Outward vs. Inward Service Design
You guessed it, design thinking holds answers to many of the questions mentioned above.
So, design thinking is this flashy methodology that brings products and services that people actually like using. I can hear you thinking: that’s all great and clearly has a place in bringing new value propositions to market, but how is it any use in rearranging all the Lego bricks in the large construction we created together (i.e. our current way of doing business)?
This is where it gets very interesting. Because, indeed, our methodology can lead to services that people love to use. But all tools and methodologies we employ to the outside world to find needs, motivations, pains and gains with customers and users, can also be applied looking inward. Wait… inward? Yes, inside the project team. If a team of project-stakeholders becomes large and diverse, the exact same approach can be used to facilitate transparency and alignment among these groups.
If ‘Outward’ Service Design focuses on the customer to find needs and motivations, Inward Service Design does the exact same thing on the inside: uncovering and mapping these needs within the team. This overview of needs and motivations then forms the basis for how the internal process of working together takes shape.
It all revolves around the root principle of design thinking: empathy. Listening to and learning from the people who we want our product or service to fit with. This includes the end user, but also those who need to be aligned to design, develop and produce the service. To focus our design thinking mindset inward instead of outward, means to facilitate transparency and solution-thinking among stakeholders. By ensuring stakeholders understand each other, large systemic changes become possible.
This is a process that requires time and effort just like a project for customer-facing results would. In treating it as such and reserving resources for this aspect, all involved parties are heard and their views are included. Otherwise, tense subjects can be tackled openly and transparently. Stakeholders know to find each other directly and solve problems before they occur. Needless to say, during the further execution and roll-out of the project, this pays dividends in costs saved in meetings, political games and personal grudges.
As probably clear by now, it all starts with empathy and transparency. Together they are instrumental to creating a shared goal and common understanding of how to get there.