Where are all the service implementers?

I’ve had some interesting conversations with buyers of service design of late, and though all are very positive about what service design can bring, without fail all have gone on to say -“but when it comes to implementation…” This seems to be a bit of an achilles heal. Is it because service designers haven’t had the chance to flex implementation skills – plenty tell me they’re gagging to get stuck in – or is it because, as designers, they tend to get a little bored quickly once the creative bit is over? I feel like the latter is a bit of a cliche, but as an industry we need to prove our way out of this by giving some good implementation. I need to know the answer, because at some point I’m going to need some service implementers – people who are motivated by design and what it can bring to the start of the journey, but who also want to follow through over what can take months and even years.

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6 responses to “Where are all the service implementers?

  1. Hi Joel, I’m struck by two possibilities here. One is that the implementation part starts to bleed into the world of service operations. I agree that designers need to care more about that part of the process. It’s a huge area of interest and there are some great blogs on the subject.

    But do you get the sense that clients are asking for the whole thing to be tied up in a bow and delivered to their doorstep? It seems like service designers can’t do that — or shouldn’t. Isn’t part of the challenge to help the client build the ability to implement the service on their own? It seems like that’s the only way it’s sustainable for them as a business. Some companies outsource implementation and some outsource design. But I can’t see how they could very well outsource both without putting themselves out of a job.

    • joelbaileyuk

      It’s more about bleeding over into implementation. It’s good practice to deliver only designs that are practical to implement, as well as innovative an ambitious. It’s like the gap between sales and delivery. Delivery teams regularly find they’ve been signed up to deliver things that aren’t possible. Is it sometimes the case that the gap between the service design and what will be delivered is too great? Re your final point about people working themselves out of jobs, I think that’s actually a reality. Major budget cuts are leading many in UK public sector to move to stripped down commissioning models, where organisations like the one I work for will do both service design and delivery against clear and challenging outcome KPIs. In this case the promise if the design has to be fully delivered by the people that implement them. Just not sure that skill set is same as standard operational team

  2. Here!
    We work with our clients right up to implementation, take part in the first “live runs” if the client wishes (we almost insist), and blend over into service coaching for the mid term. Our end goal, though, is that the client becomes their own service production company, and needs us no longer.
    Best wishes,
    Adam

  3. Most the projects i’ve worked on have the ambition to be taken through to implementation, however as Jeff intimates, its often an internal operational/ political capability that poses the greatest hurdles. In my experience ‘bleeding into implementation’ can potentially lead to scope creep within a project and a watering down of the vision or focus on customer needs/principles.
    Ultimately it is a delicate balance and practitioners of service design need to find ways to reduce ‘the gap between the service design and what will be delivered’. Personally I think this is not about doing everything but spending time to understand the complex needs of clients as well as people (often horribly called consumers) and responding to these in actionable ways.
    This is not to say the vision setting, futures and strategic thinking does not bare merit in its own right. Clearly it does and in order to do it effectively requires a certain degree of separation from the tactical or operational issues.
    This makes me think there needs to be a model to accommodate such different entities working together. Much like the MVC (Model, View, Controller) principle for coding coding where the application logic is separated from, yet connected to, the user interface (more from Wikipedia here http://bit.ly/aRBojb). A tenuous link perhaps, i’ll put some more thought into it.

  4. Pingback: Designing Uncommon Service | Service Design Programme

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