Teamwork part 1

Teamwork: great collaborations feel like a team effort. Teams can be designed in many different ways and are based on the task that lies ahead. I have become fascinated by how teams are used/designed in highly specialized circumstances like the Operation Room, the Formula 1 pitstop or a master chef’s kitchen. There are several aspects of the art of creating a great team. It is about training people to trust the job of the other person is performed well. Teamwork is also about dancing together at prime time, knowing what to do when. But there is more; people need to be placed in the right spot that will allow the team to perform at its best.

A chef makes sure she’s seen by the team, some chefs are the best cook in the kitchen others are perfect at delegating tasks. With high interest in the dynamics of Michelin star performing kitchens, I have been watching Netflix’ ‘Chef’s Table’. Great lessons can be learned from the dynamics displayed in the documentaries. Depending on the chef it is decided what part of the dish apprentices are cooking or who decides on what dish works or not. The role of the chef reflects the dynamic of a team. The more empowering chefs make sure everyone feels part of the team, even the waiters! Others keep a very clear role distinction. In that instance, the trust that they can do that role best is 100% in their hands.

The same counts for F1. What happens in the pit is a high-class sports performance of 2 seconds.  Trust and focus are what makes these 2 seconds successful. They know so well what needs doing because they have practiced the exact movements over and over again. The question is what happens when you work in an ever-changing environment and one cannot ask for this advanced preparation?

As a service designer, I look closely at how a team performs when delivering services. These teams often stretch beyond the one department one is performing in. As most actions, most clients meet different part of an organization. Why does it seem that we look entirely differently at creating teams in an office compared to sports or arts? And if these teams trust each other based on the idea that only together they can reach the stars, they have a shared purpose, why do we not focus on the sense of purpose for team building? I am asking myself this when I read about the scandals of (ir)responsibility in team building in places like the army, governments, sunny papers around corrupted money and leaders and failing institutions due to the lack of commitment of staff.

What if we would all be acting like the star chefs and think of our work as the creation of the perfect combination of textures, flavors, and visual appearance? Re-imagine our world if, like many chefs, we would truly appreciate the area we are cooking in and try to share the appreciation through food, our products. Can we take the responsibility for the surroundings around the businesses that we operate in? Could we, in an office, recreate the magic of the 2-second pitstop?

I aspire to find ways of doing so in the near future. As a service designer, I hope to contribute to the brilliant dynamic dance of organizations that have to learn how to act flexibly in hard conditions whilst there is no time to lose.


Service Design Signature

As part of my dissertation I have interviewed various service designers, have read as many blogs and listened to podcasts as I could. There is something interesting about all those service designers. Almost all of us have a different background, were missing something and moved to a more human centric version of a design. Most of us were unsatisfied with the limitations of the inventions rich design fields.

These backgrounds become visible in the signature we have as service designers. Everyone sees our design discipline differently, why it is important and how it should be done. We also have elements in common, we all love people and we love improving their experience. And we all understand that every context requires a specific approach. I have fallen in love with this discipline because it adopts tools and ways of reasoning from so many other disciplines.

My mind wonders off to the question how I want to develop myself as a service designer, and with whom. As my heart lies with South Africa and their development but learning in Europe seems so wonderful too! I start with writing a manifesto as part of my dissertation, to position myself.  Let’s keep sharing on film, tape, text and slideshows that grows us as service designers.

Let’s keep sharing on film, tape, text, and slideshows that grow us as service designers.

Who owns the future – Jaron Lanier

A book about silent services. Our details that are being sold to third parties without our agreement, let alone benefits for us. How else can a company that is only giving us information making money out of us? This books gives a genius insight into the world of ownership. Is my Facebook profile picture mine? Or is it just my head and can Facebook do with it whatever it wants? We don’t know these things as all that is written about this issue is far too complicated for anyone who isn’t a lawyer. Lanier is able to pose questions, go for the extreme and then get back to reality where he shows strikingly how our world is shapable. 

While reading the book I had the feeling that Lanier was urging us, readers, to rethink value and ownership. He never said that any situation was good or bad, but he did explain how all these elements are a part of what we know as our reality. In any given situation we would ask someone: why do you need to know this. But when it comes to our behaviour online we don’t seem to care. As a designer with a possible future in chair positions I will at least review how we deal with these elements of our world. If possible I’d like to show what is happening with data we take or use. 

At the moment we, 6 service designers and myself, are building a service where the data of people is used. We made very clear that the benefits would not just be for the seller and buyer but also for the person who undoubtedly shares his information. Perhaps that is a step into the right direction.

A guidebook, the basics, explanations and examples, not all the answers but it provides some straws in the wind. This book is clear and understandable. This book has a multidisciplinary approach towards Service Design. It is nice to read how a product designer approaches Service Design. My bachelors’ in product design is pleasantly linked by Satu Miettinnen who explains that service design in product design has to do with approaching the whole manufacturing process. The idea of developing hybrid products, developing products that also provide services, is a field that suits me as I always search for the moment where the user comes in. The stakeholders play an important role in all service design developments. I am keen to start applying the approaches!  

The new book called ‘This is service design doing’ is the follow up, I am curious to find out what hands-on techniques they will explain. 

Representing Future Situations of Service – Blomkvist, Johan


This paper explores the role of prototyping in Service Design. It questions different ways of prototyping such as a walk through, the use of external representations and it looks at how a prototype helps the design process in the future. The paper also looks at what prototypes really are. 

What I found most interesting is the explanation that there must be made a difference when talking about designing for services or designing of services. He looks at whether the question is to make a new service or if you design for an existing service. Blomkvist connects this information with using services as a design material, which I would love to see happening. The reason why I think this is an interesting way to position service design is because you get more playground with the company or institution you work for. If you can show how the material takes shape it means you can influence it, thus influence the users.

Service design is a design method (an approach) in order to become customer centric. It’s used to improve the relationship between the organisation and their customers but also to improve the relation within the organisation.

Daniel Ewerman @ service design network

I am still trying to define service design, there will be more, there will be iterations. This definition is a good start, but the part about ‘customer centric’ is not really how I think about it. What it is, I hope to define soon.

Happiness – Richard Layard

A whole book about happiness, wellbeing and the cause or lack of the two. This may sound unimportant, but it is highly interesting to find out that happiness has little to do with our financial state. [unless you get a bigger raise than people around you] The external factors interest me. In some cases we, as service designers, should keep them in mind when setting principles for the projects we run. Because the right environment where people feel acknowledged will benefit our society and their workplace.


The book reminded me of Stefan Sagmeisters’ Happy Show, a show about happiness that would also make people happy. Happiness was measured and also stimulated in all kinds of ways. He uses aspects that Richard Layard writes about, a smile makes you feel better and when you move endorfine will give you a good feeling. Oh and not to forget are the people around us, who we have a relationship with, make us happy (or not). 

Layard, R (2011) Happiness lessons from a new science, penguin books