Service Design and Scrum: Why UX is key.

Hidde Burgmans
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Hidde Burgmans
17 jun 2018 . 7 mins read
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Service Design, f*** yeah!
Service Design will save the world. Or at least, it will answer all deeply yearning design questions you’d given up hope for a long time ago.

“Wait, what are we talking about?”
Service Design. It’s the part of the design proces that takes part in the Fuzzy Front End (the fuzzy stuff). Service Design covers the chunk where you’re still figuring out what to do. It starts with actual conversations with ‘humans that use your service’ to a tremendous amount of unexpected insights. You’ll be handed easy to use tools that produce razor sharp problem-statements. The following creative process will not only bring you solutions to that statement, but furthermore helps these solutions to become actualised and validated. In short, for all of you who want to innovate in a customer-centered way, Service Design is your rainbow-rollercoaster friend.

The Service design proces by H. Plattner, Institute of Design at Stanford. Additional visual design by Hidde Burgmans MSc.

Even though the process is guaranteed to set you up in the right direction, the biggest threat for every Service Design project lies at the end. The lurking ‘black-hole-of-oblivion,’ leaving the client in the following state:

Service Design, f*** yeah! … and now what?

The black-hole-of-oblivion

For real innovation to occur, two worlds need to work together: The fuzzy beginning (SD) and the concrete end (Dev). Development is the day to day stuff of a company, something they’re used to and rather good at. As Service Design is introduced more an more as the precursory method of the fuzzy part, a successful handover between the two becomes increasingly important.

The ‘black-hole-of-oblivion’

When the dust has settled from the intense weeks of a Service Design project, it’s quite a step from the nicely visualised service concepts to their actual development. Where most companies have learned to play the development game (aka Scrum), Service Design is still relatively new. Standard procedures or a manifesto’s saving Service Design results from the ‘black-hole-of-oblivion’and making it towards actual development haven’t been produced yet. With no one knowing what to do, nothing happens, and as time passes, the force of gravity of the black hole increases.

So how to avoid this catastrophe you ask? UX is your friend.

The UX bridge

1. Bridging the gap between Service Design and Scrum

Service Design uses a variety of tools depending on the challenge. Nonetheless, the outcome is pretty stable; new concepts that improve the service. At Koos we use the desired customer journey as a tool to put these concepts into context. When aiming for a successful handover between Service Design and development there a four steps that can be taken. UX design is by no means the only discipline that can build this bridge, but as we’ll see their skills do come in handy along the way.

Bridging Service Design & Scrum

Due to their hands-on experience with the customer, UX-designers are generally highly involved during a Service Design project. Hence, they play a crucial role in constructing the SD strategy laid out in the desired customer journey.

The next step towards development is the validation of the riskiest concepts. Making sure valuable development time is spent on concepts that actually solve user needs, these concepts are validated with prototypes created and tested with the help of UX-designers.

Having done the validation step, a prioritised list of concepts needs to be distributed to the relevant product owners and Scrum teams.

Knowing the context of the Service Design strategy, understanding the underlying needs and motivations and having done the validation interviews of the concept, UX-designers are key in refining the concepts into fitting user stories. When defining the MVP (minimum viable product), they assure the minimisation is done without losing the essence of the strategy. In doing so, they’re guarding the implementation of valuable SD insights.

With all user stories ready in their respective backlogs, it is time for the development phase.

2. Designing the actual experience

As stated before, Service Design is quite fuzzy, it entails a lot. Every single discipline is taken into account to improve the service as a whole. We’ve had an interesting discussion on the grey border between Service Design and UX before. Another way to look at it is that a Service Designer is like the conductor, orchestrating touchpoints between brand and customer.

The touchpoints between the brand and customer are shaped individually towards a certain need and brand value, so that all together they add up to a beautiful and harmonious service.

However, one mustn’t forget that the influence of the conductor is merely the orchestration, and that it is in fact the mastery of the violinist, and of course all other individual musicians, that define the quality of the piece. In the design process, our violinist performs UX.

The user stories set up to improve the service can be unfolded in a millions ways. It is the mastery of the UX designer that decides whether their creation is in accordance with the deep user insights found during the Service Design proces. When a UX designer truly understands the Service Design strategy, it is a ton of small decisions made by them that shape an interaction, and it is the interplay of all interactions that add up to the new quality of a service.

3. Iterating on Service Design strategy

So, implementation has started. Concepts have turned into user stories, and they’re being designed and developed as we speak. Shit just got real. The once high level concepts are now facing the complexity of implementation called reality. How are we going to fit new stuff in our current UI? Are we not adding flows that counteract each other? Why are my users responding completely different than during the validation tests?

You may have tested some assumptions when validating your prototypes but you might have overseen the impact and risk of another. Whatever it is that unexpectedly pops up while creating the UX, the UX-designer is learning. He or she is thereby validating — or when it doesn’t work out, iterating on the Service Design strategy. Some insights on-the-go might be so impactful that the whole concept needs to be changed. This knowledge should not stay with the one musician, but be spread to the entire orchestra


Don’t burn your bridges
Service Design strategies are quite resistant to time, as they are founded on in-depth user insights. Nonetheless, people do change, and the world quickly outpaces the concepts created for those needs. The bridge between Service Design and Development is not a one-way route. A strategy stays relevant when iterated on while it’s being developed. With their connection to both the strategy and implementation, UX-designers are the designated people to take on this task.

UX Design, f*** yeah — …and now what?

For real innovation to occur, there are actually three worlds that need to work together. Service Design will set you up with the strategy, development will take care of the realisation and UX will make sure the former two are able to talk to each other. Treasure the transformation skills of your UX designers and you might actually see your next innovation project come alive.

Convinced of building a UX-bridge but not really sure where to start?

Hidde Burgmans
Written by
Hidde Burgmans
17 jun 2018 . 7 mins read
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