The Solving Mindset

“ The user lies at the heart of every solution.”

This is a mantra that rings true for all service designers. However, this is exaclty the same focus of a ‘human centrerd designer’ as well. What’s the difference between the two streams of design? Which stream is a part of which and is superceded by which? Is service design a part of human centered design or vice versa?

Simply put, Human Centered Design or (HCD) is a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs.
Service Design on the other hand uses the processes of human centered design and design thinking to arrive at innovative solutions. These are then crafted into end-to-end services where attention is given to all aspects; from back end service implementation to front end service experience.
Human Centered Design (not “user” centered design) is a process advoated by the unique nonprofit wing of innovative design firm Ideo. Their mission: apply human-centered design to poverty-related challenges and in the process, change the way that a for-profit business can use their resources to create social good. has a number of projects, which work towards social good. Jocelyn Wyatt and Patrice Martin are the co-leads and executive directors of  They believe that anyone can be creative and innovative- it’s all in the mindset. This mindset can be acquired by anyone, just by changing their approach to problem solving. A few brief pointers and valuable quotes:

  • Learn from Failure – “Don’t think of it as failure, think of it as designing experiments through which you’re going to learn”, Tim Brown
  • Make it – “You’re taking risk out of the process by making something simple first. And you always learn lessons from it”, Krista Donaldson
  • Creative Confidence – “Creative confidence is the notion that you have the big ideas, and that you have the ability to act on them”, David Kelley
  • Empathy – “I can’t come up with any new ideas if all I do is exist in my own life”, Emi Kolawole
  • Embrace Ambiguity –  “We may not know what that answer is, but we know that we have to give ourselves permission to explore”, Patrice Martin
  •  Be optimistic – “Optimism is the thing that drives you forward”, John Bienlenberg
  •  Iterate – “What an iterative approach affords us is that we gain validation along the way…because we’re hearing from the people we’re actually designing for”, Gaby Brink

Human centered design is a process to arrive at innovative solutions which can be applied to both service and product design disciplines. Outlined above are ways to solve problems using an innovative mindset and approach.