Service Design Academy

Building a Service Design Community

Service Designers taking part in SDA workshop

If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Group of people attending a Service Design Workshop

Specialist service designers have a critical role to play in the development and improvement of services with large organisations. Their jobs are challenging and often clearly defined in terms of role and function

Their focus is on improving and optimising the end-to-end experience of a service. They research user needs, collaborate with stakeholders, and use design thinking to create human-focused solutions. Through prototyping and testing, they refine and make service delivery better for users.

However, many of the organisations Service Design Academy works with simply do not have the luxury of being able to resource a full team of professional service designers. However, they recognise there is a need to build capacity, skills and knowledge to drive change and transform services to meet users’ evolving needs.

The ideal for these organisations is for an emerging community of non-specialist and committed individuals with service design skills and confidence. A community that understands that by taking this approach they’ll be equipped to adapt to change, evolving customer needs, and emerging market trends.                   

Why does it matter?

Creating a community within an organisation, where individuals and teams are aware of service design, leads to improved collaboration, a customer-focussed culture, and better problem-solving across different teams and departments.

In our experience of working with diverse organisations across different sectors there are some important reasons for not having one person or even a team responsible for service design. There needs to be a community.

What does a community look like?

A Shared Understanding

A community of individuals aware of service design principles establishes a shared language and understanding across different teams. This common ground helps in effective communication and alignment of goals. We learned a lot about shared language when we worked with The Centre of Civic Innovation Glasgow City Council

A Collaborative Culture

Service design often requires input from various departments. Building a community ensures that individuals from different teams have the space and empowerment to bring a 360 degrees approach to service delivery. We’ve enjoyed partnering with Edinburgh Napier University Information Services Directorate as their PMO makes amazing progress.

Breaking Down Silos

Service design can suffer in environments with departmental silos. A lack of big-picture thinking stifles creativity and leads to duplication and frustration. Creating a community encourages the breaking down of these silos, promoting collaboration, information sharing, and a more integrated approach to problem-solving.

Always keeping the customer in mind

The customer must be everyone’s concern. A community that is collectively aware of service design principles helps maintain a consistent customer focus across various teams. This alignment is crucial for delivering a seamless and positive customer experience.

Bit by bit - iterative improvement

A community will be geared for generating and sharing continuous feedback loops, allowing for regular evaluations and refinements of services based on insights from different perspectives.


When individuals across various teams are aware of service design principles, problem-solving becomes easier. The collective knowledge allows for a quicker identification and resolution of issues that may arise in service delivery. We loved working with ANGUSalive frontline staff with a customised “What’s your problem and how to solve it” programme.

Better People Experience

Having this conducive environment helps to provide a platform for employees to actively contribute to the improvement of services, creating a sense of ownership and pride in their work. Manchester City Council HR and OD had a clear vision of building service design capability to improve their people experience on our customised programme.

Facing Change together

A community that understands service design principles will lead to resilient mindsets – better equipped to adapt to changes, evolving customer needs, and emerging market trends.

If you recognise that service design is needed not just for you but for a wider group, we’d love to talk. We’ll find out more about your challenges and goals and you will learn what Service Design Academy programme meets your needs. info@sda.ac.uk

Service Designers taking part in SDA workshop

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