Reflections from Design in the Public Sector

Well we attended the first two days of the Design in the Public Services programme in Bristol on the 16th and 17th July and these are our reflections.

Customer Journey Map

Reflections from Jo

Well, what a rush! A fantastic start to the Design Thinking programme for us all. The two days were full-on, generating hundreds of new thoughts about the challenge we are facing.

It turns out the biggest challenge is to not assume we are tackling the right issue to begin with. Design thinking starts with your initial problem, then expands your thinking to check out your hypothesis through exploration and research, using the Design Council’s Double Diamond approach (see below). So many solutions are created for the wrong problem, so time spent really understanding what we think our issue is and checking it out is time well spent.

We’ve learnt some great techniques to really understand what is going on and our next step is to find some willing volunteers to go through a similar process back at DCC. We can then start really exploring what is going on out there and gathering evidence to help us truly understand what our starting point is, so that we have a greater chance at developing a solution that will actually work.

Design Council - Double Diamond

Now it’s back to the office to set up our work space so that people can see us ‘thinking out loud’ and to start recruiting volunteers to bring all the theory to life.

Reflections from Carl

As the three of us walked away from the venue and back towards Bristol Temple Meads after the we finished on the Friday. We laughed as we said to each other “we couldn’t believe it was only yesterday morning we had started”. Such was the intensity of the two days, packed full of challenge, opportunity, learning and amazing conversations with peers and people from outside the sector who inspired us.

My personal journey over the two days was more about validation of the theory and learning I have been doing and shifting from design thinking to design doing.

The issue for me in using design thinking theory for a while and learning from others the techniques and models to help, is that unless you practice this stuff you never move forward and develop your own ability to break through the moments when you find it hard and you get lost in the detail or somehow distracted. This is where the programme helps, it stops you from resorting back to habits which will die hard, especially when things get hard. You have support and challenge to move you out of those moments and to move forward towards a new perspective or a new realisation.

I have to thank the facilitators during the two days who were fantastic at keeping us moving. It got to the point on the Friday just after lunch that we started to lag, and i just had to keep going as i knew if i slowed down or stopped i’d not be able to restart myself.

It has already proved its value, we have new insights on our challenge, we have an outline plan which has already changed since liaising with colleagues back at County Hall and that’s OK as the plan is better now and will deliver a bigger impact. I’m very much looking forward to day 3 in September and to sharing the learning further. Until then i’m still digesting and sorting out the learning in my head.

Carl Haggerty

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