ArticleJune 1, 2022 · 6 min read time
Part of a designer’s role is being comfortable with not knowing the big picture at first. Each beginning arises curiosity and excitement about solving the mystery of the issue at hand and how we, service designers, can help solve it.
An important part of a service designer's work is getting everyone on the same page. It's like turning all the pieces of the puzzle with the picture side facing up and then inviting all the stakeholders to solve the puzzle together.
There are three ways in which service design can give a boost to your project.
1. Seeing the big picture and understanding the user’s point of view
Service designer's work is about asking a lot of questions and making the available information transparent for all. Openness and good communication are essential to a service designer.
Mapping all the aspects of a project early on with a cross-functional team is important because it helps see how all building blocks – business, design and technology – come together as a digital service or product.
You need to build an overall service vision with all the stakeholders and get the whole team on board to brainstorm in order to arrive at the same vision. A vision ideation that looks further into the future allows the stakeholders and the team to look in the same direction, as the work is not focused on the nitty-gritty details yet.
The client organisation's strategy and where the project team wants to make an impact, set the direction for the vision. It's the service designer's role to ensure the actual user of the service is not forgotten. Understanding what motivates the user, helps envision the service. You need to ask questions like: “What are the pain points for the user?” or: “What problem is the service solving for the user?”.
Involving users in the design process helps discover their needs and gives focus to the project. At this point, it's often unclear what the users' pain points truly are. Still, it's important to acknowledge that the users must validate the service ideas. User research decreases the risk of the idea failing. Service designers may use different methods and frameworks instead of vision ideation, but the idea is to get the team on the same page regarding the big picture.
2. Innovating and brainstorming together
The Disney method allows the team to look at the project from different points of view. It is like having three different hats on. In this method, the team will do a round of brainstorming as a dreamer, then a further round as a realist and then with a critical mindset.
First, as the dreamer, you should let go of any restrictions that come to your mind and think of the most positive outcome for the service or product: what it would be and how it would work in the dream world? You should be able to find new possibilities and viewpoints for the solution. The ideas need to be grouped and clustered to see the topics that arise from these ideas.
The second round of innovating takes a realist's viewpoint. The realist tries to find ways to implement the ideas, thinking about how to get to the dream state. The last round of innovation and point of view is the critical viewpoint. With this mindset, you think of the risks and possible obstacles on the way to getting to the dream state.
3. Goal setting tool to make the vision concrete
To make sure big ideas won't be left on the whiteboard, the next step is to think beyond the brainstorming workshop: what kind of a roadmap will take you to your vision. It's time to get some concrete and measurable goals down. People love it when they start seeing the vague mess turn into concrete actions; they start seeing goals and picture the results in their minds!
The OKR-model is a simple and well-known model for setting concrete goals. It's O for objectives and KR for key results. The model was invented by Intel's Andy Grove. It has also been widely used at Google since the beginning of its history and remains a key to its success.
The OKR model was introduced worldwide by John Doerr in his famous book Measure what matters. Even if you don’t know it by this name, people familiar with agile development will feel comfortable with the concept. The OKR model is about dividing the project into more manageable bite-sized pieces and setting measurable key results for those pieces.
For the sake of an example, we set an objective: "Validate the user's interest and need for the new Summer Bakery-on-wheels concept in Helsinki and Tampere with 20 persons' interviews.". The objective is something significant and ambitious – not something you do every day.
Next, you need to ask how you know you've reached the objective, and how you measure it. The answers to that question are the key results. Ideally, there may be 3–5 key results that make up the objective. An example of a Key Result for the objective above could be: "The new Summer Bakery service concept is validated with 20 interviews, both in Helsinki and Tampere".
When checking the results, it's a clear yes or no for whether the Key result is done. Once the user validation has been done for the needed user groups, you can easily conclude that the key result is done.
It may sound complicated, but it's easy to apply to anything once you know it. I find it to be a bit like doing Konmari at home. You can't unlearn it once you know what it means. But it takes practice and routine to get the objectives and key results written well. The experience of getting things done will keep you committed to the model.
To sum it up, the three takeaways from the service designer's toolbox for your project are:
1. Understanding the big picture
Do the detective work and ask the right questions: What is the big picture? Who are the stakeholders in that big picture? What problem is the service meant to solve for the user? What are the actual pain points for the user? Does the project team understand the concept? Is there a vision?
2. Building the vision for the project together
Get to know the Disney method; This is my favourite method for co-creating the future scenarios and building the vision of the project together.
3. Making the vision become reality with efficient goal setting
The OKR model makes teamwork efficient. The Key Results part of the model makes you think beforehand about what kind of results are measurable and what is the outcome you need. The OKR model is a powerful tool for drawing the roadmap and setting goals.
There's plenty of great material online and videos on these common models that I encourage you to look up. I haven't yet met a team member who wouldn't be happy about getting help in understanding and seeing the big picture, understanding the actual users' point of view, and getting things done. As for me, this is what it’s all about: I find it really rewarding to be able to help with these aspects as a service designer.