Jury Captain and Co-Founder of Reboot, Panthea Lee explains to us why Service Design, which connects disparate disciplines as well as the private and public sectors, deserves a category of its own and introduces her multidisciplinary jury team.
Core77: Tell us a bit about your jury and why you chose these individuals.
Panthea Lee: Service design is being applied to problems in an increasingly diverse range of fields. We are excited to have assembled a group of individuals representative of that diversity, each of whom bring a wide range of perspectives and experiences to this year's jury.
Shrupti Shah of Deloitte's GovLab shares Reboot's passion in using the tools of service thinking to improve the impact of government work. Her work with Deloitte's numerous government clients has shown her the countless ways friction and inefficiency in the service delivery process can interfere with policymakers' best intentions.
Method's Ted Booth has been doing fantastic work with private sector clients as they focus on the user experience to create great products and services. He's helped Fortune 500 clients with broad public impact, optimizing the way they relate to and serve their customers.
As service design is an emerging space, we also thought it was important to invite some critical perspectives. Lara Penin, of Parsons' School of Design Strategies, brings a solid academic and theoretical understanding to the jury. Helen Walters, an acclaimed industry thought leader and journalist in this space, is helping us put the category in perspective of what has come before.
As a studio that frequently blurs the lines between public and private sector problems, we at Reboot thought this was an ideal mix of perspectives to shed light on the role of service design today.
Why is it important to recognize this category in a design awards program?
Service design is increasingly being recognized as a powerful toolset to tackle all types of challenges—from the airline and music industries to financial inclusion and social services. The private sector is effectively applying service design to improve customer loyalty and maximize profits, while the public sector uses it to improve citizen outcomes and expand organizational efficiency. Our vision of service design is that it helps myriad problem-solvers blend together several different disciplines of design and analysis.
We see ethnography, economics, operations management, policymaking, communications design, and systems engineering as critical ingredients in the service design mix. All these components are often present in the most effective applications of design thinking. As evidence, one must only look at the presence of many of them as categories in this year's Core77 Design Awards. Yet service design deserves its own category, as it is helping formalize the subtle yet powerful connections between all these disparate disciplines.
What kinds of people or projects do you imagine entering your category?
We're hoping to see an incredibly diverse set of applicants. Our jury has seen service design make an impact in so many fields, we'd love to see an equally representative set of projects. Similarly, we would like to see all levels of participants. We place as much value on the innovation and creativity of students and researchers as we do on experienced practitioners.
What qualities will you be considering when evaluating each entry?
There are several principles we hold dear in terms of a great project, and we'll probably be examining entries through these lenses.
First, and unsurprisingly, we'll be looking for a clear focus on users, at all levels. What I mean by 'all levels' is a clear understanding that in a service challenge, user groups consist not only of end users, but also the agents, service providers, and other stakeholders in the value chain.
Second, we'll definitely be looking for a clear articulation of the service ecosystem of the project. Service challenges almost always involve complex system, containing several layers of interactions and, within them, many interrelated points of influence and intervention. Great solutions must take all these nodes into account, surface the leverage points, influence change at different points, and understand how these changes impact the overall system.
And finally, we'll certainly be looking for projects that have had a measurable impact on the challenges they set out to tackle. Given the complexity of most service challenges, impact can often be very difficult to measure in the short-term. But great projects must be able to prove their work, and we'll be looking for tangible results from applicants.
Of course, these aren't the only indicators we care about, but they will certainly inform the jury's thinking.
Where do you see the future of this field heading?
As service design is being applied to all sorts of new fields and increasingly complex issues, its utility is being recognized by a wider audience. Organizations like Amazon and Zappos have been leaders in demonstrating to the rest of the private sector how strong service orientation and design, well-executed, can increase profits and expand customer loyalty.
In the public sector, the World Bank's ICT Unit and innovative work by elements of the Obama Administration have been pioneering service-based approaches towards delivering public impact. As these leading institutions continue to innovate and show the value of these approaches in improving citizen outcomes, more and more groups are adopting it.
There is also phenomenal work happening in the academy. As a field that is still relatively new, there is a lot of overlap and variation among our vocabulary and shared approaches. Thinkers like Lara Penin and many of her colleagues are working hard to build a common set of language and standards that will help the industry mature and grow stronger.
Learn more about the Service Design category and jury. The deadline for entries is Tuesday April 10. There is a deadline extension of April 24, however entries submitted after April 10 will be subject to a late fee. Click here for details.
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