Designing and implementing mission-oriented policies: Tools and resources from the field

Report by Anna Goulden and Professor Rainer Kattel: “This policy report investigates the tools and resources used globally by practitioners to support them in design, implementation or evaluation of mission-oriented policies. In recent years, ‘policy toolkits’ (often called ‘playbooks’, ‘guides’, ‘resource libraries’ or similar) have become increasingly widespread in policy communities. In the context of policy approaches such as mission-oriented innovation, toolkits and many tools can be a means of bridging the gap between theory and practice by providing practitioners with tangible resources to support them in their work. As part of this work, IIPP engaged with practitioners in its Mission-Oriented Innovation Network (MOIN) to discuss cases of mission-oriented policy tools and toolkits developed in the field – and current and future needs for tool development. 

The work has consisted of three strands, which will be explored in this report:

  • Mapping the external environment: what does the current landscape of policy toolkits and resources look like, particularly for mission-oriented innovation?
  • Understanding practitioner needs: what are the operational contexts, use cases and needs of practitioners in terms of tools?
  • Scoping future priorities: what is the role of IIPP in the field and how is it developing?…(More)”

Design Thinking Misses the Mark

Article by Anne-Laure Fayard & Sarah Fathallah: “Nonprofits, governments, and international agencies often turn to design thinking to tackle complex social challenges and develop innovative solutions with—rather than for—people. Design thinking was conceptualized by designer Nigel Cross more than four decades ago, notably in the 1982 Design Studies article Designerly Ways of Knowing.” The approach was later packaged for popular consumption by global design and innovation consultancy IDEO. Design thinking quickly became the go-to innovation tool kit in the for-profit world—and, soon after, in the international development and social sectors—because of its commitment to center communities in the collaborative design process.

IDEO’s then-CEO Tim Brown and Jocelyn Wyatt, who was then lead of the IDEO social innovation group that became, championed design thinking for the social sector in their 2010 Stanford Social Innovation Review article, “Design Thinking for Social Innovation,” which has become an important reference for design thinking in the social sector. Embraced by high-profile philanthropists like Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation cofounder Melinda Gates and Acumen founder and CEO Jacqueline Novogratz, design thinking soared in popularity because it promised to deliver profound societal change. Brown even claimed, in a 2014 Harvard Business Review article, that design thinking could improve democratic capitalism.

However, design thinking has not lived up to such promises. In a 2023 MIT Technology Review article, writer and designer Rebecca Ackerman argued that while “design thinking was supposed to fix the world,” organizations rarely implement the ideas generated during the design-thinking process. The failure to implement these ideas resulted from either an inadequate understanding of the problem and/or of the complexities of the institutional and cultural contexts…(More)”.

No app, no entry: How the digital world is failing the non tech-savvy

Article by Andrew Anthony: “Whatever the word is for the opposite of heartwarming, it certainly applies to the story of Ruth and Peter Jaffe. The elderly couple from Ealing, west London, made headlines last week after being charged £110 by Ryanair for printing out their tickets at Stansted airport.

Even allowing for the exorbitant cost of inkjet printer ink, 55 quid for each sheet of paper is a shockingly creative example of punitive pricing.

The Jaffes, aged 79 and 80, said they had become confused on the Ryanair website and accidentally printed out their return tickets instead of their outbound ones to Bergerac. It was the kind of error anyone could make, although octogenarians, many of whom struggle with the tech demands of digitalisation, are far more likely to make it.

But as the company explained in a characteristically charmless justification of the charge: “We regret that these passengers ignored their email reminder and failed to check-in online.”…

The shiny, bright future of full computerisation looks very much like a dystopia to someone who either doesn’t understand it or have the means to access it. And almost by definition, the people who can’t access the digitalised world are seldom visible, because absence is not easy to see. What is apparent is that improved efficiency doesn’t necessarily lead to greater wellbeing.

From a technological and economic perspective, the case for removing railway station ticket offices is hard to refute. A public consultation process is under way by train operators who present the proposed closures as means of bringing “station staff closer to customers”.

The RMT union, by contrast, believes it’s a means of bringing the staff closer to unemployment and has mounted a campaign heralding the good work done by ticket offices across the network. Whatever the truth, human interaction is in danger of being undervalued in the digital landscape…(More)”.

Design in the Civic Space: Generating Impact in City Government

Paper by Stephanie Wade and Jon Freach: “When design in the private sector is used as a catalyst for innovation, it can produce insight into human experience, awareness of equitable and inequitable conditions, and clarity about needs and wants. But when we think of applying design in a government complex, the complicated nature of the civic arena means that public servants need to learn and apply design in ways that are specific to the intricate and expansive ecosystem of long-standing social challenges they face, and learn new mindsets, methods, and ways of working that challenge established practices in a bureaucratic environment. Design offers tools to help navigate the ambiguous boundaries of these complex problems and improve the city’s organizational culture so that it delivers better services to residents and the communities in which they live.

For the new practitioner in government, design can seem exciting, inspiring, hopeful, and fun because over the past decade it has quickly become a popular and novel way to approach city policy and service design. In the early part of the learning process, people often report that using design helps visualize their thoughts, spark meaningful dialogue, and find connections between problems, data, and ideas. But for some, when the going gets tough—when the ambiguity of overlapping and long-standing complex civic problems, a large number of stakeholders, causes, and effects begin to surface—design practices can seem slow and confusing.

In this article we explore the growth and impact of using design in city government and best practices when introducing it into city hall to tackle complex civic sector challenges along with the highs and lows of using design in local government to help cities innovate. The authors, who have worked together to conceive, create, and deliver design training to over 100 global cities, the US federal government, and higher education, share examples from their fieldwork supported by the experiences of city staff members who have applied design methods in their jobs….(More)”.

Supporting Safer Digital Spaces

Report by Suzie Dunn, Tracy Vaillancourt and Heather Brittain: “Various forms of digital technology are being used to inflict significant harms online. This is a pervasive issue in online interactions, in particular with regard to technology-facilitated gender-based violence (TFGBV) and technology-facilitated violence (TFV) against LGBTQ+ people. This modern form of violence perpetuates gender inequality and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and has significant impacts on its targets.

As part of a multi-year research project Supporting a Safer Internet (in partnership with the International Development Research Centre) exploring the prevalence and impacts of TFGBV experienced by women, transgender, gender non-conforming and gender-diverse people, as well as TFV against LGBTQ+ individuals, an international survey was conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). The survey examined the influence of gender and sexual orientation on people’s experiences with online harms, with a focus on countries in the Global South. Data was collected from 18,149 people of all genders in 18 countries.

The special report provides background information on TFGBV and TFV against LGBTQ+ people by summarizing some of the existing research on the topic. It then presents the quantitative data collected on people’s experiences with, and opinions on, online harms. A list of recommendations is provided for governments, technology companies, academics, researchers and civil society organizations on how they can contribute to addressing and ending TFV…(More)”

(Read the Supporting Safer Digital Spaces: Highlights here.; Read the French translation of the Highlights here.)

Systems Thinking, Big Data and Public Policy

Article by Mauricio Covarrubias: “Systems thinking and big data analysis are two fundamental tools in the formulation of public policies due to their potential to provide a more comprehensive and evidence-based understanding of the problems and challenges that a society faces.

Systems thinking is important in the formulation of public policies because it allows for a holistic and integrated approach to addressing the complex challenges and issues that a society faces. According to Ilona Kickbusch and David Gleicher, “Addressing wicked problems requires a high level of systems thinking. If there is a single lesson to be drawn from the first decade of the 21st century, it is that surprise, instability and extraordinary change will continue to be regular features of our lives.”

Public policies often involve multiple stakeholders, interrelated factors and unintended consequences, which require a deep understanding of how the system as a whole operates. Systems thinking enables policymakers to identify the key factors that influence a problem and how they relate to each other, enabling them to develop solutions that more effectively address the issues. Instead of trying to address a problem in isolation, systems thinking considers the problem as part of a whole and seeks solutions that address the root causes.

Additionally, systems thinking helps policymakers anticipate the unintended consequences of their decisions and actions. By understanding how different components of the system interact, they can predict the possible side effects of a policy in other areas. This can help avoid decisions that have unintended consequences…(More)”.

Design of services or designing for service? The application of design methodology in public service settings

Article by Kirsty Strokosch and Stephen P. Osborne: “The design of public services has traditionally been conducted by managers who aim to improve efficiency. In recent years though, human-centred design has been used increasingly to improve the experience of public service users, citizens and public service staff (Trischler and Scott, 2016). Design also encourages collaboration and creativity to understand problems and develop solutions (Wetter-Edman et al., 2014). This can include user research to understand current experiences and/or testing prototypes through quick repeated cycles of re-design.

To date, there has been little primary research on the application of design approaches in public service settings (Hermus, et al., 2020). Our article just published in Policy & PoliticsDesign of services or designing for service? The application of design methodology in public service settings, seeks to fill that gap.

It considers two cases in the United Kingdom: Social Security services in Scotland and Local Authority services in England. The research explores the application of design, asking three important questions: what is being designed, how is service design being practised and what are its implications?…

The research also offers three important implications for practice:

  1. Service design should be applied pragmatically. A one-size-fits-all design approach is not appropriate for public services. We need to think about the type of service, who is using it and its aims.
  2. Services should be understood in their entirety with a holistic view of both the front-end components and the back-end operational processes.  However, the complex social and institutional factors that shape service experience also need to be considered.
  3. Design needs flexibility to enable creativity. Part of this involves reducing bureaucratic work practices and a commitment from senior managers to make available the time, resources and space for creativity, testing and iteration. There needs to be space to learn and improve…(More)“.

Design for a Better World

Book by Don Norman: “The world is a mess. Our dire predicament, from collapsing social structures to the climate crisis, has been millennia in the making and can be traced back to the erroneous belief that the earth’s resources are infinite. The key to change, says Don Norman, is human behavior, covered in the book’s three major themes: meaning, sustainability, and humanity-centeredness. Emphasize quality of life, not monetary rewards; restructure how we live to better protect the environment; and focus on all of humanity. Design for a Better World presents an eye-opening diagnosis of where we’ve gone wrong and a clear prescription for making things better.

Norman proposes a new way of thinking, one that recognizes our place in a complex global system where even simple behaviors affect the entire world. He identifies the economic metrics that contribute to the harmful effects of commerce and manufacturing and proposes a recalibration of what we consider important in life. His experience as both a scientist and business executive gives him the perspective to show how to make these changes while maintaining a thriving economy. Let the change begin with this book before it’s too late…(More)”

Data in design: How big data and thick data inform design thinking projects

Paper by Marzia Mortati, Stefano Magistretti , Cabirio Cautela, and Claudio Dell’Era: “Scholars and practitioners have recognized that making innovation happen today requires renewed approaches focused on agility, dynamicity, and other organizational capabilities that enable firms to cope with uncertainty and complexity. In turn, the literature has shown that design thinking is a useful methodology to cope with ill-defined and wicked problems. In this study, we address the question of the little-known role of different types of data in innovation projects characterized by ill-defined problems requiring creativity to be solved. Rooted in qualitative observation (thick data) and quantitative analyses (big data), we investigate the role of data in eight design thinking projects dealing with ill-defined and wicked problems. Our findings highlight the practical and theoretical implications of eight practices that differently make use of big and thick data, informing academics and practitioners on how different types of data are utilized in design thinking projects and the related principles and practices…(More)”.

How Design is Governance

Essay by Amber Case: “At a fundamental level, all design is governance. We encounter inconveniences like this coffee shop every day, both offline and in the apps we use. But it’s not enough to say it’s the result of bad design. It’s also a result of governance decisions made on behalf of the customers during the design process.

Michel Foucault talked about governance as structuring the field of action for others. Governance is the processes, systems, and principles through which a group, organization, or society is managed and controlled.

Design not only shapes how a product or service will be used, but also restricts or frustrates people’s existing or emergent choices, even when they’re not a user themselves. My neighbor at the cafe, who now has a Mac power cord snaked under her feet, can attest to that.

In a coffee shop, we’re lucky that we can move chairs around or talk with other customers. But when it comes to apps, most people cannot move buttons on interfaces. We’re stuck.

When we create designs, we’re basically defining what is possible or at least highly encouraged within the context of our products. We’re also defining what is discouraged.

To illustrate, let’s revisit this same cafe from a governance perspective…(More)”.