Archive for June, 2010

Good books on service design are few and far between. I’ve put together lists in the past and so have other designers but unless you’ve actually read the books it’s tough to see the connections sometimes. Service designers draw inspiration from across disciplines and that means that a raw list isn’t always enough of a roadmap for people to triage unfamiliar reading.

Earlier this year I starting wondering whether I could adapt the system I built for organizing service design research papers to the task of organizing books. Something that could build context and uncover the “why” behind recommendations.

I’ve been working with that idea off and on for a few months now and I think it’s finally ready to launch.

Service Design Books is a co-created library of recommended reading for service designers. It’s a community website. Anyone can add a book to the library and add ratings, tags or comments to help people make sense of an emerging field.

There are over forty books in the collection from a dozen different curators but that’s just the beginning. For this initiative to thrive it’ll need a little more help. Take a look at the collection and add your perspective. If you’ve read one of the books take a moment to rate it and if you think other service designers should read it as well then second the recommendation.

It’s easy to add your own picks to the collection. Just type a book title or an ISBN code to import a book. It should take less than a minute and you can always go back later and edit the information. The site is open to everyone.

Give it a shot and help kick the tires. And if you come across a good book this summer add it to the stack.

Tom Weaver from Flywheel in the UK compiles a list of five innovations in school design:

Sometimes we are asked what are some of the most innovative ideas we have seen in the last few years in school design. Here are a selection. Some of them are well worn examples, yet we have still not seen widespread adoption of any of these principles, so the lessons deserve repeating.

  1. Learning spaces can be specialised around specific pedagogies or learning activities
  2. Schools are being organised around alternatives to curriculum-centric models
  3. Schools are piloting new approaches to teaching and learning prior to building
  4. Schools are being created in non school buildings
  5. Schools are connecting to other real estate in their local community

These patterns are centered around spatial design. More details and links to case studies on the blog.

The Domus Academy in Milan is launching a new Masters in Service Design for the coming academic year and they’re hosting a service design competition for prospective students. Unexpected Courtesty [PDF 604K] is a response to the recent disruption of travel due to the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull.

Your design challenge is a service concept that a Company could offer to its customer for relieving damages.

It should be a simple, suitable and feasible idea like a courtesy kit offered by the company, a temporary facility to host people’s activities, a communication package, or any other service plus that companies could offer to benefit their clients at a reasonable cost.

I’ve criticized design competitions in the past and this one suffers from some of the same flaws but it’s in the context of a scholarship for design education rather than flat-out corporate exploitation so I’m inclined to be lenient.

Two winning students (one EU citizen and one non-EU citizen) will receive 50% tuition to the Domus Academy’s service design masters program in January.

The deadline is September 6th, 2010. Entries should be five pages or fewer and will be judged by a jury composed of design educators (Birgit Mager and Elena Pacenti) and corporate executives from the hospitality industry.

Here’s an interesting white paper from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University in New York. In The Power of Personal Service [PDF 868K] Barbara Talbott discusses her perspective on service operations at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in London and Washington D.C.

Most companies hire for experience and appearance, how the applicants fit the company image. We hire for attitude. We want people who like other people and are, therefore, more motivated to serve them. Competence we can teach. Attitude is ingrained.

The 2006 paper recounts example after example of employees taking the initiative to provide fantastic service.

Alice Rawsthorn pens another write-up on Participle for the New York Times. Engineering a Brighter Future focuses on the topic of social design, viewed through a UK program called Loops which “aims to help young people to become more confident, ambitious and resourceful.”

We’d wanted to help young people for some time, but the urgency came when Unicef published a study showing that the U.K. was the worst country in the Western world to grow up in,” explained Hilary Cottam, co-founder of Participle. “The government’s response was to build new youth centers and to encourage young people to avoid risk — not drinking, not getting pregnant, not doing drugs. All the research shows that locking them up in schools and youth centers doesn’t work. Youth development comes out of having lots of experiences and engaging with risk. We felt there had to be a better way.

Over the past two years Rawsthorn has helped to publicize projects from Participle, Live|work and ReD Associates in articles focused on shifting the public perception of design.

These overviews are good, but I’d really love to see some more detailed case studies on these types of projects.

Mel Edwards shares her approach to Customer Journey Mapping and Service Blueprinting along with some nice examples over on her desonance weblog. The detailed posts both do a great job of outlining the techniques and synthesizing material from several different sources (Shostack, et al).

Also be sure to check out her older posts. There’s a thoughtful exploration of service design definitions.

Birgit Mager from the Köln International School of Design offers a brief overview of service design as part of an international lecture series organized last month by the Helsinki City Library.

Our economy has radically changed over the past 30 or 40 years and there is a need to design services that fit customer needs. Services that are useful, usable and desirable from the perspective of the user and of course efficient, effective and different from the perspective of the provider.

Professor Mager talked a bit about how libraries have evolved from book-centric systems to people-centric systems, about the importance of collaboration and about the need to accommodate failure when experimenting with new services.

She also gave a lecture on service design later that day at the National Museum in Helsinki.

Athina Santaguida, Miki Aso and Molly Oberholtzer are students from the Health Services Innovation Class at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. Their team worked on a group service design project for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

I interviewed Athina, Miki and Molly by telephone on May 18, 2010 about their GROW project at Parsons.

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