The OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) mission is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. They provide a forum to support governments to work together, share experiences and seek solutions to common problems.

As part of our programme of Design for Europe activities, Nesta were invited to prepare and deliver a workshop on designing and prototyping public services at its annual conference in Paris. The two-day conference focused on the key challenges and themes around public sector innovation, bringing together delegates from across the OECD’s international membership.

The purpose of the workshop was to raise awareness of the value of design and innovation by introducing some key principles and tools. Attendees were prepped in advance to come ready to discuss and share their own service challenges with the group. The aim was for them to explore these challenges from a new perspective by using design tools and methods.

The two and a half hour workshop was attended by 60+ public sector administrators and government representatives and featured:

  • An introduction to design and innovation principles
  • A practical taster session on user-centred design
  • Four case study presentations from leading practitioners and design experts
  • A panel discussion of specific services challenges, identified in advance of the event

The session prompted much debate amongst delegates, and it was clear that there were similarities in the service challenges faced by a number of countries. Practical exercises helped to demonstrate that, despite not being designers, they could still experiment with and apply design approaches to understanding problems and redefining them from a user perspective.

Best practice examples helped to clarify how projects work in reality, with four leading experts presenting a short case study each. These were:

The case studies built on the introduction to design and innovation principles by showing how each could be applied to achieve positive, measurable results in the public sector. Delegates were then invited to discuss and ask for advice about their own service challenges, with panel offering insights and experiences of how they had approached similar issues in their own work.

The workshop was a great opportunity for shared and peer learning with a group of high level and senior decision makers. We will be running further sessions across Europe over the next year as we continue to raise awareness of the value of design principles and approaches in the public sector.

If you would like to take part in one of these workshops or would like us to consider delivering a session as part of your activities in this space, please get in touch. Likewise if you would like to share case studies or examples of good practice through the Design for Europe site, let us know.