Archive for September, 2007

Emergence Followup

Most of the presentations from this year’s Emergence conference on service design are available for download on their site. The organizers have also collected a list of recaps others have posted about the proceedings. They’re still working on pulling together the podcasts.

Nick Durrant pointed me toward a fantastic service design paper from Demos and Engine in the UK called “Journey to the Interface.” This is one of the first overviews I’ve encountered that gets past the “what” and the “how” of service design to take a position on the “why.” The authors outline an ideology for service that goes beyond operational concerns like key performance indicators. As they put it, the fundamental purpose of service is to provide support and to help people live their lives to their full potential.

Experiences and relationships are the recurring themes of this pamphlet. … We offer some practical tools and insights from the small but growing discipline of service design. Service designers do not see service as someting that can be reduced to a commodity. They focus on how people actually experience services, in order to understand how large service organizations can create better relationsips with their users and customers.

Definitely check it out. You can find the pamphlet on the demos website. It’s free to download [PDF 2.8MB] under a creative commons license.

Blog Roundup

Here are a few more voices to add to the global service design conversation. Who else is talking about this? What other design blogs should be on my radar?

Designswarm – Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino.
Choosenick – Nick Marsh.
Buena Vista – Alex Nisbett.
Putting People First – Experientia.
Service Design – 31Volts.
Adaptive Path Blog – Adaptive Path.

Service Prototyping

Peer Insight’s Jeneanne Rae in Business Week
Seek the Magic with Service Prototypes

Good service prototypes appeal to the emotions and avoid drawing attention to features, costs, and applications that can clutter the conversation and derail the excitement factor. Storytelling, vignettes, cartoons, amateur videos–all are low-budget tools that bypass the intellectual “gristmill” and go straight to the heart.

I’ve noticed a ton of nascent service design venues springing up around the internet. There’s a little community on Flickr, one on Lots of little blogs and personal projects all over the place. For the most part these people aren’t talking to one another.

I’d like to see that change. To help get things off the ground, I’ve set up a Yahoo group for people to come together and begin talking about service design research, patterns, methods, inspiration and community.

Service Design @ Yahoo

Service Design Research

A few months ago I decided to finally dig in to the canonical literature on Service Design and read as much of it as I could find. I’ve gone back about thirty years to compile articles from Marketing and Retail Journals, Design Journals and the Harvard Business Review.

Service Design Research
Article Database

I started by following up citations from the 2006 Emergence Conference at CMU and added a reading list from a UK project called Designing for Services. I also found my old syllabus from Shelley Evenson’s inaugural service design course at CMU and added a few references I stumbled across in my research.

Of course, it’s easier to compile a reading list than it is to actually locate the papers, some of which date back to the year I was born. I was gearing up for a battle with Google, but the San Francisco Public Library ended up taking most of the fun out of my quest by providing PDFs of the journal articles to anyone with a library card. I collected most of the articles in an afternoon but despite my best efforts a few papers eluded electronic capture and I was forced to drive down to the Jackson Business Library at Stanford University for some of the more obscure journals.

To make sense of the piles of reading I kept notes on concepts and examples that reappeared in multiple articles so I could track their progression. I’ve put those cross-references together into a system to find papers by concept, example, author, journal or decade to make it as easy as possible for others to delve into the research for themselves.

If you’d like to help fill in the gaps by suggesting other canonical papers, e-mail the citations to service at