Put simply: methodology is not, in itself, a theory. And I mean theory in quite a social science way: a framework for understanding peoples’ behaviours and actions. When I see service design in the line of work, it is probably best described as a spectrum of research methodologies or meta-methodologies (as in, it can eat up more focused methodologies and reconstitute them as being part of a whole: ethnography and wireframing can sit in the same box, and become “service design” by dint of the order of deployment and the use of the outputs).
This summer, after a lovely 2 week holiday in Tuscany, I returned to Leeds and straight into a classroom full of government senior leaders discussing agile and user-centred design. Their challenges set me thinking once more about the relationship between technology and social relations in the world of work. One well-known story from the Italy of 400 years ago is helping me make sense of it all.