Systems Oriented Service Design

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Photo: Sara Svennevik

Track moderator: Alex Ryan

1. Benedicte Wildhagen, Knut Bang and Adrian PaulsenAttempting to fly: Deployment of system-oriented design methodology conducted by the Norwegian Design Council

2. John Darzentas & Jenny DarzentasOn the role of systems thinking in design and its application to public self-services

3. Eunki ChungDesigning Entanglement: Holistic approach to a new pattern of complexity in digital service design

4. Liliana Rodriguez and Carlos PeraltaFrom product to service design: A thinking paradigm shift

5. Ana Laura Rodrigues Santos and Linda S.G.L.Wauben – System Design Perspective of Healthcare Provision in Humanitarian Aid



1. Benedicte Wildhagen, Knut Bang and Adrian Paulsen
Attempting to fly: Deployment of system-oriented design methodology conducted by the Norwegian Design Council

Abstract    Working Paper

The Norwegian Design Council and AHO have been collaborative partners for several years through different research projects. These include the service innovation method AT-ONE, Customer Care 2015 and other projects due to both organizations being part of the Center for Service Innovation, and, not the least, our collaboration within the emerging field of system oriented design (SOD). This is important to the Norwegian Design Council because we see the need for new methodology in the design field – to be able to drive innovation and to tackle and solve complex and pressing problems we are confronted with.Our contribution to SOD is mainly in recruiting business cases to the course, to serve as sensors for the SOD master course for the last four years and by using SOD in our own work. This has given us a deep understanding of the potentials and benefits of this emerging methodology. We see our role as a “bridging partner” between the academic, research-based development at AHO and the “real world”. Our aim is making use of system-oriented design methodology; in our own work, in commercial projects with complex challenges, and if possible, to bring back some new insights to the SOD development at AHO.The Norwegian Design Council is the national strategic body for design in Norway. We have a responsibility to collaborate with other governmental organizations, and to find new ways of doing this we have to navigate within very complex structures. As a consequence we have made use of a system-oriented design approach in a joint effort with a national programme within the Norwegian Research Council. This has resulted in a ground-braking partnership where the use of professional designers are made available to scientists in the process of commercializing R&D results. The overall goal is to create value and benefits for society from research results.
CASEThe launch of Celerway Orchestrated by the consultants at the Design Council and funded by the Research Council of Norway a SOD-project was initiated with Simula Research Laboratory in the fall of 2012. The goal was to bridge the gap – turning a research result into a commercially viable idea.

A new technology The way our smart phone, tablet or a laptop (“terminals”) communicate with service providers through the network globally, has remained the same even though our terminals are now mainly mobile rather than stationary. This leads to poor performance and basically a bad customer experience. Simula has developed a software that allows simultaneous use of networks to enhance the mobile experience. The technology also improves the single-link communication terminals have with the service provider by packaging information in a manner more fit for mobile network activity. This has the potential of claiming a very valuable vacant spot in the commercial landscape.

To commercialize the new technology Simula faced a wicked problem. They needed to explore and understand the ecosystem the technology would be a part of and come to grasp with technology, business and human values aspects in a global context. A deep analysis was needed to establish product and business concepts, based on.

  • You have a research result, but does it have a market?
  • What kind of needs do the end-user have?
  • How should the product or service be?
  • Does it have competitors?
  • Is it a threat to existing value chains?
  • How to explain to investors or partners what this is?
  • Where to begin and where to go?
Stepping out of the technology silo
Designer Adrian Paulsen was commissioned to do the work with partner Baard Røsvik. A core strength in the SOD/mapping process is rapid learning through delivering an “overview”, allowing for holistic co-creation. The mappings submerge the project participants in a rich visual systemic environment and provide a shared understanding of the challenges. When working with “invisible” technologies with global market potential, this “overview effect” becomes essential to a beneficial process.The designer describes the final result as a road-map to commercialize the research result:
With the system design approach the scientists and the designer were able to materialize the fussy complexity. This resulted in a precise description of a product range, of a viable service and a description of what various market needs might be globally.
“The designers helped us out of our technology-silo and we became part of an efficient process I really enjoyed. As a result we are able to present our case to a broader public in a way that makes sense.”  Audun Fosselie Hansen, CEO, Celerway






2. John Darzentas & Jenny Darzentas
On the role of systems thinking in design and its application to public self-services

Abstract    Working Paper

This presentation uses the paradigm of e-inclusion, and in particular the application of publicly available self-services in order to demonstrate and discuss the power of a systems thinking perspective in Design, and more specifically in the design of services. Here we attempt to justify why employing systems thinking can help designers to identify and acknowledge holistically the dimensions of problem space for which designers are required to design. The richness of the approach will be discussed, through both some representative systems thinking methodologies (such as SSM), as well as some theoretical issues emerging from systems, such as the use of the emerging properties, and the law of requisite variety, notions of second order cybernetics etc. in the conceptualisation and praxis of design.Briefly, systems thinking came about in response to the failure of mechanistic thinking and vitalism to explain biological phenomena. In systems thinking, a ‘system’ is a complex and highly interconnected network of parts, which exhibit synergistic properties, where the whole exceeds the sum of its parts. The living organisms are, as far their organisation is concerned, closed systems, while at the same time, as far as their energy is concerned, they are open, with incoming and outgoing energy and matter. That is, they are not ‘idle’ or ‘immobilized’ in their immediate surroundings, and are studied as a total entity. In this way, they present emergent properties, which cannot be deduced from their component parts.Apart from its application to the study of biological systems, systems thinking plays an important role in the world of management and organization, while of course, systems theory in general, has been used in engineering and engineering design for many decades.

However, the real power of systems thinking is in dealing with the high complexity of ill structured problems. Those are traditionally the human centric ones. Considering the above understanding, and attempting to justify the use of systems thinking in design, we speculate here on some cases of designing for accessibility problems.In particular, we are interested in the type of public services that are most commonly available via self- service technologies. These services range from the simple, such as the purchase of a train ticket, to increasingly more complex interactions, such as filling in forms or obtaining customized information. These services can be accessed and delivered via self-service terminals (SSTs) available in public spaces. However, they are now increasingly available online via an individual’s personal devices (desktop, laptop, smart mobile phone or tablet). An example is the self-service check-in machine at airports, or the equivalent ‘web check in’ that people can use by connecting to the application with an internet enabled appliance.We consider these to be representative human centric design problems for autonomy. Our particular area of concern is the provision of these services to vulnerable people. With the term “vulnerable” we include:

  • Older people
  • people with sensory and/or mobility and/or dexterity impairments,
  • people with cognitive impairments
  • people with literacy problems, such as economic refugees, who may understand, but not read the language of the host country,
  • people in handicapping situations, such as a parent with a small child, an adult child caring for elderly parent

  The increasing demographic of vulnerable people is an acknowledged problem. Statistics, particularly for the elderly, show that this is a population on the rise; while survival rates for previous fatal conditions have risen, meaning that more people live disabilities. Added to these is the global movement of populations because of war, famine, economic downturn and climate change that is increasingly fueling the economic refugee situation. At the same time, many countries are now requiring their citizens to use online and unmanned services, and are withdrawing traditional face to face services. This increase in unmanned self-service in the public service sector implies dependence on SSTs or personal access to internet enabled gadgets. Yet, for the most part, these are out of reach for vulnerable populations either because of technological or economic barriers. Thus reliance on this type of service means exclusion from services for large sections of the population.Current approaches to dealing with the accessibility of public services, and promoting the inclusion of the vulnerable are mostly based on an extended human centred and human computer interaction. This leads to suggestions that are not implemented, because reality has been treated in a piecemeal or reductionist manner. As an example, guidelines pertaining to the optimal height of screens for ATMs have led to a plethora of accessibility related standards that are contradictory amongst them, and none of them really tackle key issues. It is our belief that a systems thinking approach is far more appropriate.Considering the particular problem area and treating it as a system, means that its human centric character will be given priority and rich pictures will result from the attempts to understand it. Proven systems thinking approaches and methodologies can then be applied to continue the process of understanding the ‘real’ design problem space and in this way contribute with solutions.

Furthermore, systems thinking will also help the designer to sustain the richness required for providing robustness and acceptability, i.e. producing something which relates to the actual problem, and aids its proper use. For instance, if designers are systems thinkers they will be actively looking for emerging properties, they will try to incorporate these in the design solutions. Again, designers who are aware of systems thinking will understand the need to uncover and ‘import’ the complexity of the design problem. They will, as well, acknowledge the need for requisite variety to provide the necessary power to confront and deal with as many situations and conditions of use as possible. This can only be beneficial to the final designs. Awareness of the notion of 2nd order cybernetics should also help designers to ground their role in the process of design. They will realise they are part of the problem and part of the solution, and not observers.

This presentation adopts the thesis that every artifact which results from design praxis, coexists with the resulting service design. This is how the example used here, i.e. self-service, is considered being systemically designed as a service design, designed together with the ‘touchpoints’ of the system such as the SSTs or other delivery mechanisms.Particularly in the case of accessibility of the self-services, there is an irrevocableness that cannot be denied. Technology for public use, if designed appropriately, has the power to enable many vulnerable people who otherwise cannot participate in and enjoy these services. It also has the power to further disable, disenfranchise and reduce their autonomy if not designed in a holistic manner.



3. Eunki Chung
Designing Entanglement: Holistic approach to a new pattern of complexity in digital service design


We are living in the world of digital services. Big services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Evernote now became essential to everyday life by providing omnipresent and seamless user experience and values across multiple devices and software platforms. The boom of these new digital services opened up the second golden age to related disciplines like Interaction Design, Human-Computer Interaction and recently, Service Design.However, a new phenomenon seems to be emerging. Digital services get networked more and more each other. Programmable Web, an online directory of Application Programming Interfaces (API) across the digital services, reported that it has been listed more than 8,000 APIs in 2013, which shows steep increase from 2005, when eBay firstly created their web API. When we understand the API as a set of language between different digital service systems, this trend exemplifies how networks among digital services have become denser and stickier. This density and stickiness has started to reveal more complex landscapes to service related practitioners: it is more than just networked, but entangled. For an example of Facebook, they announced already more than 9 million apps and websites are using Facebook Connect and it is replacing tedious sign-up and log-in processes of new services. This implies that many services are now unintentionally sharing the lifeline of service with Facebook. It actually happened in February 2013. Major internet services like CNN, Huffington Post and New York Times went down due to a glitch with Facebook Connect and its social plug-in feature (‘like’ button).
If we expand the point of view to physical servicescape [Bitner, 1992], we can realize this entanglement is happening widely at offline service systems indeed. Retail services become more entangled to digital services like Square, Shopkick, Groupon and Foursqaure, lying outside of their business boundary. Big digital services like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Linkedin are considered as essential factors for traditional offline service providers to maintain their relationship with customers at digital sphere.I will use the term entanglement to capture this new dense and sticky relationship among digital services. Entanglement is a term used in quantum theory to describe the way that particles of energy and matter can become correlated to predictably interact with each other regardless of how far apart they are. Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance”. Entanglement is a real phenomenon, which has been demonstrated repeatedly through experimentation. The mechanism behind it cannot, as yet, be fully explained by any theory. One proposed theory suggests that all particles on earth were once compacted tightly together and, as a consequence, maintain a connectedness [Gilder, 2008].
The current and recent phenomena in digital services described before are amazingly similar with this description. The entanglement of digital services is not only about the matter of tight interlinkages, but more to the aspect of dynamic synchronizations of certain status or superposition among different business and service ecosystems. Facebook Home, a launcher to Android smartphones released April 2013, is a good example. When user downloads and installs the Facebook Home application from Android AppStore, it transforms a whole user experience of a smartphone to be encompassed by substitutive Facebook solutions. It causes disruptions with other preinstalled service ecosystems from Google, device manufacturers and carriers and dilutes ritualized service usages tailored by the user.This new pattern of complexity among digital services raises new challenge to interaction and service design practitioners and researchers. Considering interaction and service design discipline generally have had a tendency to unfold the idea from the first person (a user) point of view in the single system so far, focusing to the entanglement among different service systems is not a familiar one to them. In other words, people who design, develop and manage a certain service are hard to consider the side-effect of their decisions and actions towards service users’ experience and coproduced value from stakeholders stemmed from entangled services. Because design briefs are usually formulated within the context of one single organizational entity while different digital services are getting more flexible to be entangled each other, it is becoming apparent problems to service-related practitioners, especially its creators more and more.
 To articulate this recent phenomenon, it needs multiple angles to wholly understand the situation and refine insights from it. Therefore, the paper sets up a meaningful construct to deal with the service entanglement from synthesis of studies on complexity, systemics and applied ecological studies.Core audience of the research includes interaction and service design practitioners and system engineers or business development people closely working with designers. Accordingly, the paper discusses viable approaches to dismantle entangled status.Through the research, interaction and service design practitioners can skillfully deal with complex problems stem from intersections of digital services. They can benefit from a framework or set of tools like service ecology canvas or advanced service blueprint to prototype a structure of complex service systems and experiences like service business ecosystem or multi-channel service offering. From the service provider’s perspective, the research and discussion can provide them a useful knowledge. They can learn how to effectively adapt to entangled situation and pipeline the learning to service evolution process. At any stakeholder’s viewpoints, the paper opens new discussion opportunities about co-production aspect of service.
View Working Paper

Chung from RSD2



4. Liliana Rodriguez and Carlos Peralta
From product to service design: A thinking paradigm shift

Abstract     Working Paper

 Motivation: The economy, society and industry are experiences change by a shift from products to services. It is apparent that this also brings an on-going ‘conceptual shift’ in business and industry characterised by a movement from traditional goods-centred dominant logic to emerging service-centred dominant logic.While a “problem solving” approach is commonly used for the development of products, as the primary unit of exchange moving from goods to service, new design approaches for the development of services are needed. The diverse nature of services in comparison to products, where service are specialised competences such as knowledge and skills that people can acquire and exchange, highlight the need for new design approaches. This research argues that a fundamental transformation in the design world is taking place, manifested in a thinking paradigm shift from problem solving (designing products) towards system thinking (designing services).Furthermore, the very own nature of products has also changed. From being purely physical and tangible entities, they are becoming mixed entities, with both physical and virtual (or intangible) attributes. Also, from being individual objects that stand alone, products now are part of complex systems, becoming the touch points (TP) of a service. The touch points include interactive properties that allow people that use them (users) to exchange information in and out, acting as enablers in the communication between the service providers and users.These changes have direct implications in the activity of designers, and in the way designers approach problems and issues.
 Problem Statement: This paper intends to help understanding how the design activity has change from problem solving to system thinking. This paper seeks to demonstrate that the design of services requires system thinking, and that using system thinking is a more suitable approach to the development of services than problem solving.
 Approach: This paper will review current literature on services design and product design to show and examine a number of examples of product and service design that typifies both approaches: Problem solving in the design of products and system thinking in the development of services.This paper will also draw on a series of semi structured interviews made to designers working on four design consultancies that have moved from product design towards services design. It will explain their account on how this change has taken place, and on how the consultancies have evolved to adopt different design methods and approaches as a response to the new challenges of designing services. It will conclude on the interviewees’ perceptions on how (or if) their way of think about design challenges has changed.Main findings The results of this research show that a change in the way designers think and approach projects has taken place. This change confirms a movement from problem solving to system thinking, when designers are faced with the challenges of designing a service.The results also indicate that the growing complexity of the issues designers deals with and the increasing access to information, have an influence on the adoption of system thinking to respond to service design challenges. It also shows that current changes in people’s mind about sustainability, consumerism, etc. have also an impact on this.
 Conclusions: This paper shows that the design of products requires a different design approach to the design of services, and that there is a strong link between system thinking and the design of services. However it can not claim generalisation and can be taken only as an initial exploration on the subject. Further study would be needed to establish correlation between the design of services and system thinking approaches, and to examine the role of other alternative design approaches employed in services design. .Also, since the design consultancies studied are local to the UK context, further investigation on consultancies abroad would allow a better understanding on the subject.



5. Ana Laura Rodrigues Santos and Linda S.G.L.Wauben
System Design Perspective of Healthcare Provision in Humanitarian Aid

Abstract     Working Paper

This study focuses on the role of Systems Design in addressing the challenges of healthcare provision by international emergency relief organizations in developing countries. More specifically the challenges related with the safety and performance of medical devices that are transferred in the aftermath of a humanitarian crisis. Our aim is to describe this transfer on the basis of two field studies in Indonesia and Haiti and reflect on the value of Human Factors and Ergonomics for a Systems Design approach. The presented concepts support designers in handling a larger degree of complexity and support them to think more steps ahead in a design project. Future studies will involve collaborative design projects dedicated to bring this reflection further to the development of healthcare products and services.


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