Lisa Lindström – Putting the Design in Service Design

Have we fallen in love with process to the point that we've forgotten creativity? Lisa Lindström makes a rallying call for the power of craftsmanship.

A key revelation early in Lisa’s career was that thought that they couldn’t just design great digital services – they needed to understand every touchpoint on the customer journey to create great experience. This is not as easy as it looks. It happens in the context of this great organisation – with its mix of needs. Service design tools are great for this. They allow us to understand what users need, how we co-create and so on.


…when we fall in love with something, we tend to do too much of it. Where did all that passion and experimentation go? what happened to the creativity? Maybe we became so proud of putting on our suits and talking to business people that we forgot about it. Maybe we’re focusing too much on the insight and strategy and less on the execution.

The design in service design is what makes things better. Service design is a powerful business approach. She’s not saying that she doesn’t like it, but it tends to forget the heart. We need to combine the design skills with the tools.

(She makes the audience draw pictures of each other in 30 seconds…)

First, forget the tools. A designer joined a startup, and tried to bring all his methodology he’d learnt to it – but he found that interacting with the customers was so much more efficient at their phase of development. One Christmas, they were asked by a newspaper to redesign something. The three designers who wanted to do it redesigned a bank for them, and it was published. I’ve years on, it hangs on the wall of all the major Swedish banks. No research – craftsmanship.

But combining research and craftsmanship is powerful. Prototyping a bank’s SME services and showing them to potential customers worked well. They built a prototype of a new product to show investors – and the fininsh on that was what sold it.

Designing your culture is as important as designing your processes. They use Lego to build their budget… As a manager, you need to say “yes” to the innovations that come from within your organisation – even if you gut says no. The Plus Menu is their salary system – which allows you pick from a range of offerings on holiday or pensions or education. If people want to work away from the company for a while – why not? The Doberman Exchange works.

They play internally – and they force their customers to play, too. It helps them develop their creative gut.

Balance the analytical with the creative. That’s the true legacy of design.