Aug 26, 2018

Navigating the Toronto Service Design Landscape

Full house at a Service Design Toronto (SDTO) panel on the value of service design in November 2014.

Inspired by Tamsin’s post on the service design landscape in Vancouver, I’m offering a personal perspective on what’s going on in Toronto, based on my time working and community building in the space.

Some framing points:

  • The Toronto service design space is nascent, but growing. It has gained a lot of momentum in the six plus years since I arrived here and set up a practitioner meet-up group (Service Design Toronto). By nature, the community is small, with lots of overlaps and people who know each other.
  • It can be a challenge to separate out ‘service design’ from the other overlapping disciplines such as user experience design (UX), customer experience and digital product design. In order to keep this post succinct (without devolving into pedantic design definition semantics!) I’ll try to focus on more, well, focused service design spaces. I characterize these as not having an explicit or exclusive digital focus, and considering experiences that span multiple delivery channels.
  • That said, service design and digital tend to be very intertwined, with digital driving much of service transformation, and service design riding along with it, almost as a trojan horse at times. This seems to especially be the case in public sector and banking. So, some of the teams listed below are digital teams first and foremost.

Service Design Toronto
Service Design Network Canada
(the annual conference is a highlight)
Practical SXD Slack Community local-canada channel

Some adjacent but not explicitly service design focused communities include DesignX, the Toronto IxDA, Civic Tech Toronto, and UX Research Toronto.


Doblin Toronto
Fjord Toronto
FCV Interactive Toronto
Habanero Toronto
Huge Toronto
Idea Couture
Studio We (based in Montreal, doing Toronto based work)
The Moment
Say Yeah

Private Sector In-House Teams

Capital One Canadian Design Team
CIBC Service Design Team
Loblaw Digital
RBC Digital Customer Experience and Design Team
RBC Employee Experience Team
RBC Wealth Management, Xperience First Team
Scotiabank Digital Factory
Scotiabank Global Candidate Experience Team
Shopify Plus
TD Digital CX Strategy and Design Team
Telus Service Design Team

Public Sector In-House Teams

CBC Digital Labs (read about service design at the CBC)
City of Toronto Civic Innovation Office
Healthcare Human Factors
Ministry of Health and Long Term Care
Ontario Digital Service
Service Ontario


Akendi service design training

To Boldly Go…

It’s so exciting to see the service design space and community growing in Toronto. It’s been a great ride so far, with so much potential for the future. I’d be happy to add anything I’ve missed, please reach out!

Many personal thanks to all the people who make this community what it is; friends, collaborators, clients, peers, and colleagues. You know who you are!

Linn Vizard
Made Manifest Founder. I ❤ glitter, cats, and deadlifting

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