The twin faces of public sector design: policy design and design thinking
Design thinking has become a popular approach for governments seeking to address complex governance challenges. It offers novel techniques and speaks to broader questions of who governs and how they govern. But how effective is juxtaposing design thinking with policy design?
At a glance
In a paper for the journal Governance, Amanda Clarke (Carleton University) and Jonathan Craft (University of Toronto) discuss the twin faces of public sector design. Design is a central concern of governance from the design of public institutions to programs and services. The emergence of design thinking has called into question established governance institutions and practices. It claims to offer an alternative style of cognitive processing and a different approach to problem definition and resolution.
Design thinking privileges interdisciplinary approaches, systems thinking, iteration and experimentation, creativity and risk taking. It also has an institutional form with design units being established within governments, such as innovation labs, design hubs, and digital transformation offices. With its origins lying outside the public sector, its principles and practices are not always fit for purpose.