In service design, we too often see great projects being delivered only to end up in a desk drawer and never be implemented. Why is that? And how can it be avoided? Our Lead Designer Annie Feddersen Hjelmervik shares her best tips.
Implementation is a process – not an event
More often than not, people tend to think of implementation as something that happens at the end of a project. This causes a series of obstacles and unnecessary problems for the implementation of a new service. I see this happening all the time in service design projects, and it's frustrating – for us consultants, but mainly for the clients themselves.
Differently from a product, a service is not palpable. You can’t see it, let alone touch it. It's an abstract being that lives only in the designers and project leader's minds – until the grand launch of the service. However, it doesn't have to be –it shouldn't be – this way. Implementation, when done right, is a process that runs in parallel with the project. It's not one single event.
What can we do to help ensure implementation along the way in a service design project, and thus increase its chances of success? Here are my three best tips:
1. Involve people
People don’t hold the key in service design – they are the key. Without thorough and genuine anchoring of the project with the people involved, the project is doomed. Hence – involve them from the start. They are the ones who, in the end, will apply the new service or solution in their everyday work, so it's vital to have them on board from the beginning. The more time and effort put into this process – maturing and training the organisation for the upcoming change – the higher the chance of successful implementation. Also, it is essential to remember that change processes must be accepted by management if you're to succeed. It’s the leaders’ responsibility to own the change and act as role models.
The single most important thing to remember when working with service design implementation is that it’s all about people.Annie Feddersen Hjelmervik, Lead Designer, EGGS Design
2. Find ambassadors
When it comes to bigger organisations, it's impossible to reach everyone and get them on board the "yes-side" of a project. However, it's always possible to find some who have the will, motivation, and the competence to follow along.
You need to identify who these people are and turn them into your ambassadors. According to behavioral strategist Morten Munster, you should always start with these people, as this generates motivation for others to follow.
Secondly, you move onto those who have the competence and the will but perhaps lack the motivation. Lastly, you try to engage those who are positive and motivated, but who lack the competence, by helping them build their competence. The rest? Forget about them! It’s immensely resource- and time-consuming trying to convince people who lack the will to do something. Reaching 100% acceptance and engagement in a change process is unlikely. But ambassadors can help make it possible to scale a pilot project into a finished service.
3. Roll-out little by little
Forget about the grand opening. Or rather – have many grand openings. Rolling out the red carpet can generate unexpected backlashes in the form of poor user experience, lack of accurate knowledge or training among employees, and other types of friction in the machinery. Instead, launch parts of the solution along the way to adjust, make necessary changes, and allow people to get used to the new service. It's vital to invest in training the employees to make sure they have the knowledge needed to do their job in the new setting and give them time to absorb the changes.
We can’t avoid friction, but we can ensure that the wheels never stop turning. If we can do that, we have succeeded with the implementation.Annie Feddersen Hjelmervik, Lead Designer, EGGS Design
Overall, we can say that there is no one size fits all when it comes to service design implementation. But keeping the three tips above in mind goes a long way. Never underestimate the power of time and proper planning – you’re never done. But allowing for people to adjust and to participate does wonders for any change process.
Let's talk to Lead Designer
Annie Feddersen Hjelmervik
+47 934 33 276