At a recent  Amsterdam Service Design Talk hosted by Geke and the STBY folks we had a very interesting conversation about the recently released book “This is Service Design Thinking”. The book was crowdsourced and co-authored by 23 design professionals from around the globe. Authors Mark Stickdorn and Jakob Schneider were the orchestrators of this admirable effort from their base in Austria. The book’s web site ( does a nice job describing the purpose of the book:

“ ‘This is Service Design Thinking.’ illustrates the young multi-disciplinary approach of designing services. Both layout and content are far beyond a mere textbook on a viral buzzword. The book itself is based on a Design Thinking process, including the knowledge and passion of the Service Design community and related fields.

User-centricity and co-creation are not only content, but the initial position for the conception of this book. It is designed for beginners to get an outline of Service Design Thinking, for advanced readers to discover a variety of methods & tools and case studies as examples for its applications, and for professionals to use this book during lectures and workshops.”

Speaking of viral buzzwords one of the topics discussed was the title of the book. I confess that when I first saw it I thought, “Wait! It doesn’t just hop on one current bandwagon in the marketing of design but two; service design and design thinking!” My impression was that it was adding confusion to two issues that were already seeking a firm identity in the current design services discourse. “What’s next?” I cried,  “Graphic design thinking?” “Interior design thinking?” “Textile design thinking” And then I thought… “Well, why not?!”

It is an interesting idea to consider how different design specialisms might adapt the principles and practices of design thinking to their own design doing. It could produce a very interesting series of books in the next couple of years. One view of design thinking is that it is simply a more strategic approach to design, at least from the perspective of understanding people, with an ever-growing suite of the tools and methods to arrive at a strong design vision. I have always been a keen advocate of the integration of business and design strategy. With design thinking being positioned as the perfect partner to business thinking the potential is there for all designers to take advantage of this wave.

After our group of more than 20 peers had discussed the book, all agreeing that it was an excellent contribution to a better understanding of contemporary service design, we Skype’d author Mark Stickdorn, and a lively discussion ensued. When asked about the title he declared that the authors had discussed the very issues we had raised. They felt that the title could be confusing but felt that if it generated discussion and reflection, and even controversy, that it would be a good thing!  I have come around and now tend to agree.

What do you think?!


(First published on 2011



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