Design for Service Innovation and Development. A scoping study

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Lancaster Inst for the Contemporary Arts


This is a proposal for a scoping study into the contribution of Design for Service Innovation and Development that will combine literature review into Service Innovation and New Service Development with survey and case studies research into Service Design innovation practices.

The context of the research
Since the 1990s, the emergence of Service Design as a discipline and as a profession has grown with the opening in 2000 in London of the first distinctive Service Design studios (LiveWork and Engine). Consequently, interest in the field has grown across design research, education and the professional community. Although the number of Service Design studios in the UK is increasing, and also influencing the international design scene, they currently still only make-up 1% of the overall UK design industry. Despite this there is agreement on the potential of Service Design to deliver innovative service solutions that meet the challenges facing society and the economy, both within the public and private sector.

Early work has explored a range of Service Design related issues, such as the emergence of this field, individual Service Design methods or approaches such as co-designing. However, currently the knowledge on the contribution made by Service Design agencies to service innovation is fragmented and limited. More recently, designers have been critiqued for the often-opaque attention given to economics and the absence of recognition to organisational issues and cultures so necessary for the implementation of design led service innovation. Focus has also been drawn to the need for designers to uplift and upscale their service solutions if they need to work effectively for public sector clients.

Aims and objectives
This research will conduct a scoping study into the contributions Service Design brings to Service Innovation and Development starting from service idea generation toward service implementation and measurement. It aims:
- To create and test an interpretative model for a better understanding and communication of Service Design innovation practices;
- To map and evaluate case studies into 6 Service Design agencies' projects along the New Service Development process and Service Innovation dimensions;
- To inform a multidisciplinary debate on Service Design contribution to service innovation and New Service Development based on collected data;
- To inform future research to cover knowledge gap and enhance Service Design integration and contribution to service innovation.

Potential applications and benefits
DeSID aims to support different audiences with either a direct or indirect role in supporting UK service sector innovation: academics, design consultancies, innovation agencies, private and public service sector organisations and policy makers. As a design research community, DeSID will contribute to the current gaps in knowledge relating to service innovation practices. The research will provide a systematic study to strengthen Service Design theory and practice. The work will also assist in consolidating service design knowledge and support convergence and integration with existing models and studies of New Service Development and Service Innovation.
Service innovation is a priority area at national level in both the public and private sector. By better understanding Service Design innovation and measurement, DeSID will enable design consultancies to extend their skills and knowledge in this field in order to maintain their competitive edge. Finally the interpretative model and collected evidence on Service Design projects will inform Design Council design awareness activities and will form part of a policy document to bring the new evidence about how design supports innovation to an important target audience including central government departments, local government, commissioners, as well as wider interested parties (e.g. Nesta, think tanks, etc.).

Planned Impact

Service innovation is a priority at a national level (DIUS, 2008) and design consultancies are aware of the need to uplift their expertise in this field to maintain their competitive edge. DeSID aims to generate positive impact on four main audiences with a role in supporting UK service sector innovation: design consultancies, innovation agencies, service organisations, and policy makers.
Design consultancies: the design discipline is evolving to address contemporary society and economic challenges entering new fields of service and social innovation. A growing number of UK and global design and business consultancies (i.e. Accenture purchase of Fjord) are adding Service Design as their offering and need to update their skills, while more established Service Design studios are facing legitimacy issues and need to demonstrate impact and ability to work at higher strategic levels. DeSID aims to feed this community with real data about Service Design innovation practices and to develop a language that helps position and legitimate their work within more established practices of Service Innovation business consultancies. The work will also interpret their current difficulties to inform more customised and supportive design policies and meaningful future research collaborations.
Innovation agencies: the growth of social and service design agencies in UK has been supported by the orchestrated effort of innovation agencies like Design Council, NESTA, Young Foundation or NHS Institute (Cook, 2011). Working in close collaboration with the Design Council DeSID aims to inform innovation agencies' work to better communicate, promote and use Service Design, by providing in depth case studies and a documented description of their capacities and development needs. The UK has so far been in a leading position in supporting Service Design, but there is a growing competition, in particular from the Scandinavian countries, that are often learning from and developing past UK initiatives (i.e. Swedish Industrial Design is planning to replicate the NHS Institute model of innovation). DeSID aims to inform future design and innovation initiatives to help Service Design grow towards the next stage of maturity and maintain UK leadership in this field.
Public and Private service sector organisations: by choosing a representative sample of design agencies working for public, private and digital innovation, this study acknowledges the key differences between public and private sector innovation and the key role of ICT for driving service innovation (Abreu et al., 2010). The Restarting Britain 2 report (Design Commission, 2013) suggests how public sector needs to become more "design-competent". DeSID aims to provide initial evidence on how and to which kind of service innovation do designers contribute, as well as to report on the ways their impact is currently measured. Case studies and survey data will provide a clearer picture on how service organisations can better work with designers and what they can expect from their collaboration. We therefore aim at a better and more informed use of Design for service innovation that can in the longer-term benefit the UK economy.
Policy makers: In the field of innovation policies (European Commission, 2012; Design Council, 2012; Design Commission, 2013), Design has attracted attention as a promising approach to support innovation in particular in the public sector. DeSID aims to shed some light on how Design works toward service innovation and to provide recommendations on how to better support and embed it at different levels in UK economy and society. The Design Council will use DeSID outcomes to write a policy paper that translates the project's findings for policy audiences, bringing the new evidence about how design supports innovation to an important target audience including central government departments, local government, commissioners, as well as wider interested parties (Nesta, think tanks, etc.)


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