Design Matters

Jason Blumer

If we lived in a world without design, everything would be accidental. Can you imagine what life would be like if everything was random? What if traffic lights were random? What if your accounting software was random? Design matters.   In fact, if we did not design processes, design products, design technology, design our days, or design our future, we would be a lost race. The author of this blog post says it best:

Design can empower or disempower us in most other aspects of our lives. When deployed wisely, it can bring us pleasure, choice, strength, beauty, comfort, decency, sensitivity, integrity, prosperity, diversity and so much more. But if its power is abused, the outcome can be wasteful, confusing, humiliating, scary, enraging, even dangerous.

WAAD: We Are All Designers

Instead of thinking other people are designers, we must realize we are all designers. Even owners of public accounting firms are designers for their clients – we construct ways in which money should flow through an accounting platform, and then tell our clients how to interpret those numbers. Adrian Simmons, CPA, the Director of The Thriveal Laboratory is actually the Chief Creative Designer of his firm in Maryland. He gets it. He is a designer. We Are All Designers.

Design Thinking If you want to communicate well, and help people around you, then you have to love design. You have to be a design thinker. And one facet of design thinking is service design thinking. Design used to be a discipline reserved for products. But in today’s economy, services make up about 47% of GDP. That figure was about 30% in the 1960s, so the importance of the creation and delivery of services is rising. Thus, their experiential nature must be designed with two main goals in mind: (1) to enhance the value of our work, and (2) to bring greater usefulness and enjoyment to our customers. Lets dive into 5 Main Principles of Service Design Thinking from one of my favorite books, This is Service Design Thinking. See if you can identify (and apply) some principles where your firm’s services could be better designed to enhance your value and/or increase the enjoyment of those services to your customers.

The 5 Principles of Service Design Thinking

1. User-centered. All great services are created with the user at the center of them. When we do this our services become experiential. We must be outward-focused when designing services. The users of our services will balk if they know the service was designed with our firm’s efficiency in mind. Which services in your firm were not designed with the user at the center of them? Can you tell? Can your customer tell?

2.Co-creative. This puts the ownership of the creation of the service in two hands – yours and your customers. Co-creation leads to co-ownership. And this can be great for your customers. If they feel a sense of ownership in the services that they enjoy, then you can be sure they will (1) speak up when they don’t like the service, and (2) enjoy your service more deeply. How can you seek to let your customer actually design your next new service?  

3.Sequencing. Services take place in order much like a movie or play. As mentioned earlier, sequencing is not random. Thus, the sequences of services must be planned in order. Think about your services in terms of sequencing. What should come first for a customer to perceive the greatest value in your service? Should they deal with the intimacy of a price before or after the service is completed? It matters.

4.Evidencing. Services can take place unnoticed because there are often no tangible evidences of services being performed. For example, when your customers give you tax documentation, and begin waiting on you to complete their return, they don’t know what is happening to their tax return since they can’t see you working on it. Evidencing allows you to extend the emotional association a customer has with your service by including tangible artifacts along with your service, evidencing that services have taken place. How can you add tangible artifacts to your inconspicuous service that make your customer say, “wow?”

5. Holistic. With services, there should be intention to design your service in the context of other services and the environment around them. Services are not built on an island – all aspects of the environment must be considered to make the service most enjoyable to the customer. How do your services fit in with the other services that you provide? Can your customers easily perceive the relatedness between your various services? Do all services enhance each other or confuse your customer?   Can you see your service in relation to the 5 principles of service design above? How are you doing in the randomness of your services? Leave in the comments what your firm designs well. Also, let us know areas you could design with greater intention.

Jason is the Founder of Thriveal and the Chief Innovative Officer of his CPA firm, Blumer & Associates. He is the co-host of the Thrivecast and The Businessology Show and speaks and writes frequently for CPAs and creatives, his firm’s chosen niche. Jason loves to watch documentaries on just about anything. He lives in Greenville, SC with his wife and their three children. Stay connected with Jason by signing up at 

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