I’ve been working a great deal recently at Prospect on the Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network, which is assessing how to better connect organisations producing ‘knowledge’ (universities, labs, etc.) and those who can unlock and apply that knowledge to create new products, services and even businesses. I encourage anyone involved in academia and the creative industries to visit the site and take the opportunity to have your say.
In particular I’ve been thinking about how the crux of the problem, balancing sharing and generosity with the bottom line and protectionism, relates to the burgeoning cross-disciplinary ‘discipline’ of service design. Having kept a close eye on the SDN Conference last week, It’s even more apparent than usual how disproportionately loudly the community manages to communicate through blogs, tweets and uploaded papers.
For a discipline still in the moulding it’s the relatively unspoken principles that have created this culture and environment that interests me. I’m sure much of this comes through the everyday work of being a service designer, which demands more collaboration, transparency and inclusiveness than other design disciplines to ensure quality.
This preaching what we practice has quickly generated a mass of content which can be copied, case studies which can be imitated and even tools which are given away freely for use. It’s this open-ness and sharing which reveals how this new industry is being founded upon principles reflective of our increasingly non-proprietary and communities-based world and which go against traditional practices in, say, communications and product design, where knowledge is locked within experts, craftspeople, studios and workshops.
Perhaps it’s the intangibility of service design that requires as much evidence as possible to be publicised, to educate future clients and win over organisations that ‘get it’ already. This challenge is made even more complex when the almost universal aspiration of existing service design studios to move further ‘upstream’ and become more strategic as well as outcomes-focused and capable, is taken into account. In the short-term sharing such knowledge may seem hazardous, but when considered as a longer-term strategy to grow the market and establish yourself as a thought leader, the benefits will drastically outweigh this if done properly.
Service designers sell process and the tools, methods and expertise to go through it. Their offer is to be confident enough to share their insights, experiences and methods – positioning themselves as thought leaders and focusing their offer on the opportunity to work alongside the designers and experience the expert application of that knowledge.
And so, in the spirit of a ‘competitive collaborative community’, feel free to comb my Twitter feed and Delicious bookmarks, and I hope you find the following resources as useful as I have. I’ll also be increasingly gobby and opinionated as Service design Drinks and Thinks evenings go on.