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Introducing Designing for Public Services: a practical guide

We’re excited to launch this new guide for using design in the public sector, created in partnership with international design firm IDEO. Our collaboration grew from a shared appreciation of the needs of our audiences, and together we have identified key areas where design-led tools and approaches could support the development of new and improved services for citizens across the world.

The guide brings together a collection of practical tools and methods in one place and offers a way to do things differently by introducing the process of design thinking. It also provides guidance on how to introduce this new approach into day-to-day work in the public sector.

Irrespective of where a government is in the world and their local context, there seems to be one common challenge: a shift from ‘designing from the inside out’ to ‘designing from the outside in’. Our experience shows that governments tend to drive the change they want to see and often focus on delivering services that are most efficient for them. As a result these services can often miss the mark, and governments are becoming increasingly disconnected from their citizens.

Many commercial organisations are already confident about defining user needs to generate tangible and positive impact, and the need for governments around the world to balance their drive for efficiency with the expectations of people is here.

Public officials are generally unfamiliar with the methods and tools associated with innovation and design thinking. The aim of the guide is to help make these approaches accessible for both policymakers and people who design and deliver public services, so that they can make larger changes in how they serve their citizens. The collection is compiled of practical tools and examples that have been tried and tested with governments all over the world. Through our work with governments, we have also witnessed some common patterns in the challenges public officials face in using design methods, and the toolkit finishes with some tips on how to overcome them.

We hope that by bringing this all together, we can enhance the adoption of design-led tools and methods more broadly in the public sector and policymaking all over the world.

Author

Kelly Duggan

Kelly Duggan

Kelly Duggan

Learning Experience Designer

Kelly is a Learning Experience Designer in the Innovation Skills team.

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Sonja Dahl

Sonja Dahl

Sonja Dahl

Director, Innovation Skills

As Director, Sonja leads the team responsible for one of Nesta’s central missions - to spread innovation skills and strengthen the conditions that allow innovation to thrive.

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Isobel Roberts

Isobel Roberts

Isobel Roberts

Content and Communications Manager, Innovation Skills

Isobel works in the Innovation Skills team as Content and Communications Manager, helping to build Nesta's learning and development offering.

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