The Marriage in Lean Service Design

This may sound like Abraham Maslow’s saying, “If all you have is a hammer; everything looks like a nail” and if it does, I will admit that my principles and practices are with a Lean based approached. Most of the work I have seen to date in Service Design has been educational or Public Sector work. I have seen where private companies have instituted Service Design but many times the cost has been funded from a public entity. I think Service Design and its forerunner; The Service-Dominant Logic of Marketing type thinking may be Crossing the Chasm from early adaptors to early majority.

In my use of Service Design, I have had mixed results with most companies very interested in learning more about Service Design but few willing to take the initiative to design and implement Service Design.

It has been very similar to what I have found in Lean Sales and Marketing; interested but to implement? As a result, the best prospects are mature companies well into their Lean Journey and willing to take on a pilot project. Even at that, it is usually initiated by the Lean Champion who wants to introduce the Standard Tools of Lean and improve processes versus using Lean as a vehicle for growth.

The umbrella of Lean offers Service Design a method of entry into a well-established market. Lean has been very successful in Services and Design through traditional practices. However, Lean Design is rooted in tangible applications (excluding a discussion about software for the moment). The leap of faith that must occur is to move away from these traditions and institute a wider scope of Design to Services. The Design Thinking concepts that are most commonly associated with IDEO seems to provide the clearest understanding.

Below is a Venn Diagram on how I view the three disciplines of Lean, Service, and Design. I have included SDCA, PDCA, EDCA as a way to demonstrate the use of Lean in Services and Design. I like to use the term EDCA learned from Graham Hill  to designate the Explore aspect of Lean.  I view it as more of Design Type thinking content that allows for that collaborative learning cycle with a customer. This is a link to my blog post on the tools of SDCA, PDCA, EDCA: SD-Logic is the short term for Service-Dominant Logic  and my blog posts, The End of Best in Market and Path to Participation discuss this view in more detail.

Lean Service Design

We live in a service centric world. Even companies to include most manufacturers are defined not by their products but the services they offer. Can we continue to give away services to sell products? Has production capacity slowed that we now have excess overhead? Maybe, we are a mature Lean Company and have become too efficient in our services, that we have excess capacity? Is it time that we design around our services? Is it time to discover, how to develop our services into a profit center?

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