A new book titled ‘Design for Policy’ edited by Christian Bason, Director, MindLab Copenhagen has been released recently and is the first publication to “chart the emergence of collaborative design approaches to innovation in public policy”. This book provides a detailed analysis of “design as a tool for addressing public problems and capturing opportunities for achieving better and more efficient societal outcomes”, with contributions from academics, design practitioners and public managers. The book’s target audience is government departments, public service organizations and institutions, design and public management schools, think tanks and consultancies to help them “understand and use design as a tool for public sector reform and innovation”1. The book covers the global context of the rise of design for policy, provides case studies of the application of design to policy making, and includes a guide to specific policy design tools along with a roadmap for use of design in government.
The author Christian Bason in his earlier books on social innovation, design and leadership, and “Leading Public Sector Innovation: Co-creating for a Better Society” highlights the role of public managers as “designers of innovation and change processes, involving both citizens and the government”. Bason (2013)2 suggests that public managers can facilitate and commission design work, they can act as designers themselves, and lastly they are themselves “affected by the design work as it unfolds and impacts their organisation”. In doing so, Bason demarcates between “managers as designers and managers absorbing design” and highlights the importance of an ‘attitude’ to encourage, learn and embrace design thinking into policy development.
One of the initial pieces on this blog focused on the development of a curriculum for a graduate level course in policy design. A central part of curriculum design is structuring of the literature and reference material. Journals are also encouraging the submission of pieces that present ideas and applications of ‘labs’. For example, the Solutions journal launched in 2010 as a bi-monthly publication aims at ‘solutions-driven innovation’ and has an Idea Lab to highlight the latest ideas shaping how we respond to the problems of the 21st century. The Solutions journal aims at bringing forth “bold and innovative ideas for solving the world’s integrated ecological, social, and economic problems” and providing “a forum for developing and discussing seriously creative ideas to solve society’s most pressing problems in an integrated way”. Submissions to such Idea Labs and books such as Design for Policy can contribute towards a useful resource base for students, scholars and practitioners with the intent of introducing design thinking in their research and practice.
Public Managers as Innovators: In Search of Design Attitude. Ethos- a journal of public policy and governance. Issue 12, June 2013. Accessible at https://www.cscollege.gov.sg/Knowledge/Ethos/Pages/default.aspx [↩]