As an in-house service designer at the Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP), I often get asked how I embed service design principles within the work we do. Here are my top tips for what I think makes for good service design:
- Be clear and simple. Don’t use service designer ‘speak’ that puts people off. We need to collaborate with partners, including the workforce and the community, and to them service design can be a buzz word that doesn’t mean a lot! Using visuals to explain your process, simple terminology and clear descriptions of the links between activities and impact (e.g. testing a user journey and showing the resulting changes) will help communicate what you are trying to achieve.
- Be inclusive. The more expertise you have in the room the better, so don’t make service design an exclusive club. Everyone has skills that can be used, whether it is in a creative role, a management role, or providing the views of front line staff or the community.
- Don’t be precious about your tools and activities. You may need to change your approach for each workshop and activity depending on the aim of the session and who you have in the room. Don’t be afraid to try new things, keep an eye on new approaches and give them a go to see if they work for you.
- Stakeholders will look to you for answers. You know your stuff and can recommend activities to strengthen a service, but encourage the leads you work with to take ownership of the design process and products.
- Don’t take on too much at once. If you are a lone service designer within your organisation, protect your time. Booking in several activities such as gathering insights, analysing findings and testing prototypes will leave you burnt out! You need to allow for time to prepare and type up or share your results. Don’t underestimate how long some activities can take to do well and stand by your predictions and timelines – don’t be rushed!
- Keep going! It can take a while for stakeholders to really believe in service design as a process and that it can produce great results and offer the best service delivery. Once you start to get people on board there will be a ripple effect!
Know your process. You will be supporting stakeholders with a variety of work and they may all be starting from a different place on their service design journey. You need to know the process inside out so you can best support them.
Be engaging. Workshop facilitation is a big part of the role, so be confident and set ground rules and aims at the start of your session to ensure everyone gets a chance to contribute and you get meaningful results at the end.
Create prompts. When first starting out create prompts for yourself on what you need to cover, e.g. is there a lack of local evidence to support a service idea? You can suggest a number of ways to carry out research locally and how long you would suggest for this including time to analyse the results.
Be flexible. Be open to change regarding the way you run activities, don’t get stuck in a rut and keep an eye out for new tools shared online or blogs like this one!
Sam Richard is Programme Development Officer at the Lambeth Early Action Partnership. Find out more about the services that LEAP offers at: www.leaplambeth.org.uk