5 x 5 - Get to Know a Service Designer, Robert Bau

Interview with Robert Bau, Senior Director of Service Design at Fjord

by Thomas Brandenburg

 Let’s explore what we can learn from “competing” innovation and delivery approaches—without diluting the integrity and value of design thinking. 


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

• How to dramatically increase the speed and effectiveness of our human-centered innovation and design process. Let’s explore what we can learn from “competing” innovation and delivery approaches—without diluting the integrity and value of design thinking.

• How to prototype services and simulate experiences that are co-produced and co-delivered over time by multiple stakeholders— typically spanning multiple data sources, touchpoints, processes, and service providers. Current mapping and prototyping methods simply do not cut it.

• How organizations can strike the right balance between continuous improvement (operational excellence) and continuous innovation (differentiation and relevance) by adopting a human-centered approach to innovation. 

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

• The ability to map end-to-end B2C, B2B, and B2B2C experiences (which go deeper than bog-standard customer journeys and task flows). 

• The ability to uncover deep insights about service users, markets, and industries that can spark creativity and drive innovation.

• The ability to craft and validate fully-fledged, omni-channel service concepts.

• The ability to craft the cues, props, and deliverables needed to dramatize, tell, and share stories.

• The ability to pitch and present insights, ideas, and concepts.

• The ability to collaborate and co-create with designers, users, and clients.

• The ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn (thank you, Alvin Toffler).

What reading material would you recommend?

British-born John Thackara has written several thought-provoking books about the role design should play in our society, such as: Design After Modernism: Beyond the Object (1989); Winners! How Today’s Successful Companies Innovate by Design (1997); In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World (2005); and How to Thrive in the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow’s World Today (2016).

How would you describe your work style?

Collaborative, big-picture, integrative, and ideation-oriented.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Don’t feel compelled to follow the herd. Have the confidence to forge your own path.

Bonus Question, What is your best ninja skill?

I am a living Shazam for new wave and synthpop.

Check out other 5 x 5s at the SDN US National Conference Blog