Educating service design and innovation

In July 2016 the Service Science Factory (SSF) had the pleasure of hosting a summer school on Service Design & Innovation for international students who came to Maastricht to learn more about service design thinking and its tools. Design Thinking is an approach used to address complex challenges by “looking through the eyes of their users” and creatively prototyping new offers with a human-centred focus[1].

IMG_0517The industry leaders, such as Apple, McKinsey, and Mayo Clinic, place this approach at the centre of their business activities. Similarly, IBM wants to become “the world’s largest and most sophisticated design company”[2]. The SSF Team, consisting of Else Zwarteveen (SSF Summer School Coordinator), Laszlo Determann (SSF Project Management Officer), and Dr. Dominik Mahr (SSF Scientific Director), facilitated the service design & innovation journey of the students. During two weeks, interactive sessions dived into the theory underlying service design and innovation, but also offered the opportunity to put this into practice instantly. The students teamed up around three themes; hospitality, retail and tourism, for which they developed innovative service concepts.

Experience the steps of the service design and innovation process
The projects followed the systematic approach of SSF, which has been developed over the course of more than 50 projects. In the initial Seek phase, students dived deeper into the users’ needs, challenges and the service environment. The Shape phase generated creative ideas and solutions to shape the new concept. During the final Factoryze phase, students created a prototype and validated the concept with potential users. The final concept was then presented to a panel consisting of experts in the themes, as well as service innovation and design experts from the SSF.

Benefit for students and the city of Maastricht
For the students, “the positive environment created at SSF made for an amazing learning experience”. Especially the direct application of the gained knowledge in their own projects was well received. As one of the students also explains: “[The] project is interesting and stimulating, mentally and creatively. It allows students to apply the theoretical knowledge practically.”

The students felt motivated by “the hands-on learning approach and consistent team work throughout the course.” The value for the Service Science Factory is to share knowledge about the exciting and growing field of Service Design. “It was great to see the enthusiasm and eagerness of the students. This gives so much positive energy and makes the process exciting and engaging”, says Else Zwarteveen, the coordinator of the summer school.

IMG_0454The projects were also beneficial to the city of Maastricht, since the concepts were focused on improving services for tourists, students, and inhabitants of Maastricht.

The companies, a trendy hotel and an organic food restaurant, got inspired by taking a fresh perspective and getting reminded about the importance of looking through the “eyes of the customers”.

Looking back, the result of the summer school is very positive. The students appreciated the overall learning experience (assessing it with 8.6 where 1 is the lowest and 10 the highest).

Every student indicated that they would recommend this course to a friend, since “it is interesting to do and the knowledge learnt is value-adding”, as one of the students pointed out.

Aspects that were very positively graded by the students are the amount of new things learned, the teachers, and the balance between theory and practice.

SSF hosts the Summer School on Service Design & Innovation every year in July, as part of the Maastricht Summer School.



[1] Brown, Tim (2015), When Everyone Is Doing Design Thinking, Is It Still a Competitive Advantage?

[2] Quito, A. (2016), “IBM is gearing up to become the world’s largest and most sophisticated design company”

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