By Joe Heapy
Engine has developed a number of Service Design toolkits for a range of organisations. We also spend time reflecting on and recording our own ways of working and packaging tools and methods for reuse in our work.
Through experience, we've learned some useful things about Service Design toolkits and how to use and apply them.
One important misunderstanding is that simply having a toolkit will change the way teams and organisations work. In some organisations, toolkits are rejected on principle because people have been asked to adopt them without a clear reason for doing so, and without the support required to make new ways of working understandable and relevant.
Toolkits are often foisted upon people and as a result, unsurprisingly, perhaps remain on a shelf or in a drawer. A methodology toolkit is means to an end, not an end in itself.
Despite this reservation and if developed in the right way, toolkits are valuable in a number of ways:
- They manifest the change in ways of working that a team or organisation are seeking to make
- They represent a point in time and once established can be added to and refined
- They represent consensus on how things should be done (assuming a level of co-creation has taken place)
- The activity of developing a toolkit - of understanding, representing and refining a practice - engages people in considering how they work, what they do, what works, what doesn't and how things need to change
- They provide an accessible and flexible project-planning tool that helps teams consider how best to respond to a particular project brief and to keep the experience of delivering and participating in service design projects fresh
- Any encoding and formalisation of ways of working such as a process diagram, checklist, decision or a complete toolkit tree gives people confidence that an approach has been properly considered
- Toolkits help new members of a team to quickly integrate themselves into current project work and to learn how things are done
- Toolkits provide a marketing tool for a new practice and offer to the wider business
- Areas of the business beyond the originating team can more easily adopt useful and usable methods in the form of well-defined tools. This helps to drive acceptance of service design practices and eases multidisciplinary working, which is increasingly important in achieving joined-up, substantive and customer-centred solutions.
Engine has developed Service Design toolkits for a number of organisations as part of work to develop the capabilities of our clients.