An Introduction to Service Design

An Introduction to Service Design

Designing the Invisible

Lara Penin

Service designers need to acknowledge that designing services often involves redesigning systems or redesigning the organizations themselves. Each private company, public organization, or nonprofit has its own organizational ethos that might be more or less codified into rules, protocols, and processes. What designers need to understand is that when they step into an organization, they are not stepping into a void space, but a legacy and culture are already in place. People in organizations often spend a lot of time working to improve the existing services. Public sector agencies, for example, have long histories of design and redesign of their services, bound to policies and regulations, and have responded to changing administrations over time. For this reason, concepts such as change and disruption, so dear to designers, may not sound like such good news to many people inside organizations. When designers start working on a project with an organization, they need to do so carefully, recognizing what’s already in place, often based on delicate relationships and balances. Service designers need to recognize design legacies and design agendas already present in organizations whether they are good or bad, efficient or not. And in doing so, they need to develop productive dialogues with the people inside different parts of the organization to see things from their perspective and define together which changes are needed and what are the possible ways to implement them.

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