Katie Koch on Whose Job is it Anyway?

Katie Koch from Spotify spoke about integrating service design into organizations. This was a great talk about what has worked in her experience.

Whose job is it to practice service design in a product company? In her early career she focused on a traditional model of design for designers to control experiences. Her views have changed based on experience collaborating with teams of stakeholders.

She used service design at her previous financial service job at American Express and brought that experience into her new job at Spotify. They have 60 designers in eight different offices around the world. Her squad in Stockholm is focused on particular aspect of the customer journey. Their group focused on reducing the barriers to adoption.

Their process is: Think it, build it, ship it, tweak it. That allows them to iterate the experience from things that are okay to things that are great.

For designers, that poses some challenges. It’s harder to think more broadly and strategically. The connection between siloed experiences can be lost. Katie promoted service design at Spotify to solve this but it’s tough to shift product-minded people to a service perspective. She noted that service design is not magic.

She recognized the tension that service design represents to agile or lean processes. Thinking strategically is tough when everyone else is focused on shipping.

Katie acknowledged that they needed to shift how they used service design so it fit into the process of a fast-moving team. Is there a way to get the benefits of the service design process along with the pace of lean or agile?

The first step involves building relationships. Think of stakeholders as partners. Learn about them as people and not just requirements. Drop the idea that you need a formal service design practice. Just talk with each other. Bridge gaps between silos.

Next, make things together. Once you find allies; start making things like journey maps. It’s tangible and understandable for new stakeholders. Focus on tangible and participatory journey maps, storyboard, service safari. Service blueprints, task analysis, mental models can be abstract and complex. Use small products to build service awareness.

Throw away your artifacts. She encouraged designers to work at a low fidelity at the beginning of a project. Her admonition to throw away your artifacts reminded me of Marc Rettig’s YAGNI acronym (“You Ain’t Gonna Need It”). Use just enough fidelity to move the conversation forward but the process is a means to an end; not an end unto itself.

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