Service Design from an Outsider’s Perspective

Guest post by Open Change intern Barbara Mertlova


“What is Service Design?“ A question that Open Change, or perhaps any other organisation operating in the field, has been asked more than a few times.

My name is Barbara, I am a 2nd year student of Psychology and Politics at University of Dundee – areas seemingly distant from Service Design – and therefore, my position appears to be almost ideal to contribute with my point of view, as someone who’s had little experience in designing services. Or have I?

By definition, Service Design is what “helps to innovate (create new) or improve (existing) services to make them more useful, usable, desirable for clients and efficient as well as effective for oranizations. It is a new holistic, multi-disciplinary, integrative field” (Moritz, 2005) In other words, summarised by Miller (2015), “Service Design helps organizations see their services from a customer perspective.” Admittedly, having been told in detail (and impressive length) what Service Design is supposed to be, my first reaction was to think; “But isn’t that what we are all meant to be doing automatically?” And maybe it is. But in reality, today’s world is full of products and services that don’t necessarily work to users benefits, or sometimes don’t work at all. That is when Service Designers come into play.

Here at Open Change, you quickly realise that the focus of every single step, are people. From the moment you walk past the big glass windows that as if invite you to walk inside and have a look at what positive change is being brought about that day, to the welcoming Company Directors, who energise and motivate you without even trying to – it’s about people. Bringing people together from different disciplines, various levels of expertise, and all the corners of the world, and making things better, together.

You might get the idea that by now, I’m not a complete outsider – I have done my reading (look out for a book review coming up soon!) and I’ve successfully deleted the image of a pen, paper and doodles when I hear the word ‘Design’, from my head. But what I do know is that Service Design benefits from people of any discipline, just like any discipline can benefit from Service Design. Learning from each other, working collaboratively, and shifting the focus of our strategies, planning, and designing back to the customers is the main idea behind the basis for achieving a positive change. 



Miller, M. E. (2015) How Many Service Designers Does It Take to Define Service Design? Available at: https://blog.practicalservicedesign.com/how-many-service-designers-does-it-take-to-define-service-design-6f87af060ce9 (Accessed: 27 January 2018).

Moritz, S. (2005) Service Design: Practical Access to an Evolving Field. Köln: International School of Design.