The cover of Thinking in Services

Thinking in Services

Encoding and Expressing Strategy through Design

by Majid Iqbal

Service design is one of the topics I’m seeking to learn on a much deeper level. I’m not sure how I came across Iqbal’s Thinking in Services, but the premise was attractive: a set of tools to encode the components of a service in a way that illuminates its strengths and weaknesses. The book sets up the framework really well, but the foundation quickly falls apart.

Iqbal over-abstracts many of the ideas underlying service design. It’s hard to see the point of these conceptual devices: naming 16 components of a service with two-letter acronyms and assembling them into a grid doesn’t reveal anything in the cases that the book covers. Formulae give an objective tone to the analysis, but disguise the ultimately subjective nature of analyzing services. In all, the useful material of the book can be distilled down to one or two pages; the rest is vaguely academic fluff.