5 x 5 - Get to Know a Service Designer, Jonathan Kalinowski

Interview with Jonathan Kalinowski, Alliant Credit Union 

by Thomas Brandenburg

In order to bring others along with you on your service design voyage, it will be important to visualize your thought process and ideas, facilitate conversations to drive alignment towards change, and tell compelling stories that recognize the complexity of the real-world while simplifying the story so that the audience can understand and act upon it.

What issue related to service design thought leadership is most interesting to you?

Right now, I am captivated by the intersection of JTBD theory, service-dominant logic (or just “service logic”) and service design. The two theories (service logic and JTBD) provide appropriate rationale for making design and business decisions for those who find themselves in service design roles.

What skill(s) should a budding service designer have in his or her back pocket? 

In an increasingly complex world, it will be imperative to break things down into constituent parts (analytical thinking), put them back together again in new combinations (synthetic thinking), derive insights from observations and experiences (abductive thinking) and understand relationships between elements and the systems of which they are a part (systems thinking). In order to bring others along with you on your service design voyage, it will be important to visualize your thought process and ideas, facilitate conversations to drive alignment towards change, and tell compelling stories that recognize the complexity of the real-world while simplifying the story so that the audience can understand and act upon it.

What reading material (articles, books, blogs, etc) would you recommend reading? 

Maintain a healthy distance from service design thought leadership. It’s important to be apprised of how the discipline is evolving, but I find that I am most inspired in my everyday service design responsibilities by exogenous knowledge. I study economics and theology; I travel to uncomfortable places and taste new foods; I read magazines about gardening and housewares, and I listen to music that have no lyrics (chillhop is a wonderful genre). We, as a community, need to quit listening to others about how we ought to do things, and start trailblazing! Each business context has its own challenges and assets, and while it reduces the amount of effort if we ask others how they do it, we sacrifice real progress. We need to think about the strategic advantage gained by making a mess along the way. Maybe we can call this the, “Dao of Service Design”.

How would you describe your work style? 

I am collaborative yet independent. When I want to accomplish a goal with others, I need time to think and digest, and chart a strategic path to move forwards, and then I need to synthesize my conclusions with others’. It’s more of an art than a science.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? 

If someone is performing at 100% at their job, it probably means their performing 0% in their personal lives. Make sure to keep track of your priorities.

Bonus question, “What is your best ninja skill?”

I can call fashion trends months (years, in one instance) before they arrive. Neckerchiefs are still on the up-and-up, y’all!