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Exploring the role of design in public management

Article by Federico Rita

During his Graduation Project, Federico explored the role of design in fostering productive and bilateral collaborations between public managers and designers. The main objective was to design a learning environment as a safe space in which social innovation can flourish, and skills are shared, nurtured, and continuously influence and support the development process.

After his graduation, Federico and his two project supervisors Ingrid and Alicia decided to disseminate the knowledge gathered during the study. The resulting conference paper has been accepted at the 22nd DMI: Academic Design Management Conference (ADMC 2020) – Impact the Future by Design, and has been presented in August 2020 remotely in Toronto, Canada.

Design for the Public Good

The purpose of the research was to investigate strategies to strengthen public management by exploring the potential of Design Thinking as a policy competency. Public management needs to keep pace with contemporary problems and harvest capabilities to meet future scenarios. Consequently, practitioners in the public field must advocate for critical discussions and engage with people who are going to benefit from their guidance.

A participatory design approach was selected to co-create a learning environment for building design capabilities. In other words, a safe space that allows for sharing and nurturing knowledge, skills and attitudes. The setup of the participatory process entailed a thorough exploration, in which a team of seven public managers of a regional association of municipalities participated. In four participatory sessions, a learning space has been iteratively prototyped, and finally evaluated in the context.

The study concluded that collective capacity could be nurtured by leveraging on the democratic potential of design capabilities. The work aims to contribute to stimulating designers to put their expertise in design capability development for the public domain.

If you are curious to know more about it, the full paper can be read here.