Service Blueprint

Skill theme: 
Structured Modeling
Structured Modeling

An organization needs to see how its structure supports [or doesn’t] some user experiences. Stakeholder Interview and Stakeholder Assumptions Workshop provide a sense of how the organization believes it is supporting an experience, and User Interview plus Field Study help uncover the truth of it. Identify how the organization's front-stage and back-stage support a user's behavior, working from Well-Managed Data and Sensemaking Workshop.

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The challenge

“Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure.” Conway’s Law tells us that information flows through service experiences with the same ease as information passing between teams in an organization. When teams are aligned and well-coupled, experiences flow smoothly.

As organizations grow in size and complexity, the connection between a team’s activities and how it impacts the user’s experience of the product or service becomes faint, forgotten or even eliminated. The intended value of the work may not materialize for anyone—neither the team who created it, nor the users who face an increasingly incoherent experience. 

A clear view of the larger arc of journey and the organizational systems supporting it will highlight opportunities by identifying misalignment: structural mismatch between the arc of a core user experience and its information pathways through teams and organizational support systems. Identifying these mismatches provide opportunities to improve service experience by optimizing or redesigning the team and communication structures supporting service delivery.

The approach

Service blueprints force teams to learn about the “back-stage” drivers in the organization and the customer. With pre-existing user insight or the knowledge of archetypal journeys, most of the work to develop the blueprint is in understanding the organizational back-stage processes from knowledge that is distributed and silo’d in-house. Consider, for key experiences, the range of teams who may be involved, enabling, or dependent on each part of a journey—if you expect them to change how they work, gain buy-in by involving them from the start of the process.

Therefore, identify which experiences and journeys are core to the product or service. Model the flow of these journeys—their phases, touchpoints, user experience—and prioritize the narratives most essential to good user outcomes. Along those journeys, chart how user information depends on various teams, systems, and pathways through organization. Work with the full range of stakeholders invested in a given journey to build this picture. Identify the inefficiencies that cause experience breakdowns or increase organizational overhead, and prioritize opportunities that have the most potential impact on service experience and outcomes.

There will be different opinions on the scope and granularity of information most suited for blueprinting. Work in the open, be creative about collecting data from different parts of the organization, and facilitate discussion across teams. The process of building the blueprint is as valuable as the end artifact itself, in bringing clarity on how to move forward.

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Effective Reporting is the first step of the larger work of User Needs Inception. Use focused blueprints, current- and future-state, in Product / Design Strategy or Research-Driven Design Project, or proactively plan healthy right-scoped research projects in Product Roadmap. Teach the team about the process and how they can use the tool with Research Evangelization.

Last updated:
Apr 28, 2020 19:34


  • Get a fast jumpstart with this  guide from Erik & Megan of Practical Service Design, a quick PDF: Practice Service Blueprinting Guide
  • Read Nick Remis' excellent and in-depth guide from the Capital One practice, a more detailed PDF: Guide to Service Blueprinting
  • Would you like to go beyond the blueprint? Bend your brain a bit? Read Majid Iqbal's book, Thinking in Services, and start learning to see in terms of the four promises and 16x frame

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