Part 4 of 4 from the “Service Design requires an attitude shift!” series

When you are thinking about implementing service design in your company, a fitting attitude will come a long way. As I described in the first blog of this series this attitude should be: Be bold, be open for collaboration and be willing to change the organizational structure. Last blogs were on how to be bold and how to be open for collaboration. This fourth and final blog will be focused on the organization.

To be successful silos have to be broken or bridged

When designing holistic services everything is connected. When I say everything, I mean everything. Even your organizational structure is linked to the success of all you create. To be successful silos have to be broken or bridged. Organizational structures are not easily broken and changed at large companies. Therefore, at least at first, the silos can be bridged using cross-silo KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). A great example is the organization of the city of Dubai. To reach the goal of being the happiest city on earth Dubai set customer impact as the most important KPI. This KPI is identical for all divisions and therefore created a joined goal.

However, in my experience, many companies strive for the best human-centered service but do not take the necessary steps to encourage this. The absence of the cross-silo KPIs on service excellence might not give employees the incentive to change or keep up the good work. Result-driven employees will not be interested in this “extra” customer focused work when they are not held accountable. Employees who are already very customer driven might get discouraged when their superiors only steer on classic KPIs. Not being praised for your work makes no one work harder. A successful implementation of service design as a strategic method needs a willingness from the top of the organization to change your organizational structure.

We Service Designers can inspire some actual change in the way the silos collaborate

When you are not able to change the KPIs there are other ways to bridge the silos. We Service Designers can inspire some actual change in the way the silos collaborate. A while back I was asked to design a new service for digitalized forms. From the client’s perspective it was just a simple service. But it turned out various teams in different silos were tasked with creating this one service. These teams did not collaborate much before I joined, which resulted into a lot of unrealistic decisions from all teams. Therefore, I facilitated an hour-long workshop showing the management of the teams what the impact of their decisions was on the entire customer experience. This created a common understanding of the challenge at hand and resulted into improved decisions and better planning. As a designer I had no control over all of the divisions involved with the service. Though this “small” effort of facilitating an hour-long workshop meant we ended up with a service which could be properly implemented. Still, the rigid organizational structure and lack of communication resulted in a lot of delay during development. I learned this workshop was a quick fix, especially for I noticed the disorder between the teams very late in the project.

In the future I will keep myself from assuming the organizational structure fits the assignment and product. At the start of a service design project, I highly recommend mapping out which stakeholders are probably linked to the design. Including internal stakeholders. A system map is a very useful tool for this. The “This is Service Design Doing” book describes very well how to create one. The gives you an overview of the people involved and their relationship and start connecting them to the project at the right time. The right time would be when you need their input or when they need to agree on your design. If you really want to co-create you can even create these maps together with your stakeholders. The system map really is a tool, which means that you will have to keep it alive with new insights. Connecting internal stakeholders early on will ensure early buy-in and end up saving time and frustration. For instance: a project initiated from a communication division who forgot to connect the IT division to a service design with digital touchpoints will result into a lot of hard feelings. But when you are vigilant and connect them when you realize their importance no real harm is done. Good preparation and iteration are half the work. Starting out with Service Design you will never be able to predict what exactly has to change in your organization. What you can do upfront is make sure you are aware of your and the organization’s attitude and try to evolve it into an attitude fitting Service Design.

If you want to go beyond inventing yet another great service which falls into oblivion but really want to implement Service Design, you will have to be aware of the attitudes around you.

If you are thinking “Sounds great, would love to change the attitude of my company but I have no clue where to start!”. Contact us at Idean. My colleagues and me are happy to help you. For example, at Cisco (https://www.idean.com/work/cisco-creating-a-movement-with-design-thinking) we started a design thinking movement. Designing a process to get everyone knowledgeable and on board with this new way of working. If you want to go beyond inventing yet another great service which falls into oblivion but really want to implement Service Design, you will have to be aware of the attitudes around you. To excel at Service Design everyone involved needs to:

Be vulnerable, be open for collaboration and be willing to change your organization.

Service Designer @IdeanNL. Firm believer in the interconnectedness of everything. Passionate in understanding and improving the world around me.