A Designerly Approach to Exploring Disruptions in Service: Insights from Employing a Systems Perspective
Vanessa Rodrigues, Stefan Holmlid, Johan Blomkvist


Services, and failures associated with it, are nestled in systemic contexts. It is important to understand how disruptions might ripple out in services, as well as how actors influence disruptions and possible failures through their participation, as this can impact value creation. This paper reports the results of an interview study supported by a card mapping tool. The main contribution of this work is its generative methodological approach when exploring service disruptions from a systems lens. Using this method, we classify eight forms of disruption: request, query, hiccup, delay, mistake, flaw, breakdown and the unexpected, and associated systemic activation patterns. We suggest a disruption-activation ripple model and identify five tensions in responding to disruptions: competing priorities, dealing with difficult others, mismatching expectations, shouldering responsibility, and reluctant assistance. We posit that this generative tool can be used to understand the nature and extent of disruptions in situated service contexts. This understanding can provide direction on how to handle and/or absorb variety emerging in different interactions by clarifying frequency and predictability of certain kinds of disruptions in investigated contexts. We also argue that viewing service disruptions through a systems lens requires the designing of social service infrastructures that support employee relationships.

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