Service Design Academy

“A whole new way of doing things”                      

Data and service design work together closely.  Data analysis and insights inform service design decisions around people – their behaviour, preferences, and needs.

At the same time service design can be used to design processes that capture relevant user information to improve products, services and experiences. Learning more about how data and design work together means that we can understand the relationship between information about people (data) and insights (the things we can learn).

Thanks to support from our partners Tay Cities Digital Skills and the Data Lab, the Service Design Academy at Dundee and Angus College was delighted to welcome 25 people working in data roles to a 14 hour live and online Service Design for Data Professionals course over four mornings in November. 

Learners joined from a wide range of roles and functions including Data Analysts, Insight Analyst, Human Resources, Organisational Development and Improvement, Library Systems, Employability, Workforce Development, Policy and Programme management.

In our pre-training support survey, we discovered a variety of reasons learners had for wanting to learn more about service design:

– Developing new techniques to research and develop data analytics

– Problem solving in a project environment

– To have some tools and structure to use in the future will be very useful and help my audience     understand the data better

Everyone shared the goal of wanting to learn how service design can help them to solve problems with (not just for) stakeholders.

The course was designed to help data professionals communicate and effectively engage people in the story and context of data, helping their organisations to make data-informed decisions.

Service design training helped them think through issues and problems and develop techniques and confidence to undertake user research, analyse and synthesise qualitative data, generate ideas, and create prototypes for testing and communication.

Kim Anderson, lead educator on this course shares what happened over the 4 mornings.

Kim Anderson, SDA Consultant

“Using the double diamond and its phases Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver the group were introduced to service design through a blend of theory and practical activities.

Working on a relatable challenge  – the Future of Food – the group first gathered thoughts and experiences to then work in seven self-selected themes. 

Graphic of Service Design Prototype

These themes covered diverse topics from Policy and Regulation to Education and Human Rights. To challenge their initial assumptions, learners made user research plans and learned interview techniques. We then showed the teams how to analyse and synthesise data. From there they worked on problem definition and then to generate ideas before prioritising, prototyping, testing, and iterating their ideas.

We love working with enthusiastic learners, and this first cohort of the service design for data professionals course didn’t disappoint.  Each person gave it their all every week which created a fun, and supportive learning environment.

The group left with reflections on what they liked and what they had learned, and we’ve taken that feedback to update our next course running from the Friday 8th March.

Picture with coloured post it notes with feedback of what the group learned in the session
Picture with coloured post it notes with feedback of what the grouped liked about the session

Service Design Academy is passionate about offering a hands-on experience of service design as an approach to understand the issues and needs of people to collaboratively problem-solve. We hope a key outcome for our learners will be a shift in mindset; that working in a data role is seen as a service that supports many others within and outside their organisation. We look forward to hearing how the participants continue to use service design in their role.

We are incredibly grateful to Digitay and The Data Lab for giving Service Design Academy the opportunity to be part of a fantastic programme which will contribute to building new skills and opportunities for people in Tay Cities.”

Service Design for Data Professionals will run again four mornings 09.30 – 13.00 from 8th  – 29th March with fully funded places for people living or working in Tay Cities available meeting the eligibility criteria.

We highly encourage those living or working in Dundee, Angus, Perth & Kinross and North Fife to take advantage of this valuable opportunity and apply for a funded opportunity to upskill.

For more information about Service Design Academy please contact Maralyn Boyle


01382 448868

Taycities logo
The Datalab logo

Are you aware of service design but have been wondering whether you want to develop your skills further in this field? Could it be helpful to your business or career advancement?  

Perhaps you are curious about the value of supporting your employees to use service design to improve your service offering?  

Service design helps you design services well. It equips you or your team members with the tools and knowledge to solve problems by taking a human-centred design approach. 

Our Professional Development Award (PDA) in Service Design, which is accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), is a training programme designed to empower learners to grow as confident service design thinkers and leaders in order to transform the organisations they work in.  

Who is the PDA in Service Design for?

The PDA in Service Design is ideal for someone who: 

  • Wants to become a service designer. 
  • Has been in service design roles and wants to consolidate their knowledge by obtaining a qualification.  
  • Is looking to empower and enable their team to develop their skills to innovate and problem solve. 
  • Is in a job role where they want to adapt their current service offering to better suit what customers and colleagues need. They want to create impact by making things work better with the improvement of team processes and working environment.  
  • Is looking to enhance their future job prospects by upskilling in service design. 

It would suit someone who already has a basic understanding of what service design is but wants to be able to use it to create positive change in their workplace. Learners join us from many different roles including digital transformation, organisational development, project and change management. 

Participants taking part in a workshop using post it notes

What’s unique about this PDA in Service Design?

  • It is delivered part-time and online, offering you flexibility with your work and the opportunity to build collaborative skills in remote environments. 
  • Our online and interactive learning labs give you a safe space to practise new methods and techniques with other learners on a relatable design challenge. 
  • Across the 4 units in the course, you’ll apply everything you learn straight back in the workplace, with your practical assessments based on challenges you or your business are facing. 
  • On completing the course, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you have the skills, experience and confidence to drive change. 
Employees collaborating by writing on white board

8 Benefits of the PDA Service Design Course

Here are the 8 main benefits of undertaking the PDA in Service Design with the Service Design Academy: 

1. Skill Enhancement 

The PDA in Service Design involves training and learning experiences that improve your skills in areas such as user research, prototyping, customer journey mapping, and other relevant aspects of service design. 

2. Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills 

Service design focuses on solving complex problems related to user experiences and service delivery. The PDA can enhance your ability to identify, analyse, and solve problems in innovative ways to help your business or organisation thrive. 

3. Stay Updated with Industry Trends 

Service design is an evolving field, and staying current with the latest trends, tools, and methodologies is crucial. This course provides insight into emerging trends and best practices to set you up to be the best service designer you can be. 

4. Validation of Expertise 

Completing this accredited training course in service design can serve as a validation of your expertise. It provides a formal acknowledgment of your skills and commitment to staying current in your field. 

5. Cross-functional Collaboration 

Service design often involves collaboration and co-designing across various disciplines, including business, technology, and user experience. The PDA can equip you with the ability to co-design and work effectively in cross-functional teams. 

6. Increased Job Satisfaction 

Contributing to the improvement of services at your place of work or business with your enhanced skills learned through this PDA can not only increase the employee experience for your team but also create job satisfaction for you. The ability to make a positive impact on user experiences and business outcomes can be very rewarding. 

7. Entrepreneurial Opportunities 

For those interested in entrepreneurship, a background in service design can be valuable for creating and optimising services, whether launching your own start-up or contributing to innovative projects within existing organisations. 

8. Career Advancement 

Acquiring new skills and knowledge through the PDA can improve your career prospects. Employers often value employees who actively invest in their professional growth and development.  

Our next PDA in Service Design cohort starts on Monday 4 March 2024. Find out more and book your place here: https://www.sda.ac.uk/pda-service-design/  

One of  Service Design Academy’s standout moments of 2023 was when we helped to co-design a unique lived experience tartan at CanDuCancer Dundee Support Networks  conference at the V&A Dundee  
People living with cancer, clinicians, health and cancer support specialists came together in November to share and learn about the value of lived expertise. 
Everyone listened to stories about the physical and emotional challenges that people living with cancer and their families face. A thought provoking Q&A facilitated by Dundee and Angus College’s Claire Mackay brought a wide range of voices together

Presentation slide at the CanDu Cancer Support Network Conference at V&A Dundee

We learned that although cancer treatment is world-class, patient empowerment for mental and emotional wellbeing needs to be explored and elevated. Empathy is good, but it can only go so far. Space needs to be made for people’s lived expertise to be really heard.  Collaboration is critical.

Design has an important part to play – not making assumptions about what people living with cancer need, but asking questions and listening to understand what the problems really are. Making sure that everyone’s voices are heard will shape future cancer services for the better. 

In the afternoon participants local designers Linsey McIntosh and Gary Kennedy asked participants to think about: 
💙 Why sharing lived expertise matters 
💛 What practical and emotional needs must be met. 

2 participants weaving thoughts and ideas together as the warp and weft of a magical tartan.
Participants weaving thoughts and ideas together as the warp and weft of a magical tartan.

Thoughts and ideas were woven together as the warp and weft of a magical tartan.  

2 participants weaving thoughts and ideas together as the warp and weft of a magical tartan.
2 participants weaving thoughts and ideas together as the warp and weft of a magical tartan.

Kim Anderson and Robbie Beautyman from Service Design Academy are now working on giving the lived expertise tartan a lasting legacy. They will analyse data gathered to synthesise into themes. This will help Dr Julie Wardrop and the CanDu team to share and continue to action with the Cancer Support community in Dundee and beyond. 
Thank you to everyone for making this a unique day. 
Peter Nurick Alison Connelly, Vicky Reid Gary, Linsey, Claire, Robbie, Kim, Aleksandra Daszyńska 
There were some tears, some shared frustrations and lots of laughter with a fantastic sing-song to end the day with the fabulous Maggie’s Centres Dundee Choir 
Thanks to all the partners and people who supported this event.  

Macmillan Cancer SupportTayside Cancer SupportJohn AlexanderThe ALLIANCE 

Our lead consultant Katie Murrie was delighted to join expert colleagues and service design practitioners at the Service Design Conference at the beginning of October.

Bringing the best in our industry together to share service design knowledge and new cross-disciplinary methods and thinking The Service Design Global Conference more that met its promise of two days of interactive learning, keynote presentations and in-person and virtual networking.

The theme for this year’s Service Design Global Conference was Catalyst for Change. Our world is undergoing radical, disruptive changes at an accelerating speed. Innovation, digitalisation, and technological and environmental shifts are changing the way we live and work, transforming industry and reshaping consumer demands. Service transformation is at the heart of this change with impacts being felt through new and innovative service experiences that serve people, the planet, and the invigorated organisations that deliver them. 

The conference speakers addressed the question – how can service design be the ingredient that not only increases the rate of transformation but also improves its quality and impact?

Katie’s reflections:

Attending SDGC was an absolute delight. It was an incredible experience. The venue was quirky and inspiring, the speakers were top-notch, and the people were amazing.

Surprisingly, despite our strong relationship with SDN (Service Design Network), this was the first time I had attended the global conference in person. I can confirm that it was worth the 6 year wait.

Katie Murrie in checked hoodie with other SDGC speakers

From start to finish, the entire experience, was just a design dream and I cannot thank those involved in organising everything enough – I can only imagine the orchestration that went into creating such a wholesome experience for those in Berlin and those online, using the immersive platform Hopin.

Group of speakers on stage at SDGC23 event

One of the best things about the conference was the line-up of speakers. They came from all over the world and covered a wide range of topics related to SDN. The talks were informative and engaging, and the panel chats were particularly insightful.

But the real highlight of the conference for me was the people. I had the chance to meet and connect with so many talented and passionate people from the SDN community. It was inspiring to see how many people are passionate about what we are doing.

I’m excited to share more about my experience and reflections on the conference in a future post. Follow me on LinkedIn to stay tuned.

Katie Murrie's LinkedIn QR code

As we get ready for a programme of scheduled and customised training into 2024, we reflect on the importance of knowledge and skills gained in our workshops making an impact back in the real world.   

Making an Impact

We believe that our service design training should always be focussed on how it will be implemented and put into practice. Our learners and customers know we are all about action!

Building skills and knowledge should improve not only capability for individuals but the capacity for organisations to use service design. Not all our learners will change their job title to Service Designer, but everyone will have evolving mindset and confidence – focussing on people by asking questions, listening, and collaborating to design better services.

We’re working with forward thinking organisations who have different motivations for taking a service design approach – digital transformation, continuous service improvement, effective project management and customer engagement. They all share the purpose of becoming more focussed on understanding and defining problems by speaking to people, to then design better solutions with them.

This is demonstrated with the innovative project we are currently delivering in the South of Scotland with Dumfries and Galloway Local Employability Partnership. This has the critical goal of developing support services for families who continue to be adversely affected by the cost-of-living crisis.

Service Design Academy is training the workers involved directly in service delivery to connect with families to fully understand their challenges to then develop new ideas together with them.

We are energised by this service design for everyone approach. By building skills in how to listen to families, to gather and analyse data to evidence what change is needed, means this is a sustainable way of developing new services. The new skills and confidence grown through this training will benefit not just this programme but drive change in the future.

To ensure that training is sustainable and will make an impact, we are designing learning pathways with organisations in diverse sectors including IT Services, Higher Education, Health and Social Care. Each organisation is focussed on ensuring that their investment will reap positive rewards in delivering better, efficient and effective services.

Picture of beach with rainbow and canoe

Upcoming Courses - Book Now

7 hours
30th November and 7th December
09:30 – 13:00

This course meets a growing demand for a comprehensive introduction to the mindset, approach, and principles of service design.

This course is for anyone who wants to learn how service design can help them engage with people, solve problems, and bring ideas into reality.

Find out more about the course here

Book your place here

Four weekly 3.5 hour online sessions from 2 November 

This interactive online introductory course has been designed for you to grow our knowledge of the value of service design. You’ll learn how to use the process to understand problems, to then work towards solutions.

You will explore the relationship between information about people (data) and insights (the things we can learn).

Fully Funding places are available for people living and working in Tay Cities area.

More information about the course here

Book here 

The Professional Development Award starting on the 22nd January, is live and online with interactive learning labs. It offers you the benefits of one-to-one support with our expert team, learning resources in a dedicated digital space and the value of sharing your journey with other people developing their service design practice.

Every Professional Development Award delegate also benefits from a full membership with our partners’ Service Design Network for a year. 

Find out more about the only accredited PDA in Service Design and apply here:

Information on our Website and to Apply

Quote mark

Fantastic course…..

The best part? The feedback from the stakeholders involved has been very positive!

One of the major advantages for me as a leader in these initatives is the active involvement of stakeholders from the initial design phase right through to delivery.

Duncan Brown
Quality & Academic Standards Development Manager
Univesity of Dundee


You can find out more about the Service Design Academy and what we do to train and educate people to design better services here https://www.sda.ac.uk/

New online course with fully funded places launches

We are delighted to launch our new 14-hour online course Service Design for Data Professionals running over 4 sessions from November 2nd.

This is part of The Data Lab Data Skills for Work programme – a skills-building programme has been designed to support the development of key data and digital skills and prepare people for the changing world of work.

Thanks to funding from the Scottish Government through the Tay Cities Deal Digital Skills Project, we are excited to be working with The Data Lab on this new service design training opportunity.

Who is this course for?

Anyone who loves working with data and is looking for ways to solve problems beyond purely technical solutions will find this course useful to enhance communication, storytelling, curiosity, and critical thinking skills.

Why have we designed this course?

Data and service design work together closely.  Data analysis and insights inform service design decisions around people – their behaviour, preferences, and needs. At the same time service design can be used to design processes that capture relevant user information to improve products, services and experiences.

Learning more about how data and design work together means that we can understand the relationship between information about people (data) and insights (the things we can learn).

We’ve been inspired to design this course by our learning partners the Data Lab’s purpose:


Quote mark
to change lives and make Scotland a more productive and sustainable place by transforming the way we use data……… our aim is to turn Scotland into a thriving, data-driven economy.”

How will this course help data professionals?

Learning how service design can be used to solve problems with (not just for) stakeholders, delegates will learn how to communicate and effectively engage people in the story and context of data, helping their organisations to make data-informed decisions.

The course will them help to think through issues and problems and develop techniques and confidence to undertake user research, analyse and synthesise qualitative data, generate ideas, and create prototypes for testing and communication.

Lead consultant Katie Murrie explains “A key outcome for our learners will be a shift in mindset. They’ll learn what they do is a service that supports others within and outside their organisation. We’re passionate about offering a hands-on experience of service design as an approach to understand the issues and needs of people to collaboratively problem-solve.

We are incredibly grateful to The Data Lab for giving Service Design Academy the opportunity to be part of a fantastic programme which will contribute to building new skills and confidence for people in Tay Cities.”

We highly encourage those living or working in Dundee, Angus, Perth & Kinross and North Fife to take advantage of this valuable opportunity and apply for a funded opportunity to upskill.

To support under-represented groups in Tay Cities area, fully funded places are available for learners meeting the eligibility criteria.

Fully funded places are available to individuals who meet both parts of the following eligibility criteria.

You live or work in Angus, Dundee, Fife (North East), or Perth and Kinross.

You identify as belonging to one or more of the following groups:

    • Women;
    • Having a disability;
    • Neurodivergent; or
    • From a minority ethnic background.

Anyone not meeting the eligibility criteria can join the course for £500.00 (no VAT)

For more information and to apply, please visit https://www.sda.ac.uk/short/service-design-data-professionals/or contact us at info@sda.ac.uk

A headshot of Jo McNicoll. She is white, with brown eyes, and shoulder-length dark hair which gradually lightens from the eyes downwards.

Dr Jo McNicoll tells us what first drew her to the Service Design Academy and how service design has inspired her.

She offers expert advice on how to get the most from the Professional Development Award in Service Design.

My journey with Service Design Academy

I’ve been in the core team for the Professional Development Award since we started designing the accredited six-month course in 2018.

I brought academic and practical design experience to the Service Design Academy, having worked with V&A Dundee as the Design for Business Research Manager and teaching design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Dundee & Angus College.

My career with the Service Design Academy was sparked initially from my curiosity.

I came along to some introductory taster events and quickly realised that I wanted to work there. I loved the warm atmosphere and quirky sense of fun – it felt like a special place to work and support learners. When an opportunity came to join as a training consultant, I jumped at the chance to come onboard!             

Just like service design itself, people are what makes the Service Design Academy.

The team brings different experience and specialisms so that our courses meet learners needs. We also have to be organised, knowledgeable and adaptable to streamline ways of working together, so our learners have the best possible experiences.

Helsinki Inspires

Not long into my new job, I had a really eye-opening experience on how service design makes change for good.

I joined a week’s mission to Helsinki and learned how design is engrained there from the grassroots up. Design is a way thinking from creating aesthetically appealing environments to the practical development of services.

In Helsinki, participatory budgeting is the norm for citizens, who have a genuine say in how services are delivered.

Service design is in their DNA, embedded across local public services and public bodies. Seeing this in action has been a driver for me to build design skills and knowledge with others.

A green and yellow tram drives through a Helsinki street in the evening. The pavement is busy with people walking past stone buildings housing shops. Above the tram cables in the sky are many warm festive lights.

Professional Development Award in Service Design

I helped to develop our very first Professional Development Award and started delivery in 2018. I’ve seen it grow in popularity not only in the UK but across the world.

With the move from face-to-face delivery to online, I’ve seen how effectively collaboration can work using digital tools. This shift doesn’t mean a move from our values – we always make sure our learners are supported fully.

I think the secret of our success is the support we offer – it’s so important to me to demystify and uncomplicate.

I meet with learners before they start the course. It always interests me on why they want to build skills in service design practice. Some people want to learn how to do their jobs better, others want to get the accreditation, and some see it as a stepping-stone to grow their confidence and skills to do new jobs.

I speak to people who have been given a service design remit but want to understand what that means.

Others see our PDA as continuing personal development opportunity to solve problems, innovate and transform – these are the revolutionaries in the workplace!

Graphic of a woman walking up stairs. In the background is a white wall covered in drawings of graphs, charts, devices, people, light bulbs, and questions marks, alongside words like "dreams," "structure," "ideas," and "success".

My PDA advice

There are challenges to balancing work and other commitments when you take on study.

The assessments need proper time and attention to complete. You’ll need to set up workshops and encourage others to give their time to attend and participate.

With 5 weeks to every unit, time is precious.

My advice is to be organised from the very beginning, think ahead to plan events, and get dates in your colleagues’ calendars. We’ll support you with choosing a project of the right scale and scope to make sure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew.

A diary filled with writing and yellow sticky notes. To the right is a hand (belonging to a person who is black) holding a pen.

I’m constantly reminding learners that nothing needs to be perfect.

If your projects don’t go to plan that’s perfectly ok. Its reflecting on what happened and demonstrating your learning that matters. We offer coffee shops at the start of each of the 4 units where we will go over what’s expected and in 121 chats we’ll coach you on mapping out plans.

You’re never on your own in the PDA,

You have a fellow buddy on each unit and can keep in touch with a group of peers who will support you with feedback and advice.

A presentation slide with the heading "Buddies for life". It reads "Remember to utilise your buddy network! Working solo is challenging, so lean on your peers for support. Set up short check-ins, you can help each other out. Share what you've learned and ask questions of each other. Maybe you'll need a critical friend?"

Your reward from your hard work will be a portfolio which demonstrates that you can work through a design process using tools and methods in the right way.

You’ll understand how to adapt your learning to meet your needs. Your portfolio is something that you can use to showcase in your organisation to build conversations to support change, or even use to demonstrate your practical skill and experience in job interviews.

The impact that the course brings to learners is nothing less than amazing.

Most are apprehensive to start, but their confidence builds as they appreciate the possibilities that service design brings. They can make a difference, improving services, communities and transforming the way they work. Every time I see this happening, I’m reminded of what a rewarding job I have.

If what Jo has described make you curious to learn more, our next online Professional Development Award starts in August.

Dear Service Design Academy friend, 

Welcome to our May newsletter.  

This month we look back on a busy April and forward to the months ahead with details of courses coming up.   

These include Professional Development Award August and October 23 cohortsDesign Your People ExperienceBackstage and Behind the Scenes for Public Services and Design Your Donor Journey. 

We’ll also focus on learn-by-doing” in our professional practice. 

April was another varied month for the team, with our latest 5-day Innovation and Impact cohort completing this immersive and intense introduction to service design. 

Here’s some great feedback on what our group learned: 

Six coloured sticky-notes with text. Lots of really good things – new techniques learned and practiced. Loads of new techniques and tools. Lots about the process of service design as a whole/ concept. So many good techniques to take back and implement. New ways to think about prototyping and getting feedback. Lots about service design in general but in particular the different methods that you can use.

We’ve been busy too with customised training programmes

  • Manchester City Council (Design Your People Experience 2-day course)
  • Department of Health and Social Care (Welcome to Service Design 1-day and 5-day Innovation and Impact course)
  • Dundee City Council (Pathfinder project 3-day face to face course)

You can register interest in our next 5-day course in August 23 here.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can customise a training programme to meet your team’s needs, get in touch with us at info@sda.ac.uk for a chat. We’ll share recommended training programmes with prices to suit your budge

Introduction to Visual Thinking with Workvisible

Service Design Academy was delighted to host an online visualisation taster session on the 27th April with Marcus DeVale and the Workvisible team. This had a phenomenal turnout from invited community members, many thanks to all who took part.

Marcus introduced us to what visual thinking is and its value in helping us to remember things in our long-term memory, the ability to communicate in a different way and to provide a high-level understanding and overview, whether that’s for proposals, presentations or the sharing of data findings. Marcus took us through, step by step, on the basics behind visual thinking, and how to use and develop a visual library of simple shapes combined to make icons. 

A photograph taken by one of the Workvisible session participants – watching Marcus drawing on a flip-chart and some drawings made by a participant of a present, lightbulb, shark swimming in the sea, document, mountain, magnifying glass and target.

Focus on Professional Practice: Learn by Doing

We were all “learning by doing” as Marcus took us through our visual pacesWe asked Katie Murrie, SDA’s lead consultant what having a hands-on approach to learning means to her:

“Most of our training programmes are based on design challenges or “how might we” statements. This gives our learners an immersive experience, they will be drawing on their experience to share with other learners, and then to challenge the assumptions they’ve made.

We ask our learning groups to take a leap of faith, trust the process as a starting point and not to worry about perfection with anything they are doing. We create a conducive learning environment to practice, from deciding what questions to ask, tools to use, to implementing new visualisation techniques.

They’ll learn very early on that service design is not a “paint by numbers” linear process; you will grow your expertise through taking learnings from every experience you have. And practise will move everyone towards increased confidence and expertise. Iteration is a key principle of service design, which means that our teaching content and teaching style are always aligned.”

So, what’s the risk of not learning by doing?

In the article How to avoid the dangers of not learning by doing,  Amanda Nimon-Peters describes how “Leading your organisation to avoid the “not learning by doing” phenomenon to ensure you are constantly improving your toolkits, rather than simply applying the same tools to new situations.”

Nimon-Peter’s continues, “Learning by doing is effective because we learn what happens from our actions. If a particular solution results in disaster, you become less likely to use that solution again – a pattern crucially important for skill development to ensure we do not need to constantly re-learn basic skills. However, once we feel we have sufficient capability to meet our end-goals, we stop working on improving our skills and instead rely on the tools we have to deliver our results.”

She suggests the best remedy to the not learning by doing is described in Ericsson’s Deliberate Practice described in the bestseller ” Peak” approach. This blog from Ivaylo Durmonskil describes what deliberate practice looks like https://durmonski.com/self-improvement/deliberate-practice-theory/

In a nutshell: How do you Deliberately Practice Something?

  • Try
  • Fail
  • Get feedback
  • Try again better
Yellow post it with the words Practice Makes Perfect

Courses Ready to Book

Our 2-day live and online Design Your People Experience course runs again on the 1st and 8th of June. This course has been designed for anyone involved at any stage of the employee journey.
You will:

  • be introduced to the Service Design approach and mindset
  • develop a people centred approach to create the future of work at your organisation
  • learn how you can increase satisfaction by developing ways to improve the people experience

What’s the difference between employee and people experience? SDA consultant Kim Anderson explains:

“At the Service Design Academy, we like to focus on “people” opposed to “employee” experience. We believe that this subtle change in language can have a positive impact on mindset when creating these experiences. This helps to break down the hierarchy that the use of the word “employee” might have and allows everyone who works at an organisation to be seen as a unique person whatever they do and however they do it.“

If you are interested in this course but are looking for later dates, please let us know and we’ll register your interest for future courses – info@sda.ac.uk 

Design Your Donor Journey 5th June 9.30 – 1pm

In this ½ day course designed for professional charity fundraisers, SDA will share how taking a design approach can help you understand more about your donors’ needs and experience. You’ll leave with tools on how to design better ways to develop your fundraising relationships.
Very limited free places are available for groups of 2-4 charity fundraisers. Please contact Maralyn Boyle for how to join m.boyle@dundeeandangus.ac.uk

Going Backstage and Behind the Scenes to Design Successful Services - An online introductory course for public sector leaders
In partnership with Service Design Network 22nd June 3pm – 6.30pm (BST)

Public services should be designed with customers’ experiences and needs at the heart. This means that we tend to focus on the impact they make from the perspective of external users. But in doing this, we have lost sight of two critical elements – “backstage” and “behind the scenes”. Service design gives the opportunity to make an impact in all three places.
Join Katie Murrie and Kim Anderson to learn:

  • How service design makes impact not only with customer experience, or with frontline staff but backstage and behind the scenes 
  • When designing services why you should think about the people and the processes that support the frontline
  • What are the things that the organisation must do to make both the front and backstage possible. These include culture, employee engagement, policies, budgets
  • Why we need to think about the right conditions, the processes and structures in  in the organisation to make effective transformation
  • What Service Design can do to support creating the right conditions

 Early Bird prices until 22nd May! Find out more and book here

August and October 23 Professional Development Award dates released!

We are delighted to confirm new dates have been released for the Professional Development Award (PDA) in Service Design, the leading accredited course for anyone looking to develop their service design practice.

August ‘23  – March ’24 (limited availability)

October ‘23 – April  ‘24

The six-month course covers the core skills, tools, and mindsets you need to service design powerful interventions for complex issues. Learners are taken on a journey, a process spanning four learning units over six months with 17 live sessions and interactive content on a live learning environment.

The PDA connects theory and practical applications through a mix of experiences, live online classrooms, watch anytime videos, teamwork, mentoring and case studies.

Our PDA learners:

  • Develop a knowledge of the fundamental tools and methods used throughout the service design process and the ability to apply these in your own professional domain
  • Build skills in user research by implementing methods to identify the needs of service users and undertaking a small-scale user research project
  • Explore how co-design can be developed as an approach that involves service users collaboratively in the service design process
  • Communicate and reflect on a service design project process and outcomes

You can find out more here PDA in Service Design

To register interest or find out more please contact us on info@sda.ac.uk

Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s newsletter. Please feel free to share and signpost anyone you think should follow us:  contact us

Have a great month!
The Service Design Academy team

Dear friend,

We hope that you’re having a great start to 2023!  The snowdrops are starting to peak through here in Scotland, and Service Design Academy team are looking forward to a busy spring time ahead.

We started 2023 by delivering training courses to help people from different organisations build new skills and find better ways of working together.

  • Co-Design to Connect with a Regional Employability stakeholder group
  • Creating a Community Vision with a local leisure and entertainment hub
  • Designing Employee Experience with Human Resources and Organisational Development Teams

If you would like to find out how we can customise a programme of training to meet skills gaps while colleagues work together on an organisational challenge please get in touch  info@sda.ac.uk

Booking Now

5-Day Design for Innovation and Impact
picture with dates and price

Our popular course offers a hands-on, learn by doing insight into the process of service design.  Find out what you’ll learn and do in this link:  

Day by Day Outline


The course is delivered over 5 weeks live and online by our team of expert trainers. Corporate groups can bring in live challenges to work on together for a learn by doing experience. We will support individual learners to work on a relatable challenge.  
graphic with quote

Book your place by emailing us at info@sda.ac.uk or call 01382 448868

Professional Development Award

PDA delegate Molly Northcote Putting User Research into action!

Are you ready to develop your skills in service design practice with the first and only accredited Professional Development qualification?
Applications are now open for our next 6-month course starting in April.

Apply Now For April – October course

This six-month course is delivered by our expert service design trainers and offers a learn by doing approach where you will:

  • Develop a knowledge of the fundamental tools and methods used throughout the service design process and the ability to apply these in your role
  • Build skills in user research by implementing methods to identify the needs of service users and undertaking a small-scale user research project
  • Explore how co-design can be developed as an approach that involves service users collaboratively in the service design process
  • Communicate and reflect on a service design project process and outcomes

For more information on our courses or discuss how we can help you build skills and capacity in service design please do get in touch: info@sda.ac.uk

Service Design for Building Digital Capability – Can you help your help with our research?

Our course offering is mapped against Skills Levels aligned to the UK Government Digital Data and Technology Profession Capability Framework and Scottish Government’s Digital Data & Technology Framework

To help us understand more about knowledge, understanding and implementation of service design we’re having 121 cheerful chats with people working in roles in:

  • cyber security and information assurance
  • data
  • IT operations
  • product and delivery
  • quality assurance testing
  • technical
  • user-centred design

If you’d like to help, please get in touch with info@sda.ac.uk to help or you can set up a 30 minute online meeting at a time that suits you here Book a Cheerful Chat

Quick Read

What should you expect from service design training? John Lynch’s recent article resonates with the Service Design Academy’s approach, we’d love to hear your thoughts on what you expect from service design training. 

So you’ve decided to learn about Service Design… | by John Lynch | Jan, 2023 | Medium

  • Practice makes perfect, this is not something that can quickly be learned in theory, you need to experience the practice.
  • Developing the right mindset is what matters

Thank you to Peter Byebierggaard for sharing this with us.

Many thanks for taking the time to read our newsletter. Please don’t forget to let your colleagues know about us – they can join our mailing list here: https://www.sda.ac.uk/contact/

As part of Dundee and Angus College, the Service Design Academy was proud to partner with Dundee City Council to contribute to the draft City Centre Strategic Investment Plan with a user research project focussed on young people.

Dundee and Angus College’s Service Design Academy designed a user research plan which engaged with College and University students, young people, and youth groups on the future of the city centre. 227 participants (aged 16 – 24 years) got involved over the course of eleven pop-up events and online engagement.

With key themes around public spaces, living, working and connecting, young people in Dundee shared their thoughts, feelings and ideas about the City Centre.

You can read about what we did to ensure that young people’s voices will be heard to shape the future of Dundee in this report:  Young People’s Voices to the City Centre Strategic  Investment Plan(dundeecity.gov.uk)

We are proud to contribute to the progress and development going into producing this ambitious 30-year plan.

The plan sets out a long-term vision for next 30 years and identifies a wide variety of development opportunities. It includes radical ideas for Dundee’s future city centre, and indicative plans and visuals for seven strategic development opportunity sites.

Thank you to Jennifer Caswell, Alan Brown and Gregor Hamilton at Dundee City Council for giving the SDA team the opportunity to contribute to this important research to the future of the Dundee City Centre.

We’d like to thank all the organisations who supported us including DUSA – Dundee University Students’​ Association Abertay Students’​ Association Dundee and Angus College Student Association Dundee City Council Education and Community and Learning Development teams.