teams with a strong technology focus connect with designers because the tools service designers use is similar and in some cases adapted from areas like systems and IT design. Developers and technology experts enjoy collaborating using the service design approaches we use in workshops and within sprints throughout a project.
We define insights based on user research to identify opportunities and then we ideate in our teams to then move quickly to prototyping so we can resonance test with end-users the systems and processes that support new offerings in a service-product continuum. Importantly we do not only design interactions and experiences; we also define the processes and eco-systems. This means we increasingly look at new organisational structures with new roles and that need people with skills that are at the cutting edge of technology. When we design with new technologies, we are also helping to define new industries and new markets. It’s very exciting.
Service Design Playbooks
Working with Diego Dalia and Tim Macarthur we have developed a Service Design Playbook and practice guide to help design and collaborate with our colleagues. The Service Design Playbook contains methods and activities for teams to use in implementing radical collaboration that put the client and their users at the centre of our thinking.
Each Service Design method can be used in combination as part of a broader set of activities in a Playbook. Our Service Design Playbook enables us take typical and atypical situations and develop a unique approach by using different combinations of service design methods and activities suited to the project or a sprint within the project.
Our Service Design Playbook breaks down into three distinct flavours of Observe, Reflect and Make so we are aligned with IBM Design Thinking’s Framework. Importantly, Service Design at IBM is part of a larger ‘Playbook’ of IBM Design Thinking.
When We Use Service Design
Service Design adds significant value when applied in the one or more of the following circumstances:
Service design as a methodology with activities and tools combined in playbooks that deliver optimised service offerings and experiences.
Service design as a people-centred process to address operational and organizational needs as part of a transformation process or in a new venture.
Service design as a collaborative and participatory process that requires a co-design approach.
Service design as a process to optimize complex systems and interconnected ecologies.
This article was first published in Medium in May 2017