Methods for Conceptualizing Product Service Networks (PSS 101) was about developing a framework of methods, techniques and tools that improves conceptualization and communication between all those involved in design and development, across industries.

Products are no longer just products, Services not only services. Take Océ; once they used to sell printers.. and now they ‘support document management across different departments.’ Exact, well known for its Financial and Administrative software, now produces business service systems for SMEs, enabling them to integrally support and manage their business, including relationship management.

This type of thinking requires new design and development structures, moving people out of their traditional compartments, meeting the needs of an often diverse and evolving group of end-users. Product Service Systems (PSS) are designed in highly dynamic network environments, mixing people and parties, models, interests and goals.

What questions were answered?
Teams from TU Delft, the Design Academy Eindhoven and Industry partners were working together to answer the questions:

What are the demands that networks of users impose on providers of PSS?
How can the provider cope with the organizational changes needed?
In which way can networks of Creative industries facilitate this process?

What have the teams achieved?
A Framework and Toolset that will help design-partners better understand the needs, values and ambitions of end-users in their networks. Together they have formulated a shared vision for a PSS proposition, leading to a documented, context-driven PSS concept.

Timeframe and communication:
PSS 101 startedin 2011 and finished in 2015. Throughout the project, we have communicate information and results via this website, Master Classes, and Workshops. We have organized an annual event for the creative industries, and integrated our findings into educational programmes.

Who was involved?
Scientific partners: Delft University of Technology and the Design Academy Eindhoven;
Creative and Industry partners: STBY, 4C-MG, Exact, Oce industries and Zuidzorg

Project leaders
Dr. Ingrid Mulder, Delft University of Technology
Prof. Dr. Pieter Jan Stappers, Delft University of Technology


  • Tools for proximity: helping designers to make sense in the boardroom Leurs, B. The thesis "Tools for Proximity" presents a toolkit that supports the interaction between strategic designers and senior decision makers; it aims to establish cognitive proximity (i.e. shared understanding, overlap in mental models) between these actors in networked innovation. Download

Tools for proximity

The thesis "Tools for Proximity" presents a toolkit that supports the interaction between strategic designers and senior decision makers. It aims to establish a common ground between these actors in strategic innovation for PSS development. 
Designers and senior decision makers experience problems in their communication and collaboration. A common ground is crucial for successful collaboration to explore new business opportunities and develop new propositions. However, appropriate tools that stimulate and facilitate such heterogeneous network interactions appear to be missing. In addition, designers have an added value by providing senior decision makers with new frames that help them perceive their business environment in a new way.
The toolkit is used in the early stages of a client-consultant relationship, where it facilitates the first encounters between strategic designers and senior decision makers. As such it is positioned at the very early beginning of the fuzzy front end of innovation.
The general aim of the toolkit is to support strategic designers and senior decision makers in becoming more proximate; it should facilitate them in developing a shared language and understanding. In doing so it should help senior decision makers to reconceptualize their business environment.
The key questions addressed in this thesis are: (1) how to support strategic designers in their interaction with senior decision makers to establish a common ground? And (2) how can strategic designers help senior decision makers develop new mental models of their business ecosystem? 
Results show how (embodied) metaphors help coordinate the alignment and shaping of mental models: they facilitate communication, support frame creation, initiates sensemaking, develop understanding and stimulate sensegiving. The toolkit not only increases proximity between strategic designers and senior decision makers, but once senior decision makers succeed in their sensegiving attempts, the toolkit also amplifies proximity between strategic designers and other organizational members.