Be Relevant


The International Service Design Institute teaches service design from a systems design and program management perspective.  We teach that services are made up of components that need to be designed and integrated to meet user needs.  While arguably a sophisticated approach to building services, we believe the systems design approach  helps reduce errors and larger failures.

Both are user-centric discplines and use user-centric techniques. But they differ in their goals and intended outcomes. Services are successful when, first, they meet and satisfy user needs, and second, they adhere to the provider specifications.  Systems, on the other hand, are measured by the provider’s performance specs, on-time delivery, and budget, and whether the outcome is functional to the user. 

Our training also embeds program managemet techniques, because service designers are responsible for the entire service lifecycle, from design to execution, and management and maintenance. System designs are often handed off at the end of the project.


Consecutive and Progressive Skills and Knowledge Learning 

To help learners progress in their careers, we have carved out an entire body of service design knowledge into The Apprentice, The Journeyman and The Master.  Each is a course and a reference handbook, sold separately.  As learners progress and advance, they will possess knowledge they can apply in their jobs and through their career.

The Apprentice includes a brief introduction to service design, common terms, an overview of service design models, tools and techniques, along with templates and instructions for service concepts, service evaluations and personas.

The Journeyman covers ideation for new services, a user influence model and template, journey maps, service blueprints and touchpoints. Included are case studies and group exercises.

The Master spans diagnostic tools and methods, including prototyping, feedback planning, user experience measurements, service performance, and service recovery.  


Many of the tools and techniques presented in our learning materials can also be used for problem-solving.  The models and tools help service designers evaluate risk, define ideal target markets, develop loyalty, discover any gaps in service operations, and improve stakeholder communications.

For service providers, adopting service design will help break down silos with incentives to collaborate, better align an organization’s activities to its mission, goals and objectives, help to identify needed resources (including budgets, personnel and functional components), and provide a greater focus for stakeholders so they embrace the common mission. 


ISDI began building a book of knowledge for the service design practice after a three-year discovery process, which found no consensus for how to practice, including which models to use for given problems.

Our findings also showed that among discoverable models, many were too complex to adapt for individual projects, and some others lacked the proper orientation, or relevance, that would make them useful. That led us to dive into an exercise to align service design models in a logical progression to designing a service.

Against that background, ISDI assembled a collection of models, some known for repeatable, successful outcomes, and others that we adapted based on experiences—and architected them to be accessible and adaptable to service designers, irrespective of their experience or project challenge.



Tackling the principles of service design enables individuals to assume leadership roles and responsibilities—ultimately acquiring leader experiences from efforts and activities that lead toward successful design outcomes.

A service designer leads teams for solving organizational challenges. They decide, or help to decide, the correct models and tools to use for given situations. And they are responsible for presentations that inform and seek answers from decision-makers.

By defining the skills of an experienced service designer to others, there are straight parallels to defining a leader. To a finer point, leaders are not managers. A leader inspires others to put forward their best work, to work collaboratively and openly volunteer their knowledge, skills and experience—all toward a single purpose.

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