Marshall Sitten on why services are an important glue that holds society together

Marshall Sitten is Senior Vice President, Impact & Insights, Citi Community Investing & Development at Citi; Professor of Service Design at the School of Visual Arts; Co-Founder of the Service Design Network NYC chapter. In this conversation, Marshall and Lauren talk about Service Design as a methodology and the impacts of its application in his projects at Citi. Some highlights include:

  • Marshall’s journey in establishing a service design practice at Citi’s community development and financial inclusion, and the start of the City of New York’s Service Design Studio
  • How service design increased adoption of a valuable financial service
  • The difference of asking if a project is meeting stated intent vs truly delivering the value vs why is the value not tangible
  • Why catchy ploys to get customers like freemiums can be problematic
  • The considerations and trade offs of industrializing services
  • Why automation is going to really show the true colors of organizations’ values
  • How service design can unearth dark patterns

References & Resources:


  • “Service design emerged as a push back of this idea that you can treat people as linear, rational mechanistic actors and that you can engineer their responses and engineer delivery of value. What we all know is that’s nonsense, you cant. What I have learned about service design is that you can capture so many of the intangibles of what takes place when someone uses a service and how it produces value for them in their life, how it helps them solve a problem.”
  • “Services are so much of the glue of that holds society together. The ways we exchange value for one another through services explains a lot about who we are and how we rely on one another. To look at it from that perspective is to understand the underlying systems that produce services.”
  • “When you work backwards using an intentional process like service design that peels back the layers of all the noise that constitutes a service, and you delve beneath the shiny website and pretty app, you get into the systems and it shows how things are tied together, what purpose they serve, where the money goes, where the power exists, who makes real decisions here and who or what part of an org has veto power over how something functions and who it serves… beyond what is stated.”

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