Scaled Thinking and Lean Service Design
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Scaled Thinking and Lean Service Design

In this post I would like to discuss another basic principle of LSD.

Do you recognize the following situation? You come to a kick-off meeting and the CEO gives a monologue on how important the project is and that we absolutely need an app. And suddenly a design screenshot that someone from marketing has painted, flickers on the wall. Who said an app is the solution??

Many companies are driven by features. Before you have thought about the customer needs and what the business goals are, everyone already has concrete ideas for features and details. This demonstrably leads to inefficient projects and moderately successful results.

Now think about yourself talking to an architect about your future house and you start talking about the color of the doors before it is even clear how the house itself will look like. The architect would probably raise his eyebrow and listen to you out of decency, but put your input into the mental bottom-drawer pretty quickly.

One of the most important conceptual principles in architecture is scaled thinking. The design process begins with an examination of the urban context. In this small scale, the questions are reduced to the abstract volumetry of the building. Iteratively, you work your way up to larger scales. As a result, the level of detail increases and the complexity of the questions changes accordingly. It is obvious that it makes little sense to discuss the color of the doors before the floor plans have even been resolved.

This way of thinking has inspired us for Lean Service Design. The Canvases guide you step by step through the scales of the service design process. LSD does not ask for solutions when it is not clear what the customer’s needs or the business goals are. Each canvas has a specific set of questions that are aimed at a specific scale. In the first two steps “People” and “Purpose” you deal with basic questions in a quite broad context. The Experience Flow takes you to a more complex level of detail. The first time you start having a look at solutions and features is the Ideation Phase.

This is how LSD ensures that the team is not distracted by feature discussions from the essential questions. Nevertheless, when working in a team, it is important to always bring the participants back to the appropriate “flight altitude”. This is your job as a moderator.

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