How lean and service design methods can create innovative, digital products

Magnus Christensson is a Partner at Socialsquare, a digital innovation agency. They develop business models, products and services for companies using service design and lean start-up methods. At NEXT Service Design, Magnus presented the case of, Denmark’s largest online book retailer.

As with most companies, the firm needs to face the challenge of how to develop a sustainable business model that provides for ongoing economic and societal changes. But what the future will bring and which approaches will work, is uncertain. In this context, the case is not only a great service design project; it also complements the main theme of NEXT Berlin 2013: here be dragons. Companies need to rethink their way of doing business, but what lies ahead of them is unknown territory – and there might be dragons waiting.

Socialsquare’s approach to developing products and services relies, as their name suggests, on social methods. In his keynote, Magnus Christensson especially focused on the role of co-creation in this process: both as a way of designing your services, but also of acknowledging the fundamental importance of the people using them. Airbnb wouldn’t be what it is, if only one person had ever used it. That’s a thought historian and author George Dyson shared with us at NEXT Berlin 2012. He stated that applications like Facebook far exceed the digital code they consist of, because of their users. It’s the people that make the service so valuable and, in turn, the service evolves with its usage.

For Christensson, this means that services are in a permanent beta stage. Companies need to gather feedback, to learn and to iterate – that way they’ll be sure to provide the best experience possible. He observed a change from companies spending fortunes on communication & branding towards investing in the creation of great products and services. Because, in the end, services will be the differentiating factors. Considering the incredible amount of competing products and services, people will stick with – or move to – the ones that are most useful to them, no matter how good or bad the advertising. It’s the provided value and the experience that matter.

And that’s exactly what Socialsquare tried to do for – they developed a service that creates value and differentiates them from their competitors. Watch the video of Christensson’s keynote to discover the role service design played in this.