Designing services as a knowledge creation process

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  • 1. Designing Services as a Knowledge Creation ProcessIntegrating the double diamond process and the SECI spiralTo be published in Touchpoint – The Journal of Service Design (v.2 / n.2)Maurício Manhães, MSEGregório Varvakis, PhDTarcísio Vanzin, DrIn the Touchpoint Volume 1 No. 3, Tether and Stigliani raised fundamental questionsabout the future of service design: how to build legitimacy, how to control – or losecontrol of – a profession, how to coordinate efforts between its entrepreneurs,practitioners and academics. They focused on knowledge. We tend to agree that“successful professions are associated with strong bodies of knowledge” (p. 37).Perhaps, we are sympathetic to that argument because we are from a KnowledgeEngineering and Management Post-Graduate Program at the Brazilian FederalUniversity of Santa Catarina, UFSC.The foundationKnowledge management and service design have a lot to offer to the processes ofservice innovation. The academic literature contains countless citations connectinginnovation and knowledge creation and innovation and design.Some researchers affirm that design is of decisive importance for innovation:“Behind every innovation lies a new design”, says Baldwin and Clark (2005, p. 3).Moreover, in the economy of knowledge, where the continuous iterations betweeninnovation and competition require an unstoppable flow of new designs, knowledgemanagement has the theoretical resources needed to clarify and assist inunderstanding innovation as a knowledge creating process in organizations.Service Design can play a central role in the processes of service innovation and,thus, generate value for organisations. It is clear that Service Design has to presentitself through a narrative that makes sense to the world of management andorganisations.Likewise, presenting a method that can be understood and absorbed by managerswill facilitate adoption of Service Design practices by its own practitioners and byorganizations in general. This effort is in line with what Tether and Stigliani writeabout the need to “substantiate the industry as a whole” (p. 37).Service Design can also be understood as a knowledge-creation process. Design andinnovation are both knowledge-creation processes. The similarities can be clearlyseen. Then, why not create an “interdisciplinary bridge” between the two fields andexchange concepts and theories to the benefit of both?The method 1
  • 2. The bridge is based mainly on two constructs: (a) the "double diamond" designprocess of discover, define, develop and deliver proposed by the Design Council(UK) and (b) the “spiral of knowledge” – as one of the elements of the knowledgecreating process (NONAKA ET AL., 2000). Also known as the SECI Model, the spiralof knowledge is a widely accepted knowledge management model. Basiclly, it statesthat “an organization creates knowledge through the interactions between explicitknowledge and tacit knowledge” (NONAKA ET AL., 2000). These interactions occurinto four modes of knowledge conversion: socialization (tacit to tacit),externalization (tacit to explicit), combination (explicit to explicit), andinternalization (explicit to tacit). As can be seen in Figure 1, this sequence ofknowledge conversion forms a spiral.Figure 1The method proposed in this article is not "new". In fact it results from minoradjustments of practices used by many service design agencies. In a sense, much ofthe "novelty" of this method lies beneath its surface—in establishing an academicrationale for each step.In brief, the proposed method consists of a series of divergent idea generation stepsfollowed by convergent idea selection steps (RIETZSCHEL ET AL., 2006). Themethod also establishes a conceptual link between the design process and the 2
  • 3. Darwinian “blind variation and selective retention” process, as suggested bySimonton (1997). That is, an alternating series of divergent steps (blind variation),followed by convergent steps (selective retention). As Simonton (1997, p. 67)explained, in “the long run, creators must lack foresight regarding the socioculturalmerits of their ideas. If it were otherwise, we would have to consider creators aspecial class of prophets”.Dorst and Cross (2001) note that the design process involves “co-evolution ofproblem/solution spaces”. In that process, combinations of problem/solution areselected and tested. This usually requires a heavy cognitive effort from theparticipants. That effort can be eased through the use of multimodal imagery (as theuse of role-playing, pictures, drawings and all kinds of maps) and the understandingof the knowledge creation process (knowing that the creation of knowledge, i.e.innovation, may be facilitated by a dynamic process starting with socialization andcontinuing through, externalization, combination and internalization).As illustrated in Figure 2, the proposed method is divided into three stages: Pre-field, Field and Post-field work.In the first stage, mapping and research of a particular value network occurs and afocal point is determined. That network, related to the service under investigation,defines which participants are going to join the process of socialisation at thebeginning of the second stage. This definition is made through the mapping of thecustomer/provider relationships. During fieldwork, multiple multimodal recordsare produced about the experiences and expectations of participants with regard tothe service at hand. These records support the externalization and the combinationof knowledge.In the end of the second stage, each participant prepares a reflection or self-questioning text. This step facilitates internalization (which is the last step beforethe spiral goes to the next ontological level). This last record, like all the others, iscollected by the organizers of the process. A few days later, the self-questioningmessage is sent to each. That ends the Field work stage and the internalization modeof knowledge conversion.The fieldwork provides service designers with sufficient information and knowledgeto start a process of designing a new value proposition for the service beingstudied—the third and final stage of the method.This article focus mainly on the Field work stage of the proposed method. Futureresearch aiming at the Post-Field stage is necessary and will probably reap greaterbenefits for the practices of service design. Even so, one of the most importantcontributions of this work was bringing together an interdisciplinary theoreticalfoundation for this emerging field, answering the call from Tether and Stigliani. Webelieve that only through a strong body of knowledge will service design be able tostand the challenges of time. 3
  • 4. Further details about the “diamonds” and “spirals” method can be obtainedcontacting the authors.Figure 2 4
  • 5. References:BALDWIN, C. Y.; CLARK, K. B. Between “ Knowledge ” and “ the Economy ”: Noteson the Scientific Study of Designs, SCIENTIFIC STUDIES OF DESIGNS AUGUST.p.1-41, 2005.DORST, K.; CROSS, N. Creativity in the design process: co-evolution of problem–solution. Design Studies, v. 22, n. 5, p. 425-437. doi: 10.1016/S0142-694X(01)00009-6,2001.NONAKA, I.; TOYAMA, R.; KONNO, N. SECI, Ba and leadership: a unified model ofdynamic knowledge creation. Long range planning, v. 33, n. 1, p. 5–34. Elsevier, 2000.RIETZSCHEL, E.; NIJSTAD, B.; STROEBE, W. Productivity is not enough: Acomparison of interactive and nominal brainstorming groups on idea generation andselection. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, v. 42, n. 2, p. 244-251. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2005.04.005, 2006.SIMONTON, D. K. Creative Productivity: a Predictive and Explanatory Model of CareerTrajectories and Landmarks. Psychological Review, vol. 104, no. 1, pp. 66-89. doi:10.1037/0033- 295X.104.1.66, 1997. 5