When I was 15, my neighbour introduced me to her garden. As she walked me through, she pointed to a plant and said, "That's a hosta". Suddenly, from her naming one plant, my eyes could actually see that I was surrounded by hostas. It was in that moment that I realised I had been surrounded by hostas all along, I just couldn't see them. I didn't have the language for them.
I started out as a user experience designer focused on websites in the heart of the dot com boom of the late 90's. Enormous energy was spent on how to translate offline customer behaviour into online behaviour, ie. if you're shopping for a car at a lot, what does that experience need to look like when you're shopping for a car online? While the direct client may have been a very present character in our design work, the organisation just wasn't a true character in my mind. I don't ever recall discussing the role that the site played in the larger landscape for the organisation; nor how to ensure that the organisation had the right people or the right processes in place to support and get the most out of the site. Zooming out, seeing the broader business and organisational context that sat around the object of my design work just wasn't a part of my practice. I just couldn't see it. I didn't have the language for it.
Not only has my practice of design expanded, the organisation as an object of my design practice dominates my work to date. In the years between the start of my career and now, I began to see the context of my design work beyond the view of the customer. I saw that behind every well-crafted customer moment was a service delivery moment for an organisation. I saw that across every customer journey was an organisational journey that intersected and enabled. I saw that the very staff who deliver service to customers, either directly or indirectly, should be seen as internal customers with needs as complex and varied as those of the external customers they supported. It seems so obvious in the writing. They were there all along. I just couldn't see it. Now I have the language for it, and it's growing as the practice deepens.
I'll be exploring the value of service design when applied internally to services for the enterprise at Service Design 2016 - a full day conference of talks by local service designers on 22 March 2016 at the Sheraton in Melbourne. I'll look at how we design services for the enterprise, looking at the similarities and differences of how design plays out when focused on services for an organisation, particularly when the focus of design is the organisation itself – its strategies and goals, ways of working, and ability to learn and transform.
How has service design impacted your organisation for the sake of itself? I would love to hear your stories, and hope to see you at Service Design 2016.