NEWS RELEASE (Tampa, Fl., January 2021) — Service designers told pollsters the number one skill for project success is strategic thinking, according to results of a survey conducted by the Tampa, Fla.-based International Service Design Institute, Inc. Leadership, communications, use of technology, and empathy were other top ranked service designer skills.

“The findings would suggest there is a lot of agreement about the skills of a service designer, a field that nonetheless continues to foster a lot of discussion about its definition,” Chief Designer and International Service Design Institute Co-founder, Steven J. Slater said.

Respondents were asked to offer their opinions using an opened-ended, free form answer type, Slater said, who is a Masters’ degree-matriculated marketing and research scientist.  “By using their own language to describe their opinions helps remove bias and allows us the opportunity to gather a wide range of individual, unique ideas.”

The answers were tabulated by respondent’s experience, mid-level land senior service designers, to see if longevity had any impact. The results were mixed, Slater said.

The skill for research and analysis was ranked highly by mid-level service designers but not those who identified themselves as senior service designers. In fact, mid-level designers scored research as highly as communications skills and almost as high as strategic thinking, both segments top ranked skills. Another disparity was technical, digital and similar skills, which senior service designers ranked highly and mid-level service designers did not. 

“Many of these skills can be taught,” Naomi Lantzman said, the International Service Design Institute’s principal curriculum developer and co-founder.  “These are all topics that we weave throughout our learning system that includes courses, books, and workshops.”

These and other findings are from the International Service Design Institute’s Fall 2020 “Voice of the Community” Survey, which captured the opinions of 135 service designers working around the world during November and December 2020. More findings are posted on The survey includes a wide range of questions and answers from service designers working in the field. Answers include how they began their careers, where they work, for whom they work, along with insights into the industries hiring service designers.

One of the interesting findings, according to Slater, was the near universal use of the word empathy. “Had I known empathy would come up over again, I would have probed more; I wouldn’t have taken for granted that I knew what respondents were referring to.”

For Inquires:
Steven J. Slater

About the International Service Design Institute, Inc.
The International Service Design Institute (ISDI) is a Tampa, Fla.-based educational corporation established in 2018. Its founding purpose was to preserve the field of Service Design through reliable, credible resources on practicing service design. ISDI sells service design courses (with independent certification), practitioner handbooks, and workshops.