6 primary impact elements (The 6 Ps) of a social enterprise. All of these elements contribute towards how a social enterprise defines and delivers impact to its target communities or markets. It is in this context that we talk about Service design in this article.
Impact as a Service
Every social enterprises, be it for-profit or nonprofit follows a certain process, or a model that defines and optimizes its impact. Apart from the obvious metrics, the essence of Impact, most often, is intangible. Whether you manufacture a product or extend a service, it is the ‘way’ you deliver this impact that makes up your core ‘service model’.
For instance, at charity:water, making clean water available to underserved is the ‘service’ while the various supplementary initiatives they undertake to give communities, access to clean water, is their ‘service model’.
We spoke to Servane Mouazan, Founder of Ogunte, to gain a perspective on ‘Service Design’ and how it can support women entrepreneurs to create more relevant services. Her organisation mentors and nurtures ideas and innovations of budding women social entrepreneurs through an ecosystem of conscious innovation.
Use Of Service Design In Creating Impact
Service Design revolves around the intangible aspects of your impact offering. It is the relief, a sense of positivity and the overall sustainability that your social impact brand has to offer to your people.
“The principle of service design encourages you to move away from the idea of a “product” made on its own, and rather invites you to explore what you are making as an “experience”. For this, you will be working with diverse people, users, participants, close and remote stakeholders, to generate valuable insights, feedback, ideas, or challenges that people might experience along the way. It’s the only way to reflect on the experience you want to trigger. We often see cases where a service/product triggers a negative impact, even with the best intentions. That’s not what you want, is it?”
Helping Women Entrepreneurs Find The ‘Right’ Design For Their Social Enterprise
Ogunte helps women entrepreneurs identify the ‘right’ design or model for their social enterprise. The mentors at Ogunte, help the entrepreneurs to self-evaluate their purpose, their impact model and their impact metrics to arrive at the ‘right’ design for their social enterprise.
“It’s not about right or wrong. However we work not just with the service they want to bring about, but we focus also on the team that will execute the process. We ask difficult questions: Is doing this relevant for you as a leader, or in your private life right now? Does it come at the right time in your business? Is it a waste of time? Should you work with another team altogether? Do you really want to do that? Are you the person to bring this to this stage or should you pass the baton? A human-centered design needs to look at insights generated by your users but also at the team, and what happens when the office closes its doors.”
What weighs more? Service Design or Profit Model?
“A good design thinking practice will contribute to build a model that doesn’t make you bankrupt. It is part of the process. But whilst you are doing your research and you are going through your mapping and scoping phase, you will maybe come to the conclusion that certain solution will not be viable or executable within your current budget constraints. This will feed your strategy discussions.”
If we delve deeper into what Servane said, this could be an additional point to ponder about while pitching to an investor. For-profit social entrepreneurs have to balance the profit and purpose in their business model, but if the tradeoff was between service design and profit model, the answer would be that they are interlinked. A sustainable service model will not only be effective and impactful, but it will also fuel profits, helping you reinvest and further your impact.
It is imperative that your impact process is the focus of your social enterprise. A good service model or the ‘right’ service model, digs deeper into the very ethics of your organisation, your philosophy and the cause you support to deliver a more sustainable and long-term impact.