In conversation with Tenny Pinheiro: service design and entrepreneurship

I’d like to introduce you all to Tenny Pinheiro. Tenny lives in San Francisco, CA. He is the author of three books on Design Thinking and Service Design, his latest publications are The Service Startup: Design Thinking gets Lean and Breaking Free From The Lean Startup Religion: The Service Designer Manifesto. Both covering the intersection between service design and entrepreneurship. Tenny is the founder of and founder/ former CEO of the Brazilian office of Livework.  Tenny is also the founder of EISE, the School for Service Innovation; an educational program that teaches and accelerates entrepreneurship through service design.

Tenny and I have been swapping stories about design studios and design education and I think he is a man worth listening to. Here’s what he’s got to say:

What are Service Design Sprints?

Have you seen Bar Rescue? That TV show where a guy do quick interventions to completely transform the service experience of a bar? We are a marketplace for that, only in our case not only bars but any type of customer service businesses. is a B2B marketplace where SMBs, like retailers and franchisees, can hire certified professionals to completely improve and transform their service experiences in only 4-days. This is done via service design sprints. A service design sprint is a 4-day intervention that brings together customers, employees, management and designers in a joint effort to improve a business’ service experience.

Service Design Sprints :: How it works. from Service Design Sprints on Vimeo.

The service design sprint methodology is based on a mix of design thinking, service design, agile, lean startup, ux and cx approaches. Service design sprints are proven, lean and fast (and fun). Our community delivers sprints through a proprietary methodology and sprints are the one and only thing you can hire our certified community to do.

Why are you doing the work you do? 

The design consultancy model is doomed. Design firms are either being acquired or being left to pursuit old-500-dinos accounts. The old days of design firms bringing Silicon Valley innovation to the world is long gone. With this new model we are taking design out of the fortune 500 loop and putting it back at reach for startups, retailers, franchisees and etc. Design/CX firms are not tackling this business demographic. And, with their model, they can’t. It is not sustainable for them to do it.

On the other hand, SMBs Retailers and Franchisees currently can’t afford to hire renowned customer experience or design firms. With the amount paid for such firms’ project, a typical franchise would be able to open 5 new stores. It is just not sustainable for such SMBs to hire those firms. Then there is the need for rapid change. A project with a traditional design firm can take 2 to 6 months. A retailer can’t wait that long to have a plan to increase store efficiency and sales.

The result is: no access to Service Design for those players whatsoever. And no service design or all. We want to change that.

What kind of feedback have you had?

Clients love it. They can learn by doing. Impact is immediate. Designers love it cause they can see their work really being implemented and changing the service performance.  See it for yourself the work we did with SBARRO pizza franchisee.

Case Sbarro from Service Design Sprints on Vimeo.

What’s next?

Our next step is a secret. But our goal is to extend the reach of the service design practice to any businesses from early stage startups to franchisee chains around the globe.

What is the one thing you want to say to the service design community?

Service design need to blend with the current service economy dynamics. The agency model is unsustainable and totally disconnected from its fast-paced reality. Look at your phone and still, no new innovative enterprise like Apple, UBER, Facebook or Tesla think of hiring a design firm. They don’t need it, and they don’t care much for consultancies firms (plus they hate consultants). Those are approaches tailored to a long gone R&D based enterprise world. So, as a service designer you either accept this new reality and blend into the new “making” dynamics of the current digital service economy, or you will be working only with non-innovative, slow-paced, executive-world organisations. And they will not implement your designs. So forget about the “hey mom, I did that” effect. Not within this old agency model. Not anymore. You can read more in Tenny’s latest article in Core 77; The Design Firms is the Waking Dead

If you’d like to talk to Tenny about any of this you can mail him at:  gosprint (at) servicedesignsprints (dot) com