Design in the Public Sector programme

What is the Programme?

We submitted an application to the Design in the Public Sector programme  – which has been developed by Design Council and supported by the Local Government Association.

A short extract from the programme definition:

There is a rapidly growing interest in design thinking in central and local government and the contribution it can make towards addressing the challenges you face.

Key design principles, methods and tools such as understanding users’ needs, prototyping, visual techniques and working collaboratively can all be applied to service, system and digital challenges in the public sector to great effect.

If your organisation is based in the south-west of England and you have a current or future service delivery challenge which could benefit from a different approach, this could be your opportunity to gain support through a proven, innovative accelerator programme.

Our Challenge

Our challenge is to find new engaging and innovate low or no cost solutions for our employees to become highly immersed in the aims of the organisation, self-directed in their learning and willing to change their thinking and behaviours.

We know the future of public services will require a cadre of experienced and knowledgeable leaders, staff and members, equipped with the skills and learning needed to transform services. The organisation will need to be more agile and responsive, with access to the methods and tools to effect serious and radical change.

For an organisation experiencing rapid change we need a high level of engagement and personal transformation by our employees, to produce the most effective outcomes and services for the people of Devon. If we massively increase participation in the organisation’s goals through engagement and learning we believe this will help our employees create innovative solutions and be inspired to do better things.
Solutions need to be suitable for our rural context, diverse population of employees (age/skills/areas of expertise), and that they are geographically spread across our vast county.

The programme starts on the 15th and 16th July and we will be sharing our learning as we go through so watch this space…In the meantime here are some reflections and thoughts from Kevin and Carl about the programme.

Thoughts from Kevin

Getting the opportunity to take part in the programme was a very exciting feeling. We have been grappling with how to get people at Devon better engaged in the aims of the organisation and trying to find out if people were interested in self-directed learning for sometime.

We have tried a few ideas, but we are not sure if these are any good or if they are what people really want. These ideas in some ways are just guesses, we didn’t really ask people what they wanted.

The Design in the Public Sector Programme gives us another approach to issues in question, we are hoping it will challenge us to find out what people really want in new ways – this of course could be a bit scary – we are not sure what we will find and how the ideas maybe viewed by others, hopefully not too wacky or seen as a novelty! I’m hoping to have fun here, but with a serious result in mind.

A big big test for us is how we bring people with us on the challenge as our core group is limited in numbers, we want other people to have the excitement in ‘real-time’ with us but also realise our ideas are going to change as we go.

We want to expand the number of people who know about Design Thinking, but are not sure how to do it at the moment. We will have the energy to do this as well as the programme? Anyway this blog gives us the opportunity to explore our thinking out loud as we go….

Thoughts from Carl

Being part of the programme will help us go back and clarify the problem we are trying to solve. So many times we often assume we know what the problem is and we then jump straight to solutions. I’m always up for trying out new things and looking at new ways of doing things but we must be clear about the problem we are addressing. This often gets lost in the noise of the organisation/programme/project etc and we need to be able to create the space for this key activity to happen.

The opportunities this programme gives us beyond the challenge is to gain new insights and learning and we can use these skills and learning with a wider group of people to share the thinking, learning, doing and failures out so a broader audience gain value.

I expect to be challenged, I expect to have to work very hard and I also expect to grow. I think the process will be enjoyable and rewarding and I can’t wait to get started

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