Designing for Social Infrastructures in Complex Service Systems: A Human-Centered and Social Systems Perspective on Service Design

Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer


Service design is one of the keys to improving how we target today’s complex societal problems. The predominant view of service sys- tems is mechanistic and linear. A service infrastructure—which includes solutions like service blueprints, scripts, and protocols—is, in some ways, designed to control the behavior of service professionals at the service in- terface. This view undermines the intrinsic motivation, expertise, and cre- ativity of service professionals. This article presents a different perspective on service design. Using theories of social systems and complex responsive processes, I define service organizations as ongoing iterated patterns of relationships between people, and identify them as complex social service systems. I go on to show how the human-centeredness of design practices contributes to designing for such service systems. In particular, I show how a deep understanding of the needs and aspirations of service professionals through phenomenological themes contributes to designing for social in- frastructures that support continuous improvement and adaptation of the practices executed by service professionals at the service interface.


Policy Design

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@Annual Review of Policy Design ISSN: ISSN 2291-6989