Service Design Thinking and the Innovation of Financial Services, Part 2


In a recent blog in response to the excellent 2010 book entitled “Service Design Thinking” (Stickdorn/Schneider 2010) I noted that this was the first qualifier of design thinking, as least as I had witnessed at the time, that spoke to how design thinking might be applied to a specific design practice. I also noted that the sky was the limit as to how design practitioners could take design thinking tools and methods and apply them to their own area of practice. “Service Design Thinking” does an excellent job of just this mash-up. The key elements of an integrated service design and design thinking approach to the creation of new business service/product interactions can be outlined as follows:

  • Empathy with customers
  • Ideation / Co-creation
  • Service Journey over time and space/place
  • Service/Experience mapping
  • Prototyping
  • Concept validation / Co-creation
  • Objective requirements
  • Prioritization and road-mapping

There is a growing recognition amongst financial institutions around the world that differentiating the banking experience is a way to attract new and retain current customers. Many of these initiatives are the product of partnerships with leading design innovation agencies such as Ideo, Continuum, and others. Because of this, the new initiatives are benefitting from design thinking approaches that practice the best practices outlined above.

The following are a small collection of examples of various financial institutions across the globe engaging with design firms to help them take fresh looks at old habits. I do not have proof that all of these endeavors followed the best practices described above, but warrant that many if not all did do so!

Visualizing Strategy


Designers partnering in business strategy formation bring many fresh tools, techniques, and perspectives to the process. From methods for gathering information, forming insights, generating ideas, imagining concepts, validating concepts, and articulating a design vision that can make ideas real, design strategists (or strategic designers) bring unique value every step of the way.

One of the most powerful tools at the disposal of the strategy team is the collection of all of the strategic intelligence that realizes the strategy into a single visualization that quickly communicates the forces driving the strategy. From the digital business perspective visualizations often reflect strategies for single or multi-channel products, services, and experiences. The end result may be a completely new web site, a specific set of web-based services for a target market, or a multi-site strategy reflecting a diverse marketing campaign embracing social networks and other discrete touchpoints.

Visualizations can be all-encompassing, covering a full range of inputs that typically include over-arching corporate strategy, brand positioning, competitive positioning, and target consumers as well as outputs such as strategic drivers, principal ideas and concepts translated into prioritized products and services, and brand and design principles to apply when tackling implementation. On the other hand, visualizations can also focus on one contributor to the strategy information stream. A good example is the quantitative and qualitative research driving the establishment of market segmentation and creation of target customer personas.