Jess McMullin on Service Design to Service Transformation

Jess McMullin from Situ Strategy in Alberta spoke about service transformation. He defined it as the required organizational and systemic change in order to design and deliver new services which become integrated with the business in sustained, ongoing strategy, structure and operations at scale.

He argued that we need new tools and perspectives for organizational change; that service blueprints aren’t enough.

There were lots of useful tidbits from this presentation but one that stood out to me was the matrix of problems from Dave Snowden at Cognitive Edge. He classifies problems as complex, complicated, chaotic or simple and observed that each category has its own set of methods and tools for resolution.

Jess introduced a framework for dealing with organizational complexity by making that complexity visible. It’s still in the early stages but his Service Architecture Canvas is a tool to see within and across our organizations.

The SAC consists of three layers, each with three components: 1.) Delivery: Experience, interactions, operations;  2.) Foundations: Infrastructure, Decision DNA, Structure and Incentives and 3.) Bedrock: Mandate, Culture and Context. He framed it as a guide to strategic conversations within organizations.

I noticed some parallels to Dick Buchanan’s Emergence keynote from 2007 on the value of seeing the whole system. You can contact Jess at situ.org for a PDF of the architecture.

Update: one of the most interesting aspects of this talk actually occurred during the question and answer period. Jess articulated the Pine and Gilmore perspective about how services are the raw materials for transformations; essentially the Trojan Horse for organizational change.


  1. Ravi joshi

    Not sure I agree that Dave classifies problems…. I studied the framework and note it’s value as a sense making took. I.e. it takes into consideration that the reader brings their own values to seeing any issue. Some people may seem all change as simple or complicated (resolvable with expertise)… others acknowledge complexity and chaos.




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