Question
“How can we obtain buy-in for adopting the design thinking approach? How can we demonstrate success?”
Victoria Prouse Urban Fellow City of Toronto
Top Answer
Virginia Hamilton Senior Lead for Design Thinking and Innovation American Institutes for Research
Top Answer

What I learned early on was that I needed to stop talking about the groovy process called human-centered design and instead start talking about outcomes. Talking about design thinking did not always resonate with policymakers and public servants. It was much more useful to talk about investing in a process in which we were going to improve customer experience and, more importantly, improve the outcomes of our customers. In other words, the people who came into our job centers ended up getting the education, skill building, and jobs more frequently than people who went into offices that hadn’t taken this approach. Starting with the framing of design thinking as a way to achieve outcomes works really well.

Discussion

Lulu Mickelson, Fair Housing Engagement Manager
Very much agree with Virginia. A few years ago, I worked on a project to help external designers hone their pitch for government. Here are five things to keep in mind when pitching design to government: 1. Empathy is your most powerful tool – As a designer, we build empathy to understand the experiences of our users. Remember that your government client is also a user with a unique set of needs, constraints, and motivations to bring to the table as well. 2. Respect what has already been done – Government has been trying to solve this problem long before you entered the picture. Be sure to build on past failures and successes. Respect existing expertise. 3. Speak plain English – Design jargon can be a confusing barrier to entry. Boil down your pitch to simple goals that everyone can relate to. Using tangible examples also helps. 4. Manage risk – Your government clients are answerable to the public and the media, which places them under a tremendous amount of pressure to manage risk and avoid failure. Take the time to acknowledge fears and worst-case scenarios. Work together to create a protected environment where the team can comfortably iterate and implement. 5. Stay on mission – Ultimately, we all have the same goal: helping people. As a designer, you are able to be a catalyst for your government client, helping create a more responsive and impactful government experience. You can read more here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/speaking-service-design-global-conference-lulu-mickelson/ Cheers!

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