Friday, January 30, 2009

Teaching Introduction to Service Science

I really should be given a “bad blogger” award. Come to think of it, maybe I don’t deserve to be referred to as a “blogger” at all. I haven’t posted in a while. I have, on the other hand, composed many blog posts. I do it all the time while: standing waiting for a bus, riding the subway, swimming lengths, and while trying to concentrate on my breath as I lie in savasana. These in-my-head posts rarely receive comments.

I have a lot to blog about. I’m teaching FIS2306 Introduction to Service Science again this year. I’m enjoying it even more this time around. I have 14 students and each bring very different backgrounds and insights into the discussion. They are currently working on their first assignment (or will be soon). They have been asked to select a service system and analyze it according to various criteria and definitions presented in some of the papers we’ve read (see below). I think it is a fun exercise and would like to go through it for several different diverse kinds of service systems. In cases where they feel that the terms or concepts asked for in the analysis do not fit their chosen service system or some aspects of their service system, I’ve asked them to discuss why that is the case and provide supporting examples to argue their points. At the end, I ask them to summarize by discussing how well the analysis fit or did not fit their service system.

I include the assignment information here. If anyone reading would like to analyze a service system in this way and post it here, I promise not to grade it, but I will enjoy reading it!

1. Give a brief overview of your service system. Provide the type or class of service systems to which your service system belongs.

2. Describe and discuss your service system in terms of the following definition from [1]:
... we define a service system as a dynamic value co-creation configuration of resources, including people, organizations, shared information (language, laws, measures, methods), and technology, all connected internally and externally to other service systems by value propositions.

Consider all aspects of this definition giving examples from your service system for each concept included in the definition. Discuss how well the definition fits with your specific service system and identify any relevant concepts in your service system that may not be included in this definition.

3. Given one of the points of view (or perspectives) in your service system, identify 5 resources. Discuss whether they are operand or operant resources and why. For each resource, determine if they are conceptual or physical, have legal rights or are treated as property.

4. Discuss the notion of value in your service system. Consider how value is judged in your service system and the possible frames of reference for judging that value.

5. Identify and describe 2 key service processes* in your service system and discuss why you feel those are key processes.

Consider the primary service processes* in your service system:

1. Select one service process in your service system and describe it briefly. Then, for that service process:
  • Identify the client (customer) of the chosen service process based on the definition in [2]: “the individual or entities who determine whether or not the service provided shall be compensated for production”. Discuss any assumptions you made about the term “compensation”. If applicable, differentiate between direct and indirect customers as defined in [2].
  • Given the 3 general kinds of customer inputs from [2] (customer self-inputs, tangible belongings, customer-provided information), which does the client (customer) in your chosen service process provide to the service process? (Give examples)
2. In [2], five “supposed” characteristics of services are given: heterogeneity, simultaneity, perishability, intangibility, and customer participation. Choose two of these and discuss one or more service processes in your service system in the context of these characteristics. Discuss how these two characteristics might (or might not) be “symptoms” of the customer inputs in your service processes.

3. Consider the definition of service interactions in [1]:
Value co-creation interactions between service systems are termed service interactions. Each service system engages in three main activities that make up as service interaction: (1) proposing a value co-creation interaction to another service system (proposal), (2) agreeing to a proposal (agreement), and (3) realizing the proposal (realization). ...

Discuss and compare service interactions and non-service interactions in your service system. Consider how you define value co-creation and the three activities that make up a service interaction given in [1].

4. Consider the ISPAR model of service system interactions presented in [1]. Select two interactions in your service system and discuss two possible outcomes for each as defined in the ISPAR model.

5. Identify a high-intensity service process in your service system as defined by the amount of information exchanged [3]. Discuss why you feel the information exchanged makes it a high-intensity process in your service system.

*The term “process” is used in [2] but you can consider this to be similar to “interactions” in [1] and “encounters” or “experiences” in [3].

[1] Jim Spohrer, Stephen L. Vargo, Nathan Caswell, Paul P. Maglio, “The Service System is the Basic Abstraction of Service Science”, Proceedings of the 41st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Jan. 2008, 10 pages
[2] Scott E. Sampson, Craig M. Froehle, “Foundations and Implications of a Proposed Unified Services Theory,” Production and Operations Management, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 329-343, Summer 2006
[3] R. J. Glushko and L. Tabas, "Bridging the 'Front Stage' and 'Back Stage' in Service System Design", Proceedings of the 41st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Jan. 2008


Jim said...

Great first assignment. Thanks for posting this.

I always ask students to make a list of all the service systems that they have been a customer in during the last day/last week/last month .... typically people generate a list of 40 service systems a day! From the moment they flip on the lights in the morning (electric utility service)...

Kelly Lyons said...

Thanks Jim! I like that idea. We've been naming them in class but asking them to think about their interactions within service systems throughout the day would be fun.