The alchemy of designing successful experiences

When it comes to the alchemy of designing successful experiences, there are three key ingredients that come into play to unlock value for both customers and businesses. We need to know what they are and how they can be combined. Service Design, System Design and Business Design are the bedrock of any successful product experience. If you master these key ingredients, you will also master the design thinking practice.

Main sections: Intro | Service Design | System Design | Business Design

Successful experiences stem from the orchestration of different components. With this in mind, I’ve started looking for an example to help me flesh out the concept. I am a big fan of anime superrobots. My favourite one is Steel Jeeg, I have spent hours binge-watching episode by episode of the whole saga. I was astounded by the way the robot was activated by his cyborg pilot Hiroshi Shiba. In the blink of an eye, a set of different pieces became a fully-fledged organism ready to fight!
Found it!
Jeeg epitomizes a successful experience resulting from the combination of the 3 key components of the design thinking practice.


Service Design

It is a key ingredient to identify deltas and opportunities in terms of how companies provide the whole experience to their clients. Service design helps to frame the way customers and employees perceive successful experiences.
On one hand, customers experience the product also through the services linked to them. On the other hand, employees are committed to delivering a set of services to support the customers in having the best experience and the company in increasing important KPIs such as trust and loyalty.
For these reasons, the practice of service design isn’t the solely province of disruptive organizations and startups. Incumbents as well need to invest in tools and processes to allow their own employees to deliver the best-in-class experiences to the market. In order to achieve this goal, organizations need to map out and continuously improve customer needs, customer journeys, physical touch-points, digital touch-points, visible interactions and not-visible interactions. The most important output of this practice is the Service Blueprint, an advanced version of the User Journey map. The service blueprint shows swimlanes in order to define how a service is delivered by the organizations and consumed by customers. Like many other design deliverables, blueprints are living documents that result from several iterations between different actors. This output is inherently inclusive and cross-functional. As a positive side effect, it will become an enabler of enhanced collaboration and communication across teams within the organization. On top of that, it will increase the chemistry between all the contributors to the project.

My own Service Design starter pack:
Norman Nielsen Group
NN Group’s Youtube channel
Service Design: From Insight to Inspiration

System Design

It refers to the orchestration and optimization of people, processes, and tools in order to amplify the design’s value and impact at scale. It is an approach that relies on a reusable set of patterns and components to improve the collaboration across teams. Thinking of the design process in a systematic way means creating a low-risk environment to allow for on-the-fly adjustments and valuable iterations. Pattern libraries, coded examples, flagship screens and prototypes will allow the final implementation to be more successful when finally rolled out. They will avoid the dangerous delta between product vision, design and code implementation. Think of the outcome of this practice as a “unique source of truth” to think, design and engineer experiences that fit the organization’s goals. This will drastically reduce the onboarding time for new joiners or suppliers since it will serve as a shared and approved repository of instruction on how to build the experiences. It will be an enabler for the communication across teams and will allow actors other than designers and tech people to prototype and validate options with actual building blocks. Large organizations, in particular, should not underestimate this last point. Providing everyone involved in the process with the chance to shape and test a solution will reinforce their sense of ownership of the product design process.

My own System Design starter pack:
Nathan Curtis on Medium

Business Design

Hey, hold on, I know this is not an industry-standard terminology and I do not aim to create a new buzzword/definition. What I mean by business design is how we, as creatives, should look at the problems from a business perspective. As more designers join the decision room, there’s an increased demand to evaluate the impact of how design culture and design OPs are managed on the business at large. The user is the king, that’s a matter of fact. We get paid to ensure the performance of the product, that’s a matter of fact too. The value that design brings to an organizations needs to be measurable in terms of return on investment and customer satisfaction. Whenever designers are invited to join a conversation with the decision-makers, they should always keep in mind the way these folks look at the problems. Designers need to interact with business accordingly. For instance, a customer of an insurance company cannot upload an invoice on the app. The system then returns a poorly explained error, and he feels frustrated. For the business though, the same user turns into a much bigger and complex problem, as he will keep a call-centre operator busy in order to accomplish a task that should be completed in a self-service mode. At the end of the day, design needs to look after a frustrated user that will very likely switch operator the following year. The business will incur the extra-cost of a human-to-human interaction that will bring low value to the relationship with the customer. Looking at the problem through both lenses can improve the design visibility vis-à-vis business stakeholder. A spillover effect will be the unlocking of new value for the organizations and the enhancement of customer satisfaction. In a nutshell, organizations will deliver successful experiences

My own Business Design starter pack:
– Look at your own organization 😃

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