First US National Conference: “Service Design within US”

There’s a first time for everything: over 200 participants gathered for the first SDN National Conference in the US, hosted on 10 and 11 August in Chicago.

It was a proud moment for the organizers after months of late night conference calls: presenting the very first SDN National Conference in the US. Attendees from all over the country, representing over 80 organizations, eager to mingle, collaborate, and learn from the many talks and workshops that were to take place.

Credits: Sean Su Photography

The morning kick-off was quite the reunion, when Birgit Mager took the stage with opening remarks to introduce Shelley Evenson for the first keynote. It was an anniversary of sorts, as they had worked together 10 years prior to organize the Emergence Conference at Carnegie Mellon, marking the first service design event in America and an important tipping point in the history of the field.  

Talks continued throughout the day addressing topics such as Myth of Omnichannel, Designing with Data, and Innovation in Government. Between talks the hallways were buzzing with passionate conversations amongst practitioners, students, and leaders. They shared inspirations and swapped stories of how they are scaling service design within their organizations, collaborating with others and communicating about the value it brings.

Credits: Sean Su Photography

Themes such as Emerge in government, Intersection of disciplines and Moving In-House emerged throughout the conference. Other highlights included four interactive workshops with a service safari and business model prototyping session, and a service design bazaar. Visitors also had the chance to view two galleries: the student challenge exhibit and 5x5 leader interview posters.

After the event, attendees expressed an overwhelmingly positive sentiment about program line-up and, the smaller scale and in depth discussions. Danielle Pena (Designer for Fjord Chicago): “What I really like about the conference is that we are all peers, so everyone is talking about relevant issues and ideas.” Another attendee mentioned leaving invigorated and recharged to return to work. “This has been the best service design event I’ve attended in a long time.” All in all, it is safe to say that the bar has been set pretty high for the next US national conference!

Credits: Sean Su Photography
Credits: Sean Su Photography
Credits: Sean Su Photography
Credits: Sean Su Photography

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