As a policy assistant with the Ministry of Education, we often relied on data to make evidence-based policy decisions. Useful tools included surveys and interviews. The module taught me policy-makers can use methodologies to apply design thinking principles in order to understand user needs and create more equitable policies. I had the realization that evidence based policy decisions do not always take into account the needs of the user. A fundamental flaw in the current government policy analysis process is that policy-makers often use data to support dominant racial groups and continue to perpetuate the marginalization of others. By using design thinking, governments can create policy that focuses on the users – especially those users whose voices are excluded. Key to successful implementation within policy-making is assessing the needs of policy users. This can be used to challenge policies that privilege certain groups and marginalize others.
The takeaway from the module is that there are tools that policy-makers can use that allow for a user-focused policy framework. As a policy co-op student, I will remember the tools and techniques that are used in the design thinking process. I also believe that the most important stage in design thinking is empathizing with the users and spending time understanding their needs and wants. We can use design thinking tools and techniques to promote a social justice oriented policy framework. By focusing on design thinking, we can create more equitable and fair policies.
After the module, I took to social media to spread awareness and start dialogue about design thinking in public policy. I hope to continue using twitter to express important lessons learned throughout the course.
Questions for further research:
- Why current government policy-makers to not use social justice-oriented design to create and implement policies?
- What is the role of design thinking in the current policy making process? And what are challenges of implementation?
- How does the design thinking process include the perspectives of those silenced based on race or class?
The questions I have raised for further research describe the flaws in our current policy making strategy. As a public servant, I hope to carry out a social justice oriented policy making strategy through design and research.