We completely transformed how we deliver services to the community, but also… Design Council really helped us I think, in trying to understand the problem and then it became a whole systems approach to change that helped us.

Participant, Cohort 1

To date, more than 49 project teams in eight regions have benefited from this innovative new training programme.

If you are involved in the review, commissioning and development of services, we can help you develop tangible, user-centred solutions and embed design capability across teams as part of the process.  


Our intensive cohort-based accelerator programme aims to improve understanding of the value of design so more local government leaders are able to adopt key methodologies and use them as a change lever so that design becomes a natural part of the commissioning process.

We have developed an intensive 120-day programme focused on increasing the scale and pace of new methods by combining a regional and mixed cohort approach with regular workshop days.

The programme brings up to six project teams together for five full-day sessions, providing teams with an introduction to the design process, and its role in public and private sector innovation through:

  • Offering practical and immersive training and support to build design capability through an intensive two-day ‘bootcamp’
  • Applying design frameworks, methods and tools to projects in order to quickly generate and test new service ideas through techniques such as service mapping and prototyping
  • Demonstrating how to use prototyping to set up simple methods of testing ideas at small-scale to de-risk challenges or areas of uncertainty
  • Learning how design methods, frameworks and tools can be used to conduct meaningful, targeted research to create insights based on the needs of the user
  • Benefiting from peer-learning and gaining confidence in the methodology through regular presentation of concepts and support from mentors and peers
  • Developing and refining logic models of their propositions throughout the process 

Currently, we are running this programme in several regions across England in partnership with the Local Government Association (LGA).


  • Providing a new framework which allows frontline staff and users to co-design new services.
  • Building capacity and tools within teams to enable design methodologies and techniques.
  • Creating an inclusive, agile culture by using a whole-organisation approach.
  • Aligning projects and processes with the needs of service users to gain insight and improve performance.
  • Limiting risk by introducing key methods, such as testing and prototyping, before major expenditure.
  • Mentoring to maintain focus and deliver outcomes which are visible, tangible and measurable.

Past participants have also seen results improve because of culture change within their organisation which supported new business models and efficiency savings, and from a lasting legacy derived from acquiring new skills that can then be used again for future design-led innovation in-house.


We have a national network of expert, independent design professionals, our Design Associates, who bring their considerable experience to our design support work.


Design Council partners with organisations in order provide programmes of tailored, design-led support to public service providers in order to tackle key challenges and better inform the commissioning process.

In January 2014 we partnered with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Over three cohorts and a period of fourteen months, eighteen organisations from the north-west, south-east and Yorkshire and Humber went through the programme. In December 2014, a separate cohort of four organisations ran in Edinburgh, partnered by Capita.

Since then, the Local Government Association has funded the programme.

The programme gives local authority officers, service commissioners and policymakers a practical, thorough understanding of how to use design to develop cost-effective, user-led public services.

Case studies