Design brings people out of the trenches


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Design thinking and service design can do far more than make new services visually appealing and easy to use. The skills, tools and attitude design brings can change projects and businesses. Most importantly it pulls people away from restrictive thinking, makes them collaborate better and adds excitement to business teams.

Bringing design into resolving cross-sector issues creates a fresh perspective
Businesses deal with common cross sector themes such as customer experience, customer retention/acquisition, cross channel, etc. Even with all the available expertise, organisations struggle to understand and resolve these issues. Introducing design into the process brings different ways of looking at such organisational challenges.

No neckties and no balloon animals
Consultants and external partners might bring in the knowledge and tools, but organisations tire of buying the expertise and not embedding it internally. Creative workshops and processes on the other hand energise teams and create a more collaborative atmosphere. Unfortunately the creative juices lose their effect shortly after the sessions and everything tends to drift back to the “before” state.

Including retail, product development, operations, marketing and support functions in a collaborative process with customers, often yields surprising insights. Early involvement of departments in an creative process increases engagement and internal adoption.

Complement existing business teams
The silo mentality and structures tend to limit the ability of organisations to innovate, implement and develop products and services that are outside “the way we do things here”. There is tremendous untapped experience, knowledge, expertise and deep insights in business teams.

Designers with their tools and perspective can help cross-functional teams perform at their best. Making early deliverables more tangible engages more people in a creative process.

The power of the creative process
Process maps, flow charts and system diagrams might capture an organisations’ structures, but are not understood across the organisation. Instead of mapping current versus to be situations, the creative process can be more fluid and exploratory in helping teams see problems and solutions in a different ways.

Service design processes for instance allow for very diverse input from various internal stakeholders, user, customer and partners that lead to insights that are captured in a blueprint.

Make it tangible, early
Even in a rigid process of requirement capture, specification, detail design and build, there are opportunities to make things tangible for all by creating low fidelity prototypes. Cartoon stories, paper mock-ups and hand sketches inform project teams in ways that wire frames and process flows do not. Such artefacts interest and engage the wider organisation and lead to more meaningful and productive discussions.

Two thirds of UK businesses believe that design is integral to future economic performance.

Design and communicate at a human level
In complex businesses, the human aspect gets reduced to the persona, the entity, the use case, or the customer number. Introducing – more importantly keeping – the customer experience throughout the design and implementation process prevents lots of problems when the new service gets rolled out. Design with an understanding of how humans use services has tremendous value in preventing big rollout or adoption failures.

Design input makes it easier to deal with complexity
Design perspectives and tools are very effective in bringing together and aligning cross-functional teams around jointly created concepts and prototypes. Even in non-design environments, design thinking and service design bring value by addressing the misalignment and fragmented thinking that organisations and their customers face every day.

Ben Reason
Ben Reason is a service design consultant with 20 years experience with a wide range of public, and private sector organisations. As a founder of Livework he leads the London studio and team on projects that bring a customer view to major challenges and opportunities in industries ranging from healthcare and financial services, to public transport.


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