Design in the Public Sector: Workshop 1 + 2

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Team work underway at the Design Council (photo Design Council)

A cross-organisational team from Bexley was successful in applying to the Design in the Public Sector programme, which this year focuses on challenges around public health. Earlier this month, four staff from NHS Bexley Clinical Commissioning Group, Bexley Voluntary Service Council and London Borough of Bexley kicked off the project at the first workshops hosted by the Design Council.

The programme aims to grow the public sector’s capacity to deliver public services that improve people’s lives by applying design process and methods to tackling the challenges we face. Over a 16 week programme run in partnership by the LGA and Design Council, we’ll be exploring a new way of working to develop preventative interventions that tackle key public health challenges.

The Bexley team will be exploring the issue of social isolation and loneliness and using this topic as kick-start to developing a co-production approach, which can be scaled to other public health challenges and more widely across our three organisations.

During our first two days at the Design Council, we learnt about the Double Diamond and the need to explore and understand the problem we’re trying to solve before identifying and developing solutions. We used a range of tools to break down our challenge; identify stakeholders and extreme users, and map opportunities and actions against difficulty and importance. We also had an introduction to a range of research techniques, including undertaking a service safari, practicing interviewing and reviewing a photo diary.

Working together on the different tools helped us to build a deeper shared understanding of our challenge, which was particularly useful as we each come from different organisational backgrounds. The two days helped us to clarify our vision as well as map out some of the concrete things that need to happen to turn all the ideas into a reality.

Our aim is to develop a new way of working across our organisations based on co-production. Learning and developing a new approach together sets us up on a good footing for this, and rightly helps us to get comfortable with ‘not knowing’ the exact end state we’ll get to as we start out.

We’ll be back at the Design Council in March for our next workshop when we’ll be sharing the findings from our research and using this to shape our project and approach further.

We’ll be reporting our work to a cross-sector team led by the Director of Public Health to share our findings, but over the course of the programme we hope to bring many more people into our project and share the tools and techniques we’re learning across our three organisations. Get in touch with ellen.care@bexley.gov.uk if you’d like to know more.

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