Birgit Mager on Journey Maps into the Future

Birgit Mager, the founder and president of the Service Design Network spoke about the history of service design and the organization’s place in its development.

Service design as a profession did not exist when she began teaching in 1995. She shared a quote from Design is Invisible: “It is not the tram that makes transportation a successful experience. It is the schedule.” This is essentially the difference between process and outcome service experiences. Twenty years ago they had no vocabulary for the design of services but designers were able to essentially invent techniques that are more commonplace today.

But in 2000, London saw the introduction of service design agencies such as Live|Work and Engine which had migrated from interaction design and experience design. Practitioners and academics met in 2003 to create the service design network manifesto. Formal programs began teaching service design as Ivrea and Carnegie Mellon.

Service Design creates services and that useful and usable and desirable from the customer perspective and efficient, effective and different from a provider perspective. They framed service design as interdisciplinary. The design doesn’t know everything; they function through co-creation. Methods and tools were important to this early incarnation of service design.

The first Service Design Network conference in 2008 was held in Amsterdam. The SDN purchased a supplement in the Guardian for over 10,000 euro in 2009.

In 2010, service design choreographs process, technologies and interactions within complex systems in order to co-create value for relevant stakeholders.

In 2012 the network began to focus on the return on investment and government agencies began to take notice and request service design.

She shared a project from Lufthansa in 2014 that showed how far service design has evolved over the past three decades. Demand for service design agencies; service design moving from front stage to back stage, business perspective; measures of impact.

She shared a brief glimpse of an Evolution Map. She cautioned designers to maintain some control over the quality of their deliverables and not create 3-day workshops that unrealistically make people into service designers. I would have liked to see some more expansion on that point because it strikes me as counter to the ethos of co-creation.

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