Looking at ways to adapt your business to meet today’s evolving demands? Want to re-energise your employees? Or are you an individual looking to boost your career options? A service design approach could be the answer.

People from across the world come to the Service Design Academy to learn how to design services well. Organisations discover how to build capacity and resilience to solve problems and transform. Accredited education programmes help create confident design thinkers and leaders.

Here, three learners share their service design journeys . . .

A life-changing experience

Sorina Oprea from Glasgow has just started a new role as a User Experience Senior Analyst and she puts some of her success down to her service design experience.

Sorina shares her story: “Before becoming interested in service design, I studied Psychology and Political Sciences. I took part in four masterclasses at the Service Design Academy before being offered the opportunity to go for a Professional Development Award (PDA) in Service Design. The mix of onsite and online learning was appealing as I was working at the time and had family commitments. My end of PDA project was done in collaboration with UNESCO City of Design Dundee. They were looking to understand what they could do better to support the community of designers in Dundee.”

Sorina felt her PDA qualification helped expand her job opportunities. “For me, the PDA course was life-changing and I hope I can continue to use my knowledge, skills and experience to develop services and products that are focused on users’ needs and which are ethical too.”

The students produced amazing work

Melissa Anderson teaches Business Studies at Arbroath Academy. The Service Design Academy partnered with the school to help redesign its curriculum.

Melissa explains her involvement: “I was asked by the school to undertake a PDA in Service Design to start using some of its principles in the classroom. I was timetabled one period a week with all S2s to teach service design, creativity, presentation skills, problem solving and teamworking.”

This was Melissa’s first time teaching without a specific course outline so she admits she felt a little out of her comfort zone. 

“The class was fantastic for both the students and me. We looked at service design principles, practised using service design tools and worked on a community project for a local supermarket. We even managed to keep the creativity going during home learning and the students produced some amazing work.”

The school hopes to run this course for S2s again next year as well as piloting a Creative Thinking qualification aimed at S5/6s.

Service design just makes sense

Tatiana Zorina, Period Poverty Project Officer at Dundee and Angus College feels her service design experience has helped her in her current role.

Tatiana recounts her journey: “When our staff development department gave me the chance to complete the PDA in Service Design, I didn’t think twice. Service design really resonates with me – it just makes sense!”

Tatiana learned how to co-design the Period Positive project with staff, students and external stakeholders.

“As a result, it has been a great success with huge engagement,” says Tatiana. “I believe it’s all down to the project being designed for people by people – those who use the service in one way or another. I learned lots of practical tools and methods which I can use in so many work and life situations.”

For more information on the Service Design Academy visit: www.sda.ac.uk/contact/

Renate Kriegler Edwards, Carr Gomm Futures Manager shares her story on how service design brought remote support practitioners together to discover and develop new ways of working.

Attending the Gathering in February 2020 as a speaker, I met Service Design Academy (SDA) at their busy stand. SDA were offering charities the chance to win service design training worth £5,000. Charities were invited to share their problems and the potential impact if they were not addressed. I thought this would be a marvellous opportunity to share the concept and process of service design with my colleagues at Carr Gomm. Service Design places people at the heart of change, using creativity to solve problems. I wasn’t sure my problem statement was what SDA had in mind, but I had my fingers crossed when I handed my entry in.

Carr Gomm is committed to listening to staff, learning from each other to maintain our leading edge in social care. Our Futures programme actively promotes innovation and creativity in the workforce.

As a Carr Gomm national service, Futures is based centrally in Edinburgh. I was concerned that Futures wasn’t reaching and engaging our more remote and isolated frontline workers. Many of our workers spend their days driving between appointments, hardly ever seeing their colleagues. It was so frustrating that we struggled to reach the very people whose voices we needed to hear!

I was thrilled when I got the call that we would be collaborating with the Service Design Academy. Although Covid-19 struck only weeks later, we continued to plan our sessions as the SDA repurposed all their live learning online.

There was a bit of trepidation and curiosity when I shared that we would be working with SDA.  The biggest challenge was to arrange for support practitioners in small services to be relieved from their rotas to join in these discussions that were all about them. But regional and local managers were supportive, and several support practitioners were up for the adventure.

The workshops were facilitated energetically and creatively by the SDA team. They used the digital tool Miro, an online whiteboard space to learn and to express ideas with each other. It gives everyone an equal voice.  All insights can be recorded and re-explored after the session.

The workshop programme was co-designed with a small group representing Carr Gomm’s national service to agree initial problem statements and logistics. A Joining Journey was created for participants to practice with Miro so we could all feel comfortable using it during the workshops.

The main sessions were amazing! I knew many of the issues for frontline workers, but it was so incredibly important to sit down together and learn to listen properly to their lived experience.

The group was introduced to the key principles of design, including the importance of working in the problem space rather than jumping straight to solutions. “Don’t Make Assumptions” is a mantra.

Double diamond diagram on yellow background

Using a variety of tools to capture knowledge, people reviewed themes and formed smaller workgroups. We then moved to understand our problem more deeply by undertaking user research. We learned techniques on questioning and how to listen well. The groups practised their interviewing skills and gathered more data outside the classroom, with “cheerful chats” back at work with colleagues.

This interview data was collated and then we were guided by the consultants on how to generate ideas towards co-designing prototypes.

SDA have a positive approach which empowered the group. They helped us frame problems by encouraging us to think “how might we ……….?”

The impact of using service design has been immediate and will help us going forward. I will use the toolkit again and again for idea generation and implementing actions.

I always knew that Futures was a service to Carr Gomm, but this has helped me to articulate that we are there to design better ways of working with, not just for each other. 

Next steps

·      Five prototypes are now ready to trial, including open door sessions, to help demystify Futures, promoting our “no staff idea is too big, too small or too unformed” message.

·        The experience led to a reflection on how innovation may help shape and deliver Carr Gomm’s next three-year strategic plan.

·        We’re encouraging teams to regroup around their prototypes. Staff are encouraged to submit proposals that will be considered by the appropriate team – even at exec level.

·        Reflecting in my own group on how Futures may bring more fun to the workplace, I was led back to an existing Futures idea – to implement Joy in Work. My frontline colleague Claire and I are now proposing a campaign where we invite staff to nominate “Joyworkers” – colleagues who do little things to make the work-day easier or more enjoyable for others.

·        We hope to create a more deliberate process of gathering evidence from Futures projects, which will help close the funding loop.

·        Our learning will also support Carr Gomm’s ambitious digital inclusion strategy.

More than anything else, the workshops have led to improved communication, insight, reflection, empathy and collaboration between the central teams and local services.

As someone driving innovation, I feel invigorated and inspired. The participants enjoyed being creative, having pride in what they achieved and learned. Particularly so for support practitioners, this was a profoundly different experience. Our collaboration with Service Design Academy is something to build on for sure. I’d recommend this approach to any charity looking to find better ways of working.

About Carr Gomm

Carr Gomm is a leading Scottish social care and community development charity. Established in 1997, it became an independent charity in 2002.

Carr Gomm supports about 2,000 people across Scotland to live their lives safely and well according to their choices, whilst making plans to achieve their hopes and dreams for tomorrow. Our support is person-centred and strongly reflects our values of choice, control, respect, interdependence, and openness and honesty, ensuring that people can lead full and positive lives as active citizens. A core part of our work is fundraising, to fill the gaps in society and provide support where no one else is – specifically focusing on tackling issues of loneliness and isolation.

For further information and images, or to discuss interview opportunities with Carr Gomm, please contact: eilidhmacleod@carrgomm.org

About Service Design Academy

Service Design puts people first, using creativity to solve problems, challenge thinking and make lives better. It creates an environment where people thrive, and innovation happens. It builds resilience and supports new ways of working.

SDA was launched in November 2017 at Dundee and Angus College and is a not-for-profit company committed to creating positive impact through interactive, practice-based learning. We have considerable expertise working on transformational change programmes across the private, public and third sectors.

SDA’s training and education programme ranges from a half-day introduction to service design mindset to the Professional Development Award in Service Design – the first and only Scottish Qualification Authority accredited course in Service Design at this level (SCQF 7) in the UK.

Our courses and customised programmes aim to foster design leadership, build service design capacity and create a community of practitioners. In 3 years, SDA has delivered over 350 workshops to over 5,000 people from 400 organisations.

SDA shapes programmes to address strategic objectives, while developing skills to meet the growing need to transform effectively. We work with delegates who come from organisations across the UK including local authorities, NHS, professional and financial services, national and community based charities.

We are proud to have been the first organisation in the world to be awarded full accreditation in 2020 from the Service Design Network, the global body that leads and drives service design thinking and education.


To find out more about Service Design Academy please contact Maralyn Boyle m.boyle@dundeeandangus.ac.uk

Photography © Mhairi Edwards

Dundee is the UK’s first and only UNESCO City of Design.  The global designation as a Creative City acknowledges Dundee’s rich design heritage, it’s thriving contemporary design sector and a city committed to using design to solve problems and make Dundee a better place to live.

Dundee has a strong tradition of embracing the power of design and designers hold an essential place in the life of the city. The programmes run by the UNESCO City of Design Team celebrate and demonstrate the impact of design, embrace co-design, promote talent, engage designers in decision making and collaborate with other Cities of Design.

As a longstanding learning partner of UNESCO City of Design, the Service Design Academy has the mission to teach service design at a world class standard by facilitating creativity and collaboration accessible to everyone.

Funding was made available for several projects in Dundee under the Spaces for People programme that aims to create redesigned streets with more room for physical distancing, walking, and spending time in. The Spaces for People programme is funded by the Scottish Government and managed by Sustrans Scotland.

By providing this additional funding, Spaces for People has allowed local authorities, transport partnerships and NHS Trusts to implement measures focused on protecting public health, supporting physical distancing, and reducing transmission rates.

UNESCO City of Design wanted to ensure that voices were heard across the specific communities benefitting from the Spaces for People programme and knew that the Service Design Academy’s experience in participative community engagement would help them take the best approach.

The Service Design Academy facilitated a series of online workshops and discussions with Dundee’s UNESCO City of Design team and community representatives to identify and co-design community led ideas to meet these measures while meeting the needs and wants of citizens.

In workshops held for the Stobswell area, two streets were identified as places which could become spaces focused around people. Priorities raised by the community workshops which have been incorporated into the proposals include:

+ Using plants to screen areas from traffic noise

+ Providing an opportunity to enhance biodiversity in Stobswell

+ A desire to see more colour and vibrancy in the areas around Albert Street

+ More greenery and opportunities for planting/growing

+ Better quality outdoor spaces for people without access to gardens

+ Maintaining access for emergency vehicles

The UNESCO team took on board the communities’ priorities and suggestions and these images show the resulting design.

It is intended that these new spaces will be completed by the end of May 2021, the revamped streets are initially temporary and designed as a trial. Over the summer the Stobswell Forum, Sustrans and Dundee City Council will gather feedback to inform future decisions.

Eliza Street


These images give a feel of the pocket parks layout and the way that seating and planters will be clustered. The materials are concrete and Siberian larch which will be left natural and silver over time. Gaps in the wood will provide natural drainage and the design limits areas for litter to accumulate.

Dundee designer Louise Kirby has worked to incorporate patterns seen around Stobswell into the design for the art work. Shapes from iron railings around Baxter Park, the roof of Morgan Academy and the zig-zag from the sculpture at the bottom of Albert Street.


The planting scheme has been chosen to sup- port biodiversity as well as to respond well to the shady site and need for minimal maintenance.

There will be no vehicle entry to this section of Eliza Street, parking spaces will be removed.

The addition of dropped kerbs is also being addressed to improve access in and out of the park area.

This plan drawing shows the proposed positioning of the artwork and the various planters and seating areas for Eliza Street.

The layout has been specifically designed to allow access for all emergency vehicles including the largest type of fire appliance.


It has also been designed to support physical distancing with the space between planters and seating at 2 metres.

As part of the next stage, we will mark up the positioning of the planters on the street. This will allow residents to see the exact positioning.

Craigie Street


These images give a feel of the pocket parks layout and the way that seating and planters will be clustered. The materials are concrete and Siberian larch which will be left natural and silver over time. Gaps in the wood will provide natural drainage and the design limits areas for litter to accumulate.

Dundee designer Louise Kirby has been inspired by the circle brick work design on the gable end at Craigie Street. The circles on the street are positioned to remind people of the 2 metre physical distancing.

The planting scheme has been chosen to support biodiversity as well as to respond well to the shady site and need for minimal maintenance.


There will be no vehicle entry to this section of Craigie Street. Parking bays will be removed and the road will be closed beyond the entry to the car park.

The addition of dropped kerbs is also being addressed to improve access in and out of the park area.

This plan drawing shows the proposed positioning of the artwork and the various planters and seating areas for Eliza Street.

The layout has been specifically designed to allow access for all emergency vehicles including the largest type of fire appliance.


It has also been designed to support physical distancing with the space between planters and seating at 2 metres.

As part of our next stage, we will mark up the positioning of the planters on the street. This will allow residents to see the exact positioning.

Lead Consultant Katie Murrie shares her enthusiasm for Service Design Academy’s role in Spaces for People: “The team of consultants can’t wait to see the areas when they are finished and to hear the feedback from the community, we truly hope it will have the same positive impact as another project we worked on with the UNESCO Team in summer 2020, the pedestrianisation of Dundee’s Union Street which has been revamped after a successful pilot saw it closed to vehicles.”


From this pilot project in the summer 2020,  Dundee City Council has had very positive feedback with the changes made to Union Street proving popular with locals and traders, As lockdown eases in late April 2021 and shops and hospitality opens, the street designs by Callum Laird have had a fresh coat of paint, some minor repairs and new planting for the spring and summer months.


Mark Flynn, convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee, said: “All the indications are that the changes made to Union Street are welcome and despite some initial scepticism, businesses and customers like what has been done. So much so that the temporary street art, signage and annual planting will be brightened up for what we hope will be a bumper spring and summer where locals and visitors have more time and space to use the shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes.”


Katie from Service Design Academy adds, “The Service Design Academy feels privileged to partner with UNESCO to take a participative approach in our facilitation of Spaces for People. We’ve been thrilled with the level of engagement in the workshops from local people, and hearing their voices has ensured that they are actively participating in the future of their communities”.

“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.”

coins with plants

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

Contact Us





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

loved the new look newsletter, or if it didn’t appeal to you so much tell us why

have an article to share with our community of changemakers

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

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.”

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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.

It really is a case of it being the perfect partnership.  Storytelling is such a huge part of service design and the whole design thinking process. Storytelling can help you in so many ways throughout your service design journey.

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today”

Robert McKee, Scriptwriter

Service Design gives us powerful stories to tell.  

We have been telling stories for as long as we’ve been human – they are an essential part of our day-to-day communications. When done well, storytelling can do wonders for a project: it can create a sense of empathy, generate enthusiasm and win the loyalty and affection of audiences. 

We want to share three ways where you can deploy storytelling to support your service design journey.

Problem, Solution, Impact

The first is to better understand and to articulate a problem. One of the key principles of service design and design thinking is that we need to understand the problem before we can come up with potential solutions and being able to tell the story of the problem is a good place to start.

As service designers we listen and share the human story behind the problem. It could be that people can’t find a service, or that they can’t use it unaided. It could be that the confirmation email hasn’t been sent, or the explanation in it is not clear. It could be that having to pass between the silos created in organisations means the service becomes frustrating for people. Whatever it is, there’s a story behind why that service doesn’t work, and why the user is not able to do the thing they set out to do.

All our courses are hands-on, with a learn by doing approach, our learners are required to listen to, and share stories. When teams come up with their idea, there is a story behind it. Telling this story and the background context lets everyone know why something needs to change.  

And that’s the second part, we can share potential solutions to the problem. It’s about telling a scenario of what could be possible in the future and if we are trying to get buy in, or help people to understand our solutions then telling it in a story format is going to be much easier for people to absorb and to understand.

“Storytelling connects us, helps us make sense of the world, and communicates our values and beliefs. A good story makes us think and feel, and speaks to us in ways that numbers, data, and presentation slides simply can’t.”

Celinne Da Costa

Thirdly, you can tell the story about the impact you have made. Going through the service design process means that you will initiate some sort of change, being able to tell the story of that change, tell the story of what it was like before and what it’s like now and the impact the change has had. This part is not just about the change, it’s the difference that change has made to individuals and potentially the broader community as well.

We’d been thinking more and more that Storytelling had an important part in service design and we wanted to test our idea. The team got together with Kevin Anderson from The Story Edge for some training. It struck us how intrinsically linked our worlds are and how important it was for service designers to be able to tell their stories well. A workshop was arranged with some of our past and potential clients and we fleshed out the idea. At that time, we were undergoing our Organisational Accreditation with the Service Design Network and Birgit Mager, joined the workshop as part of our assessment. Birgit was intrigued by the idea and saw real value in adding a Storytelling element to our core learning. 

Move on several months and we’ve just introduced 8 self-study videos created by Kevin to the PDA in Service Design. The short lessons take you through Kevin’s Story Stack model.

When the story is very relatable, like when you’re using real-life examples gathered from user insights, it has the added benefit of making it easier to understand and more memorable as it’s personally relatable, the audience empathises with the character in the story.

Stories provide meaning, create context and evoke a sense of purpose. Businesses are increasingly recognising the importance of storytelling to better connect with their users, create a connection with their brand and to share successes!

Being able to tell a powerful story can be the start of a service design journey and a tool that will help you through the whole process.