Six hacks for service designers working in an agile environment

Ideally service designers deliver our best value when we stay outside the “Scrum” (literally and figuratively), fulfilling our strategic role and avoiding the hectic pace and too-narrow focus of two-week sprints. Our work, writes Jesse Grimes in the most recent edition of Touchpoint, the magazine of the Service Design Network, should provide guidance to tactical and operational activities, rather than playing a direct role in them. But sometimes such a detached position isn’t feasible, and we need adopt the Agile mindset, accept that we’re led by a product owner (and not a service owner), and find a way to work within a team.

Fear not, service designers in Agile settings! Here are six hacks you can carry out to expand your strategic perspective and influence, while still working to tick items off a product backlog and get that next iteration of your product (service!) out the door. These have been devised thanks to Informaat’s consultancy work and hands-on experience with several large Dutch organisations who have transitioned to Agile, and where service designers such as myself have played a role in Agile teams. After all, while being limited by an operational role makes true service design difficult, the Agile transformation itself does provide chances to strengthen the role of (service) design in the organisation.