Organizational context alignment in service design projects

Creating a framework for exploration of the organizational context to unlock the transformative impact of service design projects

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Our world is changing rapidly in various ways, forcing organizations to engage in continuous change to stay relevant. Therefore, it has become an essential capability of organizations to engage in and attempt to manage change to remain successful and sustain their existence (Stouten, Rousseau & de Cremer, 2018; Coughlan, Suri & Canales, 2007). Due to the increasingly fast-changing market demands, organizations recognize the need for a more outside-in approach in order to increase their resilience. This is why the customer-centric approach gained popularity (Ambaram, 2013). In order to become customer-centric, organizations need to enhance their customers’ experiences. As service design offers the means to improve customer experience, service design has become a capability that many organizations attempt to acquire (Ostrom et al., 2015).Initial assignmentA few years ago, Koos developed their service design maturity model: a model that describes different growth phases an organization can go through while trying to embed service design within their organizations, and the elements that affect this process. In order to realize the ambition of becoming a more strategic partner that guides organizations through customer-centric transformations, Koos feels having a solid maturity model could serve as a backbone. The expectation was that the model could both serve in order to predict in what way an organization should change, but also to “sell“ the transformation proposition. Therefore, the main objective of this thesis assignment was to validate and improve Koos’ maturity model, and identify how the model could be servitized by Koos. Reframed assignmentHowever, initial exploration through interviews with experts and Koos’ designers, combined with findings from literature, pointed out that the key stakeholders may have made the assumption that a maturity scan is what they need in order to concretize their transformation offer. However, Koos’ service designers and interviewed experts pointed out a more fundamental problem: the feeling that Koos might be missing skills that are essential in order to be able to help organizations transform. On top of that, literature research made clear that creating maturity models that accurately indicate how an organization might need to transform, or indicating how “mature“ an organization is, is impossible since every organization is different and requires a unique approach. Therefore, the new problem statement, formulated as a question, became:What does Koos need to do differently in order to enable organizations to become more customer-centric through service design, in order to form a more strategic, long-term collaboration with clients?Opportunity gapto focus more on exploring the organizational context elements to understand clients’ as-is situation, instead of trying to assess the context elements to indicate a maturity level. In that way, they can secure better implementation and thus enable clients to become slightly more customer-centric project by project. This will help Koos to concretize their transformation proposition in three ways:First, exploring the as-is state of the organizational context will enable Koos to improve chances of implementation, and thus make a more transformative impact. Secondly, having the as-is state made explicit will also enable Koos to express the transformative impact of service design to clients after a project has been implemented. Thirdly, more experience with implementation and organizational change on project scale will give Koos the expertise, the organizational sensitivity and credibility needed to serve as transformation consultants in the future.Organizational context framework and MiroBased on findings from 4 case studies compared with findings from literature and a co-reflection session with 24 of Koos’ employees, it was decided to design a framework that would explain which organizational context elements service designers should take into account in order to secure better implementation, and when and how they should embed exploration of these context elements into their double diamond design approach. This resulted in the Organizational Context Framework as shown in figure 1. The framework shows how designers should adress implementation from day one, by performing 3 different actions regarding the organizational context: exploring, aligning and anchoring. In order to enact the framework, the Organizational Context Reflection Miro has been designer. This Miroboard serves as a living document, in which the design team goes through a weekly reflection of all three organizational context actions. In that way, continuous alignment between the organizational context and the project approach is being stimulated, so that the project outcomes and required changes can be anchored and implemented within the organization succesfully. Change process KoosThe most important outcome of this project is not the organizational context framework or the reflection Miro, but rather the fact that this project set a change process in motion at Koos internally. Through the findings of this project, it has become apparent that Koos’ service designers need to extern their skill set and start approaching their projects in a more impact-minded, flexible manner. The framework and the Miroboard serve as artefacts that stimulate this change, but pointing out the blindspot Koos had, and starting the change process required to solve it is bigger and more important, and should make lasting impact long after this project ended.