SDN Conference day 3 – workshops

On the third and last day of the SDN conference – enable – some interesting workshops took place.
The Lloyd Hotel looked like a beehives buzzing with service design practitioners spread all over the building – from the sauna to the library.


Adding value to commodities
As 31Volts we facilitated our own, so unfortunately we were not able to attend any of the others and learn from for instance IDEO or one of the other experienced service design teams or researchers. Our workshop theme was “Adding value to commodities – from products to services“; a title good enough to interest 23 highly experienced, educated and skilled people from different perspectives and countries!

Goals of the workshop:

  • enabling discussions and get shared visions on several topics
  • design a service; working on a case
  • working with service design process, methods and tools
  • getting to know each other

A week before the conference we shared google documents with the participants, asking them to tell some more about themselves, their expectations and motivations to participate in the workshop.
Some attendants came from business perspective, others were colleagues from other service design agencies and thirds represented universities or research.
For us it was quite a challenge to meet all the expectations and a good opportunity meeting all those interesting people and learn from them ourselves.
We decided next to working on a case we wanted space for discussion, enabling the different perspectives to come together in shared visions on several topics.
We thought of what people would want to do with the knowledge gained during the 3 days conference. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to take something home, to show your colleagues?
A presentation of the results could be a nice ending, and a good take-away.


1. Goods, products, services and experiences. We started warming up with inspirational pictures, to be divided into these 4 categories.

2. Adding value? We continued with several small tasks and a useful discussion on what commodities are an what value could mean.

Break; the workshop was split by a lunch. The part before was more theoretically, the second half after lunch we started designing on a case.

3. Design a service. Apply (in short) 4 steps of service design:

  • insights, design research
  • design a concept
  • prototyping
  • implementing

4. Results. Summary of the theoretical part and presentations of the case

People were very interested in meeting others with comparable perspectives.
The atmosphere was good, but the open location a bit noisy and tiring after already 2 intense conference days.
Most of the time we were working in 3 groups, at our 3 custom-made, huge mobile blue design boards.
Several workshops before, Marcel, Marc and me noticed that we could see a distinct in our ‘handwriting’ or personal way of thinking within the results of the different groups of participants.
(Guess who’s group achieved the most practical and structured one, who’s the most chaotic bursting with ideas and who’s the most lateral thinking completed with humor…)
But in this case the people attending were so experienced themselves that they had their very own results.
Of course a workshop is always too short… Because of our tight schedule we sometimes felt like getting people through a ‘laundry service’; efficiently guiding them from one part into the other. Despite the tight schedule there was a flow in activities.
The teams accepted the cases easily and started servicizing bikes, umbrellas, energy efficient light bulbs, dog food and news.

The results of the theoretical part were shared visions and definitions on:
– what are goods, products, services and experiences?
– what are commodities & how to recognize them?
– what is (adding) value?

Practical part:
– 6 services!

Halfway designing, the rough concepts of the 6 to be designed services were presented in two groups in elevator pitches.
In stead of asking questions to the presenters, we challenged them to come up with 2 questions for the rest of the audience themselves, to be able to improve their services.
After that we also asked the 6 groups for defining steps to take to implementation of their services.
To several attendees this was an interesting part of which they would have preferred to go into much deeper.

We concluded the workshop giving a summary on the first theoretical part and the participants presented their 6 supercool cases to the entire group in the end!

Last but not least
We really enjoyed this day! It was quite a challenge, facilitating such a large and smart group. We were not able to meet all of the expectations but I think we raised some interesting questions, and managed to answer (some of) them satisfactory with the teams and next to that ‘supplied food for thought’ and further discussion. To see the outcome of the cases were really interesting. What we learned is that the participants prefer a clearer take-away after every step. The presentation was a good initiative, but not really feasible within the given time. Learning for next time!
Unfortunately we couldn’t see any of the results of other workshops, but there was time to talk on and have drinks at the bar to close this last day.
An interesting, interactive, satisfactory end of the last day of this 3 day conference; many thanks to all our participants!



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31Volts [Service Design]