Why the Lack of Popularity in U.S. about Service Design

Dave Malouf, @daveixd, is currently the Manager of Product Design at Rackspace, the open hosting company (RAX). They are responsible for all the administrative control panels for our Infrastructure as a Service, Management as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Networks as a Service system. Dave has been working primarily in Internet front-end design for the past 20 years.

Dave also worked as a Professor of Interaction Design in the Industrial Design Department at the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). This prompted a question from me about why the term Service Design is not popularized in the United States as much as it has taken hold in Europe. He started out discussing how service is looked at in the U.S. but then made this salient point about Service Design.

David is the Business901 podcast guest next week

An Excerpt from the Podcast:

Joe: At Savannah College of Art and Design, I want to ask you a question about that because that’s one of the schools that have service design as part of the curriculum and maybe the only school that does. How does service design fit in there and relate to that area? Why was it at Savannah?

Dave: It’s really all about the Industrial Design Department which is where Service Design programs are owned, for lack of a better word. There’s a real commitment within that program towards holistic, researched design, and it just seemed to be a real natural fit that if we’re going to be designing products in the 21 century that there needs to be a service layer surrounding those products and well understood and well-articulated. Other programs that are similar to the Service Design Program in that same department…they have one of the best design management programs that I have seen as well as one of the best sustainability programs – designing for sustainability – all three of which really tie in well together in terms of research orientation and holistic design perspectives.

Joe: Why do you think Service Design has never become such a popular word here in the States as it’s become in Europe?

Dave: If you go to Europe, the government is hiring designers. I mean just look at the UK and their use of the Design Council and consultancies all over the UK and Scandinavia. They’re able to build a practice around this in really powerful ways that then tell stories to corporations and how they can use it. I think that that’s been part of it. I also think that, in the US, we confuse Customer Experience with Service Design a lot. So a lot of people from Customer Experience are just kind of the marketing side. Take the perspective of if we just talk about the parts where the customer engages the company, then that’s good enough. And then from the User Experience side we often have interpreted in the United States that User Experience is Service Design. I think that’s also been a blocker for really going and digging in deeper into the nooks and crannies of Service Design and what co-creation of value, which is the heart of Service Design, is really all about.

Joe: Well I find that, because when I talk Service-Dominant Logic from Vargo and Lusch, people just don’t relate to it here in the States like they do in Europe. It’s a completely different conversation that you have.

Dave: Yup, totally. What they are trying to do at SCAD is to have that European side of things.

Joe: I think that’s a great reason for it is the government side and government influence in Europe on that particular subject. I think that’s spot on. It is so prevalent there, and you see such great material has been created for private industry to use from the Europeans. I enjoy your take on Service Design, and I appreciate it very much. Are Savannah and Cornell the only places really to get a good foot into Service Design? Or where else in the States would I learn more about service design?

Dave: I think CMU. They don’t call it Service Design specifically, but I think they’re doing interesting work in it. I also think they’re doing interesting work at California College of Arts both with their Interaction Design undergraduate program and in their MFA of Design program. You know the labels aren’t always the same, but I think that they are really close to that spirit of what Service Design is about.

P.S.: A new version of Service-Dominant Logic: Premises, Perspectives, Possibilities is available. much more readable than the first.

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