#InnovatorsMeetup In Review – Service Design & Rapid Prototyping – A Workshop

Service Design Rapid Prototyping Workshop Recap

Patrick McGowan, @theservdesgroup, Service Design Expert from The Service Design Group facilitated a powerful rapid prototyping  workshop for service design at our most recent #innovatorsmeetup. photo-3

A quick setup  of the workshop will offer context for the insights Patrick shared.

Workshop Type: Business case-based workshop –Intentionally Patrick kept the business case vague in order to allow participants to explore innovative ideas. The case had a specific audience so the teams would design a service that meets the needs and expectations of that audience. This case offered Professional’s Professional vs Innovator’s Innovator audience types. Teams were split between the two audiences to create a specific experience for their designated audience.

Goal: Create a new hire onboarding experience for ACME company


  • Must have a prototype of the welcome kit
  • Role Play the onboarding experience as a playback to the group
  • Satisfy the unique brand
  • Accomplish all the startup employee requirements such as new hire paperwork, equipment assignment, etc

photoHere are some insights from Patrick and the workshop experience on Service Design and Rapid Prototyping:

  1. No design skills required. Rapid Prototyping can be done by anyone. Patrick helped us understand that everyone can rapid prototype and even more so for a service or an experience. One of the core premises of Design Thinking stresses low fidelity prototypes to start. We had two tables of random stuff for participants to use to create their service experience.
  2. Bring back the imagination and role playing. The only way to test a service design is to act it out. This means you have to dig into your inner childhood and pretend. We saw our teams reveal logistical issues by just acting out their ideas. For example, a team sent a welcome kit via Fedex and had the mentor receive the notification and call the new hire upon delivery. By acting it out, we saw that there needed to be at least a 10 minute buffer from notification to call, because the new hire had his hands full with the kit and was scrambling to get his phone. It was a real aha moment. Often organizations just create a Visio flow chart of the process and never test it out and that is when things often fail.
  3. There are 5 essentials of an effective service design — many forget the last two:
    1.  People
    2. Processimage_4
    3. Technology
    4. Content
    5. Environment
  4. In mature industrial economies, services NOT products make up the majority of opportunity.  However, many large organizations haven’t caught on to this trend and are struggling to transition to experience and service-based offerings.
  5. Your brand must be embedded into your service or experience design. We did a mini lean process mapping and the first thought was to outsource it all, but then the photo-1teams questioned what if the service provider doesn’t deliver. One team had a limo pick up on the first day as a part of their onboarding experience for the professional’s professional audience. Instantly they thought of Uber, but quickly realized they needed to invest in Uber Elite if they were going to do that. They wanted a limo to pick up their new employee, not a Honda. Insight that may not have come out if this was just written out on a project plan or a swim lane process design.


Here are some resources Patrick offered to help with Service Design Rapid Prototyping:


All meetup participants raved about the experience. Many said things like, ” I can use some of this at work tomorrow.” “It was very powerful to learn by doing.” Thanks again Patrick for your insights.

We are debating on a December Meetup. We will, however, have a full lineup in the new year,so  join the group for details.. We will continue the online engagement as well, so look out for hashtag #innovatorsmeetup to get involved regardless of your geography.

Thanks to The Frontier for hosting our Carolinas Innovators & Design Thinkers Meetup. It was the perfect space to practice rapid prototyping.

Special thanks to Tereza Novotna, a meetup member who volunteered to help coach the teams, along with the other organizers.


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K. Melissa Kennedy

Chief Innovation Officer, Founder, Intrapreneur. Entrepreneur. Enthusiastic leader and speaker. Teller of truths at 48 Innovate
I spent many years working for and building successful companies. I parlayed that experience into a unique process for harnessing hidden assets inside organizations and turning them into big-idea-generating, $1-billion-revenue-producing resources. (Spoiler alert: it’s the people.) I'm an internationally acclaimed expert, happy to share the not-so-secrets that have led to impressive outcomes for Fortune 100 corporations, major educational institutions, start-up companies and entrepreneurs. Working with companies like Cisco, Lancope, Arby's, Capitol Broadcasting Company New Media - WRAL, PRSONAS, Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog, REVO Communications, Erno Group, Focus Carolina, Madan Global, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, INZONE Brands, Albright Digital, Spring Metrics and NC State Kenan Fellows.

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