The starting point for this taxonomy was defined by four sets of words related to service and service design created freely by students of SERV310. From these vastly different sets of words, students from ACT370 created a unifying list, removing repeated words and consolidating synonimous. From that unifying list, the four groups from SERV310 created different affinitizing solutions that were captured into 4 different boards.

Therefore, these boards were developed by the class SERV310, as part of their process of redesigning the service blueprint. The boards consisted of several dozens of post-it notes with all terms they considered pertinent to Service Design and the mapping of service, based (among other foundational literature) on the text Service Dominant Logic by Vargo and Lusch (REFERENCE). These terms were affinitized by the four groups, each in its own independent manner. The students from IACT370 then proceeded to recognize patterns in the seemingly disparate solutions all the groups had provided.




To perform the task of assigning the correct taxonomy to categories, the students from IACT370 developed a glossary of words that encompassed all of the terms used by the students from SERV310, based on definitions provided by the Oxford English Dictionary (REFERENCE). The comprehension of these terms was crucial to the correct unfolding of this taxonomy, which explains the importance and crucial role of this step to the process. This glossary allowed them to properly understand the words given to them and consequently assign terms that were pertinent and appropriate. The adequate comprehension of all terms allowed for various insights and correct assumptions by the students, leading them to notice patterns and connections otherwise unnoticed.



The students then proceeded to assign names to the grouped words that properly encompassed all the present elements. They aimed to preserve the original set of words, instead finding connections between them that could justify a common given name. This decision stemmed from the desire to understand the decisions made by the students from SERV310, challenge assumptions and broaden the way of understanding service. The categories from the four SERV310 groups varied in size, number and elements greatly. But, as the group advanced their work, they discovered that most of the groups shared all the same words, with very few exceptions and variations. This allowed, further down the process, to streamline decision making, by clinging to identified and established patterns of grouping behaviors.


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After all categories were properly named, the IACT 370 students moved forward to identifying commonalities present between the groups, and making small changes that would accommodate to a convergence and assimilation of all groups into one, which was the established final goal. These decisions included finding common names for categories which were very similar between groups, as well as the somewhat standardization of names according to a number of common elements within the groups. For example, if a group of terms had space, area, environment and location, it was considered to be correctly named with the term context.


As the categorization process came to a conclusion, the students from IACT370 established five categories that were shared by all the groups. The taxonomy given to them was as follows: Context, Process, Relationship, Perception and Resources. Since a guiding principle throughout the whole process was to not intervene or invasively modify the decisions made by the groups, four other categories arose, which were not shared by all groups. These categories were given the following taxonomy: Ethics, Entities, Information, and Knowledge. These categories represented realistically the patterns the students had uncovered while analyzing the work done by the groups, and allowed for a more holistic comprehension of their understanding.




Recognizing the importance of socialization and the acquisition of divergent perspectives outside the class, the students prepared a cocreation session with the SERV310 students. This session aimed to communicate the process of the IACT370 students, as well as help the groups understand and internalize the terms, their meanings and their respective categories. The different sections of the co-creation session are explained in depth below, their planning as well as their execution.


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The students of IACT370 had a key goal that had to be achieved through co- creating with SERV310 students: reach a singular consensus; a final, united set of words. In order to achieve this, they knew the students had to fully grasp the process they had gone through, and be able to appropriate the new structure. This is why they decided the session had to incorporate two main components: a divergent process and a convergent process. The divergent process would begin the session, when the students would break up into the original four groups and discuss the organization of their own board. Following this would be a reflection period, where the groups would present their insights on the previous process. The convergence process would compose the last section of the session, where all students would come together and perform a card-sorting activity with all remaining terms, finally reaching a final consensus on the general structure. The planned co-creation session was carried out as follows:

The first section of the co-creation consisted in breaking up into the original four groups who developed the boards, and with a representative of IACT370, the group went through the changes and allocated what they named “unique words” Unique words were labeled as all words that pertained to only one of the groups, but that was not shared with all other groups. As individual groups and with the aid of the glossary they allocated these words by observing similarities with other groups and understanding the meaning of the terms. At the end of this initial session all groups had allocated their “unique words” and had acquired the understanding and meaning of the different placement, the defined categories and the terms placed under these.

During the “reflection period” each one of the groups socialized their main insights uncovered by the activity. The groups explained why they had made certain decisions and overall thoughts on categories and term placement. Groups discussed and contested the relevancy of terms, their elimination and reallocation. This socialization allowed for a transition into the convergence process.

As stated before, the activity planned for this section was a “card-sorting exercise” each member of the class received seven cards with different terms, their job was to place them on the boards labeled as the different categories. These cards contained all “orphan words”. Orphan words were terms that did not belong to any given category after denomination was done by the students. Following this designation process, the class began a discussion about the general placement of the terms, and wherever a single term was spread out into more than one category, a discussion was open to decide through consensus where the term correctly belonged. In this manner, all “orphan words” were correctly and unanimously placed into categories.

By the end of the co-creation session the established goal was achieved, students from IACT370 left with a single structure reached through consensus, ready for further refinement.

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Following the co-creation session, the students from IACT370 had to undergo the task of bringing together all that had been discussed as well as refining and producing the final version of the structure. Each board which was co-created with the individual groups was analyzed, and the changes made they were carried on to the structure. This process was also carried out with the card-sorting boards. After these changes were integrated, the group assembled to thoroughly analyze and make further changes to the structure. The result was a final structure, consisting of the five final main categories of Process, Perception, Relationship, Resource and Context; as well as four sub-categories Entity, Ethic, Knowledge and Information.



The structure in itself meant very little without a clear hierarchy and evident connection between the terms and categories. With the intention of moving away from the timeline, the students tried to devise an alternate manner of organizing that was coherent to mapping service. This order would give meaning to the structure, and shed light on how to properly use it to analize a service.

The realization was that there was a sequence to the blueprint, but not in regards to actions, but rather a sequence necessary to fully understand a service with all of its components. It all began with Context, which set the stage for the service, where the actors would construct Perceptions, and engage in Relationships with other actors or different Resources, necessary to carry out the Processes that composed the service as a whole. (A more comprehensive explanation of this logic will be provided in the next chapter)



The flow discussed before established the relationship between the categories that composed the taxonomy, but not between the individual elements within the categories. This is why a hierarchy was deemed necessary. All terms were studied and understood, with the assistance of the glossary, to establish the relationship between them and their proper affinitizing. The terms were first grouped together, and as the connections were discovered, different levels were established. In the end, five levels were established, which varied between the categories. This hierarchical organization allowed to explicitly communicate the terms that belonged together and those which composed a larger encompassing term.


A tool should be easily understood and used by anyone who wishes to do it, which is why a clear visualization of a concept is always necessary to clearly communicate a complex idea. As the last step of this process, the students from IACT370 devised a visual tool that clearly communicated the new proposed service design taxonomy. Circular in form, it made emphasis on the fact of a sequence, but not necessarily a linear one. The graphic allowed for the understanding of the taxonomy through layers of information, peeling from the highest level of hierarchy to the smallest. As well as a progressive analysis beginning with Context and ending in Process. The visual represented all values the students aimed to achieve and had present all through out the process. A concept that proposed a new way of regarding service that proved to be simple, interconnected and all- encompassing.




The graphic represents the proposed sequence for the five main categories of the taxonomy. The students were deeply aware that in regular biological taxonomy all items in the same level posses equal hierarchical status, and no element should precede another. However, this approach proved conflictive when applied to this particular case of socio-technical taxonomy. Therefore, it seemed to make sense for the students to attempt a proposed sequence.

Thus, the students concurred that the primary element to consider when developing or analyzing a service is the context in which it takes place. Context defines how all other elements are going to develop, it is the basis of the stage where the service will take place. After defining the Context, the next element taken into consideration is Perceptions. This is the manner in which participants of the service internalize said context, and how they perceive it. Perception is the basis for the Relationships that will happen and be established throughout the service. Relationship encompasses all the interactions between the actors, elements and systems of a service and what makes it an ever-evolving, changing dynamic. Resources are those elements which allow the service to be made possible, the things that are exchanged, shared, and used to create value. Only after establishing the Context, Perceptions, Relationships and Resources of a service, can a Process be constructed. A Process which will be inherently unique to a particular service because it has taken into account all elements that directly affect its development.