Branschfokus Susanna Nissar

Service Design is Evolving

Susanna Nissar

vice vd och ansvarig för utveckling

Susanna Nissar är vice vd och ansvarig för utveckling på Transformator Design.

Last week the Service Design Networks Global Conference was held in Stockholm with participants from all over the world, sharing their perspective on the service design field. From Transformator Design we were no less than 21 colleagues attending the conference! 

It is clear that Service Design is growing up – from being a user centered method with focus on the end user – to the more strategic perspective it took a few years ago – and today an even more participatory approach that includes all the stakeholders relevant for the experience. The “open source” ideology has made its way into design, and allows us to to solve even more complex issues. The following tendencies stood out:

Social Design / Systemic Design
Kigge Hvid started with claiming “the world doesn’t need more white tea cups”. She meant that we have enough of designed products and soon we’ll have enough of designed services as well. What designers now should do is to use our expertise to design coherent systems that can meet the world’s increasing complexity and address large world problems as global health. In order to do that we need to stop doing things alone. We need to work together, scale, combine. Service designers can actually use our skills not only to improve lives but also to save lives.

Dennis Veil shared his personal transition from Design into Social Design and Venture Capital Design. With the emerging frontiers of design that we are seeing, the design community has now geared up to enter the Social Space. The former main approaches Design Thinking and Human Centered Design are about to lose relevance prior to Social Design, which is a more bottom-up approach with radical empathy as one of its main principles paired with design & delivery of integrated systems. In order to succeed in Social Design we need to adapt our business models and our design practices. There is a partnership need for design, engineering and business where design is something that not just adds value, but actually creates the value.

Stefan Krook, founder of GodEl (, a company in the frontline of social innovation, spoke of how he dedicated his life to entrepreneurship in order to do good. His company has the mission to offer good environmental electricity to the lowest price, with the best customer experience, and all profit goes to charity, and the customers choose what charity. As Stefan said “Profits are to businesses are like air to humans – necessary for survival. But just like we do not live in order to breath, businesses do not exist in order to make profit”.

Business design / Change / Bridging the gap between intent and execution
Transformator Design and some of our fellow service design companies have already begun to go down this road – we call it Business Design, but it can as well simply be called “Change” or “Bridging the gap between intent and execution”. We have realized that we need to have a holistic perspective and in the end the realization relies on people and some kind of new behavior. Change is always hard, it’s about uncertainty and risk. As a designer you need to understand the recipient’s perspective – if you are talking with someone who cares about results, don’t talk about the vision, talk about the result.

Lavrance Lovlie from Livework spoke of how to resolve organisational challenges and that you in every project should be aware about the perceived quality for every stakeholder: ”What’s the value for the team, the end users, the business partners, how does it fit in to the companies values, what’s the value for the world?”

Richard Newland spoke of bridging the gap between intent and execution. Just looking at the organizational perspective it’s not enough – we need to build internal and external partnerships. Successful Service Design in a corporate world: Use data to raise questions and teach people to listen.

Designing the Employee Experience / Culture is King
Service Designers are great at designing Customer Experience, and the same skills can be used for designing Employee Experience.

Mark Levy, Global Head of Employee Experience of the home-sharing firm Airbnb, told us how Airbnb systematically design their Employee Experience. Airbnb is a great example of how design is intrinsic to a company’s success (two of the founders of Airbnb are designers). Airbnb realized that Employee Engagement leads to Community Engagement and that Great Employee Experience leads to Great Customer Experience and no matter how much they are growing, they will never lose their core values. The last thing you want to do is to “fuck up the culture”, Mark Levy said.

Transformator Design is growing company (30 employees as of today) with, what we believe, a unique culture that has a direct impact on our customer experience. After this inspiring talk from Airbnb we will use our service design skills to systematically work on our employee experience.

Thank you all for a great conference and see you again next year!