I recently shared ten questions for a new role. In the blog post I position the questions as pertinent when looking for a specific role, but they can easily be adapted for looking for project work too.

Over the bulk of my career I’ve helped pull together proposals and pitches for project work. Over the last five to six years I’ve not had to pitch for project work for a team or a company, but as a freelancer doing digital strategy and design work I’ve reached out or been contacted about “interim roles”. In every situation I would have asked those questions (for the project work there’d be a little adaptation for finances, how much, how/when).

Over the last six years I’ve looked for opportunities where service design is a thing to be involved with or thing that could be involved with. Six years ago getting work as a service designer was very, very limited. The opportunities were more consultancy, come in, help a team understand what service design is (usually looking at something that team or organisation is already doing), and maybe you’ll get a call to go back. Others found places doing service design work (maybe not by name but by spirit) and took roles that allowed them be involved in that work, like delivery managers. I did the same. I took a role as an interaction designer. Now there are lots of opportunities for service designers seemingly everywhere. (And sometimes it feels there are service designers everywhere.)

I was asked recently if I felt service design had changed in the last five years and how did I see “service design” now. It was a timely question: Over the past few months I’ve been going round in my head what is service design these days? Service design is definitely something more places are saying they are doing or saying they want to do.

At the moment when I am talking about what I do next for any service designer roles I go back to looking for this detail:

What is service design to you, as a person recruiting, as a team recruiting and as an organisation recruiting?

Frequently people reply “service design is the design of services”, but what does that mean?

What is a service?

If a service is something that helps someone who needs to do something do something what’s an example of a service you are involved with, maybe (part) responsible for?

What is design?

Design is the process of working out and deciding on how something works. Design is the rendering of intent.

What is service design?

Service design improves the experiences of both the user and employee by designing, aligning, and optimizing an organization’s operations to better support customer journeys.
(Nielsen Norman Group)[https://www.nngroup.com/articles/service-design-101/]

Service design is about making services usable. Service design looks for strengths and weaknesses.

It is about being strategic, researching, analysing, understanding what needs to be done and then doing.

What outcomes will you be expecting from doing service design work?

An example:

“We know we have this service. We want to get people from across the organisation together to understand this service end to end collectively and the state of the service, look for how we can improve it, look into those areas for improvement to design them so they are better and get those changes made to the service.”

Less a focus on the tools, the methods and output (maps!), more a focus on the problem and the effects.

What will a service designer do to help you, the team and the organisation with service designing?

The outcomes help understand what needs to be done (and not done).

The service designer will help with the outcomes, but how? Is service design about one person’s role? No. But being a service designer is one person’s role. What does that mean? I tend to think of service designers more as coaches, coaxers, being interdisciplinary themselves to bring an interdisciplinary view of a service by gathering people with different disciplines and channels/silos together. And softly, innovation to ways of working and delivered services through education, innovation through exploration. If a user’s experience is the result of the collective efforts of a team’s work then service design is a contributor to that.


I’m not precious about being a service designer, more as someone who is [going in/here] I need to know what my role is there for so I can help deliver [outcomes]. If I going to be a piece of the jigsaw I just want to know where the role and the workd fits into the wider picture.

Don’t just get a service designer just because it seems everyone else. Know why.

Original source – Simon Wilson

Comments closed