Service Design



Service Design Network (SDN) @ OPUS College of Business (6/15/18)

Service design — an emerging discipline at the intersection of product design and customer experience.

Service design is gaining momentum. The Minneapolis and Chicago chapters of SDN combined forces for a regional gathering at the OPUS College of Business on 6/15/18.

The agenda covered a broad spectrum of relevant topics — the evolution of service design, various sub-disciplines, application in verticals such as medical services and financial services.

Stefanie Lenway, dean of the business college, opened the event by reminding us of the nature of humanity with the citation of Robot-Proof by Joseph Aoun.


Barbara Barry, design lead at Mayo Clinic / Center for Innovation, covered the role of AI in service design; she encouraged us to use inter-disciplinary teams, beginning to end, in order to optimize the human / machine interface. She also cited “the Most Human Human” award in juxtaposition to “the Most Human Computer” award — a playful prize for the human who can most reliably pass the Turing test.

Shilpi Kumar reminded us that ideation is not innovation. Emphasizing flow of interactions for workplace design, she illustrated how we need to connect the organizational and functional dots that enable ideation to “flow” toward a culture of innovation. She also encouraged the use of structured communication to improve productivity. My perspective: Innovation is 80% social — technological innovation is a socio-technical system.

(A principle of systems engineering: All systems are composed of sub-systems and operate in the context of a super-system; technological innovation operates in the context of a social system.)



I was inspired by a workshop on design fiction, guided by Chanda Patel at Fjord. Design fiction uses science fiction to generate / stimulate abstract ideas. It was helpful to learn how we can assemble a vocabulary of structured components (arc / terrain / object / mood) to generate an profusion of imaginative scenarios. Like systematic innovation and technological forecasting, disciplines that I practice, design fiction eliminates barriers to unconventional solutions and stimulates divergent thinking. I enjoyed partnering on this exercise with James Magargee / 3M, Nicholas Breutzman / Mayo Clinic, and Mike Conway / Azul Seven. We also got to observe several other teams in action. Other workshops included biomimicry in service design and advanced service blueprinting.

Megan Enright and Laura Salisbury at Salesforce offered insights for gaining adoption of service design in the enterprise. Laura and Megan were formerly at Sequence, a design consultancy that was acquired by Salesforce; acquisition of design consultancies is a trend. Their presentation was intriguing from the perspective of organizational design. They suggested organizational synergies / intersections between service designers and [1] content strategists (journey mapping / storytelling); [2] product managers (product vision / product roadmap); [3] technical architects (product vision / product roadmap. The “meta” notation here: use service design to gain adoption of service design! My perspective: Introducing service design is a social innovation.



Amy Brady at US Bank also stimulated my brain with her perspective on organizational design. She asserted an ontology in which human interactions are relational, while organizational interactions are transactional. Within that ontology, we may find some clues to improving service design. We were nudged to imagine the other combinations: human / human, organizational / organizational (inter-organizational). Amy also posed an experience framework with five phases of quality (from high-touch to low-touch) and corresponding cost. This framework could improve overall value by customizing services to needs. My perspective: Are organizational interactions inherently transactional? How ’bout the magic quadrant — organizational x relational? We know that culture is aggregate behavior — individual behavior aggregated at the communal level. If we can transfer individual (human) behavior to the aggregate (cultural) level, can we replace “organizational” interactions at the macro level with “cultural” interactions that are relational?

Kat Jayne at Fathom Consulting elaborated on meaning, purpose, and connection as important, yet intangible, aspects of human health. She recommended Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.

Radhika Gupta at Fjord covered workplace design / workflow design and the principles that maximize productivity / creativity. Her ethnographic bottom line: Workplaces should be customized for various personalities and contain a variety of spaces. Even the kool, new, open spaces are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Provide different spaces for different personalities; provide time / space for “not” connecting. Kool is customized. Service design in action.



Mark Jones at SD Lab reminded us of scenario planning for alternate futures. As a tool that has proven historically effective at promoting divergent thinking and identifying blind spots, Mark is encouraging a resurgence in its application.

I enjoyed a spontaneous conversation with Justin Royer, a principal at Sprocket CX, around the intersection of systematic innovation and design thinking. He also entertained me with an explanation of the “Sprocket” branding, and I entertained (?) him with the double meaning of “Virtual Coast“.

It was a full agenda. Thanks to Molly Fuller and the rest of her Minneapolis / Chicago team for organizing this action-packed event!


Related events:

I will be presenting on systematic innovation at Society for Concurrent Product Development (SCPD) on 7/19/18 and DevJam / Product Agility on 8/14/18; details are coming soon.

Customer Focus is coming to Minneapolis on 7/17/18; it seeks to bring new perspective and emphasis to customer experience and employee experience.


post @ LinkedIn: “Adventures in Service Design



Concurrent Innovation



Society of Concurrent Product Development (SCPD) @ Science Museum of Minnesota (6/14/18)

Concurrent product development — aka “concurrent innovation”, “concurrent development”, “concurrent engineering”, “simultaneous engineering”.

Some would say that concurrent innovation is based on five principles. I assert that it is based on three principles. It is said that real estate development is based on three principles: location, location, and location. I assert that concurrent innovation is based on three principles: parallelism, parallelism, and parallelism.

(I’m actually asserting that concurrent innovation is based on one principle: parallelism.)

All other attributes of concurrent innovation derive from this principle. Design and implementation (and the sub-phases / sub-disciplines of each of those phases) are performed in parallel. Not series — parallel. The progress of each discipline cross-references and informs the other discipline as they advance through the telescope of time. They may accomplish this cross-reference by short intervals / high-frequency iterations between the disciplines, but one discipline does not substantially finish before the other discipline substantially starts.

Concurrent innovation is a sibling or cousin or second cousin of agile development. Agile development is based on one principle: rhythm. All other attributes of agile development derive from this principle. The essential difference between agile development and conventional development is how they respond to the condition of expected scope not fitting expected timeframe. Conventional development changes the schedule (the time-series dimension); agile development changes the scope (the cross-section dimension).

(Software development is, itself, a system — a second-order system. All systems have two dimensions — a time-series dimension and a cross-section dimension.)

All other attributes of agile development are reflected in this response — changing the scope vs. changing the schedule.

Concurrent innovation is perhaps the analogy in the hardware domain of agile development in the software domain. Both of these disciplines derive all of their attributes from a single, unifying principle. Concurrent innovation can perhaps inform agile development; agile development can perhaps inform concurrent innovation.

‘Nuff said about the theory and concept of concurrent innovation.

SCPD convened on 6/14/18 – 6/15/18 at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Like taking a new route to the office, SCPD induced divergent thinking this year by changing venues. SCPD has historically convened at the 3M Innovation Center.

How fascinating to hear systems engineers (Jonathan Watson, Andrew Pickard) from Rolls Royce tell stories about designing and building jet engines. Not just the jet engines of today, but the jet engines of 10 and 20 years hence. One of the most complex artifacts ever conceived by humanity, jet engines aren’t designed and built in a day. How do we build and enhance and innovate jet engines? How do these patterns apply to more mundane initiatives?

Jonathan urged us to visit Lego Ideas and support “Rolls Royce UltraFan — The Ultimate Jet Engine“.


We heard stories about channel innovation from Jeff Raider, co-founder of Warby Parker; Chris Walton, former director of Target “store of the future” initiative; Matt Pacyga, mobile development leader at Dairy Queen. Not surprisingly, Amazon was an undercurrent in the channel innovation theme. Will Barnes & Noble meet all of the criteria / exercise all of the advantages of modern customer experience in the physical domain (yes — the virtual domain will not conquer the world / the physical domain will persist in some form) and still, in the end, lose to Amazon?

Chris Walton recommended “The Era of Choice” by Edward Rosenthal; Matt Pacyga recommended “Smarter Faster Better” by Charles Duhigg.

Fritz Grutzner at Brandgarten fascinated us with stories about the emotional power of storytelling. Imagine conducting a survey about personification of fireplaces (yes, fireplaces) and finding a pattern. Imagine running shoes made of ocean plastic (yes, ocean plastic — you’ve heard of ocean plastic). Fritz recommended “How Customers Think” by Bernard Zaltman.

Amanda Zweerink and Beth Larson at Zeus Jones challenged us to revert to intuition… via “radical empathy”. Not abandon it in the data-driven frenzy of modern technology. But, wait — we’re just beginning to assimilate the data-driven culture. And, now, back to intuition? It’s a balance, say Amanda and Beth. If we are to practice not one or the other, but both — then I assert that integration of the two capabilities is a key requirement. While we may have (or develop) strength in each capability, integration is a significant gap (and opportunity).

I enjoyed partnering with Kumars Sakizadeh, a 3M scientist, on some exercises and informal discussion around technical teams and team-building (integrating multiple chemical disciplines on a team; integrating chemical / electrical / mechanical disciplines on a team; integrating technical disciplines and product management).

Thanks to Linda Cummings, Sarah Darmody, and the rest of the SCPD team for curating this thought-provoking event!


Related events:

I will be presenting on systematic innovation at Society for Concurrent Product Development (SCPD) on 7/19/18 and DevJam / Product Agility on 8/14/18; details are coming soon.

Customer Focus is coming to Minneapolis on 7/17/18; it seeks to bring new perspective and emphasis to customer experience and employee experience.


post @ LinkedIn: “Adventures in Concurrent Innovation