People are Important to Service Design

One of my favorite sets of analogies to use in class is food, the making of  food or restaurant operations. We make what we eat by pulling together ingredients into recipes. In the same way, we design services. We use the elements of services combined into the five aspects of design (solutions, tools, architectures, process and measurement) to produce the Service Design Package (SDP).

When we think about designing services, we must remember it takes a number of elements. ITIL v3 says there are four elements of service design:
  1. People
  2. Process
  3. Products
  4. Partners

I like to think of these elements as the “ingredients” of a service. The most important “ingredient” in any service is the “people”. We can have effective processes, efficient products, and loyal partners, but without people the service will get nowhere.
People are the elements that make the value for the customer truly possible. Processes do not execute themselves, products do not spontaneously build and partners are not engaged out of nothing. It takes people working together to strategize, design, transition, operate and improve a service.

So how do we ensure that the people-element of services is truly engaged? Here are some ideas:
  1.  Identify roles and responsibilities early in the design of a service and tweak or improve them as the design gets more complete
  2. Develop and execute a parallel Organizational Change Management (OCM) effort to occur alongside your service design
  3. Look for and incorporate feedback from stakeholders of services from the beginning of design not as an afterthought
  4. Identify measurements and metrics that encourage a culture of improvement, not a culture of punishment for failure
  5. Learn and apply some basic human interaction good practices within your organization (listening, interpersonal relationships, communications, work-life balance for example)

Most important is the need to see people as both the glue that holds a service together and the engine that drives the delivery of value. Do not simply say “people are your most important asset”, rather act and behave as if they really are your most important asset. 
Restaurants recognize that the food can be great, the atmosphere inviting and the suppliers timely, but without great staff the customers will not have a truly enjoyable experience. So put people before processes, products, and partners and you will reap the benefits!


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