Welcome to a special news edition of SDA Insights. It’s your round-up of exciting things happening at SDA and some noteworthy items that have captured our attention in the wider Service Design world.

We know that your time is precious, so we’ll press on.

EduJam is back ……
In June Service Design Academy is a proud sponsor of EduJam, taking place live and in person at the wonderful V&A Dundee on the 10th, 11th and 12th of June.

If you’ve never jammed before………
A Jam is a creative space to explore ways to try out design-based approaches to problem solving, building networks. EduJam is inspired by GlobalJams and aims to provide an open and collaborative space for everybody passionate about the future of education. The Global Jams website tells you much more about the power of Jamming.

We’ll be joined by mentors including the founder of Global Jams, Adam St John Lawrence, co-author of “This is Service Design Doing” and visual facilitator Andy Du Vale of WorkVisible.

How can you get involved?

1. Take a look at our EduJam website  to find more about the event.

2. Follow us @EduJamUK on Twitter and Instagram for live updates.

3. Book now. There are ticket options to suit every pocket and sponsorship of this event has ensured that your ticket price covers the cost of refreshments over the weekend. You can book your EduJam tickets now or please get in touch for more information at                      edujam@sda.ac.uk

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Service Design Academy Short Courses – in demand

Companies and individuals have been in touch enquiring about the next dates for our short courses in the summer. We’d like to find out from our community what works best for you.

You can read more about what to expect with Welcome to Service Design 1-day course and Service Design for Innovation and Impact 5-day course.

If you are ready to start your service design journey with our live and online courses please fill out the doodle poll below and we’ll be straight back in touch.

Anyone who expresses an interest will get a 15% discount when booking.

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Inclusive And Accessible Design – Our new 2-day course is booking now 1st and 8th June – 10am – 4pm

This 2-day online introduction to Inclusive Design course has been developed and designed with industry experts and those experiencing barriers every day.

It’s perfect for any individual or group of colleagues to learn how a design approach can be used to improve the services, products, and experiences they deliver. Not only this but learners will leave with a plan to start to work more inclusively

You can read Inclusive and Accessible 2-day course information

You can book  Eventbrite: Inclusive and Accessible Design 2-day course

Not quite what you need? Find out more and register interest in all Service Design Academy short courses

Co-creating an innovative and sustainable framework to support community led projects

We’re delighted to share our recent work with The Wood Foundation and Russell Anderson Development School (RADS) through the Service Design Network Case Study Library. You can find out how we facilitated the creation of a new framework for community led projects which connect, engage and support young people in new ways through sport.

Read Service Design Network RADS Case Study to find out more.

Scottish Public Sector:  invitations for SDA to tender for service design training and education can now be made through Public Contract Scotland through the Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) for Digital Technology Services Dynamic Purchasing System – Lot 1. This DPS is available for Scottish Government, Councils, Colleges and Universities, health, third sector and other public sector organisations.

Good Luck Rory
After a year of Kickstart work experience, Rory Mertes, our Digital and Marketing Assistant has moved on for new and exciting opportunities.  The team wish Rory all the very best as he leaves his legacy of video resources we’ll continue to share. Ranging from the “Valued Voices” series to backgrounds on our courses, Rory has left a video record of SDA in action for us to build on.

Have a dip into the Service Design Video Library  

Don’t forget to join over 1,000 subscribers of our Service Design Academy Youtube channel who watched nearly 6,000 hours of our content last month. 

Professional Development Award Reflective Survey

Although we gather feedback regularly throughout learning labs and in 121s with our students to shape development and delivery of the course, we are keen to understand more about the longer-term impact from the course from students completing the course in the past 18 months. 

We were delighted to receive a 100% 5 star rating from respondents on recommending Service Design Academy to colleagues.

The comments below reflect motivations, expectations and impact of the course.

“Having no formal service design qualifications, the PDA was a great opportunity to get a qualification and foundation of knowledge relevant to my role while still delivering what I needed to be in my job”

“I hoped to gain a better understanding of the tools and methodologies and to become a confident and competent Service Designer”

“One huge change is the mindset of understanding customer needs first before focusing on a specific solution, the other big takeaway for me is being able to go on the journey of identifying these needs, exploring them deeper and ideating around potential outcomes before trialling and prototyping solutions”

When it came to asking for 3 words to describe the experience – this board says it all!

For more information about this survey or the Professional Development Award starting in August 2022 or January 2023, please get in touch info@sda.ac.uk

Have a look at Professional Development Award in Service Design Information (including Rory’s video!)

Service Design Network Accreditation

We are delighted to announce that Service Design Academy has been awarded organisational accreditation by the Service Design Network for the next three years.

In 2020 we were the first SDN accredited organisation in the world, and this is now a strong validation and recognition by the Service Design Network of the developing authority and quality of Service Design Academy in the provision of the following services at a consistently high standard to offer service design training and consultancy.

As a result of a successful accreditation, Service Design Academy will be recognised and promoted as a high-quality partner of the SDN and the SDN Academy, joining an exclusive and esteemed international network of outstanding SDN accredited organisations.

We want to thank Birgit Mager and Carolina Corona for their support and look forward to working together to build a global community of changemakers.

Read Service Design Academy Accreditation blog to find out more.

Learning Fest 22

The Service Design Network’s first ever student led Learning Fest (SDNLF22) is on the 21st and 22nd May.

The SDNLF22 is an international virtual conference connecting the next generation of service designers. Open to all disciplines, our goal is to facilitate learning and push the boundaries of service design to foster growth, together in synergy.

To find out more and register SDNLF22 details and booking form.

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Please do share and invite your colleagues to join our mailing list with Service Design Academy’s contact form

Please get in touch with any Service Design news you’d like us to share in our next issue info@sda.ac.uk

It is easy to understand the direct impact of Customer Experience on business success.  If a customer isn’t happy, it’s likely you’ll never see or hear from them again.  But the relationship between happy employees and their impact on growth and business performance is less obvious.  

Employee experience has never been so important for both employees and organisations.

We’re witnessing a generational change in the way we work and, in the employee/employer dynamic which we’ve only previously experienced following huge disruption, or industrial and technological revolutions. Now more than ever, preserving and protecting employee experience is a responsibility shared across the board and throughout leadership.

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Designing a powerful employee experience isn’t simply a tick box exercise for the HR team, it can have a significant impact on many aspects of an organisation. Research from MIT Centre for Information Systems Research shows that companies with the best employee experiences see dramatic business benefits when they get employee experience right.


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Companies who invest in Employee Experience, do four things, they:

1.Put people first

Start with an understanding of the people delivering a service, their needs, strengths, and aspirations

 2.Improve engagement

Recognise organisations as collections of human beings who are motivated by varying perspectives and emotions, they emphasise engagement, dialogue, and learning.

3.Collaborate and co-create

Work together and get inspired by what others are doing

4.Connect and Change

By involving staff in the definition of the problem and the development of solutions they garner a broad commitment to change.

It all starts with Design

Ultimately taking a service design approach to your employee experience will lead to noticeable benefits because developing great employee experiences isn’t a one size fits all approach people are different, companies are different and even in one business, roles and functions are different.

It is about treating people like people and understanding what detracts from people having a really positive experience at work whoever they are and whatever they are doing.

Interested in Designing your People Experience?

Check out https://www.sda.ac.uk/service-design-for-employee-experience/ or

Get in touch https://www.sda.ac.uk/contact/

Co-creating an innovative and sustainable framework to support community led projects through Service Design

INDUSTRY* Education, Third Sector, Health, Wellbeing and Sports.

The Challenge:  The Wood Foundation wanted to support the creation of a new framework for community led projects which connect, engage and support young people in new ways through sport.

The Approach:  A service design learning programme covering user research methods, ideation, prototyping, and implementation support built skills and capabilities to identify the needs of young people and radically re-think provision to co-design innovative new projects.

The Outcome: One charity re-designed their service provision, business planning & operations. Service Design provided space, process & an opportunity to reflect, reset and refocus  on providing high quality support for young people in some of the worst areas of deprivation in Scotland.

The Impact:  Pilot programmes included initiatives that enabled young people to connect with sport by providing appropriate clothing, mental health support, food education, young leaders, and work experience programmes, broadening the scope of support and the ages of young people involved.

Re-imagining funding and support opportunities

The Wood Foundation (TWF) has offered strong financial support for many years to the health, fitness, and wellbeing of young people in Aberdeen. Just one example is the Russell Anderson Development School (RADS). RADS provides quality fitness and health coaching to young people aged 4 -11 in one of Aberdeen’s most deprived areas. As well as increasing opportunities for exercise and encouraging healthy lifestyles, the coaching programme supports communication, social and life skills.

TWF recognised the opportunity for its support to evolve towards the development of more innovative and sustainable projects to meet the challenge of improving the health and wellbeing of young people in the community.

TWF wanted to develop and support a new framework of community- led projects that concentrates on what communities need, rather than dictating where funds will go or asking organisations to bid against each other for funding. They envisaged enabling collaboration and connection across the city for the benefit of young people.

By building the skills sets and capabilities of health and wellbeing partner organisations to fully meet the needs of young people in their communities, it is hoped that the partner organisations will collaborate, as well as involving their communities and team, on the co-design of new and innovative project proposals. Critically, they should build resilience through discovering new sources of sustainable income.

The Service Design Learning Experience

The Service Design Academy (SDA) worked with TWF to identify a shared problem statement, to connect partner organisations while learning the service design process. Five full days of interactive, engaging and impactful sessions were delivered online, for delegates, alongside representatives from TWF.

The sessions were designed to fully engage delegates with group work to encourage shared thinking and collaborative working. Service design principles influenced the workshop design positively with an equitable approach – all voices must be heard. The activities promoted group and independent discovery.

“How might we work together to remove barriers for young people and co-create new, exciting, and innovative ways to positively challenge sport, health and wellbeing in Aberdeen?”

Embracing the learning for success

The process was much more than just training, it enabled delegates to practice service design tools on organisational problems, ideate solutions, develop, and test their ideas in an atmosphere that was conducive to collaboration rather than competition. RADS have

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To support partner organisations SDA hosted individual data analysis and reflection meet-ups 4 weeks after the workshops. These allowed organisations to reflect on their time with SDA and start to formulate plans and proposals for funding to present and share. 

This was an integral part of the process, that enabled SDA to identify where additional support was needed but also to gain invaluable feedback on delivery approaches, learning materials and facilitation

Service Design Outputs and Outcomes at RADS

RADS had taken the opportunity to stop, reflect and re-design their future services. They built service design into regular meetings, providing an equitable and creative space for the rest of the team to join the service design journey.

User research and the ideas generated were the catalyst required to drive change with purpose and momentum.  RADS prepared a service journey map, co-created new “Pilot Light” initiatives and collectively ranked their priorities, planning each topic with a service design approach, even creating personalised service design tools inspired by their experience through the training.

A Business Model Canvas created a new proposal based on the acronym STEPS = Social, Thinking, Emotional, Physical Activity and School.  This was a collaborative effort giving everyone input, including schools, teachers, young people, and families to design the best initiatives possible. 

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Radically improving and expanding service provision

Four months later, the impact of embedding service design across the organisation is clear.

RADS have completely changed the way that they work involving Trustees, volunteers, and coaches at a strategic level and giving their young volunteers a platform to grow in ability and confidence.

RADS work is targeted to focus on local areas with high deprivation levels, and their mission was never to gain new business but to radically improve and expand on their services. Service Design has allowed them to do this, but also identified those who require their support, but for whatever reason, were previously unable to take part.

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Many of these children have very little “discipline” and family guidance to attend after school clubs, RADS are delighted that they will have a purpose and a means of “getting young people off the streets” and into meaningful and impactful programmes.

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SDA consultants supported different learning styles, were mindful of differing levels of comfort and experience that the delegates had collaborating remotely. The skills, expertise and lived experience from the delegates contributed to the workshop outcomes. The collaborative processes created an environment where everyone had a role to play in innovation and improvement, a new culture that allowed people to imagine alternatives and allowed them to come to fruition.




– Data analysis and reflection meet-ups 4 months post-training, provided a short timeline which encouraged the partner organisations to take next steps quickly and allowed SDA continue support going forward.

– Facilitating collaborative working across organisations, previously seen as ‘competitors’, helped to solidify their common goal and created a network of allies to provide support across their shared area of work.

– Iteration is a huge part of the way RADS work now.

– Improved relationships with schools.

– Gained a huge confidence boost, especially regarding creativity.

– Adapting and collaborating much better as a team.

– Have engaged in new partnerships



Katie Murrie, SDA Lead Consultant

Claire Hartley, SDA Consultant 

Last month we welcomed Rory Mertes to our Team.  Rory joined us as one of many young people across Scotland looking for work experience through the Kickstart Scheme.  He’s taken up a new role of Media & Marketing Assistant and he has been a real superstar so far.  Read Rory’s story in his own words here.

Kim Anderson, SDA Consultant has been helping Rory to settle into his new role. As well as service design, Kim is passionate about accessible and inclusive design, she is continually developing her knowledge and skills in both these growing areas. She believes that all services should be inclusive and accessible and is proud that this thinking is at the heart of the design approach at the SDA.

 As our expert on accessible and inclusive design, Kim put together some top tips for Rory to help him in his work and we thought we’d share them with you.

Top tips for accessibility

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A good colour contrast on text, images or graphics, makes it easier for people who have visual impairments, colour blindness as well as those viewing on small badly lit mobile screens to see the content better and easier.  You can check the contrast of any two colours using this online tool, there are different values for size of font and graphics. This tool will give you a pass or fail for all of these.

Combinations to avoid 

Green & Red; Green & Brown; Blue & Purple; Green & Blue; Light Green & Yellow; Blue & Grey; Green & Grey; Green & Black. These can be hard for people who are colour blind to see.  Helpful article on colour designing for colour blindness


ALT text 

Alternative text or ALT text should be assigned to all images on social and the website. This text gives users that use assistive technology a short description of the image where they cannot view it. Best practice for creating ALT tags



Open sans is the SDA brand font, this font is considered to be accessible and easy to read.


Larger pieces of text should be left-aligned, this makes it easier for people who are dyslexic to read and follow.


Text should only be underlined when it is a link (hyperlink), otherwise it can be confusing for users who expect it to act as an active link.


Capitals should be used sparingly and only for small pieces of text. The use of capitals can make it harder to read, for example for those with dyslexia it can make it hard to distinguish between the words. When you use Sentence Case or small case people read by the shape of the letters/combinations in words, blocks of text in capitals removes these shapes making it hard to read.

Social post specific

A handy article here:

Best practice is to include small amounts of text in images if any at all

If text is included in the image, it should be included in the body text of the post as well. Here are a few examples

example of social posts

ALT text on social:

You can add ALT text on social images.

Linkedin                    Twitter                       Instagram

Hash tags

When using hashtags use CamelCase which has capitals on each word – For example: #ServiceDesign (not #servicedesign)

This makes them easier to read and works better with assistive software.

We hope you found these useful. If you’d like to hear more about the challenge and opportunities that arise from implementing Inclusive Design, Kim will be part of an expert panel with Vanquis Bank (details and link in the Events section below).

We’re recruiting

The demand for education and training in service design just keeps on growing. Recruitment is well underway for the PDA in Service Design starting in August and we have an expanding list of clients looking for us to deliver tailor-made programmes to empower their teams. If you’re interested in working at SDA, please apply. Applications close : Friday 28th May.

Great short reads

When we fail to understand the relationships that exist between our organisation and the people we interact with it - we compromise our ability to deliver great services

3 essential relationships that help us deliver great services


How might we create a non-judgmental space where teens can press pause and seek help?


Events worth planning for

Service Design Day 2021


Designing for Inclusivity with Vanquis Bank


June 9, 2021
7:00 PM to 8:15 PM GMT+1

Join Kim Anderson, SDA Consultant to experience the challenge and opportunities that arise from implementing Inclusive Design and be part of the creative solutions that the Vanquis Bank team explores during this journey. 

Digital Leaders Week


14-18 June 2021

Take part, because those with the answers and those who are driving forward digital transformation in the UK are speaking, running workshops, sharing the very best practice and offering solutions that are practical and real.

As always, we’d love to hear if:

You have an article to share with our community of changemakers

You have an event happening and want to spread the word

You’d like to talk about any of our courses or business course funding opportunities

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Leo Tolstoy

This issue is dedicated to the journey you are taking as a changemaker. Once you start adopting service design tools and methodologies, you’ll probably find yourself reflecting on your old ways of thinking and working. That’s a good place to be, indeed it’s our aim!
We have witnessed transformations in people and teams who have embraced service design. They:

are aware and equally wary of functional silos

create multidisciplinary teams and give all experts an equal voice

are more holistic and able to understand the bigger picture

embrace uncertainty

co-design with their staff, customers and stakeholders

maximise realism and minimise self-deception

have an open and curious mind

have fun while working

"Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it'll always get you the right ones.”

John Lennon

You should treat service design like a trusted friend who has been in your situation many, many times before.

Like a true friend, service design is ready to ask difficult questions and push you out of your comfort zone. The service design tools provide a starting point, a guide, and a robust set of processes to take you on a journey.

We can use service design to: 

put users at the very heart of a business

bring customer centricity and an experimentation culture to internal process development

create a shared language and an agile and customer focussed way of working

augment the nature of our role and relationship with customers, seeking alternative mechanisms to meet customer needs and thereby better manage demand

identify services or areas that will benefit from a service design approach and where specific projects can be supported and improvements delivered

That true friend will help you:

with an easy toolbox to adapt and apply to different types of services, work and life situations

as a proven tool to create new, innovative services in a fast, efficient, and holistic way

as a guide on how to create new ways of working in the digital era

to ensure that you have looked at your service from all relevant angles

to introduce a shared language and a common methodology to a multidisciplinary team

as a visible, fast and easy way of communicating your work to other people, and encouraging them to give relevant feedback

Like all true friends, they’ll support you, rather than do the work for you to have: 

a creative and results-oriented mindset. The tools will never create awesome results by themselves. At the end of the day, you, and your team drive performance 

a humble attitude. You must be willing to throw away precious or sacred ideas 

the ability to listen to your customers and colleagues

the confidence to deal with irrelevant and obtuse feedback

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new."


At the Service Design Academy, we believe that the ability to question, be curious and interrogate is as important as knowing the methods and mapping the journeys.
Our accredited education programmes are developed for learners to grow as confident design thinkers and leaders.

We keep learning. We explore and learn from others. We research and test our ideas thoroughly and take time to reflect and change.
Visit www.sda.ac.uk to find out more.

Great short reads

5 benefits of making service blueprints when you build or improve a service

What is Service Design and Why Does it Matter to Your Nonprofit? 2 Tools to help your business

Scaling service design in organizations

Service Design beyond design thinking, journey maps and personas

Beyond the blueprint: methods for service design implementation

Events worth planning ahead for

Service Design in Education Thinks & Drinks – 19 April
Helena Good and Ruth Cochrane will inspire with Daydream Believers new Creative Thinking qualification and resources.  Tickets free, but limited.

Converge & Emerge – 14 May
The Great Open Space Gathering for System Changers
Magnify – the inclusive design & research conference – October 6-7
Service Design Global Conference 2021 – October 21-22
Take a deep dive into the trending topics, insights and developments shaping the future of our practice. While details are still in the works, we guarantee you this online experience is not to be missed. Sign up for the SDN newsletter here

As always, we’d love to hear if:

You have an article to share with our community of changemakers

You have an event happening and want to spread the word

You’d like to talk about any of our courses or business course funding opportunities

Dundee and Angus College is determined to support local businesses and just one of the ways it can do that is by helping them make use of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund. This funding allows access to a suite of training specially designed to help businesses recover and flourish, from Service Design and Mental Health First Aid through to Management, Digital and Health & Safety.

Last year Jessica Chan, Business Development Manager at Shelter Scotland applied to the FWDF through D&A College. Jessica explains, “Shelter has an ambitious new strategy and we need to ensure we have the right skills and capacity to deliver our ambitions. We were keen to use Service Design to find new and better ways of working. Taking this approach has helped us better understand the needs of our client groups and we are looking forward to using the FWDF again this year.” 

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Caron Sandeman, Service Design Manager at the Service Design Academy reflects on the process, “The availability of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund means businesses can access support to create better customer experiences and aid post-Covid recovery. This will be a year of rebuilding, and organisations must re-imagine, re-think and re-design everything that has gone before.”

Civil engineering contractor Kilmac has also benefitted from the FWDF. HR Officer, Sean Davidson explains, “This funding has given us the opportunity to advance our employees’ skills at all levels across the company. We selected training courses with a specific group of employees in mind. For example, HAVS, Dust and Noise Training helped our construction site staff increase their awareness around this very important aspect of their work. I opted for the Microsoft Excel course which has shown me an array of different functions I can use in my role, improving overall efficiency.”

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Meanwhile, Bairds Malt offered various sessions to all its employees. Project Coordinator Isla Prentice says, “I found each training course very valuable as it allowed me to develop useful skills, most of which I was able to apply immediately at work. In particular, I found the Project Management course very informative and beneficial. It really helped with my performance and confidence in my new role.”

Caryn Gibson, Economics Partnership Manager at D&A College says, “This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to think to the future. Whilst Covid has brought challenges it has also brought opportunities and an acceleration of the evolution of digital and technology. We would urge businesses to use this fund to upskill or reskill their workforce ensuring they have the internal skillset required to allow their businesses to benefit from these advancements.”

For more details visit: https://dundeeandangus.ac.uk/businesses/flexible-workforce-development-fund/

As we all look to a post-Covid future, in a world that’s still uncertain and changeable, one thing is certain: compassion, creativity and collaborative problem-solving have never been more important. People with these skills are more and more in demand as business, local and national governments and the third sector seek to harness the power of service design.

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Our (only good) News piece this month focuses on service design jobs, but first …..

Great reads to put a spring in your step

“We need to stop designing faster and learn how to start designing less”


“Mezzanine levels in Service Design”


“Let’s stop talking about products and start taking about service design”


In case you missed it: This was Services Week 2021


(Only Good) News

Design for Recovery

THE V&A Dundee is to develop into a national centre for design over the next three years as Scotland recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

The museum will work in partnership locally, nationally and internationally to position design as one of Scotland’s greatest resources and to develop the country’s design capacity. Supported by the Scottish Government, it will look at the role of design in Scotland’s long-term economic and social recovery from Covid-19. The Scottish Government is providing additional funding of £2 million a year for three years to support V&A Dundee’s operations as both Scotland’s design museum and centre for design.

Service Design Careers

We’ve been talking to Scottish Government who are kicking off a large recruitment drive to fill around 40 vacancies over the next few months. There’s a mixture of permanent/ pensionable, temporary and consultants’ posts. We’ll post links on our socials as an when they are advertised. If you don’t already follow us, we are on Twitter @SDA_Scot

If you’re looking for a job in Service Design, we’d definitely recommend https://www.servicedesignjobs.com/ one of the very few (if not only) job board focused only on Service Design, there are 173 open vacancies from across the globe listed there. Follow on Twitter @sdxjobs

Many of you reading this will either be in Service Design roles or looking to get a Service Design role. The problem is that many companies don’t even know they need Service Design roles, yet!.  So, if you want to be a Service Designer – and are still wondering where to start, Caron Sandeman, SDA Service Design Manager shares her thoughts with a few pointers:

“You don’t have to be a designer, but you do have to adopt design mindset and methods. Start identifying opportunities to test out service design methodology in your current workplace. Find ways to run rapid experiments, to show value, to get buy-in, and to creatively apply service design concepts to your area of focus. Engage others in what you bring and how you bring that, use maps for links and understanding and to show the value of service design. This will help you to shift personally and help to change mindsets.”

If you have questions about a career in Service Design or need support in raising awareness at work, the team are happy to have a cheerful chat with you. Please do contact us.

Design skills are becoming increasingly essential for careers in any sector. No matter your role or your organisation, you can apply a human-centred design thinking approach at work.

We’ve developed 4 2-day courses for those looking to take their first steps into service design. Demand has grown for these spring & summer courses for individuals and small corporate groups across all sectors. Participants will learn by doing in live online classrooms, to then apply new skills back in the workplace. These courses are for anyone

who hasn’t used Service Design Tools and Methodologies before and wants an energetic, hands-on and insightful introduction

who wants to drive innovation and problem solve on a whole different level

For the many who’ve navigated the path into service design roles without any accreditation then the Professional Development Award in Service Design is just right for you.  There are limited places available for our April 21 cohort.

All our courses are accredited by the Service Design Network guaranteeing you the very best service design education in the world.

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Events you won’t want to miss

Curious as to how design can enable a more sustainable business? Join Livework Studio’s webinar. Climate change has become impossible to ignore. Last year saw an explosion of commitments to zero carbon goals. The challenge for many organisations is translating good intentions into real change. This is where design comes in. 

Wednesday 17 March @ 10am


Service Design in Education Network‘s monthly Thinks and Drinks!

18 March: Thinks & Drinks organised by SDinEducation is a monthly gathering of service designers, subject experts, co-creators and education enthusiasts to share knowledge & ideas!


13 April: Learn about UX and service design research at this special UX Research & Strategy + Service Design Network crossover event with Erika Hall


22 April: Join FutureGov for Transitions 2.0 to hear the real stories of change shaped by the toughest challenges we’ve faced in a generation.


1 June: Service Design Day – Join the buzz and shake up the world


We’d love to hear if

This gave you a little lift, or if it didn’t do tell us why

You have an article to share with our community of changemakers

You have an event happening and want to spread the word

You’d like to talk about any of our courses or business course funding opportunities


We need each other more than ever right now! If we can focus on reaching out to connect with others and doing our best to be a good friend, our acts of kindness and connection ripple out and impact so many more people than we realise – and they also boost our own happy hormones too!

If you haven’t seen the Action for Happiness Calendar yet, check it out at www.actionforhappiness.org

Calendar for February

Sharing the love with some great articles, it’s the month of love after all

(Only Good) News

The Scottish Funding Council are offering business support packages up to £15,000. We’ve designed a 90-minute FREE workshop to examine exactly what you need to fill the skills gap in your business.  From there you’ll design a training package that’s just right for you. We’ll help you with the funding application process and as well as service design, you can access expertise in marketing and comms, leadership/change management, digital marketing, social media, e-commerce, growth mindset and procurement: securing contracts. Applications are being taken on a first come, first served basis, so do not delay, talk to us now to secure your free Discovery Workshop.

This pandemic has exposed many flaws and vulnerabilities in our structures, practices, and ways of working that have been ignored for too longReflect & Reset is a brand-new workshop designed to celebrate your team’s successes, capture what has worked well and identify areas for development. The session will:

Re-engage individuals by encouraging reflection

Celebrate and document your successes

Encourage team collaboration 

Identify where your focus should be next as a team or organisation

Introduce service design tools you can use again and again

Bring your team with you on the planning journey

Our online, impactful, and interactive short courses for changemakers are open for bookings.  Fast-paced and insightful these courses are the perfect introduction to service design essentials, giving you all the foundational knowledge and tools, you need to kick-start your own service design journey.

Applications for our PDA in Service Design are open for April 21, August 21 and January 22.

Events you won’t want to miss

#UoDEntWeek21 Service Design for Business Success, 24th February – 2.30-4.00 pm – Virtual


Services Week 2021, 1st – 5th March


Creating clarity at a time of uncertainty 10th March, 9.30-11.30, Virtual


How did we do?

We’d love to hear from you if you

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By Caron Sandeman, Service Design Manager

“The right customer experience plan can be implemented quickly, saving time and creating organisational resilience”

The week we started the Student Engagement & Service Development Project 2020 in response to the COVID pandemic at D&A College I read Andrea Cooper’s blog Working From Home. It’s a reminder that investing in anything, from a small home-spun project to building a team or changing a whole organisation, isn’t easy and there are seldom quick fixes.

Our Service Design team has been working with the College for 3 years now, and we’ve made great steps towards improving ways of working and cultivating a focus on their customer wants and needs. Our Service Designers work collaboratively with teams across all services in the College. This lets us take a holistic view of the services that we offer and influence how we make the most of the benefit to their customers, the students and staff.

The College is used to change following a merger, restructure and a cyberattack. We introduced service design in 2017 when 600+ staff spent a day Designing Good to Great; an ambitious change programme driven by data and powered by service design for which they were awarded the Public Sector Reform Award. We were relying on the lessons learned and the successes of the past to drive Project 2020.

Project 2020 was a new piece of work, there were no partially formed solutions, there was a just a problem. 

How do we deliver all the services we provide to students on campus, during a pandemic?

We needed to take all the frontline services that were once delivered face to face on campus, at the start of each academic year, into the new Covid_19 ways of working. Where once there was a smile or a comforting and reassuring chat, which we knew from research and experience was often needed for new students in their first days, weeks and months in College, we were working out how to do things remotely and physically distanced. 

We were not looking for a one-off fix. Solutions were needed to design accessible and easy to use services no matter whether they were delivered wholly online, remotely by staff or face to face on campus. The focus of the design effort was not so much on any single service but across the whole organisation. There needed to be a concentrated effort to shape a personalised offering around each individual student.

We faced a ‘wicked’ problem in that we were working without rules. And by this, I mean, we did not know if the campuses would be open and what operational restrictions might be in place for Session 2020/21. The continual flux in guidance and directions made this seem for many, like the problem was insurmountable.

Our approach

We started by mapping the current on campus end to end service so we could highlight every digital and physical customer touchpoint – whether they were emails or text messages the customer received or an on-campus conversation with our staff. This holistic view let us see everything the students interacted with on their journey.

Project timeline

Working with the delivery teams, we applied their known qualitative and quantitative research and expert insights to the map. This was key to making sure we were bringing others with us on the journey. These people would be working on the detail, so their input and awareness was crucial. When we did this, we could see the digital and physical interactions our students had with us and identify where services could easily be moved to a remote delivery or where there was potential for friction. And importantly, we saw issues might arise with a remote service delivery, or where the physical interaction could no longer take place face to face. We also identified areas where our insights were not enough and where we needed to ask questions of our customers.

Once we identified the problem areas and made sure they were backed up with insights, we were able to prioritise any problem areas with the teams. This was essential to make sure we didn’t create silos of work and that the services were considered across multiple groupings for planning and prioritisation. Identifying dates that services must be in place for helped us plan the work schedule.

The Process 

We ran two workshops for managers introducing them to working collaboratively in a remote environment using Zoom and Miro. We set prework to familiarise them with the online tools. We introduced Lou Downes principles of good service and we worked on several generic journey maps to familiarise individuals with the sessions we would facilitate.

Before team sessions, managers introduced the timeline and journey mapping techniques on Miro to staff and at the team sessions we planned to concentrate on ideation. Some team sessions where staff had completed the pre-work were more successful than others. The sessions also highlighted capability and competence issues. The remote collaboration brought technical skill frustrations to the fore and it took mindful facilitation to keep sessions on schedule and accessible for all participants. Seven team workshops took place over two weeks. 

coloured posts of a journey map

Teams worked with their live boards following the session and were able to call on our team for help at any point.  Weekly progress meetings took place to ensure the plan was running on schedule.

Key outcomes

By overseeing the work of multi-disciplinary teams and bringing them together, facilitating workshops, gathering and articulating insights, and looking at our services from an end-to-end point of view we were able to

  • identify where teams were well placed, and confident, to redesign and deliver the service themselves
  • break down silos when teams came together to co-ordinate a service
  • adopt a holistic approach to some services reducing duplication and improving the student experience
  • look at a service in its entirety and identify where there were gaps between team knowledge and business knowledge
  • provide focus to various teams and cross-college groups on previously unknown customer needs and problems that needed to be solved or investigated further when new problems were identified

While change felt slow to start as teams learned new ways of working, small wins quickly started to build on each other, proving that change really was happening and that building of momentum showed that the problem wasn’t insurmountable after all.

What has this delivered?

Leann Crichton, Head of Administrative Operations at the College led on the Student Engagement and Service Development workstream of Project 2020. We asked her how using service design has improved the pandemic journey for students and staff at the College?

“We’ve definitely seen a culture shift where people previously conditioned to find solutions now spend more time exploring problems. We have services for several possible scenarios and phases so the right customer experience plan can be implemented quickly, saving time and creating organisation resilience.

The ability to get ahead and respond quickly with the right service delivery plan to minimise disruption for teams and customers has meant less stress and a feeling of being in control, as much as you can be in uncertain times!  Being able to imagine and visualise the service and experience for several likely operating environments has equipped us to respond quickly when the situation changes allowing for more considered processes and reducing the interruptions to services.

Because we’ve designed carefully and proactively, we’ve avoided an impact on student satisfaction and that endorsement of the Project 2020 outcomes was the real result for us”.

Average number scores

In 2019/20 Jessica Chan, Business Development Manager at Shelter Scotland took a Professional Development Award in Service Design alongside five other Shelter Scotland colleagues.

We spoke to Jessica to find out the impact that their programme of learning, funded by FWDF had on her, and the business.

Why Service Design?

“Shelter has an ambitious new strategy and we need to ensure we have the right skills and capacity to deliver our strategic ambitions. We were keen to use Service Design to find new and better ways of working, introducing a shared language and tools across teams so we could work together to innovate. We have started to embed the service design mindset, we now talk about discovery phases, better defining problems through user research, involving the right people to develop, test and implement solutions. It’s a process that develops ideas really well and means that different teams can work together in the same way”

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What did you get from the course?

“I enjoyed learning and using the tools back at work, running workshops on live projects. It gave me the chance to think through and try out new ideas. Because the Service Design Academy’s PDA has an assessment for every unit, it means that we were always putting our learning into action.

It’s hard work and takes time, lots of planning and energy – you are under pressure to complete assessments. You are rewarded with better ways of working and delivering new services. It’s a course I really enjoyed

What impact has the programme had on the business?

“At Shelter, user research can be challenging because it’s not always appropriate to ask our clients to get involved when they are in a housing crisis. Service design has helped us think differently about who we should speak to when designing services to ensure insight of clients is captured, such as volunteers with lived experience, our advisors and other frontline workers from partner agencies.

Taking a service design approach has helped us understand the needs of our client groups that use our different services more deeply. It means that we can design better services to successfully secure funding.  Thinking in different ways and hearing different voices has brought a positive impact to how our services are designed.”

How does online training work for you?

“It’s fantastic how we could collaborate in the virtual world. It has made remote working easier and I’ve learned how to facilitate group working at Shelter online.”

What’s the FWDF application process like?

“Making a FWDF application is very straightforward. The D&A college team were super helpful in getting our funding approved and our Service Design training arranged. We look forward to using the FWDF again in 2021. A specially developed programme by the Service Design Academy will introduce service design to more teams across Shelter Scotland and develop another cohort of service design champions.”

Graphic with a woman smiling

Caron Sandeman, Service Design Manager at the Service Design Academy reflected on the process

“This type of learning is exactly what the FWDF money has been designed for. The aim of the fund is to provide eligible employers with workforce development training to up-skill and re-skill their existing workforce. This training enables employers to address skills gaps within their workforce and allow them to become more productive and efficient.

Last year, Shelter Scotland chose to have 6 of their team complete the Professional Development Award in Service Design. This meant the staff gained an accredited qualification and worked on business -related projects putting their learning to use straight away in the workplace. This year we will work with them to co-design the training they need, for the context of their organisation, to upskill and embed service design across the teams.

2021 will be a year of rebuilding from one of the most horrific times in modern history, organisations must re-imagine, re-think and re-design everything that has gone before. This applies to almost every economic sector from transport, health, media/digitisation, communities and city planning, communication, banks, insurance, food and shopping, to name but a few. The work of service design is to create a future that doesn’t exist yet and the availability of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (£15,000 for Scottish Levy Payers and £5,000 for SME’s) means organisations can access support to grow a community of change makers to create better services and customer experiences to aid post-Covid recovery and increase their resilience for the future.”

If you are interested in accessing FWDF monies for service design training, get in touch.