Stories of Service Design in Scotland

Practitioner stories
6 min readJan 12, 2021

What about starting the new year with a bulk of new insights and ideas about the service design practice in Scotland and its community?

After a long but insightful research phase, we are ready to share our analysis. We would like feedback from the Service Design community in the Scottish public and Third Sector and hope many will get involved in the sensemaking and ideation process.

illustration — map of Scotland and in front 5 people with a jigsaw piece
Illustration by Angela F. Orviz

In this post you will find

  • What the project is about
  • What we did since June 2020
  • What our interview guide looked like
  • The process we followed
  • How you can take part
  • Our previous updates
  • Get in touch

What the project is about

This project started with a tweet in June. We teamed up to collect stories of Service Design in the public and third sectors in Scotland. We started an interview study and discussed with 15 practitioners in Scotland how to better support, grow and build up the service design community in Scotland.

Who we are

We are 3 service designers living and working in Scotland passionate about our practice and with the aim of bringing the service design community together by sharing experiences and learnings and discussing the future.

Note: we are doing this on our personal time and have no funding.

What we did since June 2020

We‘ve created an infographic to summarise our work up to August. To get a good mix of people and different perspectives, we made sure that we talked to practitioners with different roles, working in different organisations and living in different parts of Scotland.

infographic from the August update, the information presented is available as a transcript — link in the caption
Infographic created by Angela from the August update- transcript here

What our interview guide looked like

Context, your story

  • Professional background and your involvement working with SD
  • In the time you have worked in this space, how has it evolved?
  • Have you heard of the Scottish Approach to Service Design? And if so, what does it mean to you?

Current practice and lessons learnt

  • What can you tell us about the contributions that SD brings to your area of work? Do you manage to design WITH people?
  • If yes: tell us about it, any new things you have learnt from doing so.
  • If No, is it something you would like to do, what’s preventing you to do it
  • Do you have any other thoughts on the barriers to the incorporation of SD in your area?
  • Are there any gaps in the SD approach?
  • Have you identified any gaps in the skills of designers or the people they work with?

Building skills and collaborations

  • What network do you use to keep in touch with other SD? / How do you connect and keep in touch, build collaborations with other people practicing in the area?
  • Are there any skills or knowledge that you would like to develop further? And if so, what do you read, and where do you go to learn more or train?
  • Do you share your work or learning with other practitioners? If so, where and how do you do so?

The future

  • Where would you like to see the relationship between the public/third sector and SD in the future?
  • Where should the community concentrate its efforts?

The process we followed

  • We transcribed interviews to keep the original wording and avoid early interpretations
  • We coded interviews by labelling each quote with a meaningful phrase and grouping them into 11 high level themes, each one becoming a tab in a Google spreadsheet
  • Next, each tab/theme has been reviewed and the groupings added as post it on Miro which allowed us to work in a more visual way and identify patterns
  • On Miro, we took only the relevant bits of quotes, reviewing the sub-code, codes and grouping, new groupings and insights emerged
  • We finally ended up with 5 big themes, each outlining challenges as well as a future vision

More about the process is this previous post.

First step: coding in a spreadsheet

a screenshot of one tab of the spreadsheet we used to code the quotes
This is a small part of one of the tabs, each column is one interview, each row is a code or a sub-code — the integrality of the interview transcripts are in this spreadsheet.

Second step: affinity mapping in Miro

screenshot of the miro board where you can see many frames, post its and arrows

How you can take part

1. Comment on your own time

You can access the board, add comments wherever you think something is missing or not quite right, or really resonates with you.

2. Take part in a workshop

We will be having workshops focusing on specific themes soon.

Edit 25/01/21: You can now register for the 1st workshop about the contributions and challenges of Service Design work.

These sessions and your involvement will help us make sense of our research, get different perspectives and ensure our analysis is on the right track (sense making — see the Collaborative Sensemaking on resources).

Workshops will be announced on Twitter, LinkedIn, the Service Design Scotland and the Public Sector Design in Scotland Slack. You can also follow us on Eventbrite.

Let us know if you want to take part. (way to contact us at the end of this article)

How to access the board

How to read the board

Here is a little video to give you a tour of the board

We have grouped our insights in five themes which correspond with the five white frames on the Miro:

1. Service design work and contributions

2. Scottish Approach to Service Design (SAtSD)

3. Working with people

4. Skills and Learning

5. Service design community

5 horizontal rectangles for each theme and 2 vertical rectangle across them, 1 red for challenges and 1 yellow for the future

Additionally, there are two vertical stripes across the five frames: red for challenges, and yellow for aspirations of the future.

This video will tell you more about each theme:

Key for the board

grey rectangles for groups, yellow for quotes, green for insights, dark blue for code from the tab, light blue for sub-code
  • Grey rounded rectangles: high level ideas or group emerging
  • Dark blue sticky notes (rectangles) are a lower level, they are codes (summary) from the spreadsheet from the initial coding
  • Bright blue sticky notes (squares) are sub codes summarising more closely the quotes they are coming from
  • Yellow or orange sticky notes under a sub code are the quotes which these codes and sub codes are summarising

Some times, many quotes comes from the same participant. In that case, we used dark yellow or orange to illustrate that these quotes under one sub code come from the same person. When you see many light yellow sticky notes under one sub code, it means they all come from different participants.

Questions for the community

  • Does our analysis and way of presenting it make sense to you?
  • What do you agree / disagree with?
  • What other relevant things are missing from our data?
  • How can our research be useful?
  • What things would you like to learn more about or explore further?
  • Anything we missed?
  • What is surprising?
  • What would you like to see happen as a next step?

Get in touch

You can get in touch with us individually on the Service Design in Scotland Slack for example or the Public Sector Design in Scotland Slack, on Twitter or LinkedIn or here in the comments.

You can also follow us on Eventbrite.

Thank you

Thanks again to those who gave us their time, their trust and told us their story.



Practitioner stories

We are collecting Practitioner stories of Service Design in the Scottish public and third sectors