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Thomas Stewart: what leaders need to know about the new design revolution in services

Brian Leavy (Business School, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




With the growing importance of services in the overall economy, it is surprising that the notion of service firms investing in systematic and dedicated innovation activities has taken so long to materialize. This is now set to change as service firms undertake the kind of research, design and development disciplines which for more than a century have been mainstays of modern manufacturing.


S&L interviews the well-known former editor of Harvard Business Review Thomas A. Stewart and his co-author, former editor Patricia O’Connell, in their latest book, Woo, Wow and Win: Service Design, Strategy and the Art of Customer Delight (Harper Business, 2016). They believe we are on the cusp of a “design revolution” in services.


The central thesis of their book is that services “should be designed with as much care as products are” and they include service “delivery” in that premise.

Practical implications

Service design principles offer powerful new ways to address the three basic strategy questions: What do we sell? To whom? And how do we win?


Service design helps you understand how to configure a set of activities, behaviors and touchpoints–a journey–that allows you to serve that customer well.



Leavy, B. (2017), "Thomas Stewart: what leaders need to know about the new design revolution in services", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 45 No. 3, pp. 16-22.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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