1. Create and nurture learning communities to share best practice

Encourage learning communities to emerge both formally or informally, and create the right environment for them to flourish. Make sure they receive the time and space (whether physical or digital) that they deserve. Sharing best practice involves learning from failure as well as success, so these learning communities should be safe spaces that fully embrace the design ethos. Leadership, whether at a team level or an organisational level, plays an important role in enabling this kind of learning culture and embedding it as best practice.

2. Actively track what you learn and consider how it can be applied in future

Create time and space for reflection, actively tracking the insights and knowledge you are acquiring. Make the most of this reflective learning by also building it into future plans: think about how it can be applied in a way that strengthens your practice and approach. What would be useful for new team members to know? How does what you have learned change how you would do things next time? Making your insights visible to others is useful. Consider commandeering a space for your project and keeping a visual log of your activities and interventions.

3. Keep discussing, debating and envisaging what the future could look like

Design-led thinking is a continual process of learning. Value discussion, debate and disagreement. Ask (and try to address) provocative questions. Continually revisit and evolve your practice. Make connections with others who do things differently, ask how and why, and – as with your approach to specific projects – stay flexible and open to change.

4. Also think about what you need to ‘unlearn’...

We often focus on what people need to ‘learn’ and add to their skillset or knowledge. But when it comes to changing behaviours, then ‘unlearning’ existing routines, methods and even world views is equally important. What do you need to unlearn in order to strengthen your design practice? The saying “do what you have always done, and you will get what you have always got” often comes to mind when tackling the the challenge of building capacity and skills in the public sector. We need to see old challenges with a new perspective, and using a design-led approach to this should ensure some visionary thinking and new-found ambition to emerge.