|Title||A study of the experiential service design process at a luxury hotel|
|Authors||Weathers Nixon, N.|
This thesis explores the process of designing experiential services at a luxury hotel. These processes were surfaced by means of a methodology that used the principles of jazz improvisation. Due to similarities between experiential service design and elements in jazz improvisation, representing experiential service design through the jazz improvisation metaphor leads to a new framework for exploring the process of experiential service design that is iterative in nature. A gap in the service design literature is that experiential service design is not operationalized in organizational improvisation, and one contribution from this study will be to fill that gap. This study contributes to the field of knowledge by exposing a new perspective on how experiential services can be better designed by adapting some of the design tools from this luxury hotel; a second contribution is a recommendation for how the improvisational lens works as an investigative tool to research experiential organizations. In the process, some new dimensions to understanding complexity are contributed.
The research process utilized qualitative research methods. Frank Barrett (1998) identified seven characteristics of jazz improvisation which I have used as a heuristic device: 1) provocative competence (i.e., deliberately creating disruption); 2) embracing errors as learning sources; 3) minimal structures that allow for maximum flexibility; 4) distributed task (i.e., an ongoing give and take); 5) reliance on retrospective sensemaking (organizational members as bricoleurs, making use of whatever is at hand); 6) hanging out (connecting through communities of practice); and 7) alternating between soloing and supporting.
This research is grounded in the body of literature regarding complexity, organizational improvisation, service design and experience design. The role of heterogeneous minimal structures that are fluid and optimize uncertainty is central to this investigation. Themes such as sensemaking and the role of story, meaning-making, organizational actors' use of tangible and intangible design skills, and embracing ambiguity in efforts to design experiential services are explored throughout the dissertation. The anticipatory nature of experiential service design is
a principle outcome from the data that is incorporated into the new conceptual framework highlighting a "posture of service".