1.2 Why and when to make a future state blueprint?

Course materials

  • Pages to read in the book: Pages 32-37

Module notes

Why and when to make a future state blueprint?

Let’s think about why and when you might want to make a future state blueprint.

Future state blueprinting is a design activity. 

It helps us envision the experience we want people to have, and design the way we as an organization might deliver that experience.

Service design is not like UX design! We are not just designing great experiences, we are also designing great experience delivery.

The reason we do future state blueprinting is to get to a greater level of detail around the experience and delivery model in order to:

Test whether the service concept can realistically be delivered – Blueprinting with a cross-functional team can help us explore the feasibility of the desired experience from an implementation and support standpoint. Things we thought might be a great idea might be completely impossible to implement. If we discover during blueprinting that our big vision is in fact too big, we can use this opportunity to adjust and redefine the desired experience to something more feasible.

Understand the implications of the experience we want to create and what that means for our backstage operations and resourcing. This helps us envision the processes, systems, roles, and handoffs we’ll need to orchestrate in order to implement the desired experience. In this way, the blueprint helps you create an “MVD”  — minimum viable delivery — model of how our organization might deliver the desired experience.  This will help us to more rapidly design, iterate, and explore without investing a ton of resources in implementation before thinking through different models.

Gain alignment across all business silos and stakeholders about the desired customer experience, and how will we deliver that experience as an organization — By bringing together a cross-functional team to map out our new service delivery model, we will gain shared understanding and alignment across teams as to both what we are trying to deliver to the customer, and how we will work together efficiently to deliver that experience.

Lastly, a future state blueprint will help our organization create an implementation plan for how we will make this idea into a reality. One of the best outcomes of future-state blueprinting is the concrete “checklist” for implementation and planning. We literally can “harvest” from our blueprint the action items to put straight into our project plans, roadmaps, and backlogs. It results in an actionable work plan to implement our new service.

Since a future state blueprint gives us a pretty good level of detail of how we will deliver the service, we don’t want to jump into future state blueprinting before doing some pre-thinking.

If you are designing an improved experience for a current offering vs. a brand new concept, we highly recommend you first do customer research and current-state blueprinting to make sure you accurately understand what is happening today. If you don’t do this step, you will be going into your future-state design with a lot of assumptions, some of which might not be true. 

Additionally, by doing current-state blueprinting before future-state, you will be able to more effectively do a gap analysis between what exists today and what needs to be done to implement the new experience. 

If you’re designing something brand new, then you should be doing market research to understand the user landscape, needs, and competition. 

Once you have foundational understanding of what exists today, you need to align your organization on problem framing. Make sure you are solving the right problem for your customers. There are a number of methods that can help with this, including: Abstract Laddering, Problem Tree Analysis, or Jobs To Be Done to help your team narrow-in on the right problem that your experience will solve for. 

Once you’ve defined the problem, now you need to define the solution – the value proposition for your new offering. What problem is it solving, for who, and what value will it provide? This should be your guiding “north star” to help your team stay aligned throughout the design process.

Next, you should spend time storyboarding this desired future-state experience.  Co-create with your customers and your team to generate high-level storyboards that start to define the specific aspects of the ideal experience. Sketch different phases of the experience and play with different types of experiences you might create to satisfy the customer need and fulfill your value proposition.

To go a layer deeper than high level storyboarding, use a journey map format to break down the specific steps you think should be part of your future-state experience. Get a more concrete outline of all the steps a customer might take for key scenarios of your design. For example, learning about your offering, signing up, first-time use, regular use, and getting support.

The outcome of these activities is a clear direction for the new, desired customer experience. 

Once you have this, you can begin to blueprint the future state delivery from the perspective of the organization.

In other words, if you don’t know what exists today and what experience you are trying to create, you are not ready to do future-state blueprinting, as the blueprint is focused on the details of organizational delivery, not on inventing the desired customer experience from scratch. 

Of course, through the process of blueprinting, you can be iterative and adjust the customer experience to fit the limitations of the delivery model you are designing. This is a natural part of the process, and why future-state blueprinting takes more time than current state blueprinting.

Don’t worry if you haven’t already done all of these things for this course. Throughout the course, we will walk you through a quick version of these activities so that you can get blueprinting!

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