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As Michelle wrote about the other day, we spent three days last week at a Service Design workshop with Marc Stickdorn. Much of the content out there on Service Design relates to non-digital customer situations, but there’s so much that pure web businesses can learn.

Throughout the three days, I linked the lessons to startups and how they can be applied each day. Here are some of my takeaways;

“The shitty first draft”
This is a tool to get you to fail as fast as possible. When beginning a new task, give yourself a 10 minute time limit to get something out. Yes, it’ll be shitty. But at least you’ve started and removed your fear of failing – Nothing is perfect the first time around. From there you can iterate and move forward.

See Mick’s talk at Vivid about failing fast

Take a holistic approach to problem solvingValue Network Map Service Design
Too often we’re in a rush to find the solution without exploring the whole problem fully. It’s important to b
alance a holistic view of your industry with a deep understanding of customer needs. To do this in the workshop we created a Value Network Map (or Actors Map).  

First step is to brainstorm all the people involved in your industry – from CEOs and board members to customers, PR, Social Media, shop owners, operational managers. You’ll have a long list. Next, prioritise them – Who are the people most important to a great customers experience? Stick them on your Value Network Map with the most important people in the centre. Draw lines connecting people with working relationships. You may end up with a mess – But it makes you realise all the things that are happening around (and influencing!) that one transaction you have with your customer.

Have a questioning mind
Use the 5 Whys as often as possible. Accept that you’ll make 1000s of assumptions along the way. To get to the heart of your customers motivations, you need to live the customer journey BEFORE, DURING and AFTER their interactions with you. Create personas and storyboards for your actors. Get to know them and grow them as you learn more and more about how they connect with your business.

Web businesses can be theatrical.
Create a good story. Take your customers on an emotional journey. Marc referred to this as the “Boom! wow, wow, wow BOOM! Ahhhhh“, or more commonly the dramatic arc. Surprise and delight your customers with something amazing at the beginning of their journey. Then, entertain them with simple cues, before an incredible finish, and giving them something to remember you by.

Create a design-friendly environment
Get rid of imposing furniture. Create lots of blank wall space for post-it notes and butchers paper. Make people feel comfortable and creative. Break down stereotypes. Let people be silly. Create a space which inspires sharing.

And finally….

Design thinking is for everyone, not just designers.
It was so fantastic to take myself out of the everyday and experience a new perspective. As you know, when you’re building a startup it’s easy to get wrapped up in it all (which is important too!). But I urge you to get out and learn about something new (and not necessarily related to your startup). Inspiration lies everywhere. And your startup will be all the richer for it.

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