Developing a design-based approach to tackle big issues

I’ve blogged about how we can work with people to improve our collective understanding of the area to better work together to improve outcomes. This has included:

1. Prioritise the challenges you will focus on

The next step needed is prioritising issues where there is a particular need to improve outcomes or reduce demand. Previously, I’ve used this as a way to prioritise how evidence can be used, between issues where you know what you need to do and you just need to JFDI and areas where you need to probe and sense deeper to really understand what’s going on.

To make sure we’re connecting the use of evidence with being able to test out assumptions and develop policy or service propositions that can be testable, this approach by Policy Lab is very useful.

We’ve used this approach in how we work with people to better involve residents in the design and delivery of services.

2. Mobilise people around the challenge

Once you’ve idenfiied the problem statement/s you will focus on, the next steps is bringing together people to tackle it. We are taking this approach in how we tackle poverty through the Anti Poverty Alliance, selecting four key challenges — money & debt, housing & homelessness, employment & skills and wrap around support. For each challenge, there are council & partner co-leads with a virtual community of practice to help tackle the issue.

  • Identify & invite the networks of people who are affected and can tackle the issue
  • Select 2–3 experiments where you can prototype different ways of tackling the issue, be it via service design — such as improving the design and delivery of an employment service, via policy design — testing out via policy design: testing out universal basic services in a neighbourhood, or via community design — like prototyping a homegrown coop.
  • In reality, policy, community & service design need to be interwoven so that the interventions are connected and can create ripple effects.
  • Most importantly, they need to be developed with citizens as this Policy Lab diagram shows

That’s why in our work, it will be important to connect the work we’re doing with the Anti Poverty Alliance with our lessons from the Participation Test & Learn work we’re doing and our work developing University Partnerships. These are all in development and being tested — more on that soon. Watch this space for how we connect these together over the Spring.



Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese

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Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese