I’ve been experimenting with the use of service design methods in Learning & Development programme planning. I’ve used some elements of service design/ design thinking, especially blueprinting for a few years but am now trying a more systematic use for programme design and evaluation. The process appears to work well with an increased focus on the complete journey of user experience through to learning transfer including the nature of the transfer we want to see and what needs to be done to ensure the learning and transfer happens in the reality of the actual organisational context. Its also good to see the creativity and concern for the learner that the processes support in the L&D professionals and line managers themselves. Its early days but the methods of service design do appear to support an increased common understanding between the L&D people and the operational management (I live in hope).

But then…. the standards operational management models have reared their ugly head. Learning as a service – quality assurance – better use ServQUAL then. And at this point there comes the real danger of a shift in focus from developing an excellent service via service design methods to satisficing user expectations to narrow the service quality gaps. A very frustrating experience all round. The question is how to overcome this tension while acknowledging expertise in operational management – I don’t know yet …

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