Service Design Strategist

  • Full-time

Company Description

A best-in-class city that attracts best-in-class talent, Philadelphia is an incredible place to build a career. From our thriving arts scene and rich history to our culture of passion and grit, there are countless reasons to love living and working here. With a workforce of over 30,000 people, and more than 1,000 different job categories, the City of Philadelphia offers boundless opportunities to make an impact. 

As an employer, the City of Philadelphia values inclusion, integrity, innovation, empowerment, and hard work above all else. We offer a vibrant work environment, comprehensive health care and benefits, and the experience you need to grow and excel. If you’re interested in working with a passionate team of people who care about the future of Philadelphia, start here

What We Offer:

  Impact - The work you do here matters to millions. 

  Growth - Philadelphia is growing, why not grow with it? 

  Diversity & Inclusion - Find a career in a place where everyone belongs.

  Opportunities in Tech - Don’t wait for the future, shape it.

  Benefits - We care about your wellbeing.


Agency Description

The Office of the Chief Administrator (CAO) strengthens the City’s administrative functions and enables resident-facing departments to continually improve service delivery. The Service Design Studio is positioned within the CAO to support its work in enhancing the City’s resident-facing services.

The Service Design Studio is a team of design research practitioners and service design activists who are dedicated to making government service delivery more accessible, human, and just. The Studio is an internal strategic design consultancy that tackles service improvement projects from a person-first perspective—ranging from action-based research and service redesign to strategic implementation and change management.

In practice, the Studio supports and expands the work of City colleagues by partnering with: 1) Agencies: We advance their strategic goals and service improvement efforts; 2) Policy-makers: We help prototype policy ideas before implementation; 3) Program directors: We evaluate the effectiveness of service delivery through our holistic service design lens; and 4) City employees: We empower colleagues with strategic design methods and tools for use in their work. 

For more information on the team’s past work, please read our 2019 blog series: 

Job Description

We’re looking for two Service Design Strategists to be founding members of the CAO’s Service Design Studio. 

We believe the act of designing is never neutral, service access is a social justice issue, and people closest to service challenges should inform service improvement efforts. As a result, we’re looking for candidates who are passionate about evidence-based decision-making, who are dedicated to ethical and inclusive design, who are effective communicators and collaborators, and who are committed to the in-depth work required to drive lasting change within a large organization and complex service environment. 

As a Service Design Strategist, you’ll report to the Director of Strategic Design and lead service design projects from project scoping to research, design strategy, and implementation. You’ll collaborate with team members to transform the Studio’s work into a rigorous and sustainable practice at the City of Philadelphia. In addition, you’ll mentor emerging team members—helping to expand their skill-sets and deliver exceptional work. Lastly, you’ll amplify the Studio’s service design approach and project work—publicly.

Essential functions

As a senior member of the team, you’re responsible for leading all aspects of a project life cycle—including strategy, design, implementation, and evaluation. In addition, you’ll help build the service design practice at the City of Philadelphia.

Below are the primary duties of this position:


  • Design and facilitate thoughtful and ethical research (in collaboration with the team’s Senior Design Researcher) to understand the service-related needs of residents, staff, leaders, and other stakeholders.

  • Synthesize research into insights and well-defined opportunity areas for intervention.

  • Develop feasible, person-centered, and comprehensive service strategies that improve resident interactions with government and staff work experiences.

  • Design service solutions that work across channels of experience—including digital and non-digital touchpoints (e.g., in-person interactions and physical service environments).


  • Use iterative processes to ensure project deliverables, like service blueprints, process flows, stakeholder maps, and project reports, are rigorously executed.

  • Choose the right deliverable for the right kind of conversation.

  • Visually communicate ideas, research synthesis, and prototypes, so stakeholders can align on concepts.

  • Develop compelling narratives that communicate the human experience to decision-makers, so they can make clear decisions that align with evidence and human need.


  • Work with UX designers, visual designers, content strategists, architects, and technologists to develop and build tools and resources (e.g., websites, apps, one-pagers, applications, the design of space, etc.) that support service improvement strategies.

  • Create change management, governance, and pilot plans that set implementation efforts up for success—acknowledging the constraints and realities of the service system.

  • Develop metrics of success to measure the effectiveness of project outcomes.

  • Evaluate pilot plans to understand what works and doesn’t about a solution.

  • Take appropriate action to revise service solutions based on learnings from evaluation.


  • Communicate work without jargon or pretense.

  • Ensure participatory design processes include the right people, at the right points in time.

  • Offer and take constructive feedback.

  • Respect and protect team members and stakeholders’ time.

  • Communicate with clarity and honesty around the status of work.

  • Cultivate and maintain respectful relationships with project stakeholders.

Project managing

  • Collaborate with senior leadership on the design of a project.

  • Break down complex projects into reasonable project plans with clear deliverables, milestones, and deadlines.

  • Lead project partners and team members through service design processes.

  • Clearly communicate project plans and their status to leadership, team members, and other stakeholders.

  • Effectively navigate through ambiguity and project challenges.

  • Deliver projects on time.


  • Set standards of practice for and with service design team members.

  • Expand team members’ skill-sets through regular feedback, learning sessions, and one-on-one mentorship.

  • Design and facilitate skill-shares with City colleagues, so they can apply strategic design methods to their work.


  • Disseminate lessons learned, tools, and best practices of the Studio to the public.

  • Actively contribute to the field of service design through journal submissions, conference participation, and community skill-shares.


Qualifications (education and experience)

  • A design-related degree or relevant industry experience
  • 5 (+) years of professional experience at a design consultancy or a graduate degree plus 3 (+) years of professional experience
  • 5 (+) years managing project relationships with colleagues, clients, and project stakeholders

Nice-to-have skills:

  • Bilingual 
  • Strong visual design aesthetic
  • Experience with community-based and participatory design
  • Experience working in the social impact space on complex service challenges

Competencies, knowledge, skills, and abilities

  • Perspective on craft: Have a seasoned perspective on service design tools, methods, and processes.
  • Creative: Ability to push against dogma, think beyond what has already been done, and creatively problem solve within known constraints.
  • Excellent communicator: Ability to articulate jargon to general audiences, explain the logic behind decisions, craft compelling narratives, and write/speak clearly.
  • Relationship-builder: Ability to work with a variety of people and personalities and cultivate strong relationships to ensure seamless collaboration.
  • Curious: Ability to practice active listening, ask questions to get at the root of a problem, be open to receiving/giving constructive feedback, and have a sincere interest in learning new skills and growing old ones.
  • Compassionate: Ability to empathize with people’s experiences, and based on that understanding, take appropriate action.
  • Rigorous: Ability to be detail-oriented and intentional in your work.
  • Organized: Demonstrated ability to manage multiple projects, estimate timelines, rework a project approach based on unforeseen challenges, work well under pressure, and set/meet reasonable deadlines.
  • Proactive: Ability to see opportunities, navigate barriers, be self-directed, and problem solve solutions that enhance the Studio’s deliverables, processes, and practices.
  • Broad spectrum: Know enough about the design, communication, and technology fields to effectively collaborate across disciplines. 
  • Resilient: Ability to learn from mistakes and return to work after experiencing a setback.
  • Amplifier: Ability to amplify others’ strengths and successes and operate beyond ego and self-interest.

Additional Information

Salary Range: $80,000 - 90,000

Please submit your applications by October 7, 2019.

The City of Philadelphia is interested in hiring the best possible candidate. We recognize that experience, education, and qualifications can be attained in a variety of ways and that many skill-sets are transferable. If you feel you’re a good fit, please don’t hesitate to apply.

All applications should include the following:

  • A one-page cover letter explaining why you’re passionate about being a founding member of the CAO’s Service Design Studio and what role service design can play in improving public sector service delivery
  • Your resume or curriculum vitae
  • At least three work samples that demonstrate your service design expertise. Samples could include findings and recommendations reports, service blueprints, change management plans, and service design strategy documents.

Please note: Only complete applications will be considered for review, so read the above application requirements carefully.

Did you know?

  • We are a Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program qualified employer
  • 25% tuition discount program for City employees (and sometimes spouses and dependents as well) in partnership with area colleges and universities
  • Comprehensive health coverage for employees and their eligible dependents
  • A wellness program that offers eligibility into the discounted medical plan
  • Paid vacation, sick leave, and holidays
  • Generous retirement savings options

Successful candidate must be a city of Philadelphia resident within six months of hire

The City of Philadelphia is an Equal Opportunity employer and does not permit discrimination based on race, ethnicity, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, marital status, source of income, familial status, genetic information or domestic or sexual violence victim status. If you believe you were discriminated against, call the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations at 215-686-4670 or send an email to [email protected] For more information, go to: Human Relations Website: