Reflections from SDID19 — Service Design Indonesia Conference 2019

Ketut Sulistyawati
Somia CX Thoughts
Published in
7 min readOct 30, 2019

On 25–26 September 2019, the team at Somia Customer Experience organized the first Service Design Indonesia conference (SDID19). Over a hundred service design enthusiasts from the region, including Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Australia, attended the two days event that was held in Jakarta Design Centre. Throughout the two days, we listened to inspiring stories from the speakers, practiced hands-on techniques in the workshops, connected with fellow practitioners, tried multi-sensory coffee experience, and for some, got first-hand experience of Jakarta protest that happened right around the venue (this was unplanned!).

The service design enthusiasts at SDID19

Quick recap of the lineup. In Day 1, we had Michael Quinn (Cigna) shared how to catalyze innovation across global teams. Sofian Hadiwijaya (Warung Pintar) and Christian Sutard (Fabelio) shared the value of service design from business perspectives. Stephanie Lukito (Grab), Ukasyah QAP (Somia CX), and Mohamad Khoerudin (BRI) shared cases of implementing service design from practitioners perspectives. Kate Okrasinski (MAKE Studios) summed up the role of service designe to create change. In Day 2, we had workshops to practice tools and mindset for service design and business model innovation.

Personally, I have learnt so much from the event. Not only from the speakers, but also from the attendees and the organizing team. It was such a humbling experience to meet people with great passions and courage to create impacts. There are probably many theories we can read through books, but they could never replace personal experiences and stories. Here are some of my reflections from listening to the stories shared on stage, as well as my backstage interactions with the people. I chose to unpack the points below, which in a way builds up to previous learnings I shared in another article: Key Takeaways from SDID Vol 1 Meetup.

Reflect, learn, iterate relentlessly

Innovating for impactful business and customer experience is a long journey. Very rare that this process is successful in the first try. The ability to acknowledge failures and use the learnings to move on to the next iteration, will get us closer to the optimum solution.

Warung Pintar iterated their warung design, business model, and technology continously, and they are still doing it. Sofian showed different prototypes they’ve done for the warung design, from small to bigger ones, movable cart, kiosk, including the latest experiment of bicycle-based warung they called “Starling” — setarbak keliling (mobile starbucks). Some experiment worked, some don’t. Starling was a failure as it was hard to keep warung’s accountability, but through that they learnt something new.

Michael Quinn sharing about iterations of Cigna Innovation program

As Innovation Director, Michael Quinn is in charge to lead initiatives to accelerate innovation across Cigna international markets. Embracing the core of innovation, the program itself went through rounds of iterations. In each iteration, they learnt key factors that lead them closer to the goal. Sometimes we regret— only if we knew that before, we could have done much better job. But, as Michael Quinn quoted below, there’s no such thing as too late to act.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. — Michael Quinn quoted a famous Chinese proverb

Ukasyah and Khoerudin shared that even a slight design change can have significant impact on the result. Aiming to help unbanked people to save money in the bank, they prototyped different concepts, product shapes, promotion materials, reward system, socialization method. For example, changing the reward system from ‘point system’ to ‘cash coupon’, or from SMS broadcast to verbal reminders, made it easier for people to understand the concept and change their behavior. Bonus: more lessons learnt from this case is published in the Service Design Journal — Touchpoint Vol 11 No 2.

Uka and Khoer shared how small changes through iteration can make big impacts

Yet, the learning does not stop here. As the team is rolling out the solution nationwide, there are new set of challenges. Serving 60 customers in field prototyping vs. 10,000 vs. 1,000,000 customers have different complexity. But with the mindset of learning through iteration, the team will be able to solve their challenges, one step at a time.

The only way to step forward is to reflect and learn from our past mistakes.

2. Involve the right people, co-design

While setting the right process is important, involving the right people is even more important.

In the second iteration of the Cigna innovation program, Michael Quinn shared that instead of allowing the teams picked their own problem, they started with getting the CEO and Senior Executives to prioritize the problems. This allowed the program to be closely aligned to the organization strategic objectives. They also learned that choosing the right people, those who are willing to go the extra mile, is key to catalyze innovation.

“The work we do doesn’t happen on paper, or on a screen. It happens in the space between people and their challenges. Stakeholder management is the job.” — Kate Okrasinski

Stephanie shared on the importance of co-design in creating holistic service design

In designing multi-sided marketplace like Grab Kitchen, Stephanie Lukito shared the importance of thinking in systems, with all the users — the eaters, drivers, and merchants. While product teams are organized as eater / driver / merchant team, the siloed structure hindered them to view the system holistically. Stephanie stressed the need to break down silos across teams and functions to align vision, goals, and actions. This can be achieved through involving the right people to co-design the solution collaboratively.

Our role is to create the psychological safety where people can be, act and think about the same things differently. — Kate Okrasinski

3. Challenge the status quo

In our pursuit to create breakthrough, we have to be brave to adopt different ways that others might consider as against the norm.

Despite increasing trend in online transaction, Fabelio, which started as a pure online business, started building their retail showrooms and is aiming to have 117 showrooms by the end of 2020. Instead of sticking to online, Fabelio chose the tough journey of harmonizing the online and offline touchpoints, as both are key to furniture buying experience. Christian also shared that the most memorable experience for customers is when the furnitures are delivered to their home. Having their dream furniture delivered on time as promised is key to this experience. While using logistic partners would be more cost effective, the experience is not great. Fabelio chose to have their own delivery fleet to be able to control this key experience.

Sofian shared how Warung Pintar took different paths to create impacts for the warungs

This was what Warung Pintar did as well. Sofian shared that in the early days, they sourced the goods from distributors to supply to the warungs. But restocking process from distributors was too slow and could not meet the demand of their warung partners. Instead of accepting that, they decided to create their own supply chain system. By having their own warehouse and hubs, employing data integration, they can create more efficient process and make a positive change for their warung partners.

If the rules don’t work, challenge the rule. — Kate Okrasinski

When thinking of an innovative solution to help unbanked people to save money in the bank, Ukasyah and Khoerudin shared that there was a big pressure from the organization to come up with a digital solution. However, rooted in insights that although the the target customers already own smartphones, they were not ready to use it for financial activities. This led the team to create a solution that is closer to their existing behavior, i.e., to save money at home and then deposit it to the bank via neighbourhood bank agents.

Kate on the role of service designers to create change


All this amazing experience would not have happened without a great backstage. Kudos to the organizing team at Somia Customer Experience to have pulled off such an inspirational and heartwarming event despite facing a lot of constraints — limited budget, short prep time, while still running projects (and the protest!). Also a huge thanks to our partners Make Studios, Bekraf, Gordi, Jakarta Design Centre. Last but not least, big shout out to the volunteers and collaborators who have delivered awesome video and documentation, installations, books and totebags. Special mention to the great staff and security at Jakarta Design Centre for keeping everyone save and comfortable despite the protest.

Super passionate people who made it happen!

Hungry for more?

Through SDID community, we are looking to learn together from each other’s successes and failures, and to advance our skills towards creating and delivering better experiences. Check out instagram @servicedesignid / facebook @servicedesignindonesia to join the conversation.