When I joined adidas, I was asked to create a one pager to introduce myself to the team. Looking back at it, I remember describing myself as a designer in love with envisioning experiences that are meaningful for people, valuable for organizations, and respectful of society and the planet we inhabit.
Lucky for me, that is exactly the purpose of the Service Design team at adidas, and the way we help teams define their North Star vision is a perfect example of how we live up to it.
In our last post, my colleague Aura explained why we create consumer-centered North Stars at adidas. Building on that, this article explores the activities we perform and the stages we go through to spark interesting conversations not only inside adidas, but also with the wider Service Design community.
How do we define North Stars?
Grounded in consumer insights, a North Star vision is a guiding light that is meant to inspire, give direction, and enable product owners and teams to work together towards a common goal.
Our role as Service Designers is to orchestrate the whole process and guide stakeholders through the journey of understanding where they are now, where they should go, and how to get from point A to B. In order to do that, we follow a framework that helps us move from insights to action: Framing the context, exploring the outside-in perspective, defining a shared vision, and finally building the solutions needed to bring it to life.
Framing the context
Aligning on the business and organizational context is the first step. During this phase, we focus on looking at the inside-out perspective by understanding the team’s goals, ambitions, and capabilities. We also reach out to multiple stakeholders and define a cross-functional team of subject matter experts that will be involved during the whole process, to ensure we receive input from different perspectives.
This is the step of the process in which we define what success looks like and how are we going to measure it in the future. Also, it’s the right moment to determine a time horizon for the North Star and assess the amount of knowledge we might already have about our consumer’s needs and expectations.
Exploring the outside-in perspective
The activities we conduct during this phase might vary depending on the scope and the length of our engagement, but it mainly consists of primary research (based on data we collect ourselves) and secondary research (gathering data from multiple databases).
In other words, we focus on doing what we love most: being the voice of the consumer and the planet. You will see us conducting interviews and service safaris, analyzing trends, identifying signals in our industry and beyond, and connecting the all the dots to identify behavioral patterns and shifts in expectations.
Defining a shared vision
This is a critical step in the process, since it’s the moment when we translate both the inside-out and outside-in perspectives into strategic directions that are relevant for our context. During this phase we ask ourselves: What’s the role that adidas can play considering everything we see happening out there?
The answer to that question is a set of key strategic directions, supported by a set of potential solutions that we identify to enable each one of them. At this point, we conduct a second workshop where we validate the directions and further detail the solutions together with our stakeholders.
For each solution, an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and MVE (Maximum Valuable Experience) level is defined to guide the implementation process.
Once we have a shared vision to work towards, it’s time to understand how we are going to bring it to life. In order to do that, we support the creation of a capability map that outlines everything from the data to the systems that need to be in place to enable both the MVP and the MVE level of each solution.
This is also the moment when we map a Service Blueprint that connects the consumer facing experience with the backend processes that enable it. Finally, the phase concludes with a roadmapping activity that will hold the team accountable for the implementation of that desired experience throughout the defined time horizon.
We are constantly challenging our own processes and looking for opportunities to prototype and test new activities, tools, and frameworks that allow us to better support teams when defining and implementing their future vision. As we continue to grow our practice, our ways of working and mental models will grow with us, and we cannot wait to share with you where the journey will take us.
Want to learn more about Service Design
Aura Patiño, Lead Service Designer at adidas explains what the team does at adidas.Read Now