The best way to learn about design is to try it out for yourself and see how it works in practice. Explore how you can use some key design methods, tools and approaches for real – and learn how you might assess which are the most suitable for your needs.

You may not think of yourself as a designer, but as as someone who is central to the development of services for people you are already performing a critical role in interpreting user needs. Adopting more formal design and innovation methods, tools and approaches in your role can help you to add greater value and make your day to day work more fulfilling and creative.

Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.

Herbert Simon
Theorist and Nobel Laureate

Design thinking isn’t a silver bullet, but it can help you to see things differently, approach old problems in new ways, and strengthen your focus on citizen needs.

In this section, we introduce you to design thinking as an approach and some of the methods that underpin it. You will have the chance to see how you can explore some of these yourself, learn about real life examples of prototyping in action, and understand how you can choose a project that’s particularly well suited to design-led innovation.

To build confidence it's good to experiment with how a design-led approach to innovation works in practice. Learning by doing is the best way to really understand the potential that design thinking has in your own world. The understanding you’ll gain will be valuable whether you’re planning to try out these methods your own work, or procure a design agency to work with.

Spend some time familiarising yourself with new design methods and tools, but don’t be afraid to get started! Start small and try things out, giving yourself plenty of time to reflect on what you’re learning.

Design methods can bring a vital new energy to public services – by helping them to listen to citizens about their lived experiences, prototyping fast and learning by doing, and using visualisations as well as texts. All of these quicken the pulse of innovation and help governments get to better solutions more quickly.

Geoff Mulgan
Chief Executive, Nesta