C. Todd Lombardo

Adjunct Faculty and Consultant, IE Business School

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How can design thinking help government?

We hear the catch-phrase "design thinking" thrown around a lot these days. I'm certainly guilty of that as well. I'm curious to how we can use the tools of design thinking to improve governments? Is it possible to do with all the layers and politics in government? What do you think would be the first step?

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    Mar 9 2011: I was just thinking about this last night! How potent it would be if government worked with companies like Ideo to design services like DMV, social security offices, and general assistance, all known for waits of 2 hours or more. The shift from focusing solely on the agency needs and bureaucratic processes could be profound when looked at through customer touch points and the human experience!
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    Mar 18 2011: Dan, I recently read an article (an older one) from Milton Freedman - stating some radical changes, backed up with some solid logic.

    Check it out here: http://ideasmatter.typepad.com/ideas-matter/2011/03/is-it-the-role-of-government-to-help-the-poor-in-this-exchange-with-a-young-idealist-milton-friedman.html?sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4d80e193c91a7d10%2C0

    IMHO, Design Thinking and Systems Thinking are not too far off. I wonder if "Ecosystem Thinking" is a better term. Then again, let's not get into semantics on the nomenclature - let's see how we can make change!
  • Mar 18 2011: Systems Thinking may be a better approach for government. To give very simple illustration consider question of minimum wage : conventional thinking is this is bad for business. Systems dynamics can show that it benefits business (more disposable income, higher spending, more sales, higher GDP). Soft factors can also be modelled so relevant political factors can taken into account in policy development. I'm not sure design thinking could tackle complexity in same way as a 'systems engineering' type approach could.
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    Mar 16 2011: I know TSA worked with one of the leading design agencies (IDEO, frog or Smart, I think) when they were designing the "new" airport security checkpoints. I need to dig that up for more details.

    I wonder how we can encourage more of that?
  • Mar 11 2011: Soon technological innovation and insurmontable complexity just may outstrip the old ways of solving the problems of governance so that our only recourse will be the supercomputers of the future taking over major design decisions.
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      Mar 20 2011: I hope the designers of these "supercomputers of the future" will base major design decisions with a mind to adaptability and customization. I believe there is more and more evidence to suggest that successful establishments in the human realm are deathly allergic to industrialization. Local energy production, local governance, local agriculture. Successful because one solution does not fit all.
      • Apr 5 2011: "Successful establishments" are known to you because they work. There are no doubt scores of human projects that have perished regardless of their allergic or non-allergic response to industrialization. Besides,speaking of perishing ,I thought most of the anti-industrial sentiments at the core of 60's liberalism had been thrown overboard as soon as this wonderful thing called the internet appeared on the scene some time ago. I guess it lingers on.Probably good that it does.A critical eye can see what an accepting one does not.