Turning ideas into human-centred outcomes with design thinking
By Sophi Bruce
More than ever we are working in times of rapid change and ambiguity and to see opportunity in disruption is an imperative for leaders. However it is one thing to have a good idea and another thing to be able to put that idea into practice. Across sectors, design thinking is increasingly being used to help individuals, teams and organisations to approach work practices in a different way. Instead of the more traditional linear and solution driven ways of working, design thinking helps policy, strategy and plans to be developed and implemented with end-users in mind. This flipped approach helps to create trust, engagement and more sustainable and purposeful outcomes for citizens and stakeholders.
Good quality designing-for-purpose time is like gold, as Einstein famously said “A problem well defined is 90% solved” and yet we often try and cut corners, particularly when faced with time pressures, multiple perspectives, a fear of failure, making changes to ‘the way we do things round here’ and the challenges of responding to unmet (and sometimes unknown) customer/citizen needs.
The design thinking framework developed by the Stanford d.school provides a methodology that helps us to not cut corners when defining challenges and exploring creative solutions. In fact, when done well, it offers time and resource gains with tools to foster collaboration, ideas generation and useful iteration that enable the rapid execution of solutions to well defined problems.
As with many methodologies, an off-the-shelf version often doesn’t stick. Establishing a common set of language, tools and expectations through an applied approach relevant to your workplace is a great place to start. Having a practical challenge or question to begin with helps make sense of the methodology within your own environments. The question may be as general as “how might policy makers work together virtually?” or more specific, such as “how might we engage young people to use the local library”
The steps of the Design Thinking process then helps you to consider aspects of this challenge, such as
- What does good look like? (Define)
- Who can tell me what I don’t know? (Empathy)
- What are my options? (Ideation)
- What tests will provide insights? (Prototype)
- Who’s in? (Engage)
Here at UTS IPPG we have seen how being open to these types of tools and practices can greatly assist governments and stakeholders be proactively innovative in the interests of making social and organisational progress. When policy makers, strategists and implementers bring design thinking into their own real-world contexts they actively interrupt business-as-usual status quo in favour of making purposeful and strategic change.
About Sophi Bruce
Sophi Bruce specialises in approaches to leadership, transition and social impact projects using a portfolio of techniques for reflective learning, collaborative working and thinking differently. From the design and delivery of bespoke learning programs to ongoing project delivery, Sophi’s focus on positive tangible outcomes is supported by professional aptitude and a passion for facilitating personal, organisational and social progress. At IPPG, Sophi has strategic responsibility for a suite of programs and subjects at University Technology Sydney committed to building leadership capacity across the local government sector on a national level. With extensive facilitation and project management experience, Sophi manages a range of consultancy projects for clients of the Institute in areas such as leadership, organisational change, community and place, collaboration, evaluation and capacity building. Sophi is an authorized assessor of the Leadership Development Framework and has an executive certificate in Positive Psychology coaching. She has curated for the International Association for Public Participation and contributes to Adaptive Leadership Australia’s leadership programs and The School of Life classes.
Sophi Bruce's courses
Learn how to apply creative and relevant solutions using design thinking techniques. This design thinking course introduces the essentials of design thinking approaches to enhance your innovation and strategy toolkit. Forward thinking practitioners and workplaces utilise innovative ways of designing and applying solutions through human centred strategy, policy, plans and initiatives. Find out more >
Be equipped to plan, implement and lead change initiatives in your organisation with our Leading Change Course. The ability to adapt to changes in contexts, legislation, priorities and work culture is of increasing importance in contemporary workplaces. This leading change course offers practical assistance and guidance on how to best understand and work within change environments. Find out more >
Managing effectively in local government requires leadership acumen and adaptability. Sharpen your core leadership skills to strengthen your career, council and community outcomes. Succeeding in today’s local government means being able to adapt to changes in environments, legislation, communities and work culture. This requires strong leadership acumen that combines developing your personal leadership ability alongside your professional skills and knowledge. Find out more >
Explore strategic planning processes and assess the factors that contribute to effective outcomes for organisations and stakeholders. Learn ways to strengthen your own strategic planning thinking and practice. Well considered strategic planning contributes to the sustainable functioning of sectors and organisations. Effective Strategic Planning considers a range of contexts and horizon scans. Find out more >
A focus on shared services, special projects, collaborative and partnership working has seen an increased demand for effective and cross-functional teams within local government with new levels of technology, communication and connectivity impacting team structures, locations and outputs. Local government teams need to be able to respond to changing service delivery models, social, financial and environmental challenges, and new models of governance... Find out more >