According to Rotman Magazine there are “10 New Skills That Every Worker Needs”. Each week, I’m posting a summary of local (or online), free (or cheap), resources that are appropriate for public sector professionals to gain skills in these areas.
Last week I presented the idea and focused on Computational Thinking. This week, let’s talk about Design Mindset. This is a topic I’ve been researching over the past three years as I’ve focused on creating policies and reducing barriers that improve the usability of government websites. I hope to extend this practice beyond the Web soon.
- Computation Thinking
- Design Mindset <–We are here
- Cognitive Load Management
- New Media Literacy
- Sense Making
- Social Intelligence
- Cross-cultural competency
- Virtual Collaboration
Why is Design Mindset a skill of the future?
There’s so much talk these days about change and what is required for change, usually under the umbrella theme of innovation. Yet, how can we create new neural pathways that help us THINK DIFFERENTLY?!
Increasingly, authors, academics, entrepreneurs are proving that design is not just about making cool products. Design is about making life better for people. IDEO has been doing it for years. Roger Martin has written about ‘integrative’ thinking for solving wicked problems. Cyd Harrell issued a call to action to User Experience (UX) professionals to get involved with government in UXMag. The UK government is doing it. Helsinki Design Lab (now closed) provides a snapshot of a strategic design practice in action.
Here in Canada, Jess McMullin specializes in using design innovation in public sector through his firm Centre for Citizen Experience because “the status quo won’t scale” to meet increasing citizen demand. The video below is his talk on Reinventing Government at TEDxPennQuarter.
What is it?
Put simply; design mindset uses design methods such as ethnography, prototyping, and co-creation techniques and design process (research, design, test, iterate) to think differently about solving problems.
As Hilary Little said in her keynote at CodeFest ideas should start out as a hypothesis to be validated. In this way, design integrates the scientific method into a focus on people and their environment. It relies on such diverse fields as psychology and ergonomics.
Design can be applied to products, services, processes, physical locations…basically, anything that needs to be adapted to optimize it for human interaction. Design helps us be intentional about the outcomes we are most interested in. It makes room in our minds, hearts and society for new solutions to old problems.
These are two of my favorite resources on Design in the Public Sector as a starting point for learning more:
Where you can get it?
UXCampOttawa November 9 & 10th in Ottawa features user experience pros from around the globe.
- Pinterest board full of videos about Design Thinking curated by Dennis Cradit.
- Rotman Magazine features design heavily in its articles; this edition features all their articles about design in one place.
DesignMeets is planning another event soon’ish in Ottawa.
Teams can participate in d.school’s Virtual Crash Course on design thinking (I love their graphic showing the steps as empathize, design, ideate, prototype, test).
- Design studio methods are taught by local UX firms Akendi, Macadamian, and NeoInsight. All of them do custom courses — highly recommend bringing one of them in for your whole team to learn together.
- OCAD (Toronto) and Carleton (Ottawa) both have design programs though they both seem to focus on product design.
- For a deeper, more intellectual dive, I suggest Jess McMullin’s article in “Design for Policymaking” (eds. Buie & Murray) “Usability in Government Systems: User Experience Design for Citizens and Public Servants” (Chapter 22). I also love this analysis of current and future practices of engaging citizens in this article by the Australian Government called Citizens’ engagement in policymaking and the design of public services.
Exercise: hack your office!
In the Rotman article, Fred Gage is quoted as saying “Change the environment, change the brain, change the behaviour.” So, in light of this — and the fact that design thinking is something that is developed over long periods of time – I suggest starting with yourself!
Make room for design thinking in your workspace.
Prompted by Mary Beth Baker and Kevin Grignon, I removed half of the furniture from my 10 x 10 foot cubicle, covered the walls in dry erase paper and put out bowls of markers & post-its. Now I have room to stand up (preferably with a colleague or two) draw pictures that map out possible solutions to barriers. I usually have a wall full of post-it notes that I can re-arrange in different groupings. I set up a lending library beside my cubicle to attract colleagues to stop and chat. And posted the personas of the people that our team serves along the wall.