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Designing for good? 5 insights from Service Design Global Conference

How can we take on a more conscious approach when designing products and services? How can we design for good? That was this year’s common thread at the Service Design Global Conference in Copenhagen. Here are the top 5 insights that inspired our Service & UX Design team to do things differently.

Mathias Holdsbjerg-Larsen - How to bridge strategy and execution?

By Martijn Brackman

As Experience Designers, we've all experienced how hard it is to keep a holistic view during a project, to get the feeling of having a real impact and not losing sight of the purpose. Both Mathias and Jochem offered a way to avoid getting caught up in the moment.

Dynamic Roadmaps

Mathias showed us an internal tool they built to document Dynamic Roadmap.

Dynamic Roadmaps essentially provide a clear link between the mission of an organization and the envisioned solutions. 

The idea behind Dynamic Roadmap is simple: Every organization starts with a mission (who we are and what we value) and a vision (what we want to become). How the organization will achieve this vision is called strategy. Formulating a good strategy starts with first defining clear company goals and objectives.

It is important to note that anything they put on the roadmap is considered a Hypothesis. Hence why they're talking about Dynamic Roadmaps. They change based on the insights they collect. Hypotheses are given the color gray, red or green. Gray means the hypothesis has not been tested and red means the hypothesis has been tested and proven wrong. Green hypotheses are, of course, the ones they continue to build on.

So, with clear goals set, they will map out themes and Focus Areas per objective. For each Focus Area, they identify User Problems (through research or based on assumptions) and these in turn form the starting point for generating Solutions. Every solution also needs to align with a User Aspiration.

Martijn’s takeaway

The strength of this approach is that they now have a visual framework that offers a holistic view of all initiatives and the thinking behind them, allowing leadership, product teams, service providers,... to communicate effectively and shape the future more consciously.

Accessibility is a gradual process of continuous measuring, adjusting and making improvements.

Wout Thielemans

Accessibility Specialist

Jochem van der Veer - Redefining Journey Management

By Martijn Brackman

Whereas Mathias’s talk was more focused on the strategic level, Jochem took it to a deeper, more tactical level when he presented a tool that makes it possible to do Customer Journey Management: TheyDo

With their solution, Jochem addresses many challenges UX Designers are facing. As a UX Designer you need to:

  1. emphatize with end users by interviewing them, analyzing their behavior, doing desk research,... 

  2. synthesize your learnings by creating user personas

  3. map out customer journeys to understand what your personas are doing, thinking and experiencing across all phases of the customer lifecycle.

  4. see these customer journeys and personas evolve over time and add layers of depth.  

  5. show stakeholders that your research phase actually is worth something and that what you are doing matters.

TheyDo brings together all elements in customer journey management: From initial data and insights, over journeys, opportunities and solutions, to epics in JIRA.

TheyDo allows you to have a holistic view of all customer journeys for all personas across your entire organization.

He also introduces a new concept: Experience-Led companies. And it makes sense. Product-Led Growth is on the rise, putting user experience and self-learning front and center. We will more and more see tools like this come to life.

We already have ample tools to collaborate on wireframes, designs, product backlogs, ... but we really lack the tools for XD Teams to collaborate on many aspects early on in the double diamond. Especially at scale.

Martijn's takeaway

Customer Journey Management as the backbone of an Experience-Led agency is in my opinion a very strong narrative when promoting digital innovation with real impact. Putting things like this in place for clients and showing them how they can get a grip on what we are actually doing and how this fits into both short-term and long-term strategies, must definitely be a win-win.

Showing your clients how they can get a grip on what we are actually doing and how this fits into both short-term and long-term strategies, must definitely be a win-win.

Martijn Brackman

Concept & UX Designer

Anne Dhir - Killing a Service

By Charlotte Dieltjens 

As a Service Designer, there is a lot of attention on creating new and innovative products and services. The question to help with closing a service is a lot more rare. However if you think about the amount of services that are created and have the realization that services can die - it is surprising how little services are killed. 

In her talk ‘Killing a service’ Anne Dhir shares her experience on closing a service and gives insights on how you as a designer can prepare to close your service from the very beginning of your design process.

This will avoid having so-called zombie services that leave footsteps in the customer experience if they are not killed properly. 

The following questions can help you to define different possible end scenarios that you can prepare for when designing your service:

Charlotte’s takeaway

By taking into consideration the end of a service's lifecycle, you are encouraged to design a more durable service from the start, because they trigger you to think about future shifts and how user behavior might change. Cleaning up a service might not sound as fun and sexy as creating and designing a new service, but in my opinion, it is equally important. By killing these zombie services, you can make other services shine even brighter!

By taking into consideration the end of a service's lifecycle, you are encouraged to design a more durable service from the start.

Charlotte Dieltjens

Service Designer

Adam Cochrane — Ritual Design: The art of crafting meaningful experiences

By Tommy Buelens

Why do we feel involved in something, why do we feel attached to a system and why do we remember it so vividly? Because of the ritual character of the events. Rituals make you feel part of something bigger. 

Crafting meaningful experiences can not go without rituals.

So what is a ritual? It is a repeated act of simple actions that can be likened to a habit or a routine. It is something we do consciously and with a meaning. A ritual can turn simple things into something meaningful. Like we do at Craftzing for instance, where we turn a Friday late-afternoon into a moment where we share our latest work.

Adam gave us 3 insights on how to introduce rituals, both in the workplace and in product design:

  • Acknowledge and celebrate the individual. Let them be heard for the actions they did or are doing. Like gathering at the launch of a new product, or the confetti effect in your favorite to-do list app when you have completed a task.

  • Connect. Build empathy and a sense of belonging with the users of your product. Like an office hugging point, or a ‘sorry to see you go e-mail’ when someone unsubscribes from a newsletter.

  • Develop. Get inspired and grow this mindset like attending conferences or listening to your favorite weekly podcast.

Each ritual is unique in its own way. But there is a downside, rituals can also be excluding. Friday night drinks at the office may suit you, but it may not for parents who need to be home on time. You can't fit everything into one ritual; this will create a sense of exclusion.

Adam provides a framework for creating rituals:

Tommy’s takeaway

Rituals are something invisible until you notice they no longer surround you. When you start to feel disconnected from the community, it is probably because you are no longer part of the ritual. Every team building is a ritual... At first glance, the word "ritual" just seems like an ancient thing, however, we are going to need it more than ever in this digital age to ensure that people still feel connected and are part of a team.

We're going to need rituals more than ever in this digital age to ensure that people still feel connected and are part of a team.

Tommy Buelens

UX Designer

Sandra Camacho - How narcissism fuels inequity and bias in design?

By Loukina Looze 

To design the good, we need to go beyond design

We want to be more inclusive, but our teams are essentially not diverse enough, we tend to think in stereotypes and we are all biased by our own narrative. That’s why, according to Sandra Camacho, human-centered design and applying design practices are not enough because they will only bring about superficial changes in designing for the good. But what is the cause of these problems? Narcissism

Narcissism leaves a path of toxicity, exclusion and inequality

According to Camacho, narcissism is where all inequality and prejudice in design comes from which is why it is so difficult to make changes. Narcissism exists on a spectrum and all of us have one or the other characteristic mentioned in the image below, but the higher the spectrum, the more toxic it becomes.

Narcissism is a set of behavioral patterns:

Bastardisation of empathy

As designers we are also often overconfident, thinking only we can know the truth about our users, through our neutral and objective design tools. Nonetheless you can't build empathy with someone you just interviewed for an hour, it takes time to build empathy. You can wonder who the 'we' is in the 'How might we' is often used during design projects. Sadly ‘we’ is way too often a very homogenous group of people.

So, how can we shape our journeys differently?

  • Dare to challenge and shed beliefs and norms maintained by narcissistic behavior.

  • Acknowledge mistakes and release your assumptions.

  • Call out toxic patterns.

  • Collaborate with people who challenge you and hold you accountable. Design for good cannot be done alone.

  • Leave when you find yourself in a toxic environment or surrounded by toxic people.

Loukinas' takeaway

As a UX Designer, you come across biased clients from time to time. However, this talk made me reflect on how my own background and social status also create biases, whereas I always considered myself a neutral and objective designer. Now that I am more aware of this, it encourages me to be even more conscious when designing products.

Now that I am more aware of bias in design, it also prompts me to be even more conscious when designing products.

Loukina Looze



By Michele Stynen

Digital Marketeer