Public services are designed and delivered by public organisations and financed by public resources, where citizen participate in this exchange by paying their taxes every year. In return, governments provide people with essential services like public security, health, education, transportation, sanitation services, and the list can go on. Most public services are experienced as complicated, time and energy consuming, inflexible and bureaucratic. Many governments around the world are investing in changing this by attempting to make their public services easier to navigate, more efficient and that meet the demand of highly connected and mobile people.
As Eric Trist, “we act like systems in creating large-scale problems, but we act like individuals in trying to solve them” (Trist, 1981). All of these challenges are interconnected adding to complexity, and systems thinking approaches are needed to solve these challenges by identifying the problem´s root causes and understanding how they interrelate. We also need to work together. Even though service design is an emerging field; it´s 20 years of development is starting to mature to potentially be applied to tackle the world’s most complex problems by harnessing creativity, collaboration and community-centered approaches (Meroni & Sangiorgi, 2011). Service design tools should be complemented with systemic design approaches in order to understand the complexity (Aguirre, 2014; Jones, 2013) that governments face when designing and delivering public services.
On Friday, May 16th 2014, the Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, announced the new agenda of “Productivity, Innovation and Growth.” This agenda had a section for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which included seven areas, from supporting early SMEs and decentralizing the Startup-Chile program, to public and social innovation. She announced the creation of a new public innovation lab to design and develop innovative projects that can solve public programs and improve public services for citizens. The lab will integrate expertise’s from both the public and private sector in their co-design processes. This was not mentioned, but I think citizens should also be included in the co-inquiry, co-mapping, co- design and co-production of new public programs and services.
Happy to have been part of Service Design in the Government, which gathered amazing people from Europe, specially public servants and designers. Key speakers were Sarah Drummond from Snook and Government Digital Services (GDS) was represented by their head of user research, Leisa Reichelt, and head of design, Ben Terrett.
My presentation was about designing for complex public services using a systemic approach to service design, using the case study of Designing for Dignity. Here are some of the slides:
On Monday 31st of May, 2014, we held a workshop at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) to map out the design and healthcare landscape in Oslo, Norway. By connecting stakeholders from different places we had the opportunity to understand in which areas we are working, and which others are emerging, also our main barriers and main learnings together with imagining our future roles. Participants were mainly students and academics from AHO, designers from several consultancies, leaders and administrators from the Norwegian Health Directorate, researchers from the Norwegian Knowledge Center for Health Services, doctors from Ullevål University Hospital, designers from The Norwegian Center for Design and Architecture and the design director from Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation.
This workshop was facilitated by Lorna Ross (Director of Design Mayo Clinic), Kaja Misvær (Project Manager DOT at AHO), Birger Sevaldson (Professor of Systems Oriented Design at AHO), Adrian Paulsen (Systems Oriented Service Designer at Halogen) and myself. We had over 25 attendees and there was great energy and interest in continuing these conversations.
A report with the summary containing the main findings will be published soon, however the preliminary findings include that there is a lot of demand to talk about these topics, evidenced by so many people showing up in such short notice. Designers need better tools to navigate business models, organisational challenges, policies and cultural mechanisms that direct how healthcare organisations operate. Designers need to work proactively, instead than against demand. We are all working in specialty services and solving discrete problems, while we need to shift towards community engagement, prevention and emergent services. We also need to present design projects in non-design settings and understand better health reforms and implementation processes.
I am happy to connect with anybody wanting to create sustainable transformations for the public and social good using creativity and systems thinking. I am taking a practical phd, which means researching by designing and exploring (some say that´s the best way to really understand the materiality and substance of problems) so if you are directing a government innovation laboratory, or prototyping public services with citizens, public servants, policymakers, designers, anthropologists, sociologists or change agents, please get in touch.
My studies are supported by The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) and are being carried out between September 2013 until August 2017. My background is in integrated design from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and in systems oriented service design from AHO. Before starting the PhD, I worked as an embedded service designer within the multi-specialty integrated group medical practice of Mayo Clinic, in their Center for Innovation located in Rochester, Minnesota.
During my master thesis, I worked on a project called Designing for Dignity which was recognised by Core77, The Norwegian Design Council and Norsk Form. This was a collaboration with Jan Kristian Strømsnes, the emergency hospital in Oslo, the Oslo Police and Social Services to improve the response systems to sexual violence using creativity, design, participation and holistic thinking.