Tales from Canada’s first service design conference

On Thursday, December 1, I had the opportunity to speak at the very first service design conference in Canada. It was a fantastic event organized and hosted by the Canadian chapter of the Service Design Network and was held at the Rotman School of Management in downtown Toronto.

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It was extremely impressive to see the strength of knowledge, experience and commitment to service design within the room. Attendees were varied in their application and role within the practice of service design. The event included speakers from newer startups such as Breather, the B.C. Department of Justice, Fidelity Labs, the City of Calgary, Bristol-Myers and a variety of agencies and consultancies.

Certainly a theme within the conference and and much of the dialogue surrounded ‘selling’ service design to leaders, decision makers, colleagues and other stakeholders. This is not surprising for a newer methodology such as service design that certainly disrupts the way organizations work and make decisions. In Canada, where the service design community isn’t as mature as other locations such as Europe, this is certainly a challenge we currently face.

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The conference had two streams running, which included the larger theatre where attendees could hear talk and panels from a variety of practitioners as well as a workshop stream that allowed participants to take part in quick activities of just over an hour. The workshops were certainly popular and I expect will grow in size in future conferences.

My particular talk told the story about introducing service design in a corporate environment and provided tips on how others could successfully do the same. The response to my talk was very positive and found myself engaged with lots of people asking questions throughout the remainder of the day. Thankfully, my message and lessons learned seem to hit the mark for a lot of people.

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It really was a world-class event and I was extremely impressed by the work by the SDN Canada chapter. At the end of the event, they’d mentioned that they would be taking the service design conference outside of Toronto and to a different location in Canada. I’m doubting it will find its way to Regina, but I look forward to the event as I’m sure they will ‘iterate’ from the ‘discovery’ of it’s inaugural event.