I am writing this post because I am curious about the status of the early Service Design community, the pioneers of Service Design.
Tell me! How are you doing? What is the general feeling of what you’ve accomplished and where you are heading?
It has been 10 years or so since a new group, a new generation of professionals, started to develop and work within the field of what they called Service Design. These people, some just graduated, entered a field already occupied by a multitude of experienced academics, marketeers and consultants.
The community started introducing a new language, style of communication, a collaborative and sharing spirit and, from a traditional consultancy perspective, an unprecedented openness. This openness, some would consider it to be naivety, is what made these pioneering people different, attractive but also extremely vulnerable to the business 'sharks and dinosaurs'.
And as we all have noticed Service Design is getting more attention from business. This growing awareness and interest also triggered some aggression from the more traditional professionals… So we must be doing something right.
Unfortunately competitiveness and attacks are an accepted part of the business world, openness and vulnerability are not. And as service design takes a holistic approach it is almost by default we are trespassers when we naively wander into the fields of qualitative research, ethnography, innovation, business consultancy, change management, marketing… the list goes on.
And what about the pioneers? Are we successful now, have we “professionalized”? It seems so. But as a sad consequence the online Service Design conversation amongst pioneers has almost disappeared. Why? Is it because of the hostile takeover of the conversation by ‘real’ business consultants the ones so lively, inspiring and generally uplifting Service Design conversations on e.g. blogs and Twitter has died? I have been told that this is a reason. Another reason: we just got too busy working. I know I have… but maybe we started to take ourselves a bit too serious?
However, it is my experience that the growing interest also has resulted in a better more sustainable client – agency relationships, resulting in more and higher quality projects. Speaking from DesignThinkers Group, our gut feeling and numbers foresee a bright future indeed.
It seems Service Design has a foot in the door of big business. A door left open by traditional business consultants, consultancies and other established agencies whilst under growing pressure to re-invent themselves. Service Design took them by surprise but it might also be their ticket to survival. And they have already started to adopt the Service Design lingo. A question I have; Are they taking over the Service Design conversation? Seems like it. And will they, after learning how to actually do it, close the door again? Probably. But this will take some time. The traditional consultancies are organized after the same model and just as inflexible as most of their clients. Maybe they should hire a service design agency… oh wait… they already do :-)
I was and proudly remain part of this new Service Design movement, as part of a larger wave of transformation, and I have been watching how competitiveness has grown; a healthy development since it indicates that a more mature market is emerging. There are more projects, we can finally create a benchmark for what is good Service Design and a good Service Design agency and the quality of the deliverables, the value created for the clients, will increase.
I am not going to try and retrieve what we lost as a community. Things change. We still have plenty of fun. But I have been missing the rich conversations. They were important to me and helped me with my first baby steps in Service Design.
So answer me this; How are you doing? What is the general feeling of what you’ve accomplished and where you are heading?
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