Service Design Melbourne

building a community of interest and practice in service design

A new research focus on service design - a report by the Design Council

If anyone is interested in reading about a recent scoping study conducted on the field of service design, this report (published Dec 2012) might interest you...

It reports that:

- Definitions of service design is contested in academia and professional practice, and some believe it needs a 'unifying' label, and practitioners are often 'selling' the proposition by calling it something else, associated with innovation.

- Service design works on a too smaller scale to flourish. Professional practice in service design is small, mostly micro-businesses and freelancers and some in-house teams. In the UK, for example, a handful of agencies operate solely on public sector issues and structure themselves as social enterprises. They do not refer to themselves as service design agencies, but rather as 'social change' agencies. This is making service design appear to be a way to solve social challenges rather than business ones.

- Its a young field, and over a third of the survey respondents have been practicing under 3 years (this makes me think that two thirds are over 3 years, so its the majority?). The impact and value of service design lacks conviction due to no common framework for measurement.

- Routes into service design is often obscure and service design teaching was critiqued for being shallow and not incorporating other disciplines to strengthen its theory.

- UK is considered to be the leader along with other activities across the world, Northern Europe, Italy, Australia and South Korea. Academically, international collaboration exists through conferences, networks and projects like DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability) (which is excellent!)

Recommendations are:

1. Due to the lack of clarity, definitions and nascent field as a discipline, instead of calling it service design, they recommend a focus on the role of design in service innovation and for specific sectors. More research is needed in the design in the service sector.

2. Service design academics need opportunities to engage with larger, established businesses who would benefit from service design practices. Linking business and design schools and considering the impact agenda, as well as linking design with innovation studies and policy communities.


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