market sizing for service design

In preparation for my talk at the upcoming Service Design Global Conference I’ve been taking a stab at sizing the U.S. market for service design. Here’s the start of what I’ve turned up:

What’s the size of the U.S. service economy?

  • Even as early as 1999, services accounted for roughly 80% of the U.S. economy [source: U.S. Department of Commerce report] although Wikipedia quotes services as making up 76.9% of the U.S. economy in 2009.
  • Service workers outnumber goods-producing workers by a 5-to-1 ratio. "According to preliminary statistics compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and published in Establishment Data Historical Employment (2005), workers who provided services (111.5 million) outnumbered workers who produced goods (22.1 million) by a ratio of five to one." []
  • While the U.S. is running an overall trade deficit, it has a trade surplus in services. "U.S. services exports totaled $551.6 billion in 2008, up $54.4 billion (or 10.9 percent) from 2007. This rise in exports helped the U.S. to have a record trade surplus in services at $144.1 billion, up $24.9 billion (or 20.9 percent) from 2007." [source: U.S. Department of Commerce fact sheet
  • The big service industries are trade, transportation, utilities, and government. ”The largest category of service-providing jobs is found in the group of trade, transportation, and utilities occupations (23.1% in 2005). Federal, state, and local government jobs (21.8 million) accounted for 19.5% of the total service-providing jobs in 2005.” (See Table 2.2.) [source:]

Who are the big U.S. employers? I’m asking this question as I hypothesize that those who employ many people are more likely to be service-oriented organizations.

Knobs, Buttons, & Dials: A Brief History of NASA's Mission Control

Here’s my wife’s presentation on the evolution of interaction design, devices, and culture at NASA Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control Center. There’s some great stories about precursors to email, IM, and other technologies, as well as how interactions evolved — or didn’t — in the change from analog to digital


Here’s a video of Tesco’s virtual stores in Korean subways. Why’s this so much more compelling than a mobile commerce shopping app? (by majedhs1417)

top 5 themes most critical to UX this year

Some friends chairing a conference asked me today what I though the top 5 themes would be most critical to UX over the coming year. I said:

  1. designing for mobile as the primary digital channel
  2. experiences that bridge two channels — I used to say ‘web plus one channel,’ but it might be moving to ‘mobile plus one channel’
  3. designing for and managing through the explosion of new devices
  4. UX leadership inside the organization — leadership requires an entirely different set of skills (and perhaps values) than what is focused on inside the IA and UX community; organizations can’t invest in UX without individuals covering this gap; meanwhile, customer services, operations, and people from other backgrounds are jumping into the driver’s seat.
  5. The UX factory — I’m not sure what else to call it, but I’ve seen many organizations staffing up UX teams in a big way, possibly in response to #3 above, or to compliment agile scrums. Designing the process, roles, and work for such staff — and doing it in a customer centered way — is a giant challenge until itself. While there’s plenty of UX-Teams-of-One out there, I believe there’s also growth in the UX-Teams-of-Plenty.

8 rules to being a better manager

Usually when you read guidance on management and HR it’s a lot of conjecture. That’s what I like about Google’s research on 8 good behaviors of managers — its based on Google-style rigorous analysis of data. They poured through review data and interviews to find out what made a good boss at Google.

Here’s the 8 good behaviors of managers:

  1. Be a good coach
  2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage
  3. Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being
  4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented
  5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team
  6. Help your employees with career development
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
  8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team

Google's 8 Good Behaviors (and 3 Pitfalls) of Managers

restaurants on agile?

Something about the NYTime’s article “The Perfect Menu. Now Chang It." makes me think of agile or kaizen:

Park Avenue Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall, a restaurant in New York, has completely transformed its menu and dining room every three months since June 2007. Craig Koketsu, the executive chef, says that the changeover now takes just two days because every dish is minutely plotted on an Excel spreadsheet, a process that begins about six weeks beforehand. Making such major changes in a high-level restaurant depends on systems, not cooking skills, he explained. “A really good kitchen is a machine,” he said. “If all the parts move smoothly, you can do anything.”

more on the little secret to product planning: cupcakes

Last week I posted this video on the Adaptive Path blog, showing the value that a cupcake mentality can bring to successful product planning:

I’ve found this cake metaphor to be a powerful concept because:

  • Everyone feels the pressure to get results quickly — whether the challenge is moving a business metric or responding to competition, everyone feels the need to make an impact in the near term, not just a gesture towards something that will be great in another 12 to 18 months.
  • However, it’s rarely clear how to also deliver something delightful — to differentiate and release something noteworthy, one of the common assumptions is that more has to be more. Cupcakes is a metaphor for thinking about what could feel complete and exciting, even if it is feature-for-feature less than another offering or substitute.
  • It’s easy to remember and reference — executives and staff both remember the cupcake idea. After I share the cake metaphor, I often hear references days and weeks later like, “that’s not a cupcake!”

One of the common results I’ve found from Cupcake Thinking (<— yes, I’m going there), is that a team will look longer and deeper for the things a business already does well. You’ll look for ways to leverage what’s already differentiating, then bake that into the solution. Rather than try to stretch to cover gaps that a business doesn’t address well, a team will often ignore gaps and end up embellishing the core strengths of the firm in the solution.

For example, a financial institution with a large force of financial advisors could try to compete with a digital channel as full featured as a Schwab or Fidelity. Or, in more of a cupcake mentality, it could use the digital channel to reinforce the financial advisor relationship and make the advisor’s services more evident and more valued. The latter is lower complexity, it’s valued by the client and the advisor, it’s differentiating, and it’s why the client moved to the financial institution in the first place.

And if you can’t sit through the movie, here’s the condensed one-frame summary:

the cake model of product planning

Communicating experiences? Be visual

Even the New York Times needs more than words to successfully communicate a customer experience. In an article about web retailers bullying customers, they used this comic to get it right.

what normal people want from tv

I talked with Peter Merholz following his talk at the New TeeVee conference on What Normal People Want From TV:

I asked Peter about the reported rise in behaviors where people will both watch TV and use their computer simultaneously:

"A recent Nielsen study found that consumers now spend on average 3 hours and 41 minutes per month watching TV and browsing the Internet simultaneously and roughly three out of five TV viewers engage in two-screen consumption."

Is this a new behavior, or are media providers like Bravo just making two-screen easy enough of an experience (to build on Peter’s points in the talk).

Peter responded:

People definitely multitask while watching TV, with internet/web usage as quite high. It makes me wonder what, activities, specifically qualify as “browsing the internet.” We saw everything from active publishing (blogging), statusing (Facebook), and researching (Wikipedia related to the show being watched). 
Because TV is “unproductive”, people want to feel productive while watching TV. So, while in the past, it might have been household chores (and hell, Stacy and I still fold laundry while watching TV), or when I was a kid, it was doing my homework, now people are engaged in online behaviors. I would be surprised if the amount of multitasking has actually changed all that much — I suspect it has simply shifted to something easier to measure.

BERG’s new video explorations of Media surfaces: Incidental Media shows yet again why experience designers will have to become great with video prototyping — both low-fi and hi-fi.