Service designers are hot, but who are we?


Diversity is a richness

Service design is now sexy. Pretty much any enterprise or organisation flirts with hot words as “service thinking” or “service design”. As a skill on one’s CV it can employ a person. However, rare people really know what the discipline is really about. I came across service design by accident while puzzling how to help generalist graduates to employ better ( and ended to be amazed by the versatility of the discipline.


During the lectures of design thinking on 8-9th September it became evident that, as a hot discipline, it is also a great business for consultants creating their own methodology and tools of service thinking and service design. There are multiple, more or less “easy-to-implement”, design process tools that are sold to enterprises and organisations wanting to “trim” their activities. However, the prices of mainly short, intensive courses are sky high and normally paid by companies for their current employees. Other, much arduous, option is to do a university degree connected to service design – something our class is after.


But are you?

The composition of backgrounds of our service design class offers a fruitful background for student projects. Humanities, political science, economics, philology, natural sciences, information technology and pedagogy – the academic degrees vary a lot. Same applies to career histories and age difference (however, not to gender balance!). By Tschimmel (Tschimmel 2012), this heterogeneity provides different views and brings together multiple expertise guaranteeing novel solutions for problems.

Naturally, as a generalist it is to identify how humanities, pedagogy and political science offer a sound background for service design. They are highly multidisciplinary and the critical thinking provides good insights to questions in hand. On the other hand, I believe it is the conceptualising, prototyping and visualising (that Tschimmel also calls for) that are valuable new skills for academic generalists.


Solving problems is about communicating

Although, it is easy to recognise what your own discipline has to offer, the other disciplines like economics and natural sciences are just as important. I like how Mootee describes the requirements of novel design thinking: “Design thinking is the search for a magical balance between business and art, structure and chaos, intuition and logic, concept and execution, playfulness and formality, and control and empowerment.” (Mootee 2013).


Service design is about bringing actors together

Mootee stresses the importance of design in business life. However, there were quite a few students with a professional background in public services, organisations or government. It should be pointed out that the same customer based creative mind-set can, and also should, be applied to public sphere. If one thinks of Mootee’s characteristics of design thinking oriented organisations (Human-centric, Speed and agility, Adaptable and flexible, Inspired, Disruptive, Passionate, Purposeful, Creative and innovative, Connected and flat, Fun and playful, Committed, High-energy and Risk-taking, Mootee 2013), the general opinion would not include many institutions of public sector to carry them.

Service thinking is a mixture of art and science. Novel ideas and future oriented solutions are co-created in conceptualising, prototyping and experimenting. The design process benefits from richness of backgrounds and open dialogues. Let them flourish!



Design Thinking course 8.-9.9.2017, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Espoo.

Mootee, Idris, Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School, John Wiley & Sons, 2013.

Tschimmel, Katja,  Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation in Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience, Barcelona, 2012.

5 thoughts on “Service designers are hot, but who are we?

  1. I really liked your blog about how heterogeneity of service designers (to be like in our group) can provide different and fresh views as well as bring together multitude of experiences and expertise in order to find new solutions. During the practical side of this DT course it became clear that team work and “differences of opinion” were among the greatest strengths one can have in a DT project. Getting more opinions into the mix in a form of early feedback was also a must! As an additional bonus it would have been great to live as we teach, i.e. mix up the SID and YPA groups. But perhaps we’ll have a chance to do that in another course? Also, who would not want to be hot stuff, even if it would only be by affiliation?

  2. I’m also really excited about the interdisciplinarity of our YPA (and SID) group. I totally agree that interdisciplinarity is probably one of the most important strengths in any service desing project. I too was happy to notice that the ideas formed in a group of people with very different backgrounds were something that I would not have thought by myself or with collagues at my work place. I see our studies at Laurea as a really good opportunity to learn not from our teachers but from each other.

  3. the blog is well written and coherent. you explain very effectively how service designers can impact differently while synergised the expertise in creation of new solutions.Design thinking course implies the importance of team working and thinking out of the box. Every one share the opinion confidently and every idea is welcomed. opinion mixing and creating new idea is also a great outcome. One highlight is interdisciplinary of YPA and SID group which provide more exposure to all. Overall it is a good overview by blog writer.

  4. The blog is written precisely and coherent related to service designers. It is very well explained how design thinking play an important role in strategies of service designers to find and implement new solutions. Interdisciplinary mixing of YPA and SID group is one of the highlights. This course make us to realize team work and thinking out of the box. Every opinion is welcome and mixing of ideas to create new ideas proves to be very beneficial. Overall blog writer has summerised the ideas very effectively.

  5. Just like the other given feedback already state I agree with this blog post’s arguments about the benefits of interdisciplinary approach in the design thinking process. And I also find very good proposition that mixing YPA and SID students to work together in some other courses as well could be good learning experience to all. In the real working environment we should however be able to manage multicultural and interdisciplinary teams to work together. To succeed in that we should do similar experiments while we study to become Service Design professionals. Just as the blog writer says it would be fruitful experience to learn from each others’ variable backgrounds and open dialogues because that’s what good service design process is all about.

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