Innovating through design in public services

Innovating through design in public services

In an era of austerity and budget cuts the government is keen to get more value for money from public services. This section explores how a focus on design can inspire innovation, including an evaluation of how behavioural economics can ‘nudge’ people toward desired policy outcomes and a discussion of the potential benefits and pitfalls of ‘Big Society’ providers delivering services locally.

Public managers need to see their primary task as systems design and abandon magical thinking about technology

Drawing on recent research, David Wastell argues that public managers need to adopt design attitudes and rethink their relationship with technology such that it can become a tool to configure the workplace optimally for service performance and delivery. What do managers do, or rather what should they do, is a simple enough question. But answers abound: to be “strategic”, to […]

The London Pathway provides an integrated health service response for the homeless and reinserts a sense of compassion into the treatment of some of the most excluded people in our society

The London Pathway project has gained accolades and awards for their work on re-designing healthcare for homeless people. Alex Bax shows that by integrating services that had become too siloed or had lost their sense of compassion, Pathway has improved the health and wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable and excluded members of our society.

Coordinated action for innovation is needed to create the networks and ecosystems required to prevent a lost decade of stagnation in both private and public spheres

As economic growth remains elusive and fears grow concerning the possibility of a double dip recession, there is cause to believe that the UK could be headed for a decade-long period of stagnation and deprivation. Charles Levy outlines how a new initiative, the Big Innovation Centre, aims to establish areas for policy action to stimulate the creative capacity of the […]

Making the most of our public services will demand a new way of thinking about support for innovation

With massive cuts to public spending looming, the public sector is facing the dilemma of how to do more with far less resources, and government appears to be keen to promote innovation primarily through market mechanisms. Charles Levy of the Work Foundation argues through case studies in higher education and the NHS, that a failure to understand innovation is damaging […]

In austere Britain, design has the potential to inspire innovation, improve quality, and encourage collaboration in public service provision

In times of recession the UK tends to leave the shape of public services as they were. Yet after a two-year pilot study of service transformation run by the Design Council and sponsored by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Lord Michael Bichard argues that good design can both achieve savings and offer better public services. Last November, […]

Think before you nudge: the benefits and pitfalls of behavioural public policy

The government’s commitment to behavioural change is starting to be taken up by both central government departments and local authorities. Paul Rainford and Jane Tinkler look at the benefits and problems associated with so called ‘nudge’ theories and how this approach is being used in the UK. In 2008 Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein published a book entitled Nudge: Improving […]

New ‘big society’ providers could deliver better local services, but there are grave concerns surrounding funding, accountability and citizen redress

As reports emerge of a crisis meeting between big society architects Steve Hilton and Philip Blond, there is still notable uncertainty as to how their big idea may be operationalised at grass roots level. Paul Rainford and Jane Tinkler explore some of the available options and find that the creation of new ‘big society’ providers could offer definite benefits to […]

In improving public services and social innovation, the design world has vital insights to offer. But designers must go beyond evangelism to show greater rigour about methods and limits

For about ten years now designers have been saying that their professional approach holds vital insights for public services. In the run-up to a lecture by David Willets to an LSE-Design Council event on innovating in public service design, Geoff Mulgan argues that recent research shows that it is not enough to be enthusiastic about this change. Designers do have […]