Copenhagen this week is dominated by design. On the beautiful Kgs. Nytorv square, world class designs are on display in transparent plastic bubbles. This Friday, a select few of them will win the prestigious biannual INDEX:Award in categories like body, home, work and play.
Now, that’s all very well. But there isn’t an INDEX: prize category for government.
What if there was? Could design also change the way government works? For INDEX: the slogan is “design to improve life”. Believe it or not, but most government agencies are created to improve how society works and how life in society is lived.
What if design thinking characterised the very way government develops new services and policies? At MindLab we are increasingly learning how design can dramatically improve the process of shaping future visions for society, both in the abstract and the very practical. From climate change strategies to how we meet individual citizens at a job centre, the design process offers us a new way of realising desirable outcomes.
What could be the contribution of design to government? Here are some suggestions:
See everything as an experiment.
Challenge the status quo.
Value the citizen.
Could these seven principles transform how government works? Perhaps. When a network of 25 design experts and practitioners meet in Copenhagen this coming weekend for another design event, the Co’creation summit, to write a manifesto for the future of design, my guess is that some of these principles will be part of the package. For many of the participants, this will not be very surprising. But if public managers really, really took design to heart, it could be the beginning of a revolution.