My first touch to study Customer Centered Service Design was 2 days Design Thinking class. I have a background in Human Computer Interaction design and Usability testing so I had rough idea what the design thinking could be even though I completely lack the Service background.
For me user centered design process has always roughly been 1) understand users and their needs by whatever means available, 2) innovate based on user data and 3) refine and prototype the idea and test with real end users… Iterate. Preferably with multi-talented team containing both design and technical experts. But I typically work on phase where the general concept idea has been decided and at least on some level requirement brief exists and it has the initial support from business already. So my work has mostly been refining and enhancing the idea, implement it via wireframes and visuals and test it with end user.
Service Design Thinking theories and models give more systematic process, more granularity into design project phases and they include more management/business thinking into the process as well. There are different models that more or less introduce similar thinking with slightly different words and slightly different perspective: IDEAO’s 3I, IDEAO’s HCD, Model of the Hasso-Plattner institute, Double Diamond, SDT and Evolution 6^2 (Tschimmel 2012, Mindshake 2016) ). The impression I got was that the best model is the one that resonates best with you and your project. All the models carry the same thought that in the design process there is/are Divergent phase(s) and Convergent phase(s), that first you need to broaden your thinking through systematic research with user and some point you start to need to evaluate, filter and refine ideas towards solid concept.
Evolution 6^2 is model that brings most granularity into the process. It divides the process to 6 phases: Emergence, Empathy, Experimentation, Elaboration, Exposition and Extension. ^2 reflect that in each phase has divergent and convergent phase (Mindshake 2016).
In general Design Thinking models list typical design tools to use and roughly divide them to 1) tools good for observation, empathy and project tasks (observation, different types of mindmaps, personas and empathy map) and 2) tools for idea generation and experimentation (brainwriting, sketching, visual and semantic confrontation) and 3) tools for elaboration and development(storyboard, rapid prototyping) and 4 tools for communication and delivering (storytelling, learning experiences and tests). (Tschimmel 2012). Methods carry the thought that visualizing different phases make them more concrete to work together with them and share them with others.
In my impression Evolution 6^2 is the most comprehensive one. It lists same tools maybe a with bit more comprehensively by having more tools in its list, but addition to that it tries to bring one element more to the tool palette: linkage to realistic implementation. It includes methods to systematically consider who are the relevant stakeholders to get involved into design process and encourages to think business realities behind of the concept and what should happen on the background of the service and not just in the end of the design process but in all stages (stakeholder map, user journey map, visual business model, implementation map, roadmap) (Mindshake 2016).
The exercises at the Design Thinking class were focused to let us try few of the methods used In E6^2 in practice. Exercises were good for practicing purposes, but I would have hoped that more effort and time would have been guiding us to do the first exercise well and pick a more limited concept idea. Since the idea was used through the two days and everything else was building on top of it. All of the methods we got to try out emphasized the idea of visualization on different phases. It helps brains to see patterns and connections when ideas are categorized to visual map. It is easier to make users to talk about right topics and solutions to them when showing concrete images of the problem situations. It helps to visualize the mood of the new service to the mood board in order to communicate it to the designers and stakeholders even nothing has been drafted yet. It helps to concretize the UI with some visual means e.g. lego blocks even for purpose of large web UI they are not the most optimal tool for it. It even helps to make it more concrete who needs to be involved with the actual development project when stakeholders are visualized to the Stakeholder map or different layers of the service into Service Blueprint.
Brown, Tim 2009. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Mindshake web-site, Design thinking is a mindset. It stimulates fluidity, flexibility and empathy of thought.http://mindshake.pt/design_thinking, September 5th 2016
Tschimmel, K. (2012). Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation. In: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona. ISBN 978-952-265-243-0.