A Day in the Life of a Policy Designer

Authors: Teresa Bellefontaine, David Cavett-Goodwin, Naomi Kühn, Jean-Philippe Veilleux
Document Type: Policy Insight
Published Date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 4:00am
ISBN number: PH4-145/2013E-PDF, 978-1-100-22717-7
Alternative Format: pdf_version_0227_11kb-15p.pdf

The Cast

The Cast

Christian Bason, Doris, Anna, Cynthia, Todd, Yun, Conrad and Latif

Background

This piece is inspired by Christian Bason, Director of Innovation at MindLab, a cross-ministerial unit for citizen-centred innovation in the Danish government. On January 15-16, 2013, Mr. Bason led staff at Policy Horizons Canada, and attending staff from fifteen other federal departments through a Master Class on Design-led Innovation for public policies and services.

This fictional piece illustrates some of the key messages put forward by Christian Bason and other leading design thinkers. One of the key messages is the value of connecting directly with citizens to understand their experiences and improve the development and delivery of government policy and services. This requires that policy analysts apply design principles to develop solutions with citizens rather than for citizens. This piece uses design principles to tell the story of policy analysts in the year 2025, dealing with an emerging policy issue. It does not, however, attempt to represent the views of Christian Bason or MindLab.

Scene 1

Elderly lady sitting at home comfortably going through a government of Canada claim form online on a tablet
2025, Canada. Doris at home

Scene 2 and 3

Women sitting in front of her computer in her office on the right - Women entering her colleague’s office to start a conversation – one is sitting and the other standing on the left

On the left

Anna's Office, Year 2025, Interdepartmental Agency of Aging

On the right

Cynthia enters…

60 people went overseas for vision enhancement surgery alone! These out of country body modifications are getting out of hand. We don't know how to manage it and it's costing us an arm-and-a-leg. What should we do? Another information campaign?

What if we try something different

Outside of the box, eh?!

Scene 4, 5 and 6

Two women in an office having a conversation - both women are sitting casually on the left. Women’s face – her expression demonstrate excitement on the top right. Two women in a conversation – one is standing and the other one siting on the bottom right.

On the left

Designt Team:

  • 8-10 people
  • a diveristy of skill sets
  • freedom to make recommendations

Well, at Christian Bason's design thinking workshop, we learned to work together and use professional empathy.

But we already work together and …Empathy? In the office?

Yes! But we are doing things 'to people' not 'with people'! We need a new approach.

On the top right

Oh!…

What do you suggest….

On the bottom right

… what about a Design Team?

Now you're talking! But lets go broad instead of big!

Scene 7

Group picture of 6 silhouettes (3 men and 3 women) with rays of sun and clouds behind them.
Introducing the Design Team!!

Scene 8, 9 and 10

Group of 6 individuals (3 men and 3 women) standing outside having a conversation on the left. Women’s feet walking on the ground outside on the top right. Three people walking together but we can only see two people’s face and the other one’s neck tie o the bottom right.

On the left

Nothing beats a day in the field:

  • Observe and listen
  • Focus on behaviour and motivation
  • Analyze results within 24 hours
  • Video is a powerful tool

I can't believe they pulled me out of my chair to meet some old lady!

Ya, look at us! I feel like a giraffe out of the Savanna.!

"A giraffe!?"

On the top right

Don't worry. We're gonna get better at this and we might learn something from what these people really go through."

On the bottom right

Ya…but how do we manage expectations?

We have to tell them it is about possibilities and what might work, not decisions.

Scene 11, 12 and 13

A women standing and talking on the top left. A fist and arm knocking on a door on the bottom left. Two men and one women sitting in a living room in front of a chair hunched over to listen to someone talk in front of them on the right.

On the left

Team, lets trust Cynthia on this one. Remember, it worked for others before us…like in Denmark and numerous other places! Lets go, Doris is waiting for us!

On the right

Can you tell us about your daily routine?

What is your situation now?

What would you change, if anything?

Scene 14

Six people are in a room at an office facing each other having a conversation. Four of them are sitting (one on a couch, one on a stool and one on the floor). The two others are standing (one straight and the other one leaning against a wall).

What is Evidence?

  • Meaningful insight can come from a small sample
  • Hard and soft evidence work together
  • Spend a day learning from experts

Brainstorming:

  • Quantity is more important than quality
  • Everyone is equal
  • There is no one best solution
  • Aim to get relationships right

We aren't going to base this all on one person, are we?

The plan is to continue the field work and interview more people until we reach "saturation"

That means we keep going until no significant new patterns are identified in the qualitative data we collect.

Right

Don't forget that we still need analysis and general research

Back at the office in the collaboration room…

Scene 15 and 16

Women in front of a board with a marker in her hand about to write something on the left. Three people (2 women and one man) standing in front of a board. One is gesturing as if she is talking, the other one has a marker in her hand and is about to write on the board and the other is just standing next to the board on the right.

On the left

We have to make sure we have the right problem definition. What did we hear?

On the right

I never thought of this as an employment issue.

You're right, without this process, we would not have understood the complexity of the problem.

…and this is going to save loads of time and money!

Scene 17 and 18

Four people (3 women and one man) are in a boardroom at an office having a conversation. Two of them are sitting on a couch and the other two are standing next to it on the left. Two women in conversation (one is standing and the other is sitting) on the right.

On the left

Provisional Consensus:

  • Agree to disagree
  • Document disagreements
  • Return to them if your prototype doesn't work
  • Disagreement is gold!

…but it's still a health issue too!

We don't have to force compromise. We can always go through with one idea and come back to another one later if needed.

That's why we are doing a Prototype.

Ideate, Prototype, Test. We return to the team 1 week later, working in the office.

On the right

The good news is; we have other potential solutions in our back pockets.

I think we will need to talk to Doris again and stakeholders and decision-makers

Scene 19 and 20

Three people are in a room chatting (one man and two women). The two women are talking and the man is in deep thought on the left. Six people are in a huddle (3 men and 3 women). The scene only shows their faces on the right.

On the left

This is the beginning not the end…

  • Test before you are wedded to your idea
  • Test with users

But it's not done yet.

That's the whole idea: fail quick and fail cheap.

On the right

I liked Doris. She's a go-getter.

This is way outside my comfort zone… But it has worked so far.

Scene 21

Elderly women sitting and writing a letter – the focus is on her hands and the piece of paper she is writing on. Next to this image you see a close up of the letter and you can read what it says.
A few weeks later at Doris' desk…

Thank you Design Team folks. No one has taken the time before to ask me about my experiences. Doris

2016-08-05