Education and service design

Education and service design
How, what and why

This blogpost is about a big dilemma, problem, issue, idea, that needs some thinking, feel free to comment, add, adjust to work toward an realistic approach to tackle the issue.

What is going on
To start this blogpost off I am asking myself a basic question; Why do we need service design?
The answer on this question is not that difficult to find. In the development of services that are expanding and expanding, not anymore succeeding to full fill our needs with doing what they where used to do. We are asking for more and more detailed services in a far more complex society. Over the last decades the service industry in the UK and in most industrialized economies has grown and grown and is remaining to grow, it already is the biggest bit of the UK’s GDP.

What we need to do now is look at our developed services and enhance them. Re-think our approach and position in these services, expand them and let them meet our current day, or better, future needs.

How do we do that
The next question will be; Is it just designers that will have to save the day by designing and enhancing our services?

I don’t think so. Creativity is not something can you only learn in Art College, it is something many people have. It is a manager who deals with his department in such a way that there is a spirit among his employees. It is someone that comes up with a new system to dry the dishes or a child who builds dens at the bottom of the garden. Creativity is everywhere. It is about making connections, relations and associations that are new, not yet thought of, and having the courage to speak these ideas out loud. It is about not being afraid to make mistakes, but to learn from them and realize that something important may lie in each seemingly crazy idea. To be applied in every dicipline to create a self critic society that is inventive and open for change.

To make full advantage of this creativity in you and me, but mostly the younger people, we have to teach how to use this, that this crazy idea can grow into something real. The problem is that in education today is not yet doing this. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” (Sir Ken Robinson, TED). By teaching people to follow a set rules and methods without questioning them we create a society that is static and afraid.

How can we make education about building on our personal inherent creativity? And be aware, it is not about creating artists and designers, but about how we can use our creativity to work on day to day problems. It is a tool to use the rest of your life in everything you think and do. Being aware of and interpreting your environment, situation, other people and the system you find yourself in.

Ideally we should create a society that is familiar with interdisciplinary collaborations between design, business, human sciences and technology and uses this to tackle it’s problems.

Back at the beginning
What does this has to do with service design?
Imagine this place where service design as a business is not relevant anymore because there is a general understanding of solving issues in a creative way. With looking at people, their habits, how they live and what they need.

The education of the young is where a future society is build on. Service design has a position where it can actually make a difference. But we must be aware that we shouldn’t forget the long term developments. You can call it idealism, or utopianism, one thing is for sure, we better start working on it. How of course is the question.

I myself am providing workshop programs for schools and colleges about creative thinking and social engagement in design. Slowly working on raising awareness and creating visibility of the issue, not focussing on the problems but looking at the possibilities. Do you think that this and e.g. how children learn at ‘Summerhill schools’ is a step in the right direction?

How would you do this, and in what way would you like to change education?
Let me know what you think!

Service economy:
Sir Ken Robinson at TED lecture:
Summerhill schools:
What are schools for

Marc Fonteijn

Marc Fonteijn

Als medeoprichter van 31Volts houdt Marc zich bezig met het verleggen van grenzen binnen service innovatie. Marc helpt organisaties om waarde te creëren voor hun klanten door middel van design.

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  • I agree that creativity should be encouraged, but even moreso in education, the ability to teach people how to be creative with services, which is an odd one really.

    The people who are most likely to be involved in creating services in the first place are not going to be designers but business people (probably the least creative and most pragmatic people I know). Most designers have no interest or knowledge of business. The gap between these 2 particular fields or types of people needs to be bridged for service design to come out of its conceptual cocoon or public service-centric applications.

    The age at which that change will occur will be very difficult to establish, as children are told by their parents and teachers , when they are creative, to go into the arts, not business school.
    I’d argue that schools like Kaos Pilots are doing more in that directions than the younger children being targeted by Summerhill school.

  • Comment by Anouk

    Good blog!
    I also agree creativity should be encouraged in each field of work…

    About the contrast between designers and business people:
    Somehow (service)design and business are both coming together and still differentiating.
    People specialized in one of these fields are needed, but also people who can work and communicate in between fields.
    In my opinion, my education, Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft, is a good example for both.

    In the bachelor students are challenged to combine creativity, research, techniques, ergonomics, interaction, form-giving, materialisation, business and more, into a design/service.
    In the master one can choose to specialize or stay on the main path. Already halfway the master one can experience the difference between an ‘Interaction designer’ a ‘Strategic product designer’ and a ‘Product design engineer’.

    Only 8% of the students ends as hard-core product designers.

    The others are spread all over other businesses or organisations, which clearly confirms the need for (education in) communicative, creative, design thinkers in all fields!

  • Comment by Guido Crolla

    I’d like to discuss some of your thoughts on, my next generation educational concept.
    A collective ‘brand’ of multimediamaniacs, researching and developing eventsoftware for – and together with – businesspartners.

31Volts [Service Design]