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Service Design to Help Organizations Thrive


Service Design to Help Organizations Thrive

Anna Engstromer shares an article on service design with key points to help get it right.

Just because it happens all the time, all over, strategy implementation isn’t easy. It may appear so judging from corporate communication, but it is a special type of team effort that needs energy and effort. The trick is to both carry forth with planned changes and pay attention and adapt.

Change as Part of Life

Change is part of every organization’s life. It is frequent to experience or bear witness of it in any department or work group. It tends to happen through projects and initiatives, and only rarely is the perspective that of the individual working group. Teams and people cope with change, sometimes managing to reflect on their work and craft it into the way they like it, but other times addressing it with less purpose. How people react to change depends a lot on how they are doing. Someone who feels safe, manages their calm, and cares about their work will naturally be more proactive and effective. For many others, change is “dealt with”. The result is a patchwork of intentional and adapted changes, often with great discrepancy between formal and informal roles and structures. This is not necessarily bad. After all, we are creative beings that like to solve problems. But it leaves groups sort of hanging, and I’ve seen it many times that groups either thrive or implode when change is either too fast or not well enough supported. Sadly, the practice to dedicate or engage professional change managers has gone a little bit out of fashion. Fortunately, people with other roles often emerge and act in such roles. I did it many times.

Periodic Bursts of Seemingly Incoherent Change

Projects and initiatives are triggered by strategy implementation, in turn triggered by changes in corporate environment or the need for efficiencies. Change is never triggered with bad intentions. Contrary to the occasional opinion-making at the coffee machine where people gather to connect, it isn’t true that groups of top manager-friends and their consultants cook up ways to make life hard in the organization, figuring it out as they go along through trial-and-error. It may sometimes seem that way, though, for a few reasons:

First, picking up on the reasons to change requires both a very broad view and specifics (that is data) about the external environment and one’s own capabilities. Most people don’t have this view and this data, nor do they need to. People drawn to such change definition roles are those whose curiosity and experience led and allowed them to get to create organizational direction. Most are good, or very good, at it. Wishful thinking is not part of the job description, but imagination and ambition are.

Then, even people whose job it is to pick up what is going on and set direction, although well selected, are imperfect. Even with the most systematic collection of relevant information and the most optimized decisional processes, it happens that change effort is over-simplified, not well enough thought-through, or not on point. This cannot be a surprise.

Finally, some people live in denial about the fact of life that organizations need to prosper and generate income and positive returns. I won’t become political about that statement but just say that it is not wrong for organizations to thrive – it’s necessary.

Key points include:

  • Design Is Not Only about Products or User Experiences
  • Norms Steer What We Do, Not What We Think

  • Caring for service design

Read the full article, The Value of Continuous Care in Service Design, on