Improving commissioning through design thinking
The academic journal Policy Design &Practice recently published a paper by Michael Mintrom and Madeline Thomas (of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government) titled “Improving commissioning through design thinking”. The paper is open access, so you can read the whole thing yourself… but if you’d rather avoid an hour of heavy academic material, Australia’s The Mandarin has got you covered with a quick summary.
So, what’s the role of design thinking in commissioning?
Good policy should be informed by deep knowledge of the contexts and clients for which that policy is being made. Design thinking can be thought of as an increasingly significant branch of evidence-based policy making.
Policy designers must be socially perceptive when gathering evidence and politically savvy when deploying it. Design thinking can contribute to improved use of evidence in policy making and in program implementation. For a design thinker, one of the most important skills is to imagine the world from multiple perspectives such as clients, service users and customers.
This is where greater empathy for different perspectives emerges. Focusing on the lived experiences of service users can facilitate better policy making. It can also lead to implementation of programs that enhance public value.
The Mandarin goes on to pull out five ways to design thinking:
- Environment scanning
- Participant observation
- Open-to-learning conversation