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Service Design: More Than The Sum of Its Parts Recap

Today after flying in from Boulder, Dr. Andy Polaine gave an inspiring presentation on Service Design.
He opened with the idea that all Service Design tools have been re-appropriated from other disciplines, but a Service Designer’s end goals are different. He notes we are “moving from the joys of having things to the joys of having experiences.”

Dr. Polaine quotes Tibor Kalman with the question, “Do you want to die with the most toys, or do you want to die with the best life and experiences?”

Here’s Matthew Hodgson’s video about information architecture to show how different disciplines can use similar tools.

What are experiences and can we design them?
“Cinematographers will tell you they can design experiences.At least they design the structures that we have expereinces through.” “We can research experiences and context.”

Not only can we research context, but we can design some of the context and we can change some of those things.

Service Design shouldn’t just be broken into back stage and front stage, as like Don Norman says the back stage to one person is the front stage to the other.

Dr. Polain asks “What if we rethink that front stage back stage set up and instead have the users at the center, taking a role, interacting with eachother with some type of ‘mediative interaction going on.'” He leads onto Virtuous Networks and how we are “shifting from products to services and to a people centered approach.”

One concept that he places importance on is “arrows” or what I call “paths.” The paths between the touchpoints. Sometimes you can flow through a service or ecology of services seamlessly and you may not even know it. A metaphor is like gaps in a sidewalk, you flow over it but don’t notice it is there. (I guess that you can also flow over seams). That is the negative space of services. If there is a pothole or if the sidewalk is uneven, you will notice it is there. “When stuff breaks, that’s when the arrows become visible.” There is the phrase “you only notice bad design,” which is why folded toilet paper is not the best example of Service Design.

Not only do you want to make some of the design unseen, but you may even want to tone down the design that is noticed.

“It’s easy to focus on the tangibles.” “We tend to fetishize artifacts because it’s easy, they’re things we grasp on to.” “There are plenty experiences where the artifacts seem to be right but the service ecology is [horrible],” like mobile phones. “Sometimes its worth downgrading a touch point so that” people can flow through it easier. The transition between touchpoints causes “a jolt in expectations.” Like with many types of design, Service Design and the experience “it’s about consistency, not just high level [execution] of anything.” That is something I never thought of.

Dr. Polaine mentions Blueprint+, which I saw Roman Aebersold present on last year. My question about Blueprint+ and behavior research is how else can we plot emotion other than binary up or down, excited versus feared. An axis of solely excited or feared makes sense to a degree, but I would like to be able to plot multiple dimensions with additional values to cover a better picture of people’s behavior over time. You can be excited and fearful at the same time.

The next steps for developing the Blueprint+ is to be able to “zoom in and out at different resolutions,” providing very granular insight, but also being able to just show the major scenes. That will be amazing as a technical tool, it can work at different levels, to the second defining which small touchpoint is encountered, but also simplified to show the macro events when using it as a deliverable.

He’s also writing a book withs Lavrans Løvlie and Ben Reason of live|work.

Check it out here: http://www.rosenfeldmedia.com/books/service-design/
Of all the Service Design books out or coming out, I expect this one to be really good.




The level we must reach.
Reminders to avoid the god complex.

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