Ephemeral projections

How exactly the experience plays out on the front-stage depends to a great extent on the timeline and tempo. A trade may execute on a stock exchange within minutes and seconds. A hotel stay may be longer. However long or short, the performances and affordances on the front-stage are visualized in terms of a window or timeframe, across the layers of frontstage and backstage, based on some customary pattern, a code, or script. Most commonly they are mapped out on swim-lane diagrams in specialized formats, such as service blueprints and customer journey maps.

While there is no universal format, the design of a service needs to account for all the activities and events, whether in series or in parallel, compressed within a few moments or over a stretch of time. When and where the frontstages emerge depends on how the backstages interact. It has no shape until it does. It’s where promises are kept. It could be an A380 flying machine or it could be the NYSE where a trader places a buy order. Depending on what kind of service, the right kind of stage needs to materialize.