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New design programme gets full marks from evaluators

New design programme gets full marks from evaluators

9 December 2015 Written by By Chris Finnegan 2014-17 Marketing and Communications Manager

A recent evaluation of the Design in the Public Sector programme found that its use of strategic design is transforming the way local authorities approach the commissioning process and tackle challenges.  

Design in the Public Sector is our new immersive training programme funded by the Local Government Association and delivered by Design Council. After 18 months in practise, the programme was evaluated by an independent panel. The evaluation, conducted by RF Associates, takes a closer to look at the mechanism and applications of the design training that the public sector bodies receive, and examines all of the outcomes of the multiple projects that have been through the programme.

Learning from the programme is deep and extensive on an individual level. While most participants (78%) had low levels of knowledge about design at the start of the programme, this rapidly changed to the majority (63%) claiming a high level of understanding after the programme concluded.  

Similarly, there was an increased acknowledgement of design’s relevance to public services, and while 70% considered the relevance of design thinking to the public sector as low before the programme, after the programme 85% considered there to be a high degree of relevance.  These increases are statistically significant. This individual engagement is an essential first step in embedding design thinking in organisational approaches and practice.

According to the report, the programme succeeds by:

  • reframing services around user-centred principles – all bar one survey respondent reported they had reframed their challenge
  • improving knowledge of design approaches
  • improving awareness of design thinking in public services – by the end of the programme, 85% of participants considered design ‘highly’ or ‘very highly’ relevant to the public sector
  • transforming staff within public services

The focus of the programme is not about immediately transforming public services, but empowering staff and developing the skills required to help transform public services first. The evaluation confirmed that a key outcome of the programme has been helping staff in public services reframe the challenge they are trying to address, and formulating new solutions for their challenges using design thinking techniques. 

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