“This is the best Service Design book currently available. Its layout casts it as a practical text – which it is; the workshop exercises included are much richer than your normal ‘write the first thing that pops into your head on a post-it note’ design thinking tasks. However, a little bit despite the layout, this is in fact a very sophisticated collection of ways of thinking through service innovation with a design lens. The literature mobilized is much more comprehensive than your standard how-to-service-design reading list. As a result, the book builds a powerful philosophy for understanding what is unique about service innovation. Kimbell writes lucidly about important perspectives that will significantly mature the practice of research-based service design.”
(Based on a review copy sent by the publisher.)”
Dr Cameron Tonkinwise, Associate Professor, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University on amazon.com
My congratulations to Lucy Kimbell on the new Service Innovation Handbook. She managed to make a very attractive and content-rich book that makes the lifes of teachers in innovation a lot easier. I will recommend the handbook to our master students in our School of Design in Hong Kong. Furthermore, I will recommend the book to practitioners in the services industry. Hong Kong is all about services, in particular in finance and hospitality, and we desperately need more service innovation. This handbook really is a practical guide that has the potential to generate lot’s of minor and major breakthroughs that will structurally change the landscape of the services industry. Since this will be done from a human-centred perspective, we will all benefit.
Professor Cees de Bont, Dean, School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
“Lucy Kimbell’s Service Innovation Handbook offers different value than most popular texts on service design. Like classics in the field like This is Service Design Thinking or Experience Design, Kimbell grounds the book in rich case studies and particular how-to methods, including templates and worked examples. But what differentiates Kimbell’s text is that she prefaces the case studies and methods sections with solid, rich evidence-based introductions to the theory and research underlying service innovation. In particular, Kimbell doesn’t shy away from addressing service-dominant logic, boundary objects, or progressive approaches to outcomes and assessment.
Another useful feature of the book is that it focuses on the very front end of service innovation. It shares some similarity to Terry Pinheiro’s The Service Startup:Design Gets Lean, but Kimbell’s methods are more thoughtfully interconnected and less complex. Like the dSchool’s Make Space, Kimbell’s methods include how-to equipment, but she also included a work example for a sample case that threads throughout the text.
Kimbell’s blend of theory, cases, and methods is a key strength and reminds me of Sam Ladner’s Practical Ethnography or Andrew Hinton’s Understanding Context.
But a copy for your methods shelf and one to share with design clients who want to go all in.”
David Rubeli, learning designer and educational consultant on his blog
“(Full disclosure: I know Lucy Kimbell and her work well. And I am a fan). Most books in the service design / innovation space suffer from one of two problems. They are either very practical but devoid of methodological and/or theoretical context, or they are heavy on the latter and all but devoid of the former. At last here’s an accessible book that straddles that divide with aplomb. I have spent 20 years doing and teaching user research in design and innovation contexts. I want to understand how design, design thinking, design innovation, service design et al can help me in my work as a user researcher. I want tools to break down the professional silos that in my experience are the reason projects fail. I want to find new ways of working with others. And it helps to understand where those ideas come from, especially in the kind of environments where design / user research etc are still regarded as “a bit out there”, where your work is as much evidencing the appropriateness and robustness of techniques and tools as it is using them. Lucy Kimbell has managed to create a resource stuffed with practical tools, clearly explained and situated, backed up with with great case studies and examples, and with enough of the deeper thinking and theory around them to be able to flesh out your understanding and dig deeper if you wish. I’ve been at this game a long time but I learned and have applied new ways of thinking and working from this book.”
Cat Macaulay, former course director of MSc Design Ethnography, Dundee University and Scottish Government, on amazon.co.uk
“This book manages to do two things well, two things that are difficult to carry off together. First, and most straightforwardly, Lucy Kimbell describes clearly how to practise service innovation. You’d expect this from such a book, but in my experience this isn’t always delivered. While service innovation is a fairly new arrival in the innovation scene, those of us engaging in any sort of design-driven innovation or even designing have been doing what is now called ‘service innovation’ for a while. What Kimbell is able to do is to draw on all of this to construct a simple, though not simplistic, account of how to service innovation in relation to its rich creative history. Secondly, Kimbell provides a critical and theoretical engagement that perfectly compliments her deep practice experience. The thing is that Kimbell does this without it dominating, becoming jargon or coming across apologetically. All in all, I learnt much from this book. It has not only improved my approach to service innovation, but has highlighted tracks for further thought that I’m still following.”
Dr Jamie Brasset, course leader, MA Innovation Management, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London on amazon.co.uk
Interview in Service Design Network magazine Touchpoint
SDN Insider: A few months have passed since your new Service Innovation Handbook was published. What kind of feedback have you received from the book’s target audience, managers and entrepreneurs?
Lucy Kimbell: Good, so far. But I find that people rarely voice concerns or make criticism face to face or by email so it’s a bit early to tell. Although I aimed it at managers and entrepreneurs who want to go beyond methods to the ideas that are embedded in them, I’m aware that the book is likely to end up as a de facto textbook for masters programmes.
There are, so far, very few books on designing for service and there is still very little academic research in this area. What I think is distinctive is that my book brings together several different research traditions – design theory, services management, ethnography and participatory design – and weaves them together to present an account of what designing for service innovation is and how to go about it. My writing has been shaped by dialogues with many of the key practitioners over several years, especially livework, Engine, uscreates, Futuregov and, now, Policy Lab, which is a bit London-centric. Like all books, it fixes a set of ideas in time and, also to some extent, a place.
SDN Insider: This year, you celebrate ten years since you started developing and teaching an MBA elective, Designing Better Futures. The course is in a perpetual beta. How different is it from its beginnings?
LK: I change about a third of the material each year. Plus the students – usually 50+ students on the full-time and/or executive MBA who choose this elective – change every year. I set a different challenge project each year, which has ranged from social innovation to development in South Africa to ageing to climate change. It’s an ongoing experiment in what to teach to these kinds of students and how to teach it in a business school. It’s been great to have a platform to do that without having the pressure of running a whole MA programme.
SDN Insider: Talking about changes, at the 2010 SDN conference in Berlin you portrayed service design at its crossroads*: “The designer is drunk on his creativity. The anthropologist has a hangover from mixing his drinks. The manager is making money.” Where is service design today?
LK: I attended some of the Service Design in Government conference in London in March and, for the first time, I saw more people (men) in suits than other kinds of dress. This told me that managers (if that’s who they were) are seriously interested in what service design can do for government. The 70 or so government innovation labs attending the Nesta Global Labs Gathering in London in July, not all of which use design, are further evidence of serious interest. But my observation is that it’s still a practice-led field that is still quite designer-led. Meanwhile, the ethnographers in the community around the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) are also asking questions about how to make their work visible and actionable in organisations. But they have 20+ years of large firms like Intel and Microsoft investing in ethnography, plus a lot of people with PhDs in anthropology and other disciplines. With this comes organisational clout and quite a lot of social science reflexivity.
SDN Insider: And how do you see the role of an organisation like the Service Design Network within these changes?
LK: The network plays a key role in bringing people together to review what’s emerging in practice, forging a shared narrative and creating community. Looking at what the network is talking about and promoting provides a way to track current anxieties and assumptions. Alongside this, university researchers – who work on different timescales – are beginning to build up the beginnings of research. And, finally, some management researchers are getting interested. So the network helps make some of these nodes visible.