Conference article

Ten Strategy Paradoxes in Service Innovation and Design

Robert Bau

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Published in: Conference Proceedings; ServDes.2010; Exchanging Knowledge; Linköping; Sweden; 1-3 December 2010

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 60:9, p. 101-110

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Published: 2012-09-20

ISBN: 978-91-7519-770-8

ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


Many service designers like to think; speak and work in terms of attributes and benefits. By designing user-centric solutions that are useful; usable and desirable the service provider can help users fulfil their functional and emotional needs. Let’s call this approach “designing for attributes and benefits”.

While service designers like to speak about attributes and benefits; many service providers prefer to speak about ROI; value creation; revenue generation; cost savings; productivity gains; brand building; etc. Innovation and design projects should achieve an acceptable ROI and create corporate value. Let’s call this approach “designing for ROI and corporate value”

According to my experience; neither the “designing for attributes and benefits” approach nor the “designing for ROI and corporate value” approach provides enough information; inspiration and direction in the fuzzy front-end of service innovation and design projects.

A third approach; “designing for strategy dichotomies and paradoxes”; may be the answer. Inspired by dichotomies and paradoxes in strategic management literature; I have developed a theoretical framework for ten service strategy dichotomies and paradoxes. The dichotomies and paradoxes have been carefully selected to reflect strategic perspectives; issues and mega-trends in service management; service marketing; service innovation; and service design.

This is an explorative study. The findings need to be validated by further research.


Service innovation; service design; service strategy; strategy paradoxes; strategy dichotomies


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