service thinking

Finland frolicks take two

As promised here are my notes and thoughts from The Experience Service Design Conference in Finland. The conference opened with Mikko from the Ministry of Employment and Economy who described service thinking as a topical development. The government are aware of the importance of public services because they influences the well being of citizens. Studies show that citizens are discontent:

75% feel public services do not meet their needs. 85% think it is irrelevant who produces it as long as it works.

3897763606_c75e65c09f Mikko suggested that services need to be re-thought from a customer perspective and he intends to put the needs and hopes of citizens in the limelight.

A lady who never fails to inspire me, Professor Birgit Mager, then presented the basics of service design. She began with a personal account of being met by a sign in her local hospital that said 'Knock and wait'. Birgit highlighted that in the past services were neglected  - they were not attractive for research  but now design thinking makes the difference.

  • Design from the outside in.
  • Designers create things that make sense.
  • We facilitate processes
  • There is no hierarchy.
  • We are in the middle of a paradigm change
  • Third world countries are moving into service design
  • We need to move from selling stuff to building relationships.
  • Service Design applies design thinking to immaterial products,
  • Make people say 'wow' / 'that was easy' / give people something to talk about.


Birgit told us about her first ever service design project that focused on homelessness in 1996. The solution was  'Gulliver' a survival station for the homeless. A fantastic example of service design where everyone is a winner - the homeless work for the homeless .

Birgit's Top Ten Tips

1.Look at your service as a product 2. Focus on customer benefits 3.Dive into customers world 4.Set the big picture 5.Designing the customer experience 6.Create visible service evidence 7.Go for standing ovation 8.Flexible standards 9. Create a living product 10. Enthusiasm. create a service culture.

Arne and Marc presented Tourism and Service Design Thinking. This keynote was very interactive and audience participation was key.


I was astonished when they uncovered that more than half the room did not know what twitter was!! The pair had generated a hand out covered in words and phrases that threatened 'business as usual' ( most of the results had been generated by their twitter community )

The audience then spoke about the one they felt strongly about - Fergus mentioned the empowerment of self organisation. I spoke about the potentail of social networking and Gerald, a design student from Uganda spoke about how the internet had changed his life. Gerald sharing this with such a big audience was definitely the best moment of my findland experience.

Dr. Retha De La Harpe from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology talked about ICT in home-based healthcare in South Africa. For me this was the best presentation of the event.

"I'm not a service designer I am an I.T person...there is no such thing as service design in South Africa"


Retha talked about community empowerment and how her team is working towards creating wellbeing in a community of tension. South Africa is very effected by drugs, aids and gangs and most of the people they deal with are illiterate so their visual communication is very important.

She asked one participant "What do you know about computers?" he replied "I know how to steal them."Now as a result of Retha's project these gangsters now blog! Their mothers are often victims and have been trained on how to used facebook  where they share recipes and stories.

"Humans and artifact are both social products as well as social makers in shaping and remaking each other"

Throughout her talk Retha was determined to align her language with ours as 'we don't describe things the same'. I find this fascinating.

You can see all my photos from the trip here. Fergus has posted a write up of his workshop experience - one to read!

I'd like to thank Satu for giving me the opportunity to be part of this excellent event.

Service Thinking

Livework's perspective on Service Thinking is creating infectious enthusiasm. Ralf Beuker, Nick Marsh,David Armano and Experientia have all highlighted Liveworks latest article - which discusses Service Thinking.

"The future demands fresh perspectives. Service Thinking provides just that."

The focus of the article is on people, networks and sustainability.


"Consider three pressing issues: healthcare, the environment, and finance. They are all vital to the quality of our lives. Yet in all three areas we have reached the limits of industrial thinking. In the future, the solutions lie with a service approach.

The goal of Service Thinking and Service Design is to maximise the potential of services and to create shared value for organisations and their customers. This value is measured in the personal, social and environmental capital created by great services. At live|work we call this value Service Equity. And this, we believe, is the future."

Service thinking in the NHS

Livework's Ben Reason applies service thinking to recently published NHS report  High Quality Care for All by Lord Darzi. On Saturday night, my eyes were opened to the vast difference between the accident and emergency services offered in Scotland and England. The latter offering an appalling 'service'...

The prime minister introduces the report: "Lord Darzi’s report is a tremendous opportunity to build an NHS that provides truly world class services for all. It requires Government to be serious about reform, committed to trusting frontline staff and ready to invest in new services and new ways of delivering services. It is a bold vision for an NHS which is among the best healthcare systems in the world – a once in a generation opportunity that we owe it to ourselves and our families to take."


"... services need to be more effectively designed around the needs of children and families, delivered not just in health settings but also in schools and children’s centres."

"Let’s make the shift to service thinking, embrace personalization and start designing for Darzi."

This is article represents the huge challenge that service designers face. it also portray the urgency for change and the true understanding of patient experience.

Livework do mortgages

Live|work Directors, Ben Reason & Chris Downs apply Service Thinking to the credit crunch and financial services. "Services adapt and change to meet the changing needs of customers. The future of mortgages lies in offering radically new types of services that at the same time resurrect older values.

We need simple things. Such as statements that are easy to understand, or interest rates that are explained in English. We need to see costs and understand the risks clearly. We need important things. Such as help planning for life events like having a baby or illness. We may even need contentious things. Perhaps lenders could share the risk if things go bad — and the benefit if things go well."

Patients in Service Design


In this Autumn’s edition of In View, a founder of live|work Ben Reason talks about the importance of Service Thinking for innovation in healthcare. The report focuses on patient-centered innovation.

The term 'Service Thinking' is described as a new way of thinking about services that starts with the individual not the organisation. A perspective that changes the way we look at the world.

"We need to support people to lead healthy lives, stay out of hospital and feel good. That requires a shift from traditional product thinking – treat the patient when they become ill; to service thinking – support the patient’s health and wellbeing."

I am eager to read more on this phrase 'Service Thinking' . I am still unraveling 'Design Thinking'...