PRODUCTHEAD: Service design and product management

PRODUCTHEAD: Service design and product management

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

morning product


Customers are seeking more value from digital technologies — “liquid experiences”

Services by nature don’t always fit current organisational structures

Service design and business analyst roles require a different type of focus and mindset

Key to becoming a service designer is not finding a new job, but transforming your current job

“Seamless services” means bringing together people from across professional boundaries

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Service design and product management share many characteristics. Both are disciplines that many organisations don’t realise they need yet, and so are often poorly understood and not as valued as they should be.

The value is tied to the understanding bit: it’s not a surprise product management is undervalued if it’s just seen as putting things on a backlog then building them; in just the same way, it’s hard to see the the value if you think service design is purely about creating customer journey maps.

The work of service designers and product managers intersect at many points. A product manager needs to know the wider context for their product — it’s almost always part of something bigger. And that “something bigger” is what the service designer is thinking about.

And for exactly that reason, product managers and service designers are often looking at different levels of detail.

Product managers need to get into the depth of detail of how to deliver a product that solves a user’s problem, while also considering how to fit best into the user’s context. Does the product dovetail neatly with what the user was doing before they experience the problem the product solves? And with what the user is doing after?

Service designers are zoomed out from this detail. They look more holistically at a user’s overall journey as they interact with many different products and services in concert, digitally and physically. It’s a necessary abstraction to ensure there is a quality, cohesive whole, not just a collection of quality, individual parts that may or may not fit together well.

A service designer thinking about a new airport might identify that there needs to be different types of seating for long-haul versus short-hop passengers, but probably shouldn’t be focusing on the details of the industrial design of those different seats.

So this week, I’ve pulled together some great content on service design for you to broaden your horizons.

Speak to you soon,


what to think about this week

Why customer experience isn’t enough: Silicon Valley needs service design

Experience design in the technology industry has largely remained confined to the digital medium, and companies still approach design from the perspective of the product and its digital interfaces. This deeply-rooted culture of the ‘product’ — the software, website, or mobile app — still reigns supreme across Silicon Valley and drives much of the strategic integration of design into company culture.

Value from the service we deliver, not just the products we build


Where do service designers fit within an organisation?

Many services (as end users would know them) transcend teams, directorates, organisations or departments. It’s not obvious where service designers should sit, since we want them to be working on services which by nature don’t always fit current organisation structures.

Service designers work at different levels in an organisation


Comparing service design and business analysis

As service design has become a more prominent role and way of working for organisations I’ve seen some confusion between ‘service design’ and ‘business analyst’ (BA) roles.

Service design and business analyst roles have some similar skill sets, but they require a different type of focus and mindset.

Framing the problem from the user’s perspective


Product Management Coaching

Whether you’re new to product management or have been a product manager for years, a coaching session can help you to step up your career.

We’ve coached people wanting to get into product management, product people with nobody in their organisation to manage them, and experienced product managers preparing to apply for a promotion.

We can help you prepare for your product manager interview, including mock interviews.

A proportion of the fees from every coaching session is donated to charity. Just reply to this email if you’re interested in finding out more.

Hey, service design job seekers, we need to talk.

Service design offers a different way of thinking and working than how most companies (even the most design-mature companies!) currently operate. It means a much more fundamental change in how companies approach designing, improving, and growing their offerings.

Just in the way that a traditional, waterfall company might have a very hard time adopting agile practices, so it is the same with service design in a product-oriented business culture.

Organizations need to take a chance, and make space


How cross-government communities can support cross-government services

To a user, a service is simple. It’s something that helps them to do something – like learn to drive or start a business. But for government, creating and delivering these services can be much more complex.

This is because there are often lots of people across lots of different parts of government involved in delivering these services. They might be working hard on their part of the service but they might not have a picture of the full service or know how to work with others involved in it.

Cutting across organisational silos


recent posts

Good product management

New technologies have presented product managers with yet another new challenge to add to the growing list: how to create products that are not only successful but also ethical.

Be more human


A novice’s introduction to service design for product managers

I’m no expert on service design, but it’s an area I’m curious to learn more about. This is a novice’s introduction to service design for product managers.

The way I understand service design so far is that it looks at the bigger picture – the interaction between multiple products and services, online and offline, physical and digital – with the aim of helping the user to achieve their goal.

Service design considers the bigger picture


It only takes one bottleneck

On my arrival in Australia I was initially really impressed by the slick service design of their automated SmartGate immigration process. Until I found myself back to having to fill in declaration cards with a pen, that is. It just goes to show that good design work can be easily undermined by one poorly thought-out step in the process.

A more efficient process in one place reveals the remaining bottlenecks


The neverending quest for product-market fit

Often the biggest barrier to your product’s widespread adoption is going to be whether it reaches product-market fit early on. Even if you do, you’re wrong if you think you never need to worry about product-market fit again.

It’s not a one-off exercise


can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

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Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from shoeboxes of old receipts.

Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a freelance head of product, product management coach and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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