At Open we identify and examine customer issues. At DNA we deliver on that thinking.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Service Design

Service Design: A Formless Art

bruce lee

“I have not invented a "new style," composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from "this" method or "that" method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds. Remember that Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used” — Bruce Lee

Jeet Kune Do is a style of combat and life philosophy developed by Bruce Lee. He referred to it as “a style without style” or “the art of fighting without fighting”. Lee believed that many martial arts contained ostentatious movements therefore JKD uses directness to achieve maximum impact and draws on the best “tools” from different pugilistic arts including Kung Fu, Fencing and Boxing.

Service design is also a philosophy and a combination of tools from a number of different disciplines, including business, technology, design and social science. At DNA, we also want to use directness to produce maximum impact for our clients, and like Bruce Lee, we believe in learning from experience and in being lean and agile in our process to respond to rapidly changing environments and opportunities.

Catalysed by increased interest in design thinking, the tools of service design are being employed by diverse groups to deal with big challenges in both public and private sectors. Here in New Zealand there are a number of service design teams that have been set up in departments across Government. Although these teams contain highly capable individuals with diverse backgrounds, in my experience, they lack the design leadership required to achieve significant impact within their organisations. This can also result in a dogmatic approach to methodology, a natural default when teams are required to build capability “on the job”. At DNA we see an opportunity to provide leadership and assist internal teams to develop confidence in design tools.

We also believe there is potential for experienced designers to evolve popular design methodologies. Practitioners who understand design culture and have the confidence and experience to remove the ostentatious can adapt new influences and enhance service design practise. Like Bruce Lee, we want to edit out the superfluous whilst taking on new influences and respond to each individual situation in a lean and agile way.

We believe in doing this without compromising intellectual rigour, creativity or value.Both business and user value need to be equitable, otherwise the risk lay in skewing outcomes and missing opportunities for innovation along the way. A user-centred approach balanced with business and technical requirements are pivotal to the success of any project, be it an iterative improvement in a single channel customer experience or end-to-end service transformation.

We do not see Service Design as distinct from Customer Experience Design, or only successful if it uses this method or that method, and we hope to free our clients from clinging to styles, patterns or molds. Remember that service design is merely a name used for designing and delivering excellent services in the most customer-centred way possible.


Rachel Knight 27 September 2014 at 9:30pm

Great article. We're so often asked what the difference is, or how to define, service vs experience design but I feel like they're such flexible, overlapping and ever-changing process and terms, that it almost seems wrong to say that they're one thing, and one thing only.

What do you think?