The Future of Service Design with Birgit Mager

Koos
Catarina Silva

Reading time
5 min read

Date
Mar 05, 2021

At Koos Service Design, we have been hosting countless Learn & Lunch sessions since the first Corona outbreak began, back in March 2020. It has been a blast sharing our knowledge about various topics around Service Design, but also getting to know you, having rich discussions and hearing interesting new perspectives.

This time, we have decided to change the winning formula, as we invited Birgit Mager to co-host this Learn & Lunch with us to share her vision on the future of Service Design.

Birgit Mager, the mother of Service Design, has been lecturing this discipline since 1995, promoting and building a network that would strengthen Service Design all over the world and, nowadays, inspiring the community by being president of the Service Design Network. We felt very privileged to have her as a guest speaker at our Learn & Lunch.

To envision the future, we must understand the past, so we took a look on the interesting evolution of Service Design, one of the latest achievements in the field of Design.

When I started teaching, that was the time when experimenting started. We had nothing. There were no processes, no methods, no tools, no definitions, no nothing. We were totally free, to try to apply design as a human-centered discipline to the immaterial product of services. That was an amazing time.

Finally, from 2015, we have entered a phase where many companies are aware about what Service Design is and its value. Even the big consultancies have included this discipline into their portfolio, which shows that Service Design is now perceived as needed and relevant.

“People don’t look as if you are an exotic animal anymore when you say you’re working in Service Design”

So what’s next? The future of Service Design is our responsibility. The community needs to build our tomorrow so that Service Design remains relevant, impactful and growing continuously in the right direction.

Birgit shared 3 of the 8 Thought – Provoking Statements about the Future of Service Design. These were the results of an intense research and discussion from several service designers and employees of the field.

Let’s deep dive on them!

1. Wear your ties

In contrast to what has happened in the past, Service Design will play a bigger role in the business and organizational development domain. The reason for this is that ‘you cannot change the frontstage if you don’t impact the backstage’. 

We, as service designers, need to learn how to speak our own client’s language, understand how their processes work, their systems, employees… Only this way we will be able to get powerful results, showing that our approach resonates with their way of working.  

In order to truly influence the strategic positioning and have an impact, we need to look at our clients as users and actually connect with them, with their values and ways of working.

“We as service designers, have to regard our clients as users and we have to apply our design thinking to the way we work with them. We have to respect and understand their organizations, the way they are structured and organized. We have to understand the tools they are already using to innovate their services. We are not alone in this world.”

2. Do the right thing

Nowadays, more than ever, companies and individuals are taking into account all factors regarding ethics, from sustainability to equality, diversity & inclusion.
Service Design, being a human-centered practice, implies that we are considering these matters. However, we must take it a step further and ensure we are proactively verifying, throughout our projects alongside the process, if we are in tune and acting upon these ethical concerns.

“We have to make sure ethical approaches are part of the company’s KPIs”

3. Shape the future

Throughout the years, education in Service Design has evolved and now, options in Service Design training are endless.

Several trainings, courses and programs are available (with diverse levels) and many specializations are emerging. So it is positive, not only for educators and students but also clients, that the service designer skillset becomes more transparent.

By becoming more transparent about our capabilities and what we offer, we will build a better reputation amongst our clients and they will also understand better what they could be looking for.

The discussion was indeed very insightful and other subjects were also discussed such as system-centricity, technology and Service Design, C-suite ambition, metrics and education.

The future of Service Design is happening. It’s moving away from tool boxes towards becoming an attitude or a way of reasoning and logic that always puts research and people first.

‘We want people to think in a Service Design way. We do not decide things in the boardroom without having done exploration. We need to talk and understand before coming to the decision making process. And even then we do not make decisions. That’s a way of thinking. It’s an attitude.’

It was a pleasure to hear and discuss what the future holds with you and Birgit Mager. If you want to read more about the future of Service Design, you can download and read Birgit’s book here for free. We hope to see you again soon!

If this sparked your interest and you would like to chat with us, don’t hesitate to contact us for a digital coffee 😉

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