Bridging the Business Design Gap

Martin Dominguez
Adjunct Professor
St. John’s University, Fordham University

Service design is an emerging field that operates at the intersection of human-centered design, user-experience design and business execution. Despite two decades of academic and practical work in the field (see Service Design Network, https://www.service-design-network.org/), service design has only recently emerged as a field of interest in the United States. Catalyzed by firms like IDEO and Fjord and design programs at Stanford and SCAD, interest in the field is gaining momentum among business decision makers.  As a result, new opportunities for graduating design students and experienced designers in related fields are emerging in both the public and private sectors. Growing the service design industry in the US and abroad, however, requires more than simply preparing the next generation of designers. Bridging the gap between designers/design thinking and the business community is also necessary in order to improve communication between designers and those who employ them.

The purpose of this presentation is to examine how engaging business students in the fundamentals of design might benefit design students and practitioners. Specifically, we explore how helping business see how design can be used to innovate and address complex market and organizational challenges might open new opportunities for designers in the future. Two service design-centered business courses (graduate and undergraduate) at two Universities in New York City provide a framework for understanding how best to educate business students in the fundamentals of design thinking and service design. Insights for design educators and practitioners including three fundamental principles that have emerged from this participatory action research. Areas for future research and pedagogy are also discussed.