What is service design?

Service design starts from structuring and organising information.

Influencing in societal and economy phenomenas – by structuring and combining their fundamentals; and planning and organising based on the exchange of information between them to develop some phenomen – is service design.

Structuring and organising information is the rational basis of service design work; and information is the most critical component of service design. Correct, adequate and necessary information. Abilities to structure, organize, and modify it are necessary to enable cognition*, that is, interaction and emotion, and ultimately action in encounters. Knowledge and interaction together form the emotional basis of service design work.

*( cognition ) Action or process of acquiring information and understanding through thoughts, emotions, experiences and senses.

Let’s start a bit further, of the meaning of information.

We know today that the history of mankind civilization is thousands of years old. From the documents and crumbs of information left behind, it has been concluded that civilizations were organized for a long time according to different beliefs, ideologies and isms.

Over time, the importance of beliefs has diminished and the importance of things we consider to be facts – ie knowledge – has increased, enabling development and improving living conditions in general. Although the importance of beliefs has diminished, ideologies and isms still partly guide us – in spite of or because of all information.

An example of the importance of information in the development of mankind is growing of grain.

A good example of importance of information and knowledge – ie data – in the development of mankind is: growing of grain. The course of development that led to our modern economic system began as beliefs about the success of grain harvest dictated by a higher power began to wane. The know-how built-up through practical experiences began to enable more abundant grain harvests. Knowledge was gathered on the importance of watering and the cycle of seasons. Information was gathered on different varieties. Information grew about the storage of grain, pest control, etc. As the grain began to remain in excess of own use and even to be stored over the winter, stored grain developed into a trade commodity. And the foundations of surplus, deficit, balance sheet, exchange and accounting were born. The information gathered about growing grain began to be used in other agriculture. With richer harvests, mortality began to decline and birth rates and life expectancy increased. And the rest is history.

Our ability to understand and structure information is very limited.

For hundreds and thousands of years, the volume of information was small and people’s ability to understand and structure it was very limited. With the information growth, mankind and societies have evolved. We have learned to document information. And methods for structuring and utilizing information have evolved. Throughout history, information has also been an instrument of exercising power. By regulating access to information, modifying and falsifying information, it has been possible to rule, control and subjugate nations. In today’s modern information society, this is very topical issue.

Regulating information has been a way to control nations.

To this date, the volume of information has increased in “light-year exponents” compared to time, for example, a thousand years ago. At the same time, the human brain has not developed at all. The consensus of the scientific community is that the human brain has been virtually unchanged for the past 60,000 years. And so despite the fact that in scientific circles, our brains have been defined as nature’s most unique and superclastic system.

The human brain has not evolved at all in sixty thousand years.

How everything around us is possible if our brains are basically the same as our ancestors’ who lived free in the nature tens of thousands of years ago ?! The answer is that we have learned to use our brains – albeit only a fraction of their capacity. We have learned ways to leverage information by organizing it. When information is documented and useable in suitable pieces, we are able to combine new information with what we have learned before.

Information does not wear out.

Information is one of the wonders of the universe: information can be shared and copied infinitely. Whether you share information with two people or with two billion people has no effect on the information itself. It does not wear out. Of course, changes occurs in each individual’s own thoughts immediately as the information is received. And that, too, is wondrous.

We do not know whether information is only a strangeness of chance in the short history of mankind; or part of something larger – or smaller – dimension.

We have learned to leverage information by organizing information.

In the modern information society, information is free and, in principle, accessible to all. More information is available than ever before and the volume of documented information is growing at a rate that seems limitless. The extent of available and necessary information tests our ability to understand the world around us, and challenges our capability to function in this increasingly complex storm of information.

Development of communication technology in recent decades has in no way changed the development process of hundreds of thousands of years in our brains. The current flood of information and communication, at its best, has bearly started the course of development in our superclastic brain system. And if so, the consequences are to be seen long after we have gone.

Because the human brain can not keep pace with the evolution of the quantity and quality of information, we have had to find methods to process it that are appropriate for the developmental stage of our brains.

Influencing societal and economy phenomena.

The key fundaments of an advanced society and economy are: people and nature; environment and infrastructure; knowledge and information; interaction and cognition; exchange and economics. And time. In the very last decades – or years – of development, time has also become one of the fundamental components. The value of the available information may only relate to a very short period of time. And the time allowed to spent understanding useful or necessary information can be very limited.

Combining and structuring these components; and planning and organizing based on their interactions and the exchange of information between them – is influencing societal and economic phenomenas.

Ability to combine and structure information; and the ability to understand the interactions between data sets and the exchange between them enables the ability to interpret social and economic phenomena.

Structuring and organising of information.

When we dive deeper into the basic components of information society, we come across social and economic functions as well as things that affect practical life. In everyday life, the benefit of information of human brain development is distant.

Things that determine choices and quality of life are tangible or intangible; related to sending, transmitting, receiving and understanding information; or variables related to exchange, interaction and experiences. Common to all is an understanding of relevant information. The information must be structured and set available in such way that it is possible for the human brain to process information related to an individual case or a complex matter, and to assess the consequences of using the information.

Assessing the consequences of using information must be made possible for the human brain. 

A wide range of expertise has evolved for structuring the interaction between the components of the information society and organising the information required for it. A unified form, content and criteria for such procedures are neither possible nor necessary, as the starting points, situations and objectives are all unique. However, there is a need to define this commercial consulting service with a common denominator. The main consensus is to call this planning activity service design.

Information is the dna of service design.

Based on the description above, information is the dna of service design: the key code of a particular issue that contains the “genome” necessary for that issue. When a dna merges with another dna, both complement each other. This is how information works, and this is how information should be used. In structuring and organizing information, the original DNA – ie information – is passed on, gets copied, multiplies, combines with other information and forms new information.

The right, sufficient and necessary information and ability to structure and organize it is the basis of service design. When this happens, the actual task of service design – enabling and preparing encounters – is possible.

It is quite common that the awareness of the procedure described as service design is not yet generally known – nor is its meaning self-evident widely. For that assignments are not always about service design as a default. The need for service design may arise at the beginning or during a primary project. The emerging need for structuring, organizing information and evaluating interaction can lead to a change in the scope or timing of a project. It can also happen that service design is an intermediate method without its own project status., leading to implementation of a larger outcome.

Simplifying complexity.

As a planning method and a principle, service design is very close to concept design. Concept design can take place in parallel or follow in order later as part of a broader service design projection once the conclusions have led closer to practical implementations. And it is likely that the boundaries will be blurred – where the service design ended and concept work began.

I have myself long utilized both of those in client projects; and service design increasingly since year 2005, roughly. Since then, the professionalism of service design and training in it has increased, and new consulting service businesses have emerged around this set of information structuring methods.

My own experiences in customer project practices and their background considerations and conclusions have made me think about strategy work, brand work, concept design and related background work and consulting as a whole, which is well known as service design. When it comes to developing a particular defined encounter – that is, a service or part of it – it is, of course, equally permissible to talk about service design. But in my own mind, then, is the question of designing a service.

“Service design is structuring and organising information and preparing encounters.”

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Study my work portfolio.
Read about strategy.
Read what is a concept?

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Timo Keinänen Explorer, concept designer, service designer, art director, writer and designer.

I belive that you should be yourself, as all other roles are already taken. If you have the opportunity to express an opinion, express your own.” 

Thougths, posts and opinions represent myself only.