International Journal of Design Vol.5 No.2 2011
Assisting Embodied Communication and
One of the ﬁndings from observing card-use in teams is that the
cards afford embodied interactions at the individual and group
level and thus support the cognitive and social processes involved
when carrying out tasks within teams. This was an unexpected
result, since the cards were developed primarily as a visual
checklist of touch-point examples. It became very clear that the
way the participants used the cards showed a clear interaction
between mind and body. The following modes of use clearly
demonstrate how the physical form of the cards, together with
physical position and movement, assist the workshop process.
Chunking - Grouping Cards Together to Save Short
This is perhaps an expected pattern of use - participants in the
workshops grouped the cards in their hands as a type of short-
term memory storage while they focused on other cards. There
was a continual negotiation between potential new cards and the
group in hand that occurred physically. The participants would
pick up a card and hold it up to the group in hand to question its
relevance to the group. This seems to use a combination of visual
cues, position cues and movement cues to identify relevance. It
became obvious that the action of moving the new card toward the
group assisted the cognitive process of grouping.
Negotiating Alone / Evaluating Through Position or
Participants would hold a card (or sometimes more than one) and,
whilst still holding it, move it physically around the table to see
if it ﬁt with other cards. This is a form of negotiation through
physical movement and position in which the physical movement
becomes a strong support for cognitive processes.
Negotiating or Explaining Within A Team Through
Movement or Position
This is a behaviour in which a card (or sometimes cards) are held
in the hand and moved to assist a verbal argument or explanation
within a team. This mode of use is similar in both cases, although
the former is a form of questioning within a team (“what if this
was the main touch-point at this stage”) while the latter is used as
explanation (“you can see that this touch-point doesn’t ﬁt here”).
The physical movement seems to be slightly different between the
two. One being a physical expression of questioning by the way
the card is moved and the timing of the movement expressing
uncertainty. This can be compared to more deﬁnite movement and
different timing that gesturally expresses fact.
These modes of use of the cards suggest that the cards
themselves, together with their content actively assist the
processes of mapping, grouping and social negotiation through
their form and use. This assistance is not afforded by lists or
through a digital sorting mechanism.
The work presented here is one of the few research investigations
covering touch-points and service design. Although its focus
is upon a toolkit for innovation through touch-points, it also is
one of the few documented studies of service design at the fuzzy
front end of service innovation. As such, it offers insights and
raises points for discussion at multiple levels. These range from
discussion of the touch-point cards themselves, methods in service
design, and reﬂections upon the nature of service design itself.
This section therefore discusses both the speciﬁc and the general,
and is divided into sections of broadening relevance, starting with
the cards themselves.
The Card-based Tools
The touch-point cards and related tools were shown to have a
positive effect upon the three main requirements that the project
had identiﬁed from both research and practice - cross-functional
team building, analysis and mapping, and idea generation.
One issue raised by workshop participants is the danger that
they can in some way constrain thinking within the content shown
on them. Does the tool direct innovation towards incremental
innovation rather than encouraging transformational innovation?
A set of cards showing existing touch-points might be considered
to encourage an inductive approach to innovation, and therefore
a focus upon
. However, our ﬁndings show that this is not
the case. At the early stages of a project, the goal is divergence,
i.e. to generate a large number of ideas covering a broad area. We
found that the cards encourage an abductive approach where the
goal is to consider
what can be
, rather than just what is (Margolin
& Buchannan, 1995).
Evaluation of the cards by participants
shows a high score for number of ideas, idea relevance and idea
novelty. We conclude, therefore, that transformational innovation
using touch-points does not mean the invention of a touch-point.
Transformational innovations can as much be the removal of
an existing touch-point, the reordering of touch-points within
a customer journey, or the addition of a new (to the service)
Internet trading of stocks and shares is an example
of this, in which an existing touch-point has been utilised in a
new context, rather than the invention of a new touch-point.
conclusion has implications for service innovation with touch-
points, since the goal is not necessarily to invent touch-points,
rather to introduce new (to the service) touch-points, a reordering
of touch-points or harmonisation of touch-points. As such, the
ﬁndings here support the term “orchestration” used by Shostack
Additionally, we noticed that design students particularly
enjoyed framing non-analytical use of the cards, such as “forced
association” or “can I use it here” in which random combinations
of cards are used to generate ideas. The open nature of this form
of use was considered fun, exciting and liberating, even though
many of the ideas generated were not usable in a commercial
context. This enthusiasm was not shared by participants with
business or marketing backgrounds. They found the open
approaches offered by these to be too open, and considered
them inefﬁcient since they produced a relatively large number